By Steve & Tamami Laser
Once upon a time, Mazda and Isuzu both sold midsize pickups in the U.S. under their own brand names. They teamed up with Ford (Mazda) and General Motors (Isuzu) over the years in various product sharing efforts. Now, Isuzu has taken the lead in a new venture to supply Mazda with the next-generation BT-50 pickup based on the latest Isuzu D-MAX.
The product sharing plan was announced four years ago when Mazda and Isuzu said they had reached an agreement to collaborate on pickup production. Manufactured by Isuzu in Thailand, the new Mazda BT-50 (above) made its global debut this week during an online presentation by Mazda Australia.
Watch the new Mazda BT-50 global reveal in this video from the Mazda Australia YouTube channel. (video: Mazda)
The new pickup replaces the previous generation BT-50, a nine-year-old design that was based on the Ford Ranger. Sales of the new BT-50 are planned to begin in Australia later this year, followed by other markets including Oceania, ASEAN, Central and South America, the Middle East, and Africa.
Mazda has done a splendid job styling the front of the BT-50 to fit its image by applying the Kodo design theme. Compared to the D-MAX, the BT-50 receives a unique look up front with a signature Mazda front fascia and grille, LED lighting, plus a new hood and fenders. The family appearance fits well within Mazda’s current lineup of crossovers, including the CX-5 and CX-9.
“This new BT-50 is Mazda’s first pickup truck featuring Kodo design,” said Eiji Kimoto (above), Chief Designer, Design Division, Mazda Corp. “Specifically, we created a strong and robust form by setting the hood higher and added a strong mass to the front to express a pure and bold movement of the overall vehicle by emphasizing the axis in a front-to-back direction. I hope the new BT-50 is loved by many customers and tried by people who have hesitated to choose a pickup truck.”
At the rear, BT-50 gains a restyled tailgate and unique taillights. Meanwhile, the doors, glass, roof and rear fenders appear to be shared with the D-MAX, along with its ladder frame, suspension, brakes, and powertrains. For the Australian market, BT-50 is initially offered as a Double Cab 4×4 powered by an Isuzu 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine rated at 140kW (190PS) @ 3,600 rpm and 450N-m of torque at 1,600 – 2,600 rpm, teamed with an automatic transmission.
Mazda has redesigned some interior touchpoints to further distinguish it from the D-MAX. Thus the BT-50 receives a specific dash, instrument panel, steering wheel, center console, and door trim.
In the infotainment and connectivity department, BT-50 offers a large center display with Apple CarPlay™. Instead of the Mazda Connect system with its center console-mounted multifunction controller found in other Mazdas, the BT-50 shares D-MAX’s touchscreen system.
The new BT-50 is not expected to come to America, due to the 25 percent tariff (aka “Chicken Tax”) on imported light trucks. Local production in the U.S. is not in the cards either since Isuzu withdrew from the light truck market here years ago. However, the D-MAX is related to the Chevrolet Colorado, so Mazda could theoretically ask GM to build its pickup for North America. Yet that’s not a scenario we see happening anytime soon.
New Isuzu D-MAX Delivers “Infinite Potential”
Introduced late last year in Thailand, the new Isuzu D-MAX is offered in a wide array of models, from the range-topping V-Cross 4×4, to the Hi-Lander Cab4 (below), Space Cab extended cab, and entry level Spark 4×2 and 4×4 work trucks.
Isuzu pickup production began in Thailand way back in 1974. The truck maker has rolled out more than 4 million vehicles, becoming a pickup powerhouse for Thailand and exports to more than 100 countries across the globe.
This video from the Isuzu Thailand YouTube channel highlights the wide array of pickup models. Isuzu calls the redesigned D-MAX, “Bold, Emotional and Smart” while delivering “Infinite Potential.” (video: Isuzu Thailand)
The aggressive new styling reaches its zenith with the top D-MAX V-Cross model and its off-road theme. Isuzu’s 3.0-liter Ddi Blue-Power turbo-diesel engine can be teamed with a 6-speed Revtronic automatic or 6-speed manual transmission, along with 4×4 Terrain Command and Electronic Diff-Lock.
D-MAX’s interior was redesigned for a more upscale appearance. The available 9-inch center display offers navigation, Apply CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ compatibility, plus voice recognition. Additional features include a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, dual-zone climate control, park distance control (front and rear sonar sensors), Blind Sport Monitoring, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
For more information on the BT-50 visit Mazda Australia
For more information on the D-MAX visit Isuzu Thailand
Note: Prototype Mazda BT-50 shown. Features and specifications for Australian market BT-50 and Thailand market Isuzu D-MAX are subject to change without notice.
News source, photos, and videos courtesy of Mazda Australia Pty Ltd., Mazda Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Asia (Thailand) Co., Ltd., and Isuzu Motors Ltd.
Story (text commentary) © 2020 CarNichiWa.com