THE Mazda BT-50 will gain a number of significant updates unique to the Australian market, including styling tweaks developed right here, when a facelifted version goes on sale from May.
The “bold new” look is only the second running change made to the Thai-built competitor for the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado, but includes what Mazda calls the most comprehensive update to the one-tonne trade ute since it launched in 2011.
The updates are the result of a partnership between Mazda and local aftermarket accessory maker EGR Group. Of note, the redesigned BT-50 – which shares its underpinnings with the Ford Ranger – will adopt a more squared bumper that Mazda says lowers the visual centre of gravity of the trade ute, and add “bolder contrasting fog light surrounds … along with a large trapezoidal lower air intake with a skid plate”.
“Further bolstering its tougher outlook, the grille has adopted strong horizontal lines to straighten out the front of the car, giving the ute a wider and more solid bearing,” it said. However, we’re forced to wait to see what it looks like; Mazda has supplied only a single teaser image that gives no clues as to how the upcoming BT-50 carries its new face.
The BT-50 is also expected to gain a number of other equipment enhancements that will roll out across the closely related Ranger line-up when a facelifted version of Australia’s best-selling 4x4 ute arrives later this year. This includes features such as keyless start and entry, satellite navigation across more variants, and an electronic tailgate lock. Mazda said it would confirm the specifications closer to the refreshed BT-50’s May arrival.
Mazda’s trade ute is one of the slower selling models on the Australian market, ranking well below the market leaders including the Hilux and Ranger, the ageing Mitsubishi Triton, the Isuzu D-Max, and the Nissan Navara.
Trade utes are one of the strongest-performing sectors of the Australian new-car market, with sales of the 4x4 variants, which include the dual-cab utes that private buyers favour, growing 14 percent over the first three months of this year compared with the same time last year. By the end of March the segment was already 5000 sales ahead of where it was last year.
The light commercial sector, where trade ute sales are counted, currently account for one in five new-car sales. Australia is one of the few markets outside Asia and South America to include the BT-50 in showrooms, giving it a unique place in the Mazda world – and some licence to do its own thing.