There’s no doubt that there are two major players in the bakkie segment, the trusty but old Toyota Hilux and the up-to-date Ford Ranger. However, there is another bakkie that we sometimes forget about - the Mazda BT-50.
Since its breakaway from Ford last year, Mazda is trying to establish itself in the South African market again. Its cars are looking good and the after sales service is impressive. A rather important segment for Mazda is the bakkie segment and to make the BT-50 stand out from the rest of the crowd, Mazda has beefed it up a bit with the Drifter pack, which is R35 000 worth of macho accessories for free.
The Drifter name brings back memories as it used to be the name of the Mazda bakkie before it was changed to the BT-50, quite a few years go. This limited edition package is proving to be quite popular as I’ve seen a number of them on our roads. It’s not surprising actually because the Drifter pack really looks good thanks to the stylish black rims, a black powder-coated nudge bar, side steps, a rear roll bar and a black tonneau cover. All of these black items are further enhanced against the white body of the car. There’s even a Drifter decal on the front driver and passenger doors.
The Mazda BT-50 that I drove was powered by the same 3.2-litre 147kW diesel motor that can be found in the Ford Ranger. It’s got all the important things such as a large capacity load bay and the ability to tow a massive 3 500kg. The Mazda - even though it is based on the Ranger’s platform - feels more car-like than the Ford. The dashboard is nicely laid out and despite the bigger, wider rubber, the bakkie returns a comfortable drive.
As for entertainment features, one can expect the usual, Bluetooth and a CD/radio with MP3 capabilities. The bakkie also has cruise control, which is great for those long trips.
I enjoyed my time with the BT-50; sure I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have an AUX port or a USB port and I just feel that if a bakkie is not a 4x4 then there should at least be a rear diff-lock. I would have loved to have taken this macho looking hulk of a bakkie off-road but without diff-lock I didn’t want to risk it.
All in all, the Mazda BT-50 Drifter pack really is something special. It might only be cosmetic changes but they look good and they sure do give the bakkie a tougher than tough look. What’s also extremely appealing is Mazda’s new five-year/150 000km warranty on all BT-50 models.
BT-50 DBL SLE: R402 400