Mazda BT-50 on the move

By JAY WONG | 14 August 2014

Whoever said that bigger is better, is in this case, correct.

Here we have the range-topping Mazda BT-50 3.2 High that comes with a MZ-CD 3.2-litre turbocharged in-line five-cylinder diesel powerplant, producing 197bhp at 3,000rpm and a massive 470Nm of torque from 1,750-2,500rpm.

The BT-50 has not been SkyActiv-ated just yet, but by gosh, the Thai-assembled pick-up has been more than a pleasurable drive.

Surprisingly enough, most pick-up trucks will have you bobbing up and down but this is not the case with the BT-50.


Visually, the pick-up stands out significantly thanks to its dimensions being 5,365mm-long, 1,850mm-wide and 1,821mm tall - it shares the same dimensions as the current Ford Ranger and quite rightly so, since they both share the same platform as well.

Although the Ranger seems a tad beefier with all its edges, the BT-50 has a little less impact with its curvaceous bonnet.


Most would find it a tall order entering the cabin due to the pick-up’s 237mm ground clearance.

Peculiarly enough, the front passenger gets an A-pillar mounted grab handle to help hoist themselves in, but the driver does not.

Inside, it is a grey affair with a touch of silver accents on the door handles.


The rough grey plastic seems dull and un-stylish, but rest assured it will be a durable one that is ready for plenty of abuse while still keeping its ‘good looks’ - so to speak.

It is a no-nonsense environment inside, everything both readily in reach and highly visible.

Put simply, there is nothing ‘flimsy’ about the cabin.


The MZ-CD 3.2 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission has plenty of grunt on tap.

With all of the engine’s 470Nm of torque forming at a lowly 1,750rpm, there is no qualms about getting the BT-50’s slightly over two tonnes of kerb heft moving.

Most would notice the pick-up’s ride and how it handles uneven tarmac with its double wishbone paired with coil-springs at the front and rigid leaf springs for the rear.


As with most pick-ups, they often have a higher centre of gravity and that usually means taking corners translates to plenty of roll.

In this case, Mazda has tuned this big boy to reduce cornering body roll and be a lot more confidence inspiring.

The BT-50 soaks up bumps and potholes without much fuss and its large cargo hold can be used for carry large and bulky items.


Believe it or not, this pick-up is more than a pleasure to drive even on a set of 17-inch alloy wheels with large 265/65 series tyres.

Without payload in the cargo area, the rear end still feel a touch light around the bends, but it still manages to trail the BT-50’s front end fairly well in 2WD (two-wheel drive) mode.

Switching over to 4WD (four-wheel-drive) mode made the drive feel even more planted.

We are quite certain that most drivers behind the wheel of the BT-50 would be loving it in most traffic conditions thanks to its smooth power delivery and almost neutral handling to deliver a sporty and confidence inspiring drive.


With more than adequate power delivery to get it up to speed, the BT-50 is also capable to coming to a quick stop even though its got the usual ventilated front discs up front with drum brakes at the rear.

Brake-feel was found to be accurate and bites according to the driver’s inputs.

Enough of driving and time for a ‘cuppa’ and many would find the BT-50 a bane when it comes to parking and tight spaces.


Sure, it is a smooth ride when on the move, even in heavy traffic, but we would much prefer a reverse camera to be paired with the parking sensors to make it safer - you never know what is going to hop into the way.

The BT-50’s power-assisted steering system feels heavier compared to most passenger cars when the vehicle is stationary but when on the move its light enough for easy steering.


With all that’s been said so far, the BT-50 3.2 High costs RM106,468.20 (on-the-road with insurance) and would be a suitable choice as a workhorse or lifestyle vehicle.

Aside from its fluid looks, rugged interior and smooth power delivery, the BT-50 has a daunting size to make you feel like driving the king of the road.


SPECIFICATIONS: Mazda BT-50 3.2 High

Engine: 3,198cc, in-line, five-cylinder, common-rail, direct-injection with variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) engine.

Maximum power: 197bhp at 3,000rpm

Maximum torque: 470Nm from 1,750 to 2,500rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with Active Adaptive Shift

Two airbags, antilock braking system with electronic bake-force distribution, dynamic stability control, traction control system, hill hold assist, brake override system, roll stability control, hill decent control, hill launch assist, load adaptive control, trailer sway assist, emergency stop signal system, emergency brake assist, automatic headlights and wipers, side-steps, parking sensors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic dual-zone climate controls, six-speaker audio system with radio/CD/MP3 playback, voice command, Bluetooth connectivity and 17-inch wheels with 265/65 tyres.

Price: RM106,468.20 (on-the-road with insurance)




CarSifu's Rating: 7.1