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Mazda BT-50 2023 review: XTR long-term | Part 4

The BT-50 XTR can tackle the harshest terrain and venture deep into remote areas. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Prepping for off-road

A 4x4 dual cab ute like our BT-50 XTR, which can tackle the harshest terrain and venture deep into remote areas, obviously runs a much higher risk of being damaged than a family sedan or soft-roader that rarely (if ever) leaves the bitumen.

So, with serious off-roading and distant adventuring in mind, we returned to Ringwood Mazda this month to allow the service team to install three more items from the Mazda Genuine Accessories (MGA) range that will enhance its safety and performance no matter where we roam.

High-Spec Bull Bar with hoops (Part No: TF11ACBBH)

A quality bull bar is a must-have. It provides robust protection for the front of your vehicle, from fending off protruding branches on narrow bush tracks to avoiding, or at least minimising, vehicle damage in the event of a collision with roaming livestock, wildlife or another vehicle.

A bull bar can also serve as the ideal platform for mounting all sorts of accessories like winches, driving lights, radio aerials and the like.

However, selecting the right bull bar these days is an exacting science, because you must be sure it’s compatible with all of your vehicle’s active safety features like crumple zones, airbags and active driver-assist technologies. If not, your vehicle will be unsafe and illegal.

A quality bull bar is a must-have. (Image: Mark Oastler) A quality bull bar is a must-have. (Image: Mark Oastler)

A bull bar must also integrate with your vehicle’s engine and transmission cooling systems to ensure they are not compromised. And ideally it should have ‘plug-and-play’ compatibility with your vehicle’s indicators, parking lights, fog lights and driving lights.

So, given all of these considerations, it makes sense to choose a bull bar which has been designed, engineered, crash-tested and approved by your vehicle’s manufacturer, like those in the MGA range.

There’s a variety to choose from, and if installed by a Mazda dealer before a customer takes delivery of a new BT-50, they’re backed by the same five year/unlimited km warranty that applies to the vehicle.

We chose the ‘High Spec’ bull bar with side hoops. It’s made from 400 MPa-rated tensile steel with a tough powder-coated finish and sharp styling integration that looks like an extension of the BT-50’s bodywork.

The robust central bash-plate proudly displays the BT-50 name. (Image: Mark Oastler) The robust central bash-plate proudly displays the BT-50 name. (Image: Mark Oastler)

When viewed from the front, the main bar has a prominent V-shape which matches the base of the Mazda’s grille and the sturdy hoops on each side that protect the headlights do not project beyond the edges of the bodywork.

The lower portion of the bar provides full-width protection for mechanical components, highlighted by a robust central bash-plate that proudly displays the BT-50 name.

Light clusters on each side house the indicators, combination parking/fog lights and high intensity driving lights and there’s also platforms in front of the grille for mounting a variety of auxiliary lights. This is one heck of a good bull bar for a BT-50!

RRP: $4274.00

Engine Snorkel (Part No: TF11ACSN)

There are numerous benefits from fitting a snorkel to a 4x4 engine’s air intake. The most obvious is that by raising the intake to a much higher position at around roof height, it can greatly increase an engine’s wading depth by ensuring that water does not enter its induction system during deep crossings.

Fitting a snorkel can provide other benefits, including a cooler flow of air and therefore a denser engine inlet charge for improved performance. The airflow at roof height can also be cleaner, resulting in less air filter contamination for improved performance and longer filter life.

By raising the intake to a much higher position, an engine’s wading depth is greatly increased. (Image: Mark Oastler) By raising the intake to a much higher position, an engine’s wading depth is greatly increased. (Image: Mark Oastler)

The MGA range includes an engine snorkel designed specifically for this vehicle, as can be seen by the BT-50 name prominently displayed on the side of the snorkel body and on the intake’s mesh-type screen.

Manufactured from black textured PVC using a blow-moulding process, it mounts neatly on the external bodywork and a large neck provides a sealed connection to the engine’s air filter box through the inner guard. The snorkel’s smooth contours also ensure it doesn’t create noticeable wind turbulence or ‘whistling’ at highway speeds.

RRP: $1163.00

Headlight protectors (Part No: TF11ACHLP)

Even the best bull bars can’t provide total protection for your vehicle’s headlights. They are vulnerable at highway speeds if struck by stones or other flying road debris, which can often be flung with great force by vehicles travelling ahead of you or coming from the opposite direction.

Smashing a headlight is obviously something you want to avoid, not only from a safety viewpoint, in terms of losing half your lighting, but also the expense of having to replace it.

Fitting a pair of affordable headlight protectors from the MGA range makes plenty of sense. (Image: Mark Oastler) Fitting a pair of affordable headlight protectors from the MGA range makes plenty of sense. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Headlights are quite complex components these days and replacing them can often come with eye-watering price tags.

So, fitting a pair of affordable headlight protectors from the MGA range makes plenty of sense. These are bespoke units made in Queensland from an extruded acrylic with a very high impact rating. They also meet national transparency regulations for vehicle lighting.

RRP: $153.00 pair

Life with the BT-50

We’re chuffed with how the XTR BT-50 looks now, with the mix of accessories we’ve chosen from the MGA range enhancing its appearance, practicality and performance.

The canopy and load tub mat have greatly increased the BT-50’s versatility in the dual roles of weekday worker and weekend fun machine. There’s no end of stuff we’ve been able to carry in the load tub, as the canopy effectively doubles its covered load volume.

This has included everything from our pet boxer (she begs to go for a ride any chance she gets!), to IKEA flat-pack furniture, to a load of cardboard stacked to roof height which we took to the local waste distribution centre for recycling.

And the tailgate dust-sealing kit has ensured the load area has remained very clean inside regardless of sealed or unsealed roads.

With the mix of accessories we’ve chosen from the MGA range, appearance, practicality and performance have all been enhanced. (Image: Mark Oastler) With the mix of accessories we’ve chosen from the MGA range, appearance, practicality and performance have all been enhanced. (Image: Mark Oastler)

We were also impressed with its towing ability during our caravan test last month and now the addition of some heavy-duty off-road kit means she’s well equipped for tackling any adventure.

Overall, the BT-50 is an easy vehicle to live with as a daily driver. The only annoyance is the way the driver’s sun-visor clips the side of the rear-view mirror each time you swing it up or down, which requires re-adjustment of the mirror each time.

It’s a design flaw common to the latest generation of Isuzu D-Max/Isuzu MU-X/Mazda BT-50 and something that will hopefully be addressed.

Overall, the BT-50 is an easy vehicle to live with as a daily driver. (Image: Mark Oastler) Overall, the BT-50 is an easy vehicle to live with as a daily driver. (Image: Mark Oastler)

Meanwhile, its fuel consumption in daily city, suburban and occasional freeway/highway driving continues to impress. This month we added another 1582km to the odometer, with the dash display claiming combined average L/100km consumption of 10.8, 11.1 and 9.7 across three tanks of diesel.

Two of those figures were higher than our own numbers, calculated from tripmeter and fuel bowser readings, which came in at 9.7, 9.4 and 10.7L/100km respectively.

So, based on our figures, that represents average consumption of 9.9L/100km for the month, which is excellent given the size and weight of the vehicle and the broad range of tasks it performs.

Still to come on the long-term test agenda is installation of one or two more MGA accessories to wrap up our build program, some off-road evaluation, and if the stars align, a decent road trip to allow final assessment of how the BT-50 and its accessories perform.

Acquired: August 2022

Distance travelled this month: 1882km

Odometer: 7333km

Average fuel consumption (at pump): 9.9L/100km    

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The Wrap

Likes

Five-star ANCAP
One tonne payload/3500kg towing
Build quality and fuel economy

Dislikes

Driver's sun-visor
No audio control dial/knob
Minimal driver's seat adjustment

Scores

Mark:

The Kids:

$38,888 - $79,998

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