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Raptor-equivalent Mazda BT-50 on the cards

Work has already been under way on improving the looks, and presence, of the big BT-50.

A few short years ago, the idea of a sporty, exciting version of Mazda's BT-50 - an MX-50 if you will - would have seemed slightly absurd, but in a world in which the Ford Ranger Raptor is about to bring both glam and muscle to the ute market, you can bet it's something Mazda Australia would dearly love to see.

The company's marketing manager, Alastair Doak, admits that looking good, and tough, is increasingly important in the fast-growing pick-up truck segment of the Australian market.

Dual cab utes, to give them their local appellation, have overtaken large sedans as our favourite form of transport. So if you used to want a sporty sedan, you're now likely to want an angry ute instead.

The Ford Ranger Raptor is described as a 'desert racer', but it will sell at a muscular price of $75,000.

"Obviously we know where the market's heading and we'll continue to consider all of these things, (a Raptor-like version of the BT-50)," he says.

The Mazda is, of course, the slightly uglier sister of the hugely popular and tough-looking Ford Ranger, because they are effectively twins under the skin, but Doak says there's no opportunity to make a Raptor out of the current Mazda, so they might have to wait to incorporate such a thing into the next model's range.

But work has already been under way on improving the looks, and presence, of the big BT-50.

"There's no opportunity to do it, sadly, with the current one, and we've  just spent a  lot of time doing that local upgrade on the BT-50, which was a fun project, and quite a complicated one," Doak says, referring to the recent facelift of the company's ute.

More than two years' of work by the local Mazda folk produced a new, three-slat grille and a squared off bumper, aimed at toughening up the look of the BT-50 without changing the mounting points for those pieces.

In the short term, Doak says you can expect Mazda to attempt a few more things, including bolt-on visual features, to attract more attention.

"We've done a limited edition with the current BT-50 before the facelift and we'd certainly look at doing those kind of things again, where you add on bits and pieces, and that seems to work in the market place, so maybe we'll look at one of those at some point," he adds.

Would you be tempted by a 'tuff' BT-50? Tell us what you think in the comments below.