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Sunday, January 9, 2022

Review: 2022 Mazda BT-50 4x4


The nameplate may not enjoy the same recall as its competitors, but the Mazda B-Series has had a very long history—one that dates back all the way to 1961. This makes its lineage one of the longest in the pickup truck segment predating the Toyota Hilux (1968), Mitsubishi L200 (1978), Ford Ranger (1983), and Nissan Navara (1985). Now, one could argue that the reason why it hasn’t been a household name is that it was made by three different companies throughout its 61-year history.

The first-generation BT-50 was designed and engineered by Mazda, with Ford benefiting from a badge-engineered version of it as early as 1972 all the way to 2011. In 2011, with the introduction of the Ranger T6, it went the other way with Ford taking lead in the engineering aspect, and Mazda limiting its involvement to designing a different sheet metal. Then, Mazda, keen to strip itself of any remaining connection with the American carmaker, inked an OE supply arrangement with Isuzu. The result of that arrangement is the 2022 Mazda BT-50.



Now, to be clear, Mazda has no technical involvement when it comes to the 2022 BT-50’s engineering. The holistic approach in developing the BT-50’s engine and platform does sound like Mazda’s Skyactiv approach, but everything you don’t see—the frame, suspension, and powertrain are all 100 percent Isuzu. But that’s not to say that the BT-50’s a mere facsimile. In fact, this is one of the rare occurrences where the derivative beats the original.

Let’s start with the most obvious thing: the styling. It has all those Mazda trademarks everyone has come to know so well from the broad grille to the squinty LED headlights. It will certainly be a subject of continuous internet debate, but subjectively, it’s far easier on the eye and more mature than the D-MAX. An added bonus is that sloping hood also visually plants the BT-50, while also improving the front visibility, especially at the corners. A caveat though is that it won’t play well with even the most minor of aftermarket setups.



The verdict on the exterior design is purely in the eye of the beholder, but once aboard, there’s no doubt that it’ll wow style-driven buyers. Some items are common with the D-MAX such as the switchgear and buttons, but there’s plenty of differentiation too. For instance, the dashboard itself has been re-sculpted lending it a broader, cleaner look free from unnecessary creases. Plus, the metallic trim that runs from the doors across the dashboard—is very Mazda. Meanwhile, the contrasting brown leather seats (perforated for good measure) and knee pads add a touch of class, blending well with the brown dash highlights. That said, the re-design has one main drawback: there are far less cubby holes in here. Compared to the D-MAX, the BT-50 loses the two cup holders by the AC vents and the lidded top dash console. Thankfully, it does manage to keep the twin gloveboxes and deep arm rest console box.

Compared to the D-MAX’s locally-sourced head unit, Mazda opted to keep the factory 9-inch infotainment system. The interface isn’t related to the touted Mazda Connect system, but the graphics are still clean and crisp. Navigating through the menus require using both the on-screen and physical buttons (Back and Home, for example), which may be confusing at first, but it become second nature in time. It doesn’t offer offline GPS capability, but standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make up for that. That said, setting up wireless Apple CarPlay isn’t a straightforward process, and the lack of a wireless charging pad means drivers will probably have to resort to plugging in anyway.



The front seats are supportive, but more than that, there’s excellent amount of movement for the driver to get their preferred position. It offers six ways of electric movement plus adjustable lumbar support. The steering wheel also adjusts for rake and reach as well. Meanwhile, the rear seats are comfortable, easily fitting three six-footers abreast with adequate knee and headroom. When not carrying people, the seats flip up in a 60/40 split, or fold down in one piece for added cargo room.

Across the BT-50 range is a standard 3.0-liter turbo diesel 4-cylinder shared with Isuzu. In this application, it makes 190 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. And despite not having peak power or torque figures that match the segment leaders, it feels effortless on the road. The engine rarely feels like you ever have to work it hard to do anything. A light right foot is all that’s needed for almost all daily driving duties. The secret is that peak torque is available from just 1,600 rpm. It’s also refined, too. Even under load, the engine barely disrupts the cabin.



The six-speed gearbox is also well-matched to the relaxed nature of the engine. There’s no instance where you’re left thinking the transmission needs more ratios than it has. The powertrain combined also results in commendable fuel economy: 10.41 km/L during post-Christmas traffic.

Like the D-MAX, the BT-50 continues with a hydraulic power steering. It requires more effort to turn during low-speed maneuvers, but balance out well as the speeds go up. And speaking about high speeds, it feels largely composed. Unladen, the ride is firm without being fierce, and while the rear end will skip over poor surfaces, it toes the middle between ride comfort and capability.



And speaking about capability, this is where Mazda has caught Isuzu off-guard. With the D-MAX omitting a rear locking differential, the BT-50 has the edge when it comes to off-road trails. Match that with standard 18-inch all-terrain tires, 240-mm ground clearance, and an 800-mm water wading depth, and you’ve got a solid 4x4 machine that happens to look sleek and stylish.

In terms of safety, the BT-50 comes with front and rear parking sensors with a reverse camera. Even better, it has blind spot indicators and a camera-based driver assist system that unlocks features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control. Like the system found in the D-MAX, overriding any of these systems requiring going through layers of menus (it turns back on by default whenever the truck’s started up). Unlike the Isuzu though, Mazda was able to tune their system better. During a week’s worth of driving, it didn’t blare out a single false alarm.



After a week behind the wheel, the only obvious negative one could throw against the BT-50 is that it could use more differentiation. Mazda could have injected a bit more of their DNA by tweaking the steering or springs or something. That shortcoming aside, it’s a solid performer.

All told, it’s an impressive pickup truck. Compared to its predecessor, it’s definitely better to drive, more efficient, and more future-proof. It may still be something of a badge-engineering exercise, but Mazda still deserves credit for changing up the exterior and pushing up the interior quality too. Throw in a better ownership package thanks to its free 5-year service plan, more affordable price tag, P 80,000 worth of accessories (fender flares and the tailgate cover), and you have a clear winner here.

2022 Mazda BT-50 4x4

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Ownership 2022 Mazda BT-50
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Pick-up Truck
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Pick-up Truck
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/4WD, Low, Locking
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 3.0
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Common Rail
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 190 @ 3,600
Nm @ rpm 450 @ 1,600-2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 10.41 km/L @ 23 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 5,280
Width (mm) 1,870
Height (mm) 1,810
Wheelbase (mm) 2,830
Curb Weight (kg) 2,600
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Rear Suspension Leaf Spring
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Parking Brake Manual
Tires Dunlop GrandTrek AT25 265/60 R 18 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Blind Spot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Forward Collision Warning
Autonomous Emergency Braking
Lane Departure Warning
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED) & Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 8-way, Electric
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Aux
Bluetooth
USB
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay (wireless)
Android Auto
# of Speakers 8
Steering Controls Yes

5 comments:

  1. Sir Uly, the question many are most likely asking:
    Why did Isuzu leave out the rear locking differential from the DMAX?All the more confusing is that Isuzu allowed Mazda to have this edge, considering that the DMAX and BT 50 are 'twins'.
    Based on video comparos I watched bet a DMAX and other pickups, the issue on the rear locking differential is usually mentioned ☹️
    - Mark J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isuzu can get away with a less complete product because majority will still buy it over the basically-the-same-but-better-priced BT-50. Pickup truck buyers here in the Philippines are usually the close-minded blind loyalist type. May nakausap ako na Isuzu owner, sabi ko sa kanya na ayos ang bagong BT-50 kase based sa Isuzu D-Max pero sagot niya sa akin, "Iba pa rin talaga ang Isuzu, ayaw ko diyan sa Mazda" LMAO kahit inexplain ko na paparehas lang sila pero mas maganda service plans at price ng BT-50. As long as it has an Isuzu badge, it will sell better than the same product but with a different brand, so Isuzu can take advantage of this. Same goes for the other mainstream pickup models.

      Delete
    2. ^parang si Rommel, sabi nya "iba talaga ang Wigo ayaw ko dyan sa Mazda" hahaha

      Delete
  2. Just ignore that Rommel. He does not deserve any attention.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pota 2022 na andito pa rin yung Wigo-class troll na si Romina? Bwahaha. Baka ma-Omicron ka sana. Lulz.

    ReplyDelete

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