By Paul Jackson

It didn’t take much convincing when I was asked to test drive the new Mazda BT-50 for the weekend. Nature played its part by sending solid rains most of Friday night ensuring the off-road tracks would be wet and slippery. Now it needs to said that my everyday drive is a 2008 Kia Rio which my four sons refuse to drive because it’s a ‘Girl’s car’. So with the Rio securely garaged, I loaded the four boys in for an afternoon of fun in a ‘Man’s car’ – the BT-50 XTR.

The fight for who would control the playlist was won by Micah who had his device connected in no time through the ease of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Whether connected through bluetooth or by cable, the handover to the large centre-console touchscreen was seamless and made navigation of the device simple and even handsfree with Siri/Google Assistant.

A quick look around the cab and the features just keep coming – standard reverse camera, power windows and mirrors, climate-control air-conditioning, cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, quality Alpine sound systems, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, rear-view mirror auto dimming, and sat-nav with live traffic updates and off-road maps.

Loaded with five guys, all around 6ft, we filled the cabin but didn’t feel cramped – well the guy in the middle is always going to complain right? There’s plenty of room up front and the BT-50 cab is one of the most spacious in its segment.

Coming from a compact sedan, I expected to feel like I was driving a truck for a while but was surprised by how comfortable I was with it’s size. Driving in traffic was simple and the steering was nice and light. It has plenty of power even when loaded and traction control kept us safe and stable on the wet roads. I am also a fan of the vocal warning from the sat-nav when you exceed the speed limit.

The deep tub out back offers a very useful 1560mm width by 1549mm length making it a workman’s best friend.

With plenty of options available at an affordable price, the BT-50 range offers plenty of reasons to give it serious consideration.

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