Can the Mazda BT-50 GT 4×4 be a style master in town and a track warrior in the bush? We aim to find out.

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

Who’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…

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)

Our Mazda BT-50 long-termer hasn’t had a whole lot of love of late but I have treated it to a new set of tyres… Despite being an all-terrain tyre, the standard fit tyres are designed primarily for on-road use and off-road they struggle to deal with mud (clogging easily with seemingly almost no ability to flick mud from the tread) and constantly see the traction control cutting in in the wet. And they’re not the quietest tyre either with a slight drone across even the smoothest of surfaces.

And that brings me to the new tyres. They’re a set of Continental CrossContact ATRs these are still an all-terrain tyre but in the Continental line-up they’re regarded as the final step before choosing a 50/50 tyre like the ContiCrossContact AT. The Cross Contact ATR tyre is a 70/30 on-/off-road tyre whereas the tyres that were on the BT-50 were an 80/20 tyre.

Now, this doesn’t sound like a huge difference but you only have to look at the two sets of tyres to see the differences. The 80/20 tyres look just like a regular road tyre with a slightly chunkier tread but the 70/30 CrossContact ATR looks immediately more aggressive with its traction grooves and gripping teeth on the shoulder, where the 80/20 has nothing, for improved traction and protection when driving in ruts off-road, especially mud ruts where you need all the grip your tyres can find.

While I haven’t had a chance to take the BT-50 off-road since fitting the tyres, I will be doing that next week when it’ll act as support vehicle to our Ranger Raptor shoot/video. But this week I did take it for a run to Sydney in heavy rain.

Just looking at the new tyres suggested, with their open, chunkier tread that they’d be noisier on the road than the old tyres but they were quieter. Continental claims the tyres feature noise blockers in the shoulders. Okay.

The tyres on the BT-50 had had only travelled a few thousand kilometres by the time I collected it but their wet weather grip isn’t/wasn’t amazing. I expected the new tyres to be on-par but they couldn’t have been more different and they’ve transformed the BT-50 in the wet from something that you had to tip-toe through corners or go easy on the throttle from standing starts to one that’s more confidence inspiring and grippy.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be covering the vehicle as well as the performance of the tyres both on- and off-road across a variety of terrains. I should note that the CrossContact ATRs won’t officially be released in Australia until next year; and Continental has provided us with a set for testing. Stay tuned for more.


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