By Andrew Ganz
Tuesday, Mar 29th, 2011 @ 11:15 am
 
Mazda's new global pickup, the BT-50, is hugely successful overseas - but only with a diesel engine. To capitalize on this, the automaker says that it will focus only on diesels by dropping the existing gas engine.

Developed with the world-market Ford Ranger (which isn't related to the Minnesota-built North American Ford Ranger), the BT-50 will be sold across the globe nearly everywhere but North America.

Primarily engineered in Australia, the BT-50 differs from the Ranger by offering a more comfort and style-oriented design inside and out. The swoopy BT-50 takes a number of Mazda's recent car-centric design languages and integrates them into the traditionally boxy pickup style.


Underhood motivation
The outgoing 2.2-liter four-cylinder gas engine is gone from the BT-50's spec sheet, although it will remain available on the Ranger. In its place in the Mazda are a pair of new oil-burning diesels, which make the BT-50 one of the most powerful offerings in its class in Australia.

The big news is the new 3.2-liter inline-five cylinder already offered in the Ford Transit van (which is unrelated to the smaller Ford Transit Connect sold in North America). Developing 197 horsepower and, more importantly, 347 lb-ft. of torque, the new MZ-CD engine is more than 25 percent torquier and more powerful than the outgoing 3.0-liter unit. In addition, it will give the BT-50 a 7,500 lbs. tow rating, a match for the Ranger.

In addition, a 148 horsepower, 276 lb-ft. of torque 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel will also be new to the range. The entry-level engine will still be capable of an impressive 5,500 lbs. towing capacity.

New six-speed automatic and manual transmissions will be available across the line.

Both the Ranger and BT-50 will be assembled at the joint-venture AutoAlliance assembly plant in Rayong, Thailand, beginning late this year. Sales begin in Europe, Asia and Australia in mid-2011.