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Mazda BT-50 enters its lifecycle as move towards more power heats up

on June 17 2020 | in Highlights, Industry news, Latest news | by | with Comments Off

The new Mazda BT-50 will be in the first couple of years of its lifecycle when the ute market further heats up with the predicted arrival in 2023 of a powerful front-runner from South Korea’s Kia.

Mazda has just unveiled the new BT-50, the first in nine years. It is built not by Mazda but by Japanese commercial specialist Isuzu under an agreement signed between the two companies almost four years ago.


The BT-50 is pretty much a clone of the new Isuzu D-Max (above), certainly under the skin where they share everything that makes them go. Exterior dimensions differ slightly.

The BT-50 itself is 5280mm long, 1870mm wide, and 1790mm tall, Wheelbase is 3125mm. Towing capacity is 3500kg, payload 1065kg, turning circle 6.1m

Mazda NZ managing director David Hodge said the exterior look of the BT-50 draws on the company’s Kodo – Soul of Motion design. “It makes it immediately recognisable as part of the Mazda range of vehicles.”


Both the BT-50 (above and below) and D-Max are expected to land in New Zealand towards the end of the year. Both will use the same four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, a 3.0-litre Isuzu unit delivering 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm between 1600-2600rpm and mated to six-speed gearboxes.

The as-yet-unnamed Kia ute is also likely to be powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel – but talk is it will be the six-cylinder unit that powers the Genesis GV80, the new SUV for left-hand-drive markets from Hyundai’s premium division.

It delivers 205kW/588Nm, oomph that, if it were on the market today, would make the workhorse Kia the brawniest available, edging the Volkswagen V6 Amarok’s maximim 200kW/580Nm.


The research and development head of the Hyundai-Kia alliance, former BMW M division chief Albert Biermann, is on record as saying the V6 engine is suitable for “commercial” applications.

“With this engine we can have so many applications. As you know, we make commercial vehicles and so on, so this engine will be out there for quite some time. You don’t need to worry about that engine.”

Kia Australia’s chief operating officer Damien Meredith has been talking up the Kia ute. He said his dealers can expect “dual-cab, single-cab, diesel, petrol – what we’ve requested (from the factory) is the full gamut of a ute family.”

Adding further to speculation is whether the Kia ute will be based on a truck-like ladder chassis (like the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and so on) or come with car-like architecture, like that of its stablemate the Hyundai Santa Cruz.


Kia Motors NZ managing director Todd McDonald won’t comment on the ute and its possible line-up until he receives “something official” from company headquarters in Seoul. “But if it’s anything like the product of the past few years it will be outstanding,” he said. Above is a computer rendition of the Kia ute.

But Kia might not have the ute ‘power’ game to itself. Ford is reportedly planning to use in its new Ranger (the one that will form the basis of the new Volkswagen Amarok) the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel Power Stroke V6 under the bonnet in America of the Ford F-150. It generates 186kW/596Nm.

Also Toyota has trademarked the name ‘GR Hilux’ for a high-performance variant, perhaps using the 3.5-litre V6 from the new LandCruiser 300 series. It apparently is good for 200kW/650Nm.





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