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Mazda BT-50 2021: Aussie-exclusive Thunder edition turns up the aggression


Hardened and more capable versions of already impressive dual-cabs are quickly becoming the must-have trend here in Australia and Mazda is not about to sit out of the party.

Mazda has unveiled the Australia-exclusive 2021 BT-50 Thunder ute, which will become the new range-topping variant when it goes on sale next month.

The BT-50 Thunder loads up a whole suite of useful accessories that will enhance its everyday capability but don’t go as far as the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor with a whole new suspension setup.

Mazda BT-50 Thunder 2021 rear
Mazda has kitted out their top-spec BT-50 in a variant known as the Thunder

Priced from $65,990 driveaway, the BT-50 Thunder can more closely be matched to the Ranger Wildtrak that is priced at $62,090 (before on-road costs) but the Mazda presents itself as a far more aggressive package.

Mazda Australia has built on the previous top-spec BT-50 GT but modified it to be noticeably more aggressive by ditching the garden-variety front bumper for a single hoop steel bull bar with a Lightforce dual-row LED lightbar sitting on top.

Adding to the rugged appearance is the squared-off and screwed in fender flares that jut out from the sides and house new 18-inch black alloy wheels, with more aggressive black side steps running between them.

Mazda BT-50 Thunder 2021 climbing
The BT-50 Thunder adds a huge bull bar, wide fender flares and new 18-inch alloy wheels

Helping the top-spec BT-50 stand out is a set of ‘Thunder’ decals on either side of the tub which features a new sports bar design and an electric roller cover that hides the added tub liner.

Carrying over from the GT grade is the brown leather upholstery, heated front seats with eight-way adjustability for the driver, along with a nine-inch touchscreen with in-build navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto.  

Mazda claims the total upgrades to the BT-50 Thunder add up to over $13,000 of value which could make it cracking value if you plan on adding the aforementioned accessories after purchase.

Mazda BT-50 Thunder 2021 side
Mazda claims the BT-50 Thunder adds over $13,000 of extra value over the previous top grade

Performance-wise, the three-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine shared with its Isuzu D-Max twin develops an unchanged 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque. 

Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual (priced at $65,990 driveaway) or a six-speed torque converter automatic ($68,990 driveaway) which sends the grunt to a dual-range 4×4 system with a switchable locking rear differential.

Mazda BT-50 Thunder 2021 driving
The BT-50 Thunder is priced from $65,990 driveaway and goes on sale in April

The BT-50 was launched alongside its Isuzu D-Max twin last year and scored five stars under the most recent ANCAP protocol which includes the requirement of a centre airbag.

Helping it achieve the rating was a suite of driver aids such as lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, front automatic emergency braking and rear cross-traffic alert.

Mazda says the BT-50 Thunder variant will officially go on sale in April this year.

Mazda BT-50 2021: prices in Australia

All prices listed are before on-road costs.

  • BT-50 XT 4×2 cab chassis manual: $29,060
  • BT-50 XT 4×2 cab chassis hi-rider automatic: $32,260
  • BT-50 XT 4×4 cab chassis manual: $40,280
  • BT-50 XTR 4×4 dual cab automatic: $53,110
  • BT-50 GT 4×4 dual cab automatic: $59,990
  • BT-50 GT 4×4 dual cab manual: $56,990
  • BT-50 Thunder dual cab manual: ($65,990 driveaway)
  • BT-50 Thunder dual cab automatic: ($68,990 driveaway)