Read more of 4X4's 2017 Most Popular Report Cards
The Ranger offers some notable technical differences, but the Mazda counters with sharper pricing. Even so, for every BT-50, nearly four Rangers have rolled out of showrooms this year.
Not only is the BT-50 closely related to the Ranger, it’s also essentially a Ford rather than a Mazda, a reversal of the pre-2011 arrangement where Ford piggybacked off Mazda for its light commercials.
For starters, the 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel is a Ford design and is, in most ways, where the appeal of the BT-50 begins. This is a torquey, low-revving and agreeable engine that gets the job done without fuss.
In the BT-50, it’s a bit gruff and not quite as responsive at low revs as it is in the Ranger; due to the fact the Ranger was upgraded in 2015 and the BT-50 wasn’t.
As with the Ranger, the engine is backed by a slick ZF six-speed auto, which enjoys working with both the engine’s torque and flexibility and final-drive gearing that’s not overly tall.
On road, the BT-50 basically does what the Ranger does, which is a good thing, except you feel its size and weight more in low-speed manoeuvring, as it doesn’t enjoy the benefit of electric power steering as fitted to the Ranger since its 2015 facelift. However, others might argue the Mazda’s ‘old-school’ hydraulic system is potentially more robust.
Off-road, the BT-50 is a good thing; although, a notch down from the Ranger due to another 2015 upgrade the Ford received – leaving the front traction control active when the rear locker is engaged – which was not adopted by Mazda.
Otherwise, everything that is likable about the Ranger, including a spacious and notably long cabin and excellent towing and load-carrying ability, is essentially true of the Mazda BT-50.
2017 (to June): 3622
2016 (to June): 3863
Change: - 6.2%
Cabin & Equipment: A
Towing & Practicality: B
Final word: Essentially a Ford Ranger, but not as good in the detail.
*Scored against class competitors. A= Excellent. B= Very Good. C= Good. D= Fair. E= Poor. F= Fail.