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2021 Mazda BT-50 to get Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota HiLux Rugged X and Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior fighter! New rugged flagship coming soon

An artist’s impression of what the Mazda BT-50’s new rugged flagship could look like. (Image credit: William Vicente)

Mazda Australia has confirmed it has “something special” in store for the new-generation BT-50 ute in 2021.

Speaking to journalists at the launch of the updated CX-9 large SUV and MX-5 sports car, Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi hinted at what’s next for the BT-50.

“We’re also working on something special for BT-50 in the near future, but today is not the day to discuss those details, so please stayed tuned,” he said.

CarsGuide understands the BT-50 isn’t in line for an output boost for its 140kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, but it will instead get a new rugged flagship that will up the ante visually at the very least.

The extent to which the dual-cab pick-up will go is not clear, as it could go down the Toyota HiLux Rugged X route with unchanged suspension, or it could follow the Ford Ranger Raptor and Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior’s lead with upgraded suspension.

Perhaps the previous-generation BT-50’s tough-looking Boss flagship that arrived in June 2019 is a taste of what’s to come at minimum? It featured unique alloy wheels, fender flares, gloss-black exterior trim and branded decals, among other features.

Time will also how much of a local initiative the eagerly anticipated challenger is, similar to the Rugged X and Warrior. And yes, technically, the Raptor is, too, given it was developed here.

But let’s not forget Mazda Australia has form in this area, with the previous-generation BT-50’s facelift in April 2018 also an entirely local initiative, with its market-specific bumper fitted at dealerships.

Similarly, Toyota Australia currently keeps the Rugged X transformation in-house, while Nissan Australia uses a third party, Victorian-based Premcar, for the Warrior. And of course, Ford Australia sources the Raptor directly from its factory in Thailand.

Pricing-wise, the new rugged flagship should naturally exceed the BT-50’s current range-topper, the 4x4 GT (from $56,990 plus on-road costs). For reference, there’s plenty of room to move around the Warrior (from $63,790), Rugged X ($69,990) and Raptor ($77,190).

What implications the above has for the BT-50’s twin, the Isuzu D-Max, is unknown, as it really depends on whether or not it’s a local initiative. But that’s not to say the latter couldn’t go its own way…