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The Mazda BT-50 4x2 is ready to reclaim its share of the pie

Even the humble variant makes the most of its good looks and lifestyle appeal

It's always better to be late to the party than to never show up at all. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

Mazda has been concentrating on its crossovers, sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, and even roadster for some time now. And for good reason. Think of a midsize crossover, and the CX-9 comes to mind; compact crossover and there’s the CX-5; subcompact crossover and there are the CX-30 and the CX-3. Compact sedan or hatch, and there’s the 3. Midsize sedan or wagon, and you have the 6. Sports car, of course, and you have the MX-5. All of these offerings are at the sharp end of their respective segments, reflecting the strength of the brand. The BT-50, meanwhile, had gone to the back of the line.

With the main contenders out with the latest versions of their trucks, however, Mazda turned out to be in a favorable position to reveal its all-new pickup. The Japanese automaker may be late to the party, but they look to have a great product to offer. Personally, the B-Series holds a special place in my heart as my family had one for a good number of years. Good truck. I’m hoping this new one will be successful.

The Isuzu-sourced 4JJ3 is a reliable workhorse of an engine with plenty of grunt. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

What had previously been an alliance with Ford is now a partnership with Isuzu. Considering Isuzu’s motors are apocalypse-proof, that should bode well for Pinoys.

Under the hood is the familiar 3.0-liter turbodiesel that puts out 187hp and 450Nm. Along with that, however, comes the familiar clatter. I drive an old turbodiesel, so I’m not too bothered by it. The test unit is a 4×2 with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

A Mazda will always look good in red. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

With the previous BT-50 still resembling the old design direction, Mazda enthusiasts surely imagined how its Kodo design would look like on a truck. Fortunately, it does look good.

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at a CX-9 from the front. The design transitions well onto the sides and the rear, with subtle changes to make it look like a Mazda—such as the trademark circular-design taillights. My demo unit is finished in Volcanic Red, though I prefer white or gray for this truck. Capping off the appearance are 17-inch wheels.

It's a simple, elegant and purposeful cabin to be in. PHOTO BY JASON DELA CRUZ

While the 4×4 comes with a brown leather interior, the 4×2 comes with black fabric, which I like better. The cabin does give off a young and modern vibe. The BT-50 doesn’t come with Mazda Connect, but with Isuzu’s interface. While some will undoubtedly look for Mazda’s system, I don’t mind it too much as Isuzu’s system adds some spartan-ness to the truck.

This model may not be the top of the line, but I do like the simplicity of the 4×2. And it’s all you need for hauling stuff around town, which is what I did with the wife driving to Bulacan for three consecutive days. Power is smooth and effortless, with pull felt as early as 1,600rpm. Steering is nice and firm. That combination makes the BT-50 an enjoyable pickup.

So, can the BT-50 steal the attention among lifestyle pickup trucks? It not only deserves its slice of the pie, but also its place in the Mazda lineup.

Jason Dela Cruz

Jason is a veteran member of the motoring community, having worked as an automotive journalist and a car industry executive. He is now based in Cebu, where the car culture is vibrant.