EVERYBODY loves a ute. Sure that’s a broad generalisation, but this is Australia. We love a sweeping statement almost as much as we love a vehicle with a tray. And one of the most anticipated is the 2021 Mazda BT-50 GT.
Now before we get started, this new BT-50 is a product of Mazda’s partnership with Isuzu, and the BT-50 is essentially an Isuzu D-MAX, with a raft of design changes. Don’t be put off though, as the 2021 Isuzu D-MAX is a wicked bit of kit.
It also needs to be pointed out that this BT-50 is not the same as the last, which came from a partnership with Ford, or the old D-MAX, which spawned at some point from a relationship with Holden. Confusing right.
As a side note, the upcoming Ranger, for those keeping track, is set to be twinned with the new Volkswagen Amarok. All that aside, the BT-50 has a long and storied history, that dates all the way back to 1961 (as the B Series).
While still fulfilling its original role as a cargo hauler, Mazda’s ute has evolved over the years to become a utility vehicle designed to make time spent on the road and behind the wheel more enjoyable. And the styling is good, both inside and out.
The front end features the latest Kodo design, which lifts the BT-50 and makes it a bit of a looker. Sleeker lines and a real once over with the design brush have given the popular pickup the finish it needed.
Inside, the BT-50 has stepped up a few notches too, especially in the GT, with leather and high end materials. It’s shifted the interior from tradie truck to sales rep, or at a stretch a proper, almost luxury, family ute.
The seats are comfortable, supportive and heated. Yep, heated front seats. What’s missing is cooling for those seats. Perhaps in the next generation. The rear seats are supple, leather, and very comfortable (by ute standards).
There’s even plenty of room for three adults, or two car seats for the little ones. Storage isn’t in short supply either, with cup holders in the centre console, bottle holders in the doors, and the usual spaces to put your bits and pieces in.
Mazda also has you covered with technology, including a big infotainment screen, loaded with wireless Apple CarPlay, USB-based Android Auto, and a host of other functions, with one small flaw.
Because of its size, position and the screen surface, it does tend to catch glare throughout the day, which can be a bit annoying when trying to navigate. Safety technology is on offer in abundance as well, in the new BT-50 GT.
You get trailer sway assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, hill descent control, reverse camera and sensors, auto emergency braking, brake assist, plus so much more. It really is jam packed.
The BT-50 has a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating, but the real down fall is the intrusiveness of the systems. We get that cars and utes should be safe, but we don’t want them beeping, dinging and throwing on the emergency braking system every time we drive it.
Unfortunately, the BT-50 GT’s safety technology is so highly strung it makes it annoying to drive. And it’s also complicated to turn off each of these systems. To make that worse, it seems to reset those settings every time you turn it off.
Under the bonnet and across the BT-50 range, buyers will get a 3.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine making 140kW and 450Nm, with a six-speed automatic as standard. An optional six-speed manual is also available.
This is the same engine found in the D-MAX, so you know it’s proven and tested. It’s a strong reliable power plant, with a solid reputation. Fuel economy is a claimed 8.0-litres/100km, but real world testing showed 10.1-litres/100km.
The BT-50 gains speed effortlessly, with torque available down low, where you need it, for towing and load hauling. The engine and transmission work seamlessly together and you don’t have to push it hard for it to do what you need it too.
It’s all quite refined, albeit with a hint of rattle (but that’s a trademark of the Isuzu power train. Overall the 2021 Mazda BT-50 GT is a well rounded, solid ute, ready to pounce at any job, road or dirt track you can throw at it.
And while the leather and heated seats may not be up your alley, they are nice. It’s priced from $59,990 (plus on-roads), putting it up against the Toyota HiLux SR5, the Isuzu D-MAX X-Terrain and the Ford Ranger. It represents good value in comparison.
There are seven exterior colour choices available, including two new launch colours, Gun Blue Mica and Concrete Mica. The other colours are Red Volcano Mica, True Black Mica, Rock Grey Mica, Ingot Silver Metallic and Ice White.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Mazda Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Mazda BT-50 GT, contact your local Mazda dealer.