Review: Mazda BT-50 (2006 – 2010)
Reliable and well built, four-wheel drive version is strong for towing, good value second hand.
Not especially refined, harder to find than a similar Ford Ranger, poor ride quality of two-wheel drive models.
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Mazda BT-50 (2006 – 2010): At A Glance
The Mazda BT-50 is a direct replacement for the previous B2500 model and makes value for money a key selling point coming as a standard two-door cab. There is also a four-door crew cab model that has proved popular, with the usual front pair of doors and two rear doors for easier access to the small back bench.
Rear seat space is not generous, while the Crew Cab is also not the most spacious for back seat passengers. But in the front, the BT-50 is more accommodating for legs, knees, shoulders and heads, but it’s far from the most opulent vehicle in this class for kit and caboodle.
That said, there’s no shortage of power, thanks to a 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine with 143PS and 330Nm of shove. This engine was joined by a 3.0-litre turbodiesel unit in 2007 that delivers 156PS and 380Nm, though there is a consequent increase in emissions to 271g/km from the 2.5’s 244g/km. It's far better for tough work though, especially if you have a trailer to pull.
All Double Cab versions of the BT-50 have four-wheel drive as standard, while the Single Cab model can be had with rear- or four-wheel drive. As with many pick-ups, the rear-drive models need to be driven with care in the wet.
The Mazda BT-50 is near identical to the Ford Ranger of the same age, but unlike the Ranger, the replacement was never launched in the UK. However, as a second hand buy, the reliable 2006 generation BT-50 makes a good purchase.
What does a Mazda BT-50 (2006 – 2010) cost?
Mazda BT-50 (2006 – 2010): What's It Like Inside?
Mazda made big strides with the cabin of the BT-50 compared to its predecessor, which was very utilitarian. The BT-50 follows the modern trend for pick-ups to mimic the look and style of hatchbacks or SUVs, so there is a simple and clear binnacle for the main dials.
It makes these instruments easy to rear, while the chunky steering wheel offers good grip for the driver’s hands even when wearing heavy gloves.
The remainder of the dash is typically functional, as we’d expect of a Mazda, though it misses much of the styling and flair of the likes of the newer Volkswagen Amarok or Nissan Navara. Build quality is not in doubt, however, and the Mazda should stand up to any abuse dealt out to it in the course of a working day.
There’s a large glovebox ahead of the comfy passenger seat, while a dash-top tray offers more storage. A pair of cup holders combines with deep but narrow door bins to keep loose items from rolling around the cabin. Top spec TS2 and Intrepid models have heated front seats and leather covering the steering wheel and gear lever to add a small touch of luxury.
The steering wheel in all BT-50 models can be adjusted for height, but only Double Cab models benefit from a height adjustable driver’s seat. This is an important consideration for shorter drivers who might otherwise struggle to see the far corners of the Mazda’s bonnet when parking or trickling through tough off-road conditions. The Double Cab models also have front side airbags to up the safety count from the Single Cab’s twin front airbags.
Large exterior door mirrors are ideal for letting the driver know what’s going on behind, while every four-wheel drive BT-50 has electric front windows for the driver and passenger. These models also come with air conditioning, putting further clear distance between the very basic spec of the entry-point Single Cab 2WD and the rest of the BT-50 range.
For the Double Cab models, space in the rear is okay for children, while adults will be okay for shorter hop trips. There are two three-point seats belts in the back and a lap belt in the middle, though this leave a third rear passenger much less well protected in the event of an accident.
Intrepid models also come with a loadliner as standard to protect the load bed from scuffs and scratches. This was an option on other BT-50s from dealers, while the only factory option was metallic paint.
Single Cab models have the longest load bed of the BT-50 range and the 4WD Single Cab provides the best maximum payload capacity of 1219kg, though all BT-50 models will comfortably carry more than one tonne in the back. Four-wheel drive models also come with a useful 3000kg braked maximum towing capacity, while the two-wheel drive version is limited to 1600kg with a braked trailer.
Access to the load bed is as easy and simple as with any pick-up thanks to a chunky release handle and a tailgate that drops down to sit flush with the load floor. This makes loading and unloading heavier items easier.
What's the Mazda BT-50 (2006 – 2010) like to drive?
The Mazda BT-50 shares much of its componentry and drivetrain with its contemporary Ford Ranger model. This includes the 2.5-litre and later 3.0-litre turbodiesel engines that come in 143PS and 156PS power outputs respectively.
Both are four-cylinder units, so they specialise in low-down shove for towing and off-road work more than they care about refinement.
This poor engine refinement is one of the dominating character traits of the BT-50, regardless of which engine you go for. At all speeds, the engine is all too audible in the cabin, so you are never under any illusions the BT-50 is anything other than a commercial vehicle.
Still, this does not mean the engines are without merit as they offer decent low-down pull and will work at tick-over all day long when required out in the field. They will also lug the BT-50 and a maximum payload of up to 1219kg with remarkable ease.
The five-speed manual gearbox that is common on most BT-50 models in the UK has a reasonably accurate shift action and there’s enough flexibility in top gear for the Mazda to bowl along A-roads and motorways without being too revvy or thirsty on fuel.
There is also a five-speed automatic gearbox option that came with the 3.0-litre Intrepid spec models. It’s an altogether more laid-back drive and worth seeking out if you value a relaxing mode of transport above the basic workmanlike qualities of the BT-50.
Don’t expect stunning fuel economy from the auto, though the Intrepid manages a decent 39.7mpg average compared to the 2.5 four-wheel drive’s 31.7mpg. The flipside is the Intrepid kicks out 271g/km of carbon dioxide emissions to 244g/km of the all-wheel drive 2.5. Choose the rear-drive Single Cab 2.5 and you you’ll get 227g/km emissions and around 35.0mpg.
While the Single Cab with rear-wheel drive is cleaner on emissions than the all-wheel drive models, and it can carry more payload than the Double Cab models, there is a lot of sense in choosing four-wheel drive.
As well as the 4WD Single Cab providing even more payload capacity, the addition of four-wheel drive helps tame the lively wet road handling of the rear-drive model. It also goes some way to improving the ride quality of the BT-50, which could be described kindly as very much biased towards working ability rather than great road manners.
With four-wheel drive, the BT-50 doesn’t display the two-wheel drive model’s wayward rear end when exiting roundabouts and junctions. The added weight of the four-wheel drive system also helps soften the ride quality of the Mazda on typical British roads, though it still errs on the side of off-road prowess over high street finesse.