All-new BT-50 seals the union between Mazda and Isuzu

After nine long years, Mazda finally gave its pickup truck a much-needed complete revamp. First offered in 2006 as a successor to the Mazda B-Series pickup trucks, the BT-50 was a product of rebadged engineering and platform-sharing agreement between Mazda and Ford.

The recently launched third-generation Mazda BT-50 still shares its platform with another automaker but this time, Mazda decided to go with another Japanese automaker in the name of Isuzu.

The union between Mazda and Isuzu was announced back in 2016 and last year, Isuzu gave us a preview of what’s to expect with that collaboration with the launch of the next-generation Isuzu D-Max. It was quite a shocker because, for more than a decade, Mazda and Ford have been working hand-in-hand with their utility vehicles. Even the Mazda Tribute crossover SUV was developed with the Blue Oval, which was why the previous Ford Escape looked eerily similar to the Mazda high-rider.

But that has finally come to a stop. We’ll never know what’s behind the fall out between Ford and Mazda, but things changed when Ford took the helm in the development of the Ranger under the T6 platform.

Alas, the all-new, third-generation Mazda BT-50 has been unveiled in an online launch event hosted by Mazda Australia.

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As expected, Mazda gave the BT-50 a full-on revamp in terms of styling. Take note that the BT-50 is the only vehicle in the Mazda lineup that hasn’t adopted the Kodo – Soul of Motion design language that’s prominent in Mazda cars. I’m a fan of this styling, by the way, and Red Dot Design Awards and other award-giving agrees with me as Mazda has received numerous design awards because of Kodo.

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I often refer to Mazda’s Kodo as sexy and sultry. It’s just simply beautiful and well-executed.

The BT-50 adopts the curves and minimal creases of the Kodo and applied it in a utilitarian form. The new fascia actually reminds of the CX-9 but in three-box design courtesy of a bed.

In a world of pickup trucks often full of machismo, crowned by words like tough and aggressive, the Mazda BT-50 is a breather. The Japanese automaker begs to differ once more.

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But despite the rather non-angular exterior, the BT-50 screams utility and toughness underneath, thanks to its partnership with Isuzu. From the platform to the powertrain, even its electrical architecture, the BT-50 uses the D-Max as its base. Heck, even the new 9-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and climate controls are from Isuzu, but the rest of the cabin, especially the materials used, is all Mazda.

Under the hood, it’s a complete adoption of Isuzu’s new turbocharged diesel power plant into the BT-50, dropping the five-cylinder 3.2L Duratorq from Ford. In exchange, the BT-50 utilizes a four-cylinder 3.0-liter turbodiesel mill that makes 188hp and 450Nm. Transmission options are the same for this year: a six-speed stick shift or a six-speed automatic. Of course, as with most pickup trucks, the BT-50 is available in both 4×4 and 4×2 drivetrains, while a smaller engine is expected to be announced before its availability in Australian showrooms by the end of the year.

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It’s still unclear whether Mazda Philippines will be able to bring the all-new BT-50 here, but of course, we’ll be on the lookout for any update on that. Isuzu Philippines is also due to update the D-Max locally, but we don’t expect both trucks to arrive simultaneously. it’s announced, however, that the BT-50 will be built alongside the D-Max in Thailand. 

We’ll never know if the union between Mazda and Isuzu will remain with the D-Max and BT-50. But in any case, we sure do hope it’s going to be a fruitful one which we’ll see in the years to come.

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