AA Buyer's Guide: Fresh faced utes for 2021
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Utes are a big part of the new-vehicle market in New Zealand, making up a massive 23 per cent of all sales in 2020. There has recently been an influx of new models, with enticing new designs.
At the end of 2020, Mazda NZ revealed the next generation BT-50. It’s been completely transformed, marking the breakup from its shared-platform agreement from Ford.
The new BT-50 had two years of planning and is constructed using the all-new Isuzu D-Max platform. Mazda has produced a technology-packed vehicle, a more efficient 3.0-litre diesel engine and some features never before seen on a Mazda, like remote engine start. While that may not be used often, it’s a good way to bring the ute’s interior to a comfortable temperature on a cold winter’s morning.
The new BT-50 takes safety seriously. With over 20 advanced technologies, it’s achieved a five-star ANCAP safety rating (2020 tested).
Mazda’s distinctive “Kodo” design has been adopted to transform this vehicle into what could only be described as one of the slickest looking utes on our road.
The range starts with the GSX 2WD priced from $47,490, all the way up to the top-end LTD 4WD model, from $60,990.
Great Wall Motors employed Morio Ikeda, an experienced global engineer and program manager, to lead the new GWM ute project, along with an in-house team of designers and engineers.
The GWM Cannon is far more attractive and well equipped than the previous Steed. Depending on the model you choose, driver and passengers can also feel the benefit of heated power-adjustable seats, and there’s also a 360-degree camera, a crisp seven-inch instrument cluster and even voice recognition.
The latest model gets a bump in advanced safety features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, which all combine to make the GWM Cannon a very attractive prospect. The ANCAP safety rating was not available at time of testing.
The entry model is the Cannon Premium 2WD manual, with pricing starting from $29,990. After this is the mid-spec Luxury 2WD auto from $35,990, while the cream of the crop is the Luxury 4WD auto from $39,990. These models offer a lot of bang for your buck and are a giant leap compared with previous offerings from GWM.
The D-Max achieved a five-star ANCAP safety score when it was tested last year, thanks partly to the enticing suite of safety technology on offer. The downside is a price increase of around $8000 over the previous model.
The D-Max is available in four model grades (each with multiple styles). The LX base-spec is perfect for a rugged, easy-care work vehicle and starts from $49,990. The top-spec X-Terrain, which comes only as a double cab 4WD starts from $75,490.
Potential buyers of the D-Max have an overwhelming 105 different variants and combinations on offer, designed to help tailor the perfect ute.
The future of utes
Although they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, utes are still extremely popular in NZ and it will be interesting to see what other new models 2021 brings.
With Tesla planning to start production of the exciting new Cybertruck later this year, we can’t wait to see what other manufacturers follow suit and start electrifying their trucks.