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2018 Mazda BT-50 GT Long-Term Test – Week 3

This week we took our Mazda BT-50 GT into the bush for some rough-road work, shot a couple of videos…and had a lot of fun.

What are we testing? The 2018 Mazda BT-50 GT 4×4 Dual-Cab

What’s running it? Isaac Bober

Why are we testing it? To find out if the BT-50 is the best real-world dual-cab 4×4…

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What it needs to do? While we’ve got the BT-50 we want to find out if it really can do it all, from the school run to the supermarket shop, to highway runs, towing and off-roading.

2018 Mazda BT-50 GT 4×4 Dual-Cab Specifications

Price From $56,990+ORC Warranty five years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 15,000km/12 months (capped price servicing ranges from $431-$502) Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 147kW at 3000rpm Torque 470Nm from 1750-2500rpm Transmission six-speed automatic (as tested) Drive 4×2; 4x4H; 4x4L Dimensions 5365mm (long) 1850mm (wide) 1821mm (high) 3220mm (wheelbase) Angles 28.2-degrees (approach) 26.4-degrees (departure) 25.0-degrees (ramp over) Ground Clearance 237mm (claimed) Wading Depth 800mm Weight 2147kg Towing 3500kg maximum braked GVM 3200kg GCM 6000kg Fuel Tank 80L Spare full-size steel underslung Thirst 10.0L/100km (claimed combined)

Week 3 – 24 August 2018

This week was a busy one in the Practical Motoring office and while our BT-50 has been running back and forth to my kid’s school it hadn’t yet left the bitumen, so, with a couple of hours spare the other day I decided to remedy that. It was also an excuse to recce some tracks ahead of a video shoot with the BT-50 next week.

One of the Practical Motoring 4×4 testing locations is a forest out the back of Lithgow and it’s great watching the place change as the years grind on. It wasn’t that long ago that the trees had been cut down and the place looked like what I imagine a nuclear wasteland might look like… fast forward to now and the trees are all up around 10ft tall. The whole place takes on a totally different vibe and while these tracks are only 40min from my house and sit right next to a highway almost no-one comes in here.

As Deano wrote in his yarn about 4×4 weekend escapes just getting out into the bush and away from your daily routine, no matter how short the trip, can recharge the batteries. And that’s exactly what my little run out to the forest did. Moving on.

I’ll have a more detailed off-road review of the BT-50 next week and a video too, but the short drive I did revealed a few things about the BT-50 and that is that driven sensibly and by taking the right lines there’s almost nowhere the thing won’t go. Sure, it’s tyres could be a little more aggressive, or even just some side biters for improved traction in mud ruts (we’ll be sorting this out shortly) but, remember, the more aggressive the tyre the less grippy they’ll be on bitumen and they’ll be noisier too.

2018 Mazda BT-50 GT

The BT-50 offers decent off-road angles although the ground clearance of 200mm (measured) is a long way short of the 237mm claimed. The 800mm wading depth is good. Look, essentially the BT-50 is a Ford Ranger under the skin (look at the diff pumpkin and the sticker even says FoMoCo) and so its off-road chops are good.

Most of the tracks I drove on were dry and dusty and even in two-wheel drive the BT-50 had plenty of grip with well calibrated traction and stability control systems that helped you keep going in the right direction rather than killing everything dead (Toyota HiLux, I’m looking at you). Some of the slipperier tracks had standing water in deeper ruts that had iced over and in 4H the BT-50 powered through with ease.

A lot of people (mainly motoring journos who prefer driving Porsches) complain about the unladen ride of dual-cab 4x4s but remember these things are designed as workhorses rather than show ponies. That said, the BT-50, I reckon, offers a good middle ground… and while the thing is intended, especially in GT trim, those after a work and play vehicle, I like the fact Mazda hasn’t done what some other brands have and load up the interior with soft touch this and that to make it feel more like an SUV.

For me, our BT-50 GT offers all the creature comforts I need in this type of vehicle with plastics and carpets that are robust. And I’m a huge fan of the side-steps…too often these things jut out just waiting to be ripped off when crawling across a rock, but the ones on our BT-50 GT are tubular and tough as nails; the slim design means they provide protection and the foot steps in them are easy to use by adults and kids alike. But the best bit is that if you’ve been driving on mud, you can swing out of the car and not brush against the side steps and end up with streaks of mud down the back of your pants. It’s the little things.

Right, next week we’ll have a full off-road report and muddy video to go with it.

Keep up to date with our BT-50’s story:

Week One; and

Week Two.


Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.