BT-50 FOR THE SUMMER

THERE’S PLENTY PLANNED FOR 4X4 AUSTRALIA’S NEW LONG-TERMER OVER THE SUMMER BREAK. BUT FIRST WE NEED TO GET SOME DIRT AND GRIME BENEATH THOSE BFG ALL-TERRAINS.

WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

MAZDA BT-50 XTR DATE ACQUIRED: NOV 2015 PRICE: $63,645 KM THIS MONTH: 1370 AV FUEL: 11.1L/100KM 4X4 SHED 078 KM 0 0 5 4 7 6 09

THERE’S PLENTY PLANNED FOR 4X4 AUSTRALIA’S NEW LONG-TERMER OVER THE SUMMER BREAK. BUT FIRST WE NEED TO GET SOME DIRT AND GRIME BENEATH THOSE BFG ALL-TERRAINS.

It’s been a long spell since we last ran a long-term tester out of 4X4 Australia’s HQ, so we were pretty chuffed to add this ‘new’ Mazda BT-50 to the fleet over summer. We say ‘new’ because it’s the facelifted 2015 model, but it did have a few kays on it by the time it reached us here. Mazda used it on its launch program then shipped it to Coober Pedy, where Crafty flogged it around the desert for a few days (see page 84).

Knowing this car was coming to us, Mazda used it to showcase the extensive range of factory accessories it now offers. It was fitted with an aluminium bullbar, an intake snorkel, a tub mat, floor mats, a dual battery kit, an Icom UHF radio, a towbar and wiring, an electric brake controller, and optional alloy wheels. The options crank the price up to more than $63,000, so you could say it’s fully loaded. The $12,000 in extras proves vehicle manufacturers are keen to skim some action away from the aftermarket accessories companies.

About the only things Mazda doesn’t offer, and you might want to fit them for outback travel, are a suspension upgrade and heavy-duty tyres.

We’re pretty happy with the BT-50’s factory suspension tune, and we quickly fitted a set of BF Goodrich KO2 All Terrains. We’ve been keen to sample the new BFG ATs since they launched early this year, and now we finally have a ride to trial them on.

Really impressive are the Australian-developed-andmade products Mazda is offering as factory options.

The controller for the dual battery system comes from Redarc, while the driving lights are Lightforce beauties.

The factory sat-nav system even has HEMA mapping and OziExplorer loaded on to it, so all bush-track maps are available in the dash.

It’s not Australian, but the Icom radio that’s neatly mounted to the console is another well-respected product and, again, it’s great to see Mazda supplying these recognised brands.

So far it’s been all highway kays for the Mazda, but we’ll be hitting the dirt and beaches over summer. It has been up the Hume Highway and back and we love the lazy way the five-cylinder diesel engine lopes along the highway, with plenty of grunt to keep the sixspeed automatic transmission happy in top gear all day. This, combined with the big-cab feel of the BT, makes it a sweet highway tourer.

Initial impressions of the BFGs are good, too. They are very quiet for an aggressive AT tyre, but they are still very new. They do show their limits when pushed hard on sealed roads – the deepertread blocks, with their square shoulders, protest at being asked to perform like sports car tyres.

We’re sure they will be more at home in the dust, gravel and rough stuff.

ACCESSORIES

Tow bar (3.2 utility) $596.19 Tow ball $26.83 Trailer wiring harness $288 Carpet floor mats $122.84 Tub mat $410.82 Mobile phone holder $99 UHF $869.77 Snorkel $677.57 Dual battery kit $1199 Alloy bullbar $2869 Driving lights $782.25 Electronic brakes $515 Soft tonneau cover $822 Auto lock for tonneau $459.70 Polished sports bar $999 17-inch alloy wheels $1208 TOTAL $11,944.97

The $12,000 in extras proves vehicle manufacturers are keen to skim some action away from the aftermarket companies