Mazda BT-50 Takami review: the next level
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Mazda BT-50 Takami
- Quality Takami package
- Sharp price compared with Isuzu D-Max
- Impressive suite of safety assists
- No change to performance/handling
- Diesel clatter when cold
- Confusing infotainment OS
With its new BT-50 Takami model, Mazda New Zealand is making a point about the role its ute plays in the local market.
Takami is a NZ-specific thing (not to be confused with the “Takumi” grade used on some overseas variants, including the new CX-60), indicating the very top of a model lineup. It translates as “higher” or “a level above”.
The Takami grade has been restricted to Mazda NZ’s passenger cars so far. This the first time it’s been applied to a ute.
That makes sense for Mazda, which has been much less focused on the workhorse aspect of the one-tonne market with the previous and latest BT-50 models. The range now starts with the GSX for example, which aligns it with mainstream family models like the Mazda 6 or CX-5.
That’s a very deliberate choice by Mazda NZ. Compare BT-50 with the sister Isuzu D-Max (same platform and hardware), which still has a number of models aimed at fleets, farmers and tradies.
The BT-50 Takami sits above the previous Limited flagship (so the name works). It’s an extra $6500 and purely cosmetic: lots of black and grey trim on the exterior, gloss-black for the fender flares and alloys, roof rails, a “sail plane” behind the cabin, roller cover for the tray and khaki highlights for the leather-upholstered interior – continuing another Takami tradition of strange but strangely appealing cabin colours. The Limited is already fully loaded with driver-assist and comfort/convenience features, of course.
Beyond that, the BT-50 pros and cons are as they were pre-Takami. The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four borrowed from Isuzu has a reputation for strength and reliability, so that’s a plus. There’s a bit of diesel clatter when cold, but the torque delivery is impressive from low speed, with 450Nm from just 1600rpm. The six-speed automatic is pretty slick, too.
One-tonne utes are well established as SUV alternatives in NZ, but none of these ladder-chassis trucks can truly match a passenger car/crossover for steering, ride and handling. A certain amount of precision and ride comfort has to be sacrificed for hard-core off-roading ability and a 3.5-tonne tow rating. Both of which the BT-50 still has, by the way.
Mazda has also made cryptic comment about “continually enhancing” active safety features like the Lane Support System (LSS). We’re going to assume that’s a reference to the aggressive lane-keeping technology fitted to the BT-50 and sister D-Max at launch, which spent much of its time actively battling for control of the steering wheel in motorway driving. You could turn it off, but it wasn’t easy.
Our Takami test vehicle retains the full suite of LSS stuff (not to mention the likes of stop-go adaptive cruise), but seemed much more chill than any previous BT/D-Max in terms of lane correction. Chill enough for us not to have pass further comment. Enhance away, people.
The BT-50 sports one of the more car-like cabins in ute world. The architecture wouldn’t look out of pace in a Mazda SUV and while some of the materials betray its light-commercial status, the two-tone colour scheme in the Takami gives it a real lift.
The nine-inch infotainment screen is a generous size and it’s nestled nicely in the console, but the operating system and graphics are a bit murky: the typefaces are spindly and menus confusing, although you can circumvent all of that by using wireless phone projection.
The Takami is a significant price jump over the Limited, but you’re getting a significant amount of gear (and an impressive-looking machine) for $68,690. A couple of things to put the purchase price into context: it’s still $7k cheaper than the similarly-specified Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain; Mazda’s five year/150,000km warranty and $250 fixed-price five-year service programme also add weight to the financial argument.
MAZDA BT-50 TAKAMI
ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo diesel four
GEARBOX: Six-speed automatic, part-time 4WD
CONSUMPTION: 9.2l/100km (NEDC), CO2 238g/km (3P-WLTP)