The new 2021 Mazda BT-50 is here, but the range is a bit skinnier than some of its rivals in the ute segment.
It isn't launching with a sporty-styled model like the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, nor is there a Toyota HiLux Rugged X or Rogue-style version, and there's no equivalent to the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain for that matter, either. That's arguably a bit weird, because the BT-50 and D-Max are very, very closely aligned.
According to Mazda Australia, the two utes could well follow the same path over their lifecycles. And that means there's a chance we could see a more hardcore ute - probably first in Isuzu guise, and possibly in Mazda trim thereafter - to take on the flagship Ford Ranger Raptor.
"We’re not going to go into speculation on that," said Alastair Doak, Mazda Australia marketing director. "We are very happy with the outcome the line-up and the specification we're going to market with.
"We have a deal with Isuzu to take a version of their ute. That’s all we can say on that point. We could get into trouble if we speculate on this that may exist in the future," he said.
Mr Doak said that the brand's approach - launching with dual-cab models in three trim levels (XT, XTR and GT) - is just the first step, with single- and extra-cab models to follow later this year.
"We’ve been involved in this conversation for five years. It has taken five years to get to on sale," said Mr Doak. "The design was done between ourselves here in Australia and the design team at Mazda. We worked together from day one.
"We talked about how it should look and what it should deliver. We were really happy with what our design team delivered for us. The first time the chief designer showed us, we were very happy with it - it didn’t really change from that to what we see in production."
Mazda Australia is predicting a sales rate in the ute market of between 7-8 per cent market share, equating to a predicted 1200-1300 units per month. The company says it foresees no issues with supply, though we know the BT-50's twin-under-the-skin, the D-Max, has a wait list of stretching out several months already - namely for the X-Terrain model, which proves there's a market for a flashy model in the Isuzu range, at least.