2012 Mazda BT-50 XTR Boss Sports 4x4 Manual Dual Cab Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Huge grunt, big cabin, healthy equipment list.

What’s Not

Heavy controls, suspension refinement.

X Factor

A dual-cab with all the trimmings, the BT-50 XTR is the perfect partner for today’s tradie.

  • Country of Origin
    THAILAND
  • Price
    $48,810 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    5 Cylinders
  • Output
    147 kW / 470 Nm
  • Transmission
    Manual
  • ANCAP Rating
    5
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
    8.9
  • C02
    235 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    1114 L
  • Towing (braked)
    3350 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    750 kg
Tony O'Kane | May 28, 2012 | 20 Comments

2012 MAZDA BT-50 REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Dual-cab utility
Price:
$48,810 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.4 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 9.8 l/100km

While some may be turned off by the Mazda BT-50’s polarising styling, there’s no getting around the fact that it offers tremendous value for money.

In today’s market, it’s sharp buying - particularly for those who need to haul heavy loads during the week, and want to search some off-road adventure on weekends.

The XTR 4x4 model tested here features the optional Boss Sports package whose garish polished bullbar and shiny alloy wheels is not exactly to our tastes.

But the bulletproof build quality, off-road capability and substantial equipment list of the XTR, make the BT-50 hard to ignore if you’re looking for a dependable dual-cab ute.

INTERIOR

Quality: Work utes aren’t known for their plush environs, but the BT-50 comes pretty close to providing a cockpit of car-like quality.

Plastic quality is good and most switchgear is of a feel you’d more expect to find in a family sedan than a dual-cab ute.

There’s an emphasis on ergonomics, without ignoring aesthetic appeal, and while there are some pretty obvious Ford-sourced parts dotted throughout the cabin (the BT-50 and Ford Ranger share their underpinnings), that’s not a bad thing considering the quality and solid feel.

Add to that a robust build, and the BT-50 scores highly for its cabin fit-out.

Comfort: The BT50’s seating position is upright and high up, affording an excellent view of the road ahead. Seat comfort is good too, and the driver’s seat squab adjusts for height.

Unfortunately, like so many 4x4 utes, the BT-50 doesn’t offer any reach adjustment on its steering column.

The back seat is spacious and more than comfortable enough for two adults, and the cabin’s width means three people can easily sit across the rear bench. Headroom is plentiful, and there’s also a waterproof bin under the rear seat for stowing muddy gear.

Equipment: Standard equipment on the BT-50 XTR includes foglamps, power mirrors, a trip computer, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav and a USB audio input.

Our tester was also optioned with the Boss Sports package, which adds an angular alloy bull bar, 17-inch alloy wheels, stainless steel side steps, a lockable hard tonneau cover and a pair of spot lights.

Storage: The BT-50’s tub measures 1549mm long, 1560mm wide and 513mm deep. There’s 1139mm between the rear wheelarches - just a few centimeters too narrow for a standard Australian pallet - and the tailgate opening measures 1330mm wide.

The BT-50 XTR manual can carry a maximum payload of 1217kg, and tow up to 3.35 tonnes on a braked trailer.

Unbraked towing capacity is 750kg.

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: The BT-50’s 3.2 litre turbodiesel inline-five is a muscle-bound workhorse of an engine. Producing 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque, it’s capable of lugging some pretty heavy loads up some pretty steep grades.

Like most diesels, it runs out of puff well before redline. In the BT-50’s case there’s little point revving past 3900rpm (peak torque is spread between 1750rpm and 2500rpm), so shifting early and often is the best way to extract the most from this engine.

Unfortunately, that means having to deal with the heavy, rubbery gearshift and firm clutch of the standard six-speed manual.

With a bit of experimentation you can find the shift point that allows the gear lever to cut more smoothly through the gate, but some buyers may simply prefer the hassle-free six-speed auto instead.

We wouldn’t blame them.

Aside from that, the BT-50 is an easy car to pilot, happy to lope along at low revs, with just a gentle squeeze of the accelerator needed to dispatch hills and freeway onramps.

Hill starts are also pretty easy, thanks to the standard-fit hill hold mechanism.

It’s pretty quick when it’s not carrying a payload too, although there is the usual amount of turbodiesel throttle lag to contend with.

Refinement: It’s a diesel work ute, and as is typical for cars of its type there’s a prominent diesel thrum that penetrates the firewall. It’s a pretty smooth mill though, and the off-beat sound of its five-cylinder layout isn’t unpleasant.

The BT-50 has a sleeker shape than some of its rivals, and there’s less wind noise at speed - even with the garish protuberances of our tester’s bull bar.

Suspension: The BT-50’s suspension irons out big bumps with ease, but like most body-on-frame leaf-sprung utes it tends to jiggle over smaller imperfections.

Its ride is a lot more settled with a bit of weight sitting in the tub and at highway speeds it feels stable and secure

It’s comfortable too, and the Mazda’s steering doesn’t feel as ponderous as some of its competitors.

Braking: There’s discs up front and drums at the rear, and braking feel through the pedal is pretty good. We didn’t get an opportunity to test the BT50’s stopping performance while carrying a load, but it hauled up pretty smartly without one.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: Five stars

Safety features: Standard safety equipment comprises stability control, traction control, ABS, emergency brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and roll stability control.

There are also dual front, side and curtain SRS airbags, and all seats are fitted with lap-sash seatbelts.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Mazda offers a 2-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on BT50 models. If less than 100,000km is travelled in the first two years, the warranty extends to 3-years or 100,000 kilometres.

Service costs: Servicing costs can vary. Consult your local Mazda dealer for servicing costs.

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

Ford Ranger XLT Double Cab 4x4 ($53.390) - Under the skin, the Ranger is mechanically identical to the BT-50 XTR - same engine, same gearbox, same 4WD hardware.

It’s got a more universally-appealing look, but it carries a higher pricetag thanks to a slightly fatter spec sheet. (see Ranger reviews)

Toyota Hilux SR5 Double Cab 4x4 ($50,990) - Despite a recent update, the Hilux is nearly a full generation behind many of its competitors - and it feels it.

The interior is more utilitarian and less welcoming than the Mazda’s cab, and the Hilux’s 126kW/343Nm 3.0 litre turbodiesel is nowhere near as grunty as the Mazda’s 3.2.

That said, there’s still much appeal in the Toyota’s reputation for reliability, as well as its fixed-price servicing scheme and wider dealer network. (see Hilux reviews)

Isuzu D-Max LS-U Dual Cab 4x4 ($42,500) - A frequently overlooked contender is the Isuzu D-Max, but although it might not sell in the same numbers as its competitors, it’s by no means a lesser vehicle.

Its 3.0 litre turbodiesel puts out a handy 120kW/360Nm, and it boasts a robust build quality. Like the Toyota it’s not exactly cutting edge, but its substantially lower entry price makes it good buying for cost-conscious business operators.

A brand-new D-Max, developed alongside the upcoming next-gen Holden Colorado, will launch in Australia this year. (see Isuzu reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

It would be a mistake to dismiss the Mazda because of its awkward ‘out-there’ styling. Look beneath the surface and you’ll find one of the most capable utes on the market today.

It’s got a fantastically tractable engine, a commodious and comfortable interior and an equipment list that boasts more mod-cons than the typical 4x4 ute.

For small business owners it would prove a superb workhorse. It’s also super off-road, and, with that 3.35 tonne towing capacity, those with boats, horse floats or heavy trailers to tow will find the BT-50 right up their alley.

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Filed under: Featured, review, Mazda, diesel, 2012, 4wd, Mazda BT-50, BT-50, commercial, lcv, Manual, utility, pickup, light commercial, dual-cab, family, large, Advice, special-featured, 5cyl, 4door, 6m, BT50, available

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  • cyclone says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    I can't believe that bullbar was even approved for use. Surely with those sharp lines it couldn't have passed pedestrian safety, considering these things won't be in the path of a bull very often. I'd hate to be hit by anything with a bullbar, but doubly so with this thing. Why don't 4wds have to have the same pedestrian safety measures in place like all new cars?
    • Balthazaaaaaargh says,
      2 years ago
      Bloody good question. And I'd like to know what the stats are for pedestrians killed by bullbar-covered cars too.
      • jim says,
        2 years ago
        1 like
        Cant believe u guys , bullbar or no bullbar im sure its going 2 hurt like all f¥#k 2b hit buy any bloody car or 4x4 even a motor bike. Cheers
  • Guest says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    Bullbars are a great way to hide the polarising styling. Don't think they'd be able to sell one without it personally. Plus agree with the bullbar comments.
    • CP says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      It's amazing that nearly every shot provided for the BT50 features a bullbar. Indeed it's hiding some out there styling. I can't understand why they are outselling the Ranger by such a great margin though.
      • Lorraine says,
        1 year ago
        3 likes
        Gee guys, you whinge about bull bars when you drive across the Nullarbor or North to South with roos, cattle and whatever you would be grateful for the bulbar. I've been in the 4x4 when a roo jumped out and when they have decided to cross the road and been extremely grateful for the bull bar's protection.
  • Joe says,
    2 years ago
    The reason they are outselling the Ranger is because Ford just can't get enough of them out of THailand. Waiting times of up to 6 months seem to be the norm.
    • Lu says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      They are coming out of the same factory, they are outselling it because you can effectively get the same car for less outlay! smile
    • cashcow says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      Maybe they are outselling the Ranger due to the fact Ford kept selling a vehicle with a 7 year history of a known safety fault, which is still not resolved.
      Bullbars are a good protection item in carparks. Mine has saved me a couple of headlights. (No dead people hanging of it either smile )
  • Hugh says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    Quit winging about Bullbars, yous won't be happy until every 4x4 is of the road
  • DWS1 says,
    2 years ago
    Bull bar looks like Dame Edna's glasses.
    But since the launch the look is growing on me (without the bull bar).
    These utes are very long and that bull bar just adds to the length.
    Funny how many of these four door utes you see driving about that never have anything in the back.
  • Dave says,
    2 years ago
    3 likes
    i paid $45k including a arb bull bar fitted and am very happy also it comes standard with more options than the ranger yeah sure the bar is requiered as the front is a bit how you going,With the bar on it looks better than the front of the ford.
    Same car probably saving of $10k
  • Kym says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    Hi all Im thinking of buying a Mazda purely on statistics and reviews and of course the Dollar for money. Why pay extra for a vehicle that you don't have to. And with the bull bar saga it actually would give someone something to grab on to if at low speed, also designed to keep things from being forced under the car unlike the normal car. But any vehicle doing any speed will harm humans as well as animals don't forget that cheers.
  • Tassie John says,
    2 years ago
    Hey Tony, If you check back on your reports and you get this: What is the situation with the polished bull bar? The dealer says it MAY be coming back but I'd like to know for certain. It's a deal maker (hiding the ugly snout as it does) otherwise the Ford is a more likely proposition. Cheers, Tassie John
  • schubs says,
    2 years ago
    not happy with my new bt 50 4x2 has let me down two times in less than six months, just wont start
  • glen says,
    2 years ago
    after 30000km there is some dumb and basic not mentioned faults . 1.no over speed alarm.2.key ignition impossible to find in the dark.3.trip meter you need to put your arm through the wheel.4.nav and radio screen countersunk down "dirt and dust trap". 5.sunglass holder only for babies.6.no one would get in if I fitted gen alloy bull bar 'shocker'
  • darrell says,
    1 year ago
    1 like
    I got my BT50 (GT) in January and I fitted a nudge bar with driving lights.I also fitted a roller shutter to the back tub which is lockable (the dealer jumped up and down on his demonstration unit poundbiggrined the s%#t out of it,no damage).It allows me to use it as a normal ute when open as the roller is right behind the cab but being able to lock it allows me to carry valuable cargo with no worries( it has a special key system)there is a webbing strap to pull the lid open and shut. Pricy but a good investment.
  • Andrew says,
    1 year ago
    I purchased a black bt and put the bar ,side steps ,sports bar , 2" full lift kit with my own 17" wheels and love it it pulls a 2.5 tonne excavator on a trailer one to two times a week and eats it cant speak highly of it . Ps the bar looks awsome so ive been told pitty i cant add a winch.
  • Raphael says,
    9 months ago
    How can u ship the boss sport bull bar for mazda bt50 to east malaysia (sabah) and howuch is the price all in all?tq
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