Mazda ditches 'only a mother can love' BT-50 ute design
FEELING unloved in a market obsessed with dual-cab utes, Mazda will change the BT-50's design to try and bolster its appeal.
The new look, which is exclusive to Australia, will go on sale from May this year.
Mazda's announcement follows another big sales win to Toyota's HiLux and the Ford Ranger for the month of March. The two models saw sales growth year-on-year, achieving more than 4000 sales each.
Mitsubishi's Triton was in fourth place with 3109 sales, 109 sales behind the bronze positioned Toyota Corolla.
In a statement released this week, Mazda said it will be the second and most comprehensive update since the BT-50's launch in 2011.
The Mazda BT-50 shares much of its major components with the Ford Ranger - but the blue oval derivative has always delivered far greater success. Both vehicles are made on the same Thailand production line.
Since first release, the dual-cab was criticised for its design, and Mazda will abandon its curving lines "to strengthen the ute's impressive road stance".
"Lowering the car's visual centre of gravity, the outer edges of the bumper have been squared off, bolder contrasting fog light surrounds have been added, along with a large trapezoidal lower air intake with a skid plate," the statement said.
"Further bolstering its tougher outlook, the grille has adopted strong horizontal lines to straighten out the front of the car, giving the ute a wider and more solid bearing."
The BT-50 will also see a range of features and equipment added across grades.
Mazda Australia, highly regarded as one of the world's most successful operations by the marque's head office in Japan, has played a major role in the new model's development. Mazda Australia partnered with engineering firm EGR to design and engineer the vehicle locally.
"The utility segment is a huge priority in Australia and for Mazda; we're always looking to improve and enhance our product offering, to remain competitive and appealing to our customers," says Mazda Australia's managing director Vinesh Bhindi.
"This upgrade gives the BT-50 a stronger and tougher bearing, which we know Australians look for in a ute."
Equipment upgrades and pricing will be released closer to the launch.
According to VFACTS figures, the BT-50 holds 12.8% of the two-wheel drive market so far this year - surpassed by the HiLux (34.1%) and Ranger (14.7%). But in the all-important 4x4 division, the BT-50 (5.2%) languishes behind the Ranger (22.7%), HiLux (22.5%), Mitsubishi Triton (13.8%), Nissan Navara (9.7%), Holden Colorado (8.3%) and Isuzu Ute D-Max (6.6%).
This week has also seen a new contender emerge, with Mercedes-Benz launching its X-Class ute.
Ford has also revealed it will soon have its hardcore Ranger Raptor in mid-year priced from $74,990 plus-on roads.