Future Models - Mazda 2016 BT-50
Mazda to toughen-up BT-50’s styling
Divisive: The current Mazda BT-50 is selling to target, but has been criticised for its car-like design, according to the company’s design boss.
Big mid-life update tipped to bring more rugged styling to Mazda BT-50 by 2016
6 March 2014
MAZDA is likely to give its well-regarded BT-50 light commercial a major
stylistic makeover as part of a mid-life upgrade due in the next few years in
order to make it more rugged and ‘masculine’.
The current BT-50, which was co-developed alongside the Australian-designed and
developed Ford Ranger and revealed in October 2010, has been criticised from
some quarters for its softer and more car-like styling than rival utes, notably
at the front-end.
Seemingly acknowledging this as a problem, Mazda’s general manager of design
Ikuo Maeda said he “hoped” to bring more masculine lines to the car, with
harder edges to the head- and tail-lights and, unusually for a facelift, new
lines on the side panels too.
Such a move would address criticism of the car’s looks, but would also be
in-line with company’s general styling direction.
Maeda-san’s design direction for the company, called Kodo and evidenced on the
new Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-5 and the Hazumi concept of the next Mazda2 shown this
week in Geneva, has a tougher and more masculine approach regardless.
“Some of the city siders in Australia (said) it looks nice but still needs to
have a tough look, that’s what I heard,” Maeda-san said this week to Australian
media including GoAuto
“(It is seen as) a little too stylish, too car-like. But that was the concept
of that vehicle.”
Asked whether the BT-50 was too conceptually different from Mazda’s otherwise
passenger-oriented fleet, Maeda-san said Kodo could be applied, albeit “not 100
“I think that we will be able to find some kind of solution, even though this
is a commercial vehicle and has a box at the back,” he said, adding the load
space offers, to a designer at least, “almost no freedom”.
“But if I can get a solid and strong feel on the body side, probably we will be
able to put some of the flavour of Kodo. Not necessarily to add movement to it,
but for a strong feel.”
However, Mazda Australia marketing manager Alastair Doak added that any
stylistic change would be “years away”, with light commercials traditionally
having longer life-cycles than passenger cars.
Mr Doak added that the mooted new styling was consistent with the brand
direction and would be expected with or without customer criticism.
“That kind of more mature and male design is consistent where Kodo design as
taken all the Mazda design, as we’ve seen with the Hazumi,” he said.
“BT-50 is a product of the previous-generation design language and it’s quite
natural… it’s not as if were doing something to BT to that is inconsistent with
the rest of the range.”
Divisive looks or not, the BT-50 is finding plenty of homes, thanks to its
five-star ANCAP rating and sharper pricing than its Ford Ranger
Mazda sold nearly 14,000 units last year, which is right on its stated target,
and the 4x4 version was up 31 per cent on 2012. Sales are a little down so far
in 2014, but at a lower rate than the overall LCV segments in which it fights.