CHEERIO, MAZDA!

OUR SIX MONTHS WITH THE BT-50 DRAWS TO A CLOSE, BUT ARE WE SAD TO SEE IT GO?

WORDS AND PICS MATT RAUDONIKIS

TIME flies when you’re having fun, and it’s been fun having the BT-50 here. Yep, its six months with us are up and it will be sad to see it go.

The BT-50 has proven to be a versatile and practical vehicle for all sorts of motoring, and it has certainly lived up to its role as a dual-purpose 4x4.

The BT came to us fresh from a trip to Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta, where former editor Marcus Craft put it through its paces on the rocky and dusty tracks out there. Mazda gave it a real good tidy-up before we picked it up in Melbourne, but when we dropped the spare tyre down to fit the BFGoodrich All Terrain KO2s, the gravel and red dust that dropped off with it revealed where the car had been.

The BFG KO2s were the only aftermarket item we needed to fit thanks to the crew at Mazda ticking off all the essentials from its factory accessories catalogue. This proved to be a real bonus, as the car came ready for action wherever we wanted to take it.

The gear from Mazda was all top-quality, including Lightforce Genesis driving lights, an Icom UHF radio, HEMA mapping on the sat-nav and the Redarc dual-battery system. All this gear proved invaluable out in the bush and, coming from reputable brands, we could be confident they wouldn’t let us down.

Top marks to Mazda for offering such quality accessories for 4x4ers.

With the BFGs on the BT, we took off from Melbourne for an interstate trip to Queensland, using some out-ofthe- way backroads to break up the trip.

The return journey was at a much more leisurely pace, as we beach-hopped down the coast as far as Newcastle and then cut for the Snowy Mountains to follow

the Snowy River from its source to the coast.

We love the way the Mazda has a relaxed touring gait on the highway; the torquey 3.2-litre engine pokes along without raising a sweat and then hardens up when on the steep slopes of the high country, which it handled with ease.

Since that trip, the BT has done general day-to-day commuter duties, helped a mate move house, carried pushbikes to the tracks, day trips with 4x4 clubs, towed boats on fishing trips with our mates at Trade-a-Boat magazine and, most recently, snuck off for a day of fly-fishing with Mick and James from Mountain Fly, Victoria.

The BT does all these things with ease, confidence and, most importantly, it has never let us down.

The only problem we had with the car was a rattle from the muffler, which was replaced by Mazda at service time and wasn’t a major issue.

As I said, I’ll be sad to see the BT go as it really showed the advantages of having a dual-cab 4x4 ute that’ll do just about anything you throw at it.

WHAT WE LOVED

• Big, spacious cabin with quality fi t and fi nish • Torquey engine that’s great on- and off-road • Quality aftermarket options from Mazda • Do-it-all ability

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

www.4X4australia.com.au 163 • Rear-view camera image should come up in big dash screen • Dash menus not selectable from steering wheel • Missing voice command to use Bluetooth