Standard features onboard include a 9.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. (Image: Marcus Craft)
The Mazda BT-50 GT is available in a range of exterior colours including 'Red Volcano Mica', 'Rocky Grey Mica', 'Gun Blue Mica', 'Concrete Grey Mica', 'Ingot Silver Metallic', 'True Black Mica' – all at a cost of $695 each – and 'Ice White'.
Our test vehicle was coated in Ingot Silver Metallic.
For engine and transmission details skip ahead to the ‘Under the bonnet’ section further down this page.
Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?
The engine and auto generally work pretty well together, although the whole combination feels a bit underdone. The engine would benefit from more grunt and the transmission is not quite as smooth as it should be.
Under the bonnet of the BT-50 GT is a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?
The GT used to be the top-spec variant in the BT-50 line-up, but it’s dropped to number three in the current range.
That doesn’t mean its lost any premium-style, though. And it’s all rather familiar because, even though Mazda has thrown its own stamp on the interior, it feels like a D-Max X-Terrain cabin.
It has an abundance of leather, there’s chrome-look surfaces peppered around the interior, but there’s also plenty of durable plastic.
Controls are generally easy to locate and operate, and the multimedia screen is simple enough to use – and it does have Apple CarPlay (USB and wireless) and Android Auto (USB only) – but the 9.0-inch screen tends to reflect glare, which can be distracting.
Inside the cabin there is an abundance of leather and chrome-look surfaces. (Image: Marcus Craft)
There are ample storage spaces in the cabin, including cupholders in the centre console, bottle holders in the doors, as well as all the usual nooks and crannies in which to put your everyday carry gear.
There’s a 12-volt socket and a USB port up front.
The front seats are comfortable and heated – although that’s a function I’ve never used. Maybe I need to live somewhere colder to appreciate having a toasted backside.
The rear seats are not heated but comfortable, with room enough – just – for three adults, but that’s not encouraged.
Back seat passengers have amenities such as cupholders, directional air events, and a USB socket. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Both seat-backs have a map pocket and there is a fold-out shopping-bag hook on the back of the front passenger seat.
Back seat passengers have the use of cupholders in the fold-down centre arm-rest, directional air events, and a USB socket in the back of the centre console.
All in all, the BT-50’s cabin is a comfortably familiar space, especially in this GT spec.
Driving - What's it like to drive?
Over the last few years the BT-50 has been pleasant to drive, but these newer iterations are more refined than their predecessors.
Having said that, a bit of diesel engine noise still manages to creep into the cabin, especially when you accelerate hard, but I don’t mind that.
Overall, in terms of noise, vibration and harshness levels, those intrusions are subdued.
Steering retains a nice weight about it and it feels sharp. It feels right for this ute. Turning circle is a listed 12.5m, and this BT-50 never seems unwieldy to manoeuvre.
There’s adequate power and torque on tap, and acceleration is generally on the right side of crisp, but keep in mind this ute is more truck-like than dynamic – that all makes for an even-handed, no-fuss driving experience. Again, that’s fine with me.
Front suspension is independent using double wishbones, and a live axle is supported by leaf springs at the rear. Ride is firm but mostly well sorted, even over rough back-country blacktop.
Maximum payload of the BT-50 GT is listed as 1065kg. (Image: Marcus Craft)
As always, a load in the back of a ute will help improve ride and handling even further.
Otherwise, the BT-50 is impressive around town, in the suburbs, on highways, and even heading deep into the bush – but more about that right now, see below.
In terms of touring, no surprises really – good or bad. It does pretty well.
The BT-50 yielded a comfortable, no-stress drive along the gravel and dirt tracks which lead the way to one of my off-the-books, off-grid 4WD proving grounds in regional NSW.
The suspension soaked up most of the rocky imperfections on the track in, but the rear end did skip a little here and there as we traversed harsher bumps and potholes.
And, as mentioned, the engine becomes a bit noisy when pushed hard, but otherwise the BT-50 did a reasonable job of the dirt-road drive at speed.
The standard tyres are fine for the road and some light-duty off-roading. (Image: Marcus Craft)
It proved adept at the low-speed rough stuff, too.
And, even though its power and torque figures are down on what it used to have during its five-cylinder Ranger-based days, the D-Max-based BT-50 does fine, thanks very much.
In low-range 4WD and with the rear diff locked, the Mazda ute was able to tackle a short, steep rocky hill set-piece that I like to throw stock-standard vehicles at, in order to see how they cope.
Good news: the BT-50 climbed the hill. Not-so-good news: getting it to the top unscathed was a case of 'winning ugly' with a little bit of throttle because we were consistently losing valuable traction on this very technical challenge.
On this test I recorded actual fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km, but we were doing a lot of low-range 4WDing, so that has to be taken into account.
The BT-50 has a 76-litre fuel tank, so going by those fuel-use figures I’d expect to get a touring range of about 787km – that includes a safe-distance buffer of 30km.
Official fuel consumption of the BT-50 GT is 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle. (Image: Marcus Craft)
Note: Your fuel consumption will likely be higher than that, and consequently your driving range will be lower, because all we had onboard were a set of four Maxtrax in a carry bag, a vehicle-recovery kit, a tyre-puncture repair kit, a first-aid kit, an air compressor, and some tools – and my gigantic ego.
You’ll be carrying a lot more that that if you’re heading away for a weekend out bush or along a beach with your mates or your family – think camping equipment, food and water, as well as everything else that gets taken on a trip away.
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?
The Mazda BT-50 is a decent ute with a lot to like about it. In a market stuffed so full of utes that there’s a risk there’ll soon be no discernible difference between any of them, Mazda has managed to create a ute off a shared platform that’s very nice and refined to drive, and that has also retained a healthy bit of D-Max gruffness about it.
The BT-50 is comfortable, capable and has a premium but work-friendly presence about it. If you’re looking for a smooth off-roader the GT variant is worth your consideration.
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