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Used car review Mazda BT-50 2006-2009

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    Beneath the tough exterior, Mazda worked hard to ensure the BT-50 had a measure of the 'Zoom-Zoom' that proved so successful in reviving the image of its passenger cars.

Graham 'Smithy' Smith reviews the used Mazda BT-50 06-09: their fine points, flaws and what to watch for when buying it.

Mazda shunned the notion that a ute had to look like a car to appeal to recreational users who were buying one-tonne utes like the BT-50 in increasing numbers for their weekend getaways.

The company believed a ute should still look tough and purposeful, and held true to that belief when designing the replacement for the old B-Series.

Beneath the tough exterior, however, Mazda worked hard to ensure the BT-50 had a measure of the 'Zoom-Zoom' that proved so successful in reviving the image of its passenger cars.

MODEL WATCH

The BT-50 was an all-new model with barely anything carried over from the outgoing B Series.  The model range consisted of 4x2 and 4x4 models, with three body styles - single cab-chassis, Freestyle extended cab and dual-cab utility - and three levels of equipment, the base model DX, the DX+ and the range-topping SDX.

It had a strong, purposeful look that gave it a solid, substantial image, the result of raising the belt line 30 mm and the sides of the cargo bed by 60 mm.  The cabin was generally a pleasant place to be, the only criticism was that it lacked elbowroom compared to most of its rivals, all of which had grown larger with the changeover to the new generations models, of which the BT-50 was one.

Mazda offered two diesel engines depending on the model. The entry-  level two-wheel drive single cab-chassis had a 2.5-litre common rail double overhead camshaft four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produced 105 kW at 3500 revs and 330 Nm at 1800 revs.

All other models were powered by a 3.0-litre common rail double overhead camshaft four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel.  When on song the 3.0-litre developed 115 kW at 3200 revs and 380 Nm at 1800 revs, up by 33 kW and 109 Nm from the engine in the outgoing model.

Most models had a new five-speed manual gearbox, but there was also the option of a five-speed auto in the range topping SDX Dual Cab.  The BT-50 was built in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive forms, the latter utilising a dual range transfer case and limited-slip rear diff.

On manual models the transfer case shift was manual, and they had remote free-wheel hub lock mechanisms, while those with auto transmissions had an electric shift allowing "on the fly" shifting between two and four-wheel drive.  Underneath, the BT-50 sat on a beefed-up ladder frame chassis.

Larger front and rear shocks, and longer rear leaf springs improved the ride without affecting the BT-50's capacity for work.  Mazda chose to stick with nut-and-ball steering instead of following the trend to rack-and-pinion; the result was a rather large 12-metre turning circle.

Brakes were a mix of disc front and drum rear, but with improved pedal feel and braking efficiency. ABS antilock brakes and Electronic Brake Force Distribution were available on all but the entry 4x2 single cab-chassis model.

The BT-50 would carry a payload of up 1430 kg, 59 kg more than the old B Series, and would tow up to 2500 kg (braked), up from the 1800 kg of the B Series.

ON THE LOT

Pay $12,000-$32,000 for a DX/DX+, but for an SDX with the lot pay $24,000-$35,000.

IN THE SHOP

The BT-50 causes few concerns for owners, the only complaints that have come to Cars Guide relate to the fuel consumption and clutch life.
Generally used to tow caravans or heavy trailers, and often using four-wheel drive, both are issues that all one-tonners can suffer from. The fuel consumption tends to be higher than new, first time owners expect.  Many first time owners also ask a lot of their one-tonners by expecting them to tow heavy loads.

If planning to use a BT-50 as a tow vehicle hauling a caravan or the like consult a towing specialist for advice on set-up, particularly if the vehicle is equipped with auto transmission.  Also consider having the auto serviced before leaving on a long trip with a load on the back.

Make the usual checks for regular servicing; oil changes are critical for a long engine life.  Look for evidence of a hard life, towing, off-road or on a worksite.

IN A CRASH

Dual front airbags and seat belt pretensioners were standard across the range.  ANCAP gave the BT-50 three stars when it was tested.

UNDER THE PUMP

Mazda claimed the 2.5-litre models would sip fuel at the rate of 8.3 L/100 km, they also claimed the 3.0-litre models would average 9.2-10.4 L/100 km.  When tested by Cars Guide the 3.0-litre manual dual-cab ute returned an impressive 8.8 L/100 km average in a mix of city and country driving.

OWNERS SAY

Some owners have complained about the fuel consumption of the BT-50, but Mike Bradshaw told Cars Guide that he got an average of 10.0 L/  100 km from his 2009 model on a four-month long trip through the WA and the Northern Territory. Mike said that it was loaded to 2.6-  tonne, using four-wheel drive, and with the air-conditioning on.

Frank Murray has done 21,000 km in his 2008 3.0-litre BT-50 and they have been trouble free, but he is concerned about the clutch life of the BT-50 after hearing stories of others having clutch issues. One owner, he said, was on his third clutch in 50,000 km, and another had to replace one at 40,000 km.

LOOK FOR

  • Tough truck looks
  • Improved refinement
  • Skinny cabin
  • Diesel economy
  • Towing performance

ALSO CHECK THESE

  • MITSUBISHI TRITON 06-09: The swoopy ute with its wild curves is a good driver with plenty of refinement that makes a good worker for those on the job or a fun get-  away ute for the weekend. Good all-rounder that gets the job done. Pay $11,500-$41,000.
  • TOYOTA HILUX - 25-09 Once promoted as unbreakable, the current HiLux has become one of the top selling models on the Australian market. A good driving, safe handling ute with pleasant road manners, good economy and comfortable ride. Pay $7500-$47,000.
  • NISSAN NAVARA - 05-09 The D40 Navara is the big mover in the ute class. Smooth driving, strong performing ute with a roomy, comfortable cabin, and three-  tonne towing capacity in a vehicle equally suited to work of family use. Clutch life an issue. Pay $18,000-$41,000.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Performs well, is comfortable, quiet and economical, but a little narrow in the cab. 82/100

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 15 comments

  • Had mine from 2009. This morning engine saved by the engine management light going on due to low oil levels. Auto gearbox refurbished at 130k. Other than that, Giely has served me well. Now at 180k and going strong. Looking to drive it to 350k if all goes well. Would buy another.

    Les of JHB Posted on 11 March 2014 8:06pm
  • I bought a 2007 BT50 new and had only done 5,000km when the clutch needed replacing which was done on warranty. There was no argument with Mazda as it appears it is a common fault which was sorted in 2009. I then had to replace the main Bering in the gearbox at 160,000 as did a friend with the same ute at 120,000. Now done 260,000 with no other issues towing a 2tonne boat a lot.

    Alan Connolly of Hamilton Posted on 24 January 2014 10:17am
  • I purchased a Mazda bt50 SDX 2008 70000ks model (auto) with an Ironman bull bar fitted but is very underpowered when attempting to pass. Mazda informed me that there is not enough air flow to the oil and inter cooler and this could be my problem. I checked this out with a friend of mine who also had this problem he changed the bar to a standard Mazda bull without winch attachments and problem solved (has large grill) Can you please confirm this problem on the autos for me before i change mine.Been told Mazda have information on this problem. Thank you regards Allan

    Allan Grubb of Boyne Island Qld Posted on 29 December 2013 1:14pm
  • 07 model 168,000 ks original clutch , untouched running gear and gearbox. Both front wheel bearings replaced in 2012. Idler arm in 2012. I think its served me well so far...

    rossco of Highfields Qld Posted on 19 March 2013 10:04pm
  • I love my Bt-50 We have had it from brand new 2008 model, just over 145k on the clock. Then the the transmission actuator motor shits itself $ 3400 later. Mazda itself was very good the service centre found the problem after one and a half days and overnighted the part from Melbourne and fitted the next day. We had a loan car as a replacement .

    R Spencer of Perth WA Posted on 05 February 2013 5:43pm
  • by oil light comes on even though there is oil in the egine. Can some one assist me as to what is happening?

    Mojoe of Jamaica Posted on 07 December 2012 1:44am
  • My son's 2012 BT50 also got stuck in 4wd low, all things tried with dealer's prompting, but needed to be towed. Came out by itself when being unloaded from the tray back.

    Rob Scott of Trigg WA Posted on 29 November 2012 8:16pm
  • I love our 2007 BT50. Bought it brand new, just clicked over 80,000kms. Clutch still good, no gearbox problems, in fact no problems at all. We use it for everything, work, 4wd'ing and think it goes great. Only annoying thing is how bouncy it is on the road, but you get that with utes. Mazda on the other hand and useless with service and for that reason i will never buy another mazda again. Had an engine light come on early in the piece (something corroded in the intercooler) and it took mazda 10 months to figure this out, had to fly a mechanic up from sydney as no one in brisbane could figure it out. SUCH A MUCK AROUND! It did not affect its driving so other than that hiccup the car has been perfect smile

    j a of brisbane Posted on 21 November 2012 5:42pm
  • I bought a 2008 3LTR 4x4 BT-50. The first 1000 km service I explained to Mazda there has been a terrible smell, worst than rotten eggs coming from the gearbox. they ended up replacing the clutch, pressure plate and brake booster due to the faults. After the repairs where completed all was great and the ute drove fantastic. I have just completed 123,000 km's now, and at every 10,000 k's I had all the oils and filters changed religiously, including radiator flushed when serviced and I even had the timing belt changed early at 95,000 k's. Now my ute has done a head gasket, or even a cracked head. The initial diagnosis is definitely a minimum of a head gasket. NOT HAPPY. Should get a lot more from a diesel. This is my first and last Mazda.

    Dave Stanfield of Brisbane Posted on 14 October 2012 9:29pm
  • 2012 BT50 stuck in low range (not the first time) not happy anyone got same problem

    ken maslin Posted on 02 September 2012 6:19pm
  • Love my 2010 BT50 dual cab 4 x 4. It does everything asked of it with style. Good fuel economy at average of 7.95L/100km for hwy driving with no load, loaded it still returns great fuel economy. The clutch is an obvious weak link, when towing trailer loads of gravel the clutch slips lifting off on any knid of incline. With care though the clutch will last me OK.

    Rob A of Brisbane, Qld. Posted on 12 July 2012 9:55pm
  • shit box 2009 upgrade not a real 4x4 cant handle work in the bush all was over heating problems and now makeing noise in front of engine like its gona blow up

    clint butler of brisbane Posted on 23 May 2012 8:36pm
  • They are crap. Done first clutch around 40k, gearbox a bit later, then at 85k they timing tensioner failed... destroyed motor. one month out of warranty as well. Mazda was good in replacing motor out of warranty, but clutch is 80% gone on inspection, so have to fork out for another. Does 4wd work on a farm though, I think these are designed for road work only... If you want a 4wd to use 4wd steer stay clear of these!

    Brendan of Gippsland, Vic Posted on 21 December 2011 10:58pm
  • Have done 92000 kms with approx 60K with 2000kg van last trip Melb Darwin Perth av 12.2Lt per 100k still on first clutch no problems hoping to get new model mid next year Regularly serviced by Dealer. Couldn't ask for more.

    Brian Bailey of Melb Posted on 15 December 2011 10:27pm
  • I have 3 BT-50s left, all with roughly 150klms, 2008 models, SDX. basically the base models. It?s a shame that I just bought 3 new Nissans 4x4 dual cabs (nothing wrong with them), but now I believe I should get another 150klms out of the BTs. Only 1 gearbox, 1 injector problem, over 500,000 klms and over 3 years and I should have kept them.

    Larry Newis of Bathurst Posted on 02 August 2011 3:52pm
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