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Future models - Mazda - BT-50

Work on facelifted Mazda BT-50 underway

Face first: The Thai-built Mazda BT-50 drew mixed reactions when it was launched, but Mazda says it was expecting that.

Design of refreshed Mazda BT-50 likely to be toned down when it surfaces next year

Mazda logo21 Aug 2014

MAZDA is working on a mid-life facelift for its BT-50 workhorse, possibly ushering in a less polarising design than the car-like current model.

While it is unlikely the refreshed version will be completely styled according to the Japanese car-maker's Kodo design philosophy – seen on the Mazda3, 6, CX-5 and next-gen 2 – it will reportedly feature a more toned-down look to improve its appeal to private and business buyers in the competitive light-commercial utility segment.

When the existing model arrived in Australia in late 2011, the BT-50 divided buyers with its bold front-end styling that was in line with the company's styling language of the time that carried across to other models, including the previous-generation Mazda3.

Chief designer of the forthcoming Mazda2 and current BT-50, Ryo Yanagisawa, told GoAuto at the launch of the all-new light car in Japan this week that Mazda predicted buyers either loved or loathed the daring styling of the current-generation ute.

“There are so many similar looking pick-up trucks. For BT-50, however, we wanted to make it stand out and be different from others, and that is how we designed it,” he said.

“So as a result there are customers who look at it and say 'wow', and on the other hand other customers just don't like it. But that's actually what we originally expected anyway, according to our plan.” Yanagisawa-san said that while a facelifted version was now in the works, he was not involved with the redesign and could not offer any insight to its possible styling direction.

“I don't know timing,” he said. “I am not in charge of design of BT-50 anymore, so another person is going to do that. Although I have seen the model, but if I speak too much about the future model I will be told off.”

Speaking with GoAuto at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, Mazda’s general manager of design Ikuo Maeda said he “hoped” to bring a more rugged look to the updated BT-50, with harder edges to the head- and tail-lights as well as new lines on the side panels.

Timing for the facelifted model is yet to be confirmed by Mazda, although some reports have suggested that it will lob next year.

It will most likely surface after the facelifted Ford Ranger ute – with which the BT-50 was co-developed in Australia – that is scheduled to debut next year around the same time as the mechanically related Everest seven-seat SUV.

Sales of the BT-50 have remained steady since its release in late 2011, with the 4x2 averaging about 300-450 monthly sales, while the more popular 4x4 attracts between 600-850 buyers each month.

So far this year, sales of the BT-50 are down 3.4 per cent for the first seven months of the year with 2751 units shifted and the 4x4 has slipped by 8.8 per cent to 4965 units in the same period.

Combined year-to-date sales of the BT-50 (7446) put it well behind the segment dominating Toyota HiLux (22,300), the increasingly popular Ford Ranger (15,466), the soon-to-be-replaced Mitsubishi Triton (13,039) and the resurgent Holden Colorado (11,090).

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