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Journeys : Aug Sep 2010
Darren Moody He says Mazda BT-50 Driver training for all .drivers. Modern vehicles Expert instructors Individual driving lessons for learners and driver assessment RACT Driver Training graduates receive special discounts on joining RACT Roadside membership. Defensive Driver Training with both private and business courses. Hobart 6232 6399 Launceston 6335 5612 Devonport 6421 1918 Burnie 6434 2913 6526 www.ract.com.au After driving nor mal passenger vehicles for extended periods you get a culture shock when you find yourself in something like the BT-50, which is really a commercial vehicle that gets a gig as a 'sometimes' family vehicle. Let me start by saying I'm not a great fan of this type of vehicle, unless it's being used as a high-capacity tow vehicle with 4x4 capability, a tradie's ute or an off-roader. Now that's off my chest, I'll get dow n to the facts. The BT-50 Freestyle cab supplied has plenty of bling -- aluminium side steps and bullbar, leather steering wheel and gear shift cover, standard alloy wheels and some very capable off-road rubber (I'll get to that later). Add chrome side mirrors and lots of other shiny bits from front to rear, it adds up to a head-tur ning 4x4. The only thing missing to complete the package is a hard top for the ute section. The 3.0L turbo diesel engine (there is no petrol option) produces 115kW of power and has a chunky 380Nm of torque available from 1800 RPM. Mazda has stayed with the larger-capacity diesel in the 4x4 -- a good move that certainly helps with low-end gr unt. The engine is extremely drivable with very little turbo lag and while you can hear the clatter of the diesel engine, it isn't any worse than competitors. Official fuel con sumption is a credible 9.5 l/100km. I was just over this at 9.9l/100km, but I did have a serious stint off-road, which didn't help. The drive is like a typical commercial vehicle -- the brakes, while effective, have a wooden feel. The steering doesn't offer too much in the way of feedback and has a huge arc for a turning circle. That said, this isn't unique to the BT-50 and again reflects the average type of vehicle in this category. The highway ride is smooth enough, but when the road deteriorates, it's hang on to the back teeth! The rear springs are designed to handle a 3-tonne towing load, so when the vehicle is empty you definitely know it. Access to the rear pews is good, but comfort and space will limit the length of the jour ney for back- seat passengers -- remember, this isn't a dual-c ab. After my recent stint off-road in the Prado, I was again tempted to the bush tracks while I had a 4x4. This is where the BT-50 excels. Deep crossings with water over the bonnet, r utted tracks and medium mud are a cr uise. On the rocky bits the heavy duty rear suspension ensures you're never going to nod off, but it never compromises off-road ability. The torque of the turbo diesel engine off the road is a real asset -- it's just a matter of finding a gear that suits the conditions and let the torque do the rest. Safety is covered off by four airbags, ABS and EBD, but the cur rent model only scored a 3-star ANCAP rating when tested. Electronic stability control (ESC) hasn't made it into most of these types of vehicles yet, but it will come in the future as manufacturers strive for higher crash- test safety ratings, bowing to customer demands. The BT-50 on test really has a foot in a couple of camps. While it looks a treat and offers four passenger seats (although with questionable comfort), its real talent is car rying loads, towing the boat or van or off-road driving. For these activities, it excels, making the BT-50 worthy of consideration. August / September 2010 38
RACT MNJ June July 2010
Oct Nov 2010