Mazda joins the ‘tough-truck’ ute brigade with its own Aussie spin-off, the BT-50 Thunder.

Mazda Australia has pieced together a unique BT-50 model based on new 2021 underpinnings and using bespoke parts designed by the local engineering team, and with a name somewhat inspired if you’re a ute-loving Acca Dacca fan.

Just looking at the new model we can see that it is fitted with many accessories, putting it inline with competitors such as the new Nissan Navara Pro-4X, Ford Ranger FX4 and Toyota Hilux Rugged X. Pricing reflects as much too, with a retail price at $65,990 plus on-roads with manual and $68,990 with automatic transmission.

Missing is an increase in ride height via modified suspension (such as the Nissan Navara Warrior which has sold out), though it does improve some off-road credentials.

Fronting the new Thunder is a unique steel bulbar with LED light bar, designed and developed to reduce the approach angle to 25.8 degrees (down from 30.4) in conjunction with removing some unneeded bodywork. Given the ADAS safety system (AEB, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist etc) uses a high-mount camera system on the windscreen, the addition of the bullbar does not interfere with these systems.

Further additions beyond the ‘THUNDER’ stickers on each rear flank are black 18-inch alloys, ‘BT-50’ bash guards underneath, side steps, wheel guard flares, custom tray liner, black sports bar with infills and a lockable roller tonneau over the tray. There is not a tow bar as standard.

Based on the high-spec GT, the Thunder is well equipped with a full brown leather trim interior and mod cons including 9.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat-nav, heated front seats, keyless entry and ignition (including remote start), semi-digital dash, and the full ADAS safety suite (BT-50 also carries a five-star ANCAP rating).

The drivetrain remains unchanged, which means it shares the same 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo engine with the new Isuzu D-Max, producing 140kW and 450Nm through a six-speed manual or automatic transmission to a part-time four-wheel-drive system. Standard is a mechanical rear differential that can be engaged in four high and low, plus there is hill descent control and hill launch assist.

Available to buy in April, the Thunder can be customised in either Ice White, True Black Mica, Ingot Silver Metallic, Concrete Grey Mica, Gun Blue Mica, Rock Grey Mica and Red Volcano Mica.

It remains to be seen how the additions will improve the BT-50’s performance off-road but we will bring you a full off-road test. Towing capacity is still 3500kg braked, though the additional gear may affect GVM/GCM weights.


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Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

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