Same face, but new specs

Nothing changes up front. But New Zealand market BT-50s will soon deliver equipment upgrades.


THE nose is off the menu – the low sales volume here doesn’t justify the cost of introduction – but other changes are coming.

This from Mazda New Zealand in reference to its BT-50 one-tonne utility.

The slow-selling sister ship to the country’s most successful ute, the Ford Ranger, is under the spotlight across the Tasman as result of a facelift which is exactly that.

Our neighbour has funded a new front-end styling in hope a more conventionally bluff visage might be less confrontational than the shovel-nosed original.

Mazda NZ has discounted taking the new styling, the work of a Brisbane company, but says it is possible that other enhancements delivered over the Tasman might reach here.

However, it is not yet in the position to talk about this: Even though it is well known that an upgrade is en route, the brand says it prefers to wait a few more weeks before discussing what the 2018 package contains.

One key improvement within the cabin is an infotainment implementation that has yet to hit Mazda passenger cars – the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Mazda NZ spokesperson was unable to talk about this.


Equipment upgrades for our neighbour include, for the flagship, a chrome sports bar and an integrated LED stop light, heavy-duty tub liner, tailgate central locking, and a 12-volt auxiliary socket in the tub.

The entry-level model picks up a reversing camera and the upgraded 7.0-inch Alpine infotainment system.

Mazda NZ comment about the restyle leaves impression it could have picked it up, but decided not to.

Said a spokesman: “We won’t get that same vehicle in New Zealand, mainly because we don’t have the numbers to justify that tooling to replace the nose.

“We have got some changes and upgrades happening to our BT-50 range. It’s not going to be as explosive as the Australian change, because ours will still have the same look as it does now.”

Mazda Australia’s determination to introduce a styling change outside of the usual channels required permission from head office.

The brand has explained to Australian media project has been under way since mid-2016 and was supported by Mazda Motor Corporation’s outgoing head of the BT-50 programme, Takasuke Kobayashi.

The conversion does not occur in the factory but is enacted in Australia. The design is the work of a family-owned parts manufacturer, ERG, which provided engineering, development and manufacturing support for the initiative. The company currently supplies Mazda Australia (and other brands) with accessory parts including headlight protectors, bull-bars, canopies and tonneau covers.


Th new look does not go so far as replacing the large, leaf-shaped headlights. But ERG has altered the space in between and also facilitated a boxy new bumper design. Australia’s high-end variants take chrome grille bars and a dark grey bumper insert, while workhorse entry model gets the less flashy satin black grille bars and a plain black bumper insert.

Aside from the facelift, everything else is mostly business-as-usual. It’s still a 147kW and 470Nm five-cylinder diesel motor, running through a six-speed gearbox (auto or manual). The suspension tune has stayed the same, and the steering is still a hydraulic setup, not the electric-assist steering its Ford Ranger twin has gone to.

The current-generation Mazda BT-50 will be replaced eventually by a new vehicle paired with the next generation Isuzu D-Max.