Charl Bosch
Online Motoring Reporter
2 minute read
29 Mar 2021
1:01 pm

Aussie jibe: Mazda thunderises BT-50

Charl Bosch

Mazda's off-road infused model sports a familiar name but does without the full hardware.

Mazda BT-50 Thunder comes with rugged attire but lacks the full hardware of the Ford Ranger Raptor. Image: motoring.com.au

Mazda has taken the wraps off of an off-road version of the BT-50 in Australia aimed more at the Aussie market-only Toyota Hilux Rogue than the Ford Ranger Raptor.

Going on sale next month and based on the top-spec GT trim level, the rather cheekily named, from a South African perspective, Thunder is largely about cosmetics in spite of an off-road focused model aimed at the Raptor being mentioned in January this year.

As such, the newcomer boasts $13 000 (R150 000) worth of locally developed and made extras comprising model specific black 18-inch alloy wheels, a steel bullbar complete with a LED light bar, extended wheel arches, a steel sports bar, special Thunder decals, a BT-50 branded steel bash plate, steel side steps, rubberised loadbin and an electric tonneau cover.

Mazda

Mazda BT-50 Thunder rear view. Image: motoring.com.au

Inside, the interior and specification level is unchanged from the GT with the same applying to the engine. Like the GT and the Isuzu D-Max on which it now based, the Thunder’s bolt comes courtesy of a 3.0-litre turbodiesel producing 140kW/450Nm.

Hooked to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, drive goes to the rear wheels as standard with all fours gripping thanks to the inclusion of a low range transfer case. Ground clearance is rated at 240 mm with a locking rear differential included along with Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist.

RELATED: Finally out: Mazda removes covers from all-new BT-50

Claimed fuel consumption is 7.7 L/100 km for the manual and eight-litres per 100 km for the automatic with the braked trailer towing capacity rated at 3 500 kg.

Mazda

The BT-50 Thunder’s interior and spec is unchanged from the GT model on which it is based. Image: motoring.com.au

Despite the extras’ supposed amount, the Thunder sports a price premium of $9 000 (est. R103 200) over the GT, meaning a sticker of $65 990 (est. R756 600) for the manual and $68 990 (est. R791 000) for the automatic.

Although the standard BT-50 is still on course to debut in South Africa later this year, a year before the D-Max, the Thunder is unlikely, based not only on its name, but also because of it being designated as an Australian market only model.

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