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Mazda BT-50 XTR 4x4 review

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    ... the BT is a decent thing, undoubtedly reliable, well made and safe.

Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the Mazda BT-50 XTR 4x4.

We are moving on from not being fans of the new Mazda BT-50s styling - it's subjective anyway. Looked at clinically, the new gen'  Mazda XTR 4x4, 3.2-litre ute (tested) is an impressive package in most areas, particularly load capacity and off road ability. It also offers generous room for five inside and plenty of kit in the dual cab model we drove.

The Boss Sports Pack fitted to the test vehicle has possibly the most aggressive looking alloy bull bar we have ever seen, side rails, a rear sports bar, twin driving lights, wild looking alloys and a hard tonneau cover.


The Boss pack adds $8509 to the $50,810 test vehicle price which touches the Luxury Car Tax trigger. It (the tax) needs reassessment because this isn't a luxury car.

Mazda is targeting cashed up "lifestylers" with its new ute. The XTR is mid-spec and comes with plenty of goodies including dual zone climate control, Bluetooth phone, hill descent control, hill start assist, five mode trip computer, satnav, a locking rear diff and alloy wheels - a well equipped package by anyone's measure.


Wedgey profile is different but the rounded styling is a big step away from the boxy functional look that has come to be expected from a ute. Steep screen is aerodynamic, interior is as roomy as a medium size SUV. The ladder chassis feels strong and extensive measures to cut noise and vibration boost interior comfort.

In practical terms, the load box is big and can take up to 1097kg in dual cab guise. The leaf spring rear suspension coped easily but can be over firm unladen. Load tray height is an issue especially on sloping ground.


The new five-cylinder turbodiesel has variable turbo nozzle control for efficiency gains but it's still a "lazy" engine generating 147kW/470Nm from 3.2-litres. Benz has a 2.1-litre four pot producing 150kW/500Nm.

Switch on the fly 4WD is handy and it offers low range as well as high. The front double wishbone/coil spring suspension is a big improvement on torsion bars. BT-50 gets rack and pinion steering but drum rear brakes. Six-speed auto with sequential mode is a cracker - forget the manual. Interior treatment is stylish but looks hide hard plastics.


The five star rating sets new standard for one tonne utes. BT-50 even has safety gains for pedestrians. Ladder chassis strength is not compromised by crumple zones. Gets other goodies like roll stability control and trailer sway mitigation.


It's a surprisingly smooth and quiet engine especially on the highway. There's plenty of punch once underway and the auto teams up nicely with the new five pot. Ride quality is firm with an empty tray, good when loaded. Handling is OK but the thing is so long it's issue turning or parking. The seats are acceptable but could do with more back support (even with lumbar on full). Overall impression is a move to an SUV feel rather than a workhorse.


It's big bikkies for Thai-made truck especially when you consider Thailand is used because it's a "low cost" country. Ha,  and it ain't just Mazda. But the BT is a decent thing, undoubtedly reliable, well made and safe.


Price: from $40,950
Warranty: 3-years/100,000km
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety: N/A
Engine: 3.2-litre, 5-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel, 147kW/470Nm
Body: 4-door utility
Dimensions: 5365mm (L), 1850mm (W),1821mm (H), 3220mm (WB)
Ground clearance: 205mm
Towing: 3350kg
Weight: 1795-2159kg
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Thirst: 8.9-9.2l/100km, CO2 N/A.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 4 comments

  • I agree with LN of Bathurst .My 15k supercab steel bar has had to be reinforced but may have to throw it out. Heater controls do not split cold air for face ( even my 78 Peugeot has this) .Plastic Hubcaps fall off and disppear . Its Fugly. Tiny 4x4 control knob on console will damage with articles floating around in cabin. Seat belt hard to find. Tray supplied without rope rails so tarping impossible without modification. Mahual with Drive-by- wire throttle quirky to drive as many diesels are in manuals- adds acceleration you dont necessarily want. Needs standard side-steps for 4x4 at the price .Factory UHF radio handpiece in silly position. Window controls unco-operative. So it spent a lot of time in our workshop before we could use it . But it is generally ahead of my late Hiluxes in NVH and handling and a good first effort—torque impresses for towing,fellow owners comment ,;steering precise .On dirt with low tyre pressures in 4x4 it can cover ground rapidly without too-much traction control interference.Nice brakes and rear drums   dirt-durable. I also note that it tops class sales in NZ and the chain drive overhead cam has to be a better deal than that rubber band on others.

    Adam Plate of Pink Roadhouse Oodnadatta SA Posted on 27 June 2012 4:07am
  • Bull bar supplied mazda bloody terrible, made for city people, who hit pedestrians, not for country dirt roads at all, far to much movement in bar, cannot put driving lights on, because of movement, have taken two way out, because of same problem.
    Secondly, to adjust temp, litres per 100km, and other options do not try to drive and adjust, you will have smash, otherwise great driving car. Diesal consumption so far 9.7, on 6000klms

    Larry Newis of Bathurst Posted on 10 May 2012 5:09pm
  • Is this car suitable for towing a caravan that is Tare 2500kg ATM 3000kg as I don’t understand all this stuff, we wanted to put a tinny on top of the vehicle as well as I know weights are important or a Tare 2250kg ATM 2800kg and the stabilizer bars can the be fitted for safety as never towed anything in my life.

    Tammy Laursen of Brisbane QLD AUST Posted on 10 April 2012 3:07pm
  • Luxury car tax does not always apply to these vehicle. See ATO website:;=/content/13288.htm&page=2#P162_8925

    Based on the Vehicle standards / Australian design rule, these vehicles still have a greater load carrying capacity than the designed passenger capacity and can be considered LCT exempt.

    TR of Brisbane Posted on 10 March 2012 12:11pm
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