The Mazda BT-50 range has a new top truck, the Thunder Pickup. In addition to the extra features of the BT-50 SP the Thunder Pickup gets a black single hoop bull bar with Lightforce LED light bar, black 18-in alloy wheels and fender flares, a black sports bar and an electric tonneau cover for a more imposing look.
This four-wheel drive has low range with a locking rear differential, which is switchable on/off, with Hill Descent Control and Hill Launch Assist. The BT-50 Thunder is powered by a noisy 3.0 litre, in-line 4-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel engine with maximum power of 140kW at 3,600rpm and maximum torque of 450Nm at 1,600 – 2,600rpm paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The official combined fuel consumption is 8.0L/100km and for my week I used 9.4L/100km of diesel.
The ride of the BT-50 Thunder felt better than some other utes that I have driven including the previous Mazda BT-50. This may be as a result of the optional Suspension Upgrade – Medium Load ($6,781) that was fitted to this BT-50. It also has the Heavy Duty Tow Pack ($2,151) with the maximum braked towing capacity of the BT-50 Thunder being 3,500kg.
The leather front seats are nicer than some other utes as well and offer some side support, although I was not keen on the dark brown colour. Both front seats are heated and the driver’s seat has power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height and two-way lumbar and no memory positions. The passenger seat only has manual adjustment for recline and forward/back movement.
The 9-inch infotainment screen looks modern, but I found it a bit hard to navigate at times. Smartphone connection is via wired Android Auto or wireless or wired Apple CarPlay. Voice control is basic and operated by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the masculine looking silhouette on it. I was only able to use the voice control to change the media source and not to an individual station, for Point of Interests in the sat nav and it did not work at all for making phone calls. The BT-50 has analogue taco/speedo with a small digital between the two on the driver’s dash.
Storage options in the front of the cabin include an upper and lower glove box, good sized drink bottle storage in the front and rear door cubbies and two deep cup holders in the centre console, one square shaped and one round. At the front of the centre console there is a cubby for your phone that is made from hard plastic, so your phone would slide around if placed here. Above the cubby there is one USB-A port, an Aux inlet and 12V outlet. I did not like the gloss black plastic on the centre console and door trim as this material gathers dust and finger marks. The BT-50 Thunder does have vanity mirrors, something not many other utes come with, but they are not lit.
The rear leg room in the BT-50 was a bit tight for me, but head room was okay and if the rear seats are not in use they can be hooked up to create a large storage space, but there are no storage cubbies under the rear seats. The BT-50 has two ISOFIX/two rear tether child seat restraint points on the outer seats and ANCAP recommends that a child seat not be fitted in the centre seat location. The setup is similar to other utes with a webbed loop behind the two outer seats, which you need to feed the rear tether strap through and then you clip on the metal attachment point behind the centre seat. It is recommended that you refer to the vehicle owners’ manual for correct attachment and use of child restraint anchorages.
The rear centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two rigid cup holders in it. To keep the rear passengers comfortable there are two small rear air vents with individual direction control and one central on/off dial. Above the vents there is one USB-A port for device charging. There are two rear floor mats, but no mat over the transmission tunnel, so this carpet may get worn over time.
The electric tonneau cover is made from black plastic and there are controls on either side of the rear of the tub to open/close it. This feature is a must if you are going to use your ute as a family vehicle. The cover locks when you use the keyless entry/exit to lock the BT-50 as well, but does take up some head room at the front of the tub. The tub is lined with hard plastic so your shopping may slide around in the back. There are only two tie down points at the rear of the tub, one light and no 12V outlet. The maximum payload is 887kg.
The current ANCAP safety rating for the BT-50 range does not cover this BT-50 Thunder variant. The Thunder does have Front (Driver & passenger); Side (front); Curtain (Front & rear); Knee (Driver); Far-side (Driver) airbags and a range of driver safety aids. These include Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, Emergency Lane Keeping, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-keep Assist System, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
For convenience you get auto lights and High Beam Control, but no auto wipers. The Lightforce bar really does light up the road well and works with the high beam control, but it was so good it made it feel like the low beam headlights were not adequate. The standard rear-view camera has front and rear parking sensors.
All new Mazda vehicles are backed by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty plus five year’s Mazda Premium Roadside Assistance. The BT-50 service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever comes first. The cost for the first five basic services on the BT-50 Thunder is $2,443 based on figures available on the Mazda Australia website.
Prices for the Mazda BT-50 Thunder start at $73,410 excluding on-road costs and as tested with Rock Grey Mica paint $695, Heavy Duty Tow Pack $2,151, and the Suspension Upgrade – Medium Load $6,781 this Thunder Truck costs $83,037 excluding on-road costs. Visit your preferred Mazda dealer for more information about the BT-50 range.
|Comfortable front seats||Noisy engine|
|Lockable electric tonneau cover||No ANCAP safety rating|
|The Lightforce LED light bar||The rear tether location/ease of use|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine