Could the imminent launch of the all-new Isuzu D-Max pave the way for the arrival for its Mazda BT-50 sibling?
Mazda and Isuzu have joined forces on each brand's next-gen ute (in the same way Ford and VW have teamed up on the next Ranger and Amarok), with the brands saving on hefty development costs by splitting the bill.
But while we had initially expected the BT-50 to arrive in 2021 or later, the imminent arrival of the all-new D-Max has left us wondering whether Mazda's new ute could be getting an early mark.
Consider that when Mazda last partnered with a manufacturer on a ute (the Ford Ranger/BT-50 tie-up), Ford's version launched in September 2011, and Mazda followed just two months later, in November.
CarsGuide understands the new D-Max is pencilled in for a July launch in Australia. So what does that mean for the BT-50?
Now it must be said, this is only our speculation. Mazda in Australia is yet to confirm the timing of its BT-50, and has declined to comment.
But we do know that Mazda has essentially been handed a finished ute, with Isuzu telling CarsGuide the new D-Max was "developed solely by Isuzu" and that the finished truck would then be provided to Mazda.
"This was developed solely by Isuzu, and we have decided to supply or provide this vehicle to Mazda as an OEM. But it was developed purely by us," he told us last year..
"We independently developed this D-Max. We tried to strike a balance between passenger use and more off-road demand. We understand the increasing demand on the D-Max as a passenger car."
That means Mazda will share the Isuzu's architecture, and it likely the 3.0-litre diesel engine now producing 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm at 1600rpm.
One thing we do know is that the BT-50 will look substantially different, with the brand's chief designer promising it would be more "masculine and tough" than the current model.
"The rear area of the truck itself is very difficult to use this (Kodo) design language, but I could try," the company's design boss, Ikuo Maeda, told us in 2018.
"I myself think the truck should look masculine and strong, and really like a truck. It might be difficult to try this kind of design, with all the light reflections, to a truck. It's tough."