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The all-new Mazda BT-50 is a serious contender in the pickup segment

Merging premium materials with legendary Isuzu toughness

Mazda has equipped the all-new BT-50 the goods to take on established names. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

Back in August, Mazda Philippines president Steven Tan dropped a bombshell: the latest-generation BT-50 will be coming to our shores “soon.” Well, he did keep his promise, and the company has just launched the much-awaited pickup truck today.

Previously based on the Ford Ranger, the all-new BT-50 will now share its platform and mechanicals with the Isuzu D-Max. This might seem odd to some people, wondering how Mazda can make a rather tough and utilitarian pickup feel premium. We found the answer to that question when the carmaker invited us to see the vehicle in the metal.

We really like the switch to the vertical taillight clusters. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

First, the canned photos found online don’t do justice to how the BT-50 really looks. While critics would say that the Kodo face doesn’t work here, Mazda has done a really good job of integrating its design language to this truck. Overall, the front end has a great, imposing look. On the sides, you’ll see unique character lines and a good-looking set of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels. At the back, gone are the unique horizontal tail lamps as vertically stacked lights are now used. Of all the paint jobs available, Concrete Gray Mica is our instant favorite.

Mazda did its best to make the cab feel upmarket. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

Inside, the black-and-brown interior looks premium and roomy. Hard plastics are used liberally because this is still a pickup truck after all. But in contrast, supple leather wraps the very comfortable seats and can be found in common touch points. A 7- or 9-inch infotainment screen dominates the center console depending on the variant. The eight-speaker audio system in the top-end model sounds really good for an OEM setup, and it also has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (wired and wireless). The rear bench is rather roomy and is still very comfortable to sit at. We were amazed at how the truck looked and felt like a proper Mazda through and through.

Sharing of some of the switchgear with the D-Max is inevitable. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

As for the mechanical bits, the all-new BT-50 uses the same 4JJ3 3.0-liter engine as the D-Max. That means you have 187hp and 450Nm on tap. In our brief preview drive, we found generous low-end grunt. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, with little to no shift shock at all. The suspension is rather pliant too. You’ll still feel the road under you, but it soaks up bumps rather well. The BT-50 is also loaded with features too. You have a differential lock, cooled front seats, hill-descent control, lane-keep assist, cruise control, front-collision warning and many more (for the 4×4 model).

The lower variant doesn't really look basic. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

Here are the variants and prices of the all-new BT-50:

  • 3.0 4×4 AT – P1,790,000
  • 3.0 4×2 AT – P1,430,000
  • 3.0 4×2 MT – P1,390,000

All vehicles come with a five-year service plan. The first 200 reservations (both AT variants) will even get a free accessory pack (worth P80,000) consisting of a front scuff plate, fender cladding, and a manual roller lid for the bed.

A proper test drive is in order before we could give our verdict. But the great-looking, capable and very comfortable BT-50 should give its competitors a run for their money. Mazda surely has another winner here.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.