Next-gen Mazda BT-50 to get completed Isuzu D-Max as base, but promises more masculine Kodo design


It appears that the upcoming Mazda BT-50 will be largely based on the new Isuzu D-Max, at least from the mechanical side of things. An Isuzu executive told CarsGuide that Mazda had no involvement in the development of the D-Max, and that Mazda will be handed a finished pick-up truck instead.

Back in 2016, Mazda announced a commercial vehicle partnership with Isuzu, a deal which included a jointly-developed pick-up truck to replace the outgoing BT-50. As it turns out, Mazda’s involvement in the development phase isn’t quite as extensive. Isuzu global spokesperson, Eiji Mitsubishi told the publication that the new D-Max was “developed solely by Isuzu,” and that the finished truck would be provided to Mazda.

“This was developed solely by Isuzu, and we have decided to supply or provide this vehicle to Mazda as an OEM. But it was developed purely by us,” he said at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Show. “We independently developed this D-Max. We tried to strike a balance between passenger use and more off-road demand. We understand the increasing demand on the D-Max as a passenger car.”

2020 Isuzu D-Max Hi-Lander 1.9 Ddi 4x2 ZP A:T Extended Cab 1

In terms of engine choices, the D-Max is powered by a 1.9 litre and 3.0 litre four-cylinder turbodiesels, with the former RZ4E-TC mill making 150 PS at 3,600 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 2,600 rpm.

The larger 4JJ3-TCX 3.0 litre engine, which has been heavily revised with items such as a diamond-like carbon coating on the piston pins, an electronic variable geometry turbocharger, and a double-scissor timing gear, produces 190 PS and 450 Nm of torque. That’s a modest increase of 13 PS and 70 Nm over the older 4JJ1-TCX.

So far, Mazda hasn’t revealed much about the upcoming BT-50, but did promise that its pick-up truck will look substantially different. Mazda’s chief designer Ikuo Maeda said the BT-50 will be tougher-looking and more masculine than the outgoing model, although it’s unclear how much of its Kodo design philosophy will be featured.

In 2018, Maeda told CarsGuide that “the rear area of the truck itself is very difficult to use this [Kodo] design language, but I could try. I myself think the truck should look masculine and strong, and really like a truck. It might be difficult to try this kind of design, with all the light reflections, to a truck. It’s tough.”

Maeda went on to promise that, despite the Isuzu partnership, Mazda’s version will have it’s own unique design and presence. “It will have to,” he said.


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