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The best bang for your truck

Mazda BT-50 4x4 3.2L

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A lot more people — gents and even ladies — are getting into ‘trucks’ because of the security it provides both literally and figuratively.

Most will look into well-known marques, but trust me when I say, there are some others that deserve a solid look. Take the 2018 Mazda BT-50 4×4 3.2L for example. Here are five things about it to seriously consider if you’re in the market for a pickup truck.

Performance

Borrowing Ford’s Duratorq and rebadging it as a Mazda MZ-CD 3.2L engine, it boasts of one of the largest displacements in the current market whose power can only be matched by a select few.

While other, more popular models downsize, sacrificing output for efficiency in the process, this robust engine’s yield hits 200-PS and 470-Nm of torque. Pushing through and overtaking slower traffic comes so easy even though its grunt is less of the speedster type and more of the hauler kind. It feels very compliant and immediately accelerates after some moderate throttle pressure.

Using common-rail, direct injection, an intercooled turbocharger, and solid independent double wishbone suspensions in front and rigid, leaf springs in the rear, it’s hard to imagine a road scenario it can’t overcome. It effortlessly rolls over potholes sans any of the clanging and banging sedans would often make.

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Creature features

It doesn’t have the most tech-endowed cabin by any measure but in a single look, I could tell that it lives by ‘simplicity is the best quality’. The dashboard is almost bare, save for the basic infotainment system that still uses a panel of buttons and a small classic multi-function display. It does reduces the ‘gawk factor’ that hi-tech systems bring, which may sometimes lead to fender-benders.

Old as it may seem, it does not go without the necessary modern stuff like Bluetooth and a USB port. The steering wheel also comes with audio and call buttons so that when your mobile device is paired, you can take calls without reaching for your phone. Another good thing about this plain system, it’s stress-free to use. Changing stations, presets and various other menial tasks don’t require the skills of a computer programmer. Plus, you get a lot more flat space all around to lay your stuff out and large cupholders for your oversized drinks.

Safety

While some pickups have yet to use a reverse camera, you’ll be glad to know it comes standard on this model. Backing up to a parking slot is hard enough for most people, so it was a relief to be able to sidle up as close to the wall as possible by watching how close the rear bumper was on the monitor mounter on the rearview mirror.

Should you be absent-minded enough to accidentally leave your kid or pet inside the car, its Motion Detector Sensor will trigger the horn to beep for 30 seconds and the hazard light to flash for five minutes if movement is sensed by the system. It will also do the same if a break-in is detected.

It comes with Hill Descent Control so you don’t have to burn through your brake pads on a long downhill run, and Dynamic Stability Control to help prevent under- and oversteer when you come to a turn faster than your skills can allow you.

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Price

It’s not expensive, it isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t break the bank either. For all that power, which is basically what most people look for in a truck, this baby is priced at only P1.550 million. That’s almost 100k less than some of the top brands and only a few tens of thousands more than others with lesser engine output.

Yojin3 Mazda Total Care

Each brand-new Mazda comes with a package of care called Yojin3 (‘yojin’ means care in Japanese and three stands for the number of services and coverage years).

If you get a BT-50, it will come with free three-year periodic maintenance service (free parts and labor for every scheduled service for three years or 60,000 kilometers, whichever comes first), roadside assistance, and new vehicle limited warranty from bumper to bumper (first three years or 100,000 kilometers, whichever comes first). How’s that for peace of mind?

Value for money

It may be extremely long in the tooth – a second-gen introduced in 2011 – so do expect an all-new in a few years. Considering all of the above, a no-frills pickup with crème-of-the-crop power and a commitment from Mazda to you to make the ownership experience as worry-free as possible, the BT-50 4×4 3.2L may just be the truck with the best bang for your buck!

Text and photos by Eric Tipan

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