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Mazda BT-50 SP 2024 review


The BT-50 SP with Pro Enhancement Pack is Mazda’s ultimate dual-cab, but can it stand up against a Ranger, Hilux or Amarok?

Good points

  • Settled ride quality
  • Premium cabin
  • Strong Isuzu 3.0-litre engine
  • Subtle integrated LED light bar
  • Off-road capability
  • Frugal fuel use
  • Sharp driveaway deal (May 2024)

Needs work

  • Needs $7K upgrade to ride properly
  • Getting pricey with added pack
  • Infotainment beginning to date
  • Same instrumentation as D-Max
  • Not as much grunt as diesel V6
  • Suspension not adjustable

The dual-cab ute market in Australia is a passionate one: everyone has their favourites. It’s almost as if the Holden Commodore versus Ford Falcon rivalry has returned, but today the dominant stoush is that of Ford Ranger against Toyota Hilux.

Together, these two utes numbered a grand total of 107,256 4×4 units sold in 2023.

But the reality is, there is more skin in this fight than the Ranger and Hilux nameplates.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024

In 2020, Mazda steered away from its partnership with Ford and the Ranger platform and instead co-opted with the folks at Isuzu to create the next iteration of the BT-50, using Isuzu’s reliable turbo-diesel underpinnings.

Since then, the BT-50 has sold, though unlike the related Isuzu D-Max it hasn’t been in huge numbers.

And just two months ago, the BT-50 was axed in New Zealand. Thankfully, there has been no word for the BT-50 in Australia, with the model continuing on as strong as it ever has.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 decal

But now the BT-50 SP, the second-highest trim tier money can buy in Australia, has gained a Pro Enhancement Pack accessory kit that might just bring this underdog out of the shade and into the sunlight.

Priced currently at $74,224 driveaway, this is one of the most expensive BT-50s ever sold in Australia.

But what about it makes it a worthy contender against the mainstay brands? Does this accessory pack make a big difference? And is it worth the additional outlay? Well, in this review, let’s find out.

What are the BT-50 SP’s features and options for the price?

The BT-50 SP with Pro Enhancement Pack we’ve got on test is a $70K-plus vehicle on the road, and that’s largely due to the $7688 worth of accessories fitted.

As part of the pack, owners will gain the Nitrocharger suspension setup, with uprated shocks, front springs and the addition of Old Man Emu-sourced rear leaf springs.

Also fitted as part of the pack is an integrated LED light bar, unique 18-inch black alloy wheels and a SP Pro sticker pack.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 front close
Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 diff

Other standard features with the SP variant include:

  • 9.0-inch centre touchscreen
  • 4.2-inch instrument cluster 
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto
  • Satellite navigation
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Black and driftwood leather upholstery 
  • Eight-way electric driver’s seat and heating
  • Manual roller tonneau cover 
  • Tub liner 
  • Sailplane bar at rear 
  • LED headlamps 
  • Side steps 

In terms of value, this BT-50 is well specced for the outlay, but does miss out on a few features otherwise found in the flagship Thunder, such as an electric tonneau cover and a black sports bar. 

How does the BT-50 SP drive?

Getting in and firing up the BT-50 SP, you’ll be transported straight to Isuzu land with the familiar sound of the venerable 4JJ3 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that’s been pulled straight from the related D-Max and MU-X large SUV.

For the BT-50 SP, even with its Pro Enhancement Pack, outputs remain the same as before – 140kW/450Nm – with those outputs being fed through a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission to a part-time four-wheel-drive system.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 driving2

So how does it drive? In terms of powertrain and transmission, the BT-50 SP feels pretty much identical to the D-Max, but that’s no bad thing. Speak to many four-wheel drivers and they will happily use the D-Max’s driveline because it’s been built to endure some pretty rough environments.

The 3.0-litre unit feels strong, punchy around town and generally pretty refined (which is odd to say for a diesel), but drive a turbo-diesel V6 from Ranger/Amarok and you might not ever look back. Still, the 4JJ3 doesn’t feel underpowered and can pull big loads with minimal fuss.

Where this particular BT-50 goes in a completely other direction is with its ride quality. Many dual cabs I have driven over the years have all suffered from the same things: the rear axle is prone to jiggle and jitter, and there’s just a general feeling of instability.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 driving rear

For rear occupants, like your kids, this has been known to cause issues with motion sickness and also just a feeling of discomfort.

But the Pro Enhancement Pack with its heavy-duty Nitrocharger suspension system is more car-like than ever. Let me explain.

In my opinion, the ride qualities from a Ford Ranger Wildtrak or a Volkswagen Amarok Panamericana are the benchmarks for their ute segment. In the case of this BT-50 SP Pro, it’s not far off that benchmark.

The BT-50 impressed me with a real sense of stability, poise and on-road sophistication that I was not expecting.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 driving front 2

When you hit a bump or a pothole in the SP, the suspension immediately settles. It doesn’t bounce around and carry on. It simply hits the bump and recovers quickly, which I thought was admirable.

Sure, it’s a little on the firm side, but this is a ute after all – it won’t ride like a luxury sedan, for instance.

There is little jitter or jiggle from the rear leaf springs, though it doesn’t upset the ute so much.

The Nitrocharger suspension on this ute lifts the ride height by about 40mm, according to Mazda, but this doesn’t seem to affect balance when cornering. Sure, it’s a ute, so there will be some body roll, but the reality is that this BT-50 can handle higher-speed stuff with confidence. Am I really saying this about a ute?

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 driving inside

I had some limited time to drive the BT-50 SP on some fairly straight-forward tracks outside of Sydney, and again it impressed me with low-down punch and increased stability and articulation, all thanks to this Pro pack.

Mazda Australia told me that the SP Pack’s suspension can be specifically configured but only at the factory, meaning that it isn’t adjustable on the fly unlike some other setups.

This exact test car had a ‘standard’ setup, but you can opt for a more heavy-duty version if you’re going to be towing and touring, for example.

I’ve driven plenty of D-Maxs off-road, including on the dunes at Stockton Beach, but I feel the BT-50 SP just builds on the capability already experienced by the D-Max.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 wheel

The BT-50 SP might not be the ultimate off-roader, and likely less so than a Land Cruiser 300 Series or a Nissan Patrol, but it’s pretty darn capable straight off the showroom floor.

In terms of overall driving refinement, the ride itself is a big improvement, but the engine could be a little quieter, especially if you’re giving it the beans coming onto the highway, or when you’re towing a big, heavy trailer.

It’s not a sonorous or characterful engine, but many buyers aren’t wanting for that. Instead, they tend to want reliability, strength and durability to get them up a tricky track. And with that, the BT-50 SP does it with ease.

What is the BT-50 SP’s interior and tech like?

Sitting inside the cabin of the BT-50 SP, your brain will be telling you that you’re in a D-Max. The signs are all there: same 9.0-inch touchscreen, same analogue dials and 4.2-inch instrument cluster, same transmission shifter, same climate control setup.

But how do you distinguish this car from a D-Max X-Terrain?

The BT-50 is a much more premium and pleasant place to spend time in over any Isuzu interior. Mazda’s use of much more soft touch materials, like on the dash, knee inserts and even the steering wheel (finished in quality-feeling leather) seem a step above Isuzu.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 interior

I like the two-tone brown and black leather upholstery, along with the pretty confident front seats. This is what I’d expect from a ute at this price point. The days of agricultural feeling ute interiors are certainly numbered.

Powering the mainframe of the BT-50 SP is the same 9.0-inch touchscreen found in the D-Max. The software is even identical to the Isuzu counterpart, and it’s starting to date already.

It’s not particularly nice to use and is lacking a lot of features, which are instead only accessible through the 4.2-inch instrument cluster screen.

The main touchscreen runs wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, so for those with a Google or Samsung phone, make sure to bring a cable. The screen is pretty good quality, however the reversing camera is a little low rent.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 interior screen

If you’re wanting for a full digital cluster, you may have to go for a Ford Ranger or Volkswagen Amarok: the BT-50 is a bit back to basics in this regard. You can use the steering wheel buttons to dive into submenus, which is handy when trying to turn off all the irritating safety features.

Practicality-wise, the BT-50 gets two generous cup holders, large door bins, USB-A connectivity and plenty of storage compartments for your belongings.

In terms of cabin comfort, the front seats are certainly up to scratch if you’re going to do long-distance touring.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 interior front seats
Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 interior back seat

In the rear, the bench seat is pretty comfortable and wouldn’t be likely to have a couple of adults back there for a road trip. The ability to flip-up the rear seats 40/60 is a bonus for practicality though.

Rear occupants gain air vents and a USB-A port, as well as some handy magazine/document holders.

In the tray, this SP gains a manual roller tonneau. At this price, you’d half expect this to be electric. Because of the tonneau itself, you therefore get fewer tie-down points, with just two available with this setup.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 interior tray

There is plenty of space back there, but perhaps not so good for the weekly grocery shopping. I’d be investing in a crate and a rubber mat, if that’s the case for you.

To summarise, the Mazda BT-50 SP is certainly up there with the nicest ute interiors in the market. Its out-dated infotainment spoils that somewhat, but I feel this is a cabin that will last even the most brutal of treatments.

Is the BT-50 SP a safe car?

The Mazda BT-50 was tested by the ANCAP safety agency back in 2022, where it received a five-star rating.

For the test, the BT-50 scored best in child occupant protection with a score of 89 percent. Adult occupant protection scored 86 percent, vulnerable road user nabbed 67 percent, and the Mazda gots 84 percent for safety assist.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 steering wheel

As standard, the BT-50 SP comes fitted with the following safety features:

  • Eight airbags
  • Autonomous emergency braking
  • Automatic high beam
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Emergency lane keep
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Lane departure warning and lane departure prevention
  • Hill launch assist and hill descent control
  • Locking rear differential
  • Rear cross-traffic alert 

When we picked up our BT-50 SP press vehicle, we found that all the systems were in full attack mode. But you can turn things off through the submenus in the instrument cluster, which did help a lot. I found the lane-keep assist and autonomous emergency braking were touchy and over active. 

What are the BT-50 SP’s ownership costs?

All Mazda vehicles in Australia are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

In terms of servicing, it’ll cost owners $2496 to service a BT-50 SP over a five-year period. Servicing should occur every 15,000km, or every 12 months, whichever occurs first.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 engine

With fuel efficiency, Mazda Australia claims the BT-50 SP will consume 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle, but we were able to beat that claim with a 7.3L/100km figure over 250km of combined driving.

The honest verdict on the BT-50 SP

I’ll come right out and say it: the Mazda BT-50 is the ute segment’s underdog.

At roughly $75,000 driveaway, this is not a ute for every buyer. That price puts the BT-50 SP with its Pro Enhancement Pack at the top-tier of dual cabs, finding itself fighting amongst some very fierce and capable rivals.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 rear 3/4

The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux are the popular, trendy utes of today, but this BT-50 SP also does 90 percent of the same job for less cash.

The Volkswagen Amarok Panamericana and Ford Ranger Wildtrak are well past $80,000 on the road. Add accessories and you might be looking closer to $90,000 on the road.

The BT-50 SP with its accessories does a mighty fine job of getting close to two of the best in the segment. It rides surprisingly well, has a nicer interior than any Isuzu D-Max, it feels safe and is well equipped.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 driving

What the BT-50 lacks is that V6 engine. It’s the missing link in an otherwise great ute.

I have only driven one ute that was truly car-like in its driving mannerisms, and that was the Volkswagen Amarok.

But the reality is that the BT-50 comes awfully close. I think it’s third on the ladder in terms of ride and handling. A very good effort.

Mazda BT-50 SP Pro Enhancement pack 2024 driving rear close

Some mightn’t stomach the thought of spending $7688 on accessories, though there’s plenty of evidence to support that many ute owners do, especially if they’re towing/touring or off-roading.

The BT-50 SP Pro might not be perfect, but it’s a solid, dependable and capable choice if you’ve been thinking of buying the right dual-cab ute for work or for play.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2999 cc
Diesel Turbo
140kW at 3600rpm
450Nm at 1600rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
76 litres
8L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
950km (claimed)
5280 mm
1870 mm
1810 mm
Unoccupied weight
2115 kg

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