Forbidden Fruit: Mazda Announces Refreshed 2016 BT-50 Production
Midsizer Gets Kodo Styling and Interior Upgrades
Mazda hasn’t sold a pickup in the U.S. since 2010, when the Ford Ranger–turned–B-Series was discontinued amid flagging sales. That’s not the case for international markets, however, the inhabitants of which have enjoyed the midsize Mazda BT-50 since its debut for the 2006 model year. This little slice of midsize-truck pie will be getting some cosmetic attention this year, receiving an updated appearance to bring it in line with Mazda’s current Kodo design language.
New for the BT-50 is a newly designed front fascia, rear lamps, and aluminum wheels, while the interior was refreshed with higher-quality materials and a backup camera. The refreshed BT-50 goes into production at its Thailand manufacturing plant today;. we presume South African production isn’t far behind, as the two facilities built the pre-facelift version for global consumption. Thailand and Australia will be the first two markets to sample the updated pickup.
“The BT-50 defied the conventional image of the pickup truck when the current model was introduced in 2011 as an ‘active lifestyle vehicle,’ with modern and refined styling,” according to Mazda. “Since then it has gained great popularity thanks to its excellent driving performance and highly functional interior and cargo space, which make it ideal for both personal and business use.”
An all-diesel powertrain lineup and tuning ideal for global markets all but ensure that the BT-50 will likely never invade our shores, and that’s a shame. Its range of body styles (including cab-and-chassis options) makes it seem like the honest work truck we’ve been missing since American Monroneys began inflating. Still, don’t hold your breath for the BT-50 (or similarly verboten Mahindra, Isuzu, and Ford small pickups). It’s probably not a great fit for Mazda’s U.S. showrooms, unfortunately.
While the American-market B-Series had been based on the Ford Ranger from 1994 to the end of its model run (thank the chicken tax for that), Mazda’s overseas B-Series and its BT-50 successors have always been somewhat unique designs, with Mazda-designed engines sitting in platforms developed jointly with other manufacturers. In fact, the MZ-CD and MZR-CD diesel engines in the BT-50 are shared, ironically, with Ford’s overseas Ranger T6, which is a mechanical twin to the BT-50.