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Land Rover
Test Drives
20 Apr 09 19:03
Mazda BT- 50 New Age Pick-Up
John K. Lindgren
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I usually I don't drive pick-up trucks or commercial vehicles. But I see them everywhere. In Bangkok and in "Nakoon Nowheere". The ubiquitous flat bed one ton 1,000kg) pick-up truck. These trucks (the British still call them lorries!) sell more than any other four wheel vehicle in Thailand which makes the Kingdom of Thailand the second largest pick-up truck market in the world after the US.

Next time you're in the Thai hinterland,in the provinces, in the sticks 'Bann Nook' look around at the intersections at the Tesco's, Big C's parking lots and the petrol-pumps ( the English still call them filling stations!). Voila pick-up's left, right and center. They're everywhere. To be a car owner in rural Thailand is the same as to own a pickup truck

Not long ago. I had the opportunity the to test drive the new Mazda BT-50.
This an impressive piece of automotive utilitarian machinery with good looks.
"The new generation of pick-up trucks are starting to look darn good" is what my friend Matt Mayer from Austin, Texas says.

Design a la industrial design
Mazda's BT-50 Freestyle Cab 'Hi-Rider' we find that the devil is in the details like the new massive chromium loaded multi reflector headlamps, the yellow key hole turn signals and sporty protruding wheel arches. Pick-up trucks certainly did not look like this 15 years ago. They were mostly single cab designs and basic little form but all function. Step in side. The BT-50 cab comes with the spacious four door design featuring two rear access doors, opening in 90 degrees.

Mazda calls them 'freestyle doors'. The British bespoke Rolls Royce gentlemen calls them coach doors. During the 1930�s Chicago gangster era these doors were called 'suicide door' because if the latch is opened, the door gets ripped open by the air flow. This was before the seat belts. And if the passenger was leaning against the door, out he went. 'Oops! There went Machine Gun Kelly'.

Driving impressions
The view is commanding including the rear view, the mirrors with integrated yellow side indicators are almost the size of a Vaio notebook. Everything is solid and big. But the BT-50 is surprisingly easy to drive in Bangkok's chronic, stop-and-go 'rott-titt-maak' traffic . And on the highway it was effortless cruising in 5th gear. Power steering ABS brakes, the works. And listening to Deep Purple's Highway Star. Riding pick-ups used to be harsh, and bumpy due to the basic, heavy duty leaf spring suspension. Here we are in for a much smoother ride thanks to the DE-S (Dynamic Enhanced Suspension System). Another big improvement is the impressive torque and the swift acceleration (the Americans call it pick-up! not the vehicle but the acceleration!) and especially when the red rpm needle hits 2.000. That's Vrooom! or 'Zoom-Zoom' as the global Mazda advertising sound clip goes.

Engine and turbine
The Common Rail DOHC 16V Turbo Intercooler diesel engine generates 143 horsepower and delivers torque of up to 330 Nm. All the power is mated to a easy-to-shift-five speed manual gear box. 'Gea tammadaa'in Thai. The cabin concept is is 'freestyle' or intelligent access to the cabin. The back seat area is designed exclusively for cargo use or short distance transport.

The front door and rear access panel on each side open from the center to create a 1500mm opening and the rear access panels (doors) open to almost 90 degrees to make accessing the rear area easier. Each rear access panel can only be opened when the front door on that side is open. The cab interior boasts of saloon car seats and quality upholstery, a sporty design console, with user friendly buttons, switches and controls plus CD-MP3 player, double airbags and side airbags. The works. Almost like any Japanese standard sub compact car. Well, how much is this truck? 685,000 THB

The BT-50 is a very comfortable, dynamic and multi functional Japanese 'zoom-zoom' pick-up truck. Next time I wan't to drive a 10-wheel container truck with a trailer.
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