Mazda have launched a new, range-topping variant of their BT-50 dual cab ute – the BT-50 Thunder.
An Australian exclusive, the BT-50 Thunder is a cosmetic upgrade on the GT-grade BT-50 4x4 and features “quality parts developed by Mazda Australia’s in-house engineering team”.
With its aggressive looking add-ons, the Thunder arrives as Mazda’s answer to the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior and Toyota HiLux Rugged X, although being a cosmetic package only, it isn’t in the arena of Ford’s Ranger FX4 Max or Raptor.
The ‘Thunder’ name is not a new one in the Australian automotive marketplace, first appearing as a special edition version of Holden’s locally-manufactured VZ Commodore ute in 2005. Holden next offered a Thunder special edition on the VE ute in 2011, then the Colorado in 2013.
With Holden now officially gone from the Australian new car market, it seems like it’s OK for Mazda to take the Thunder name and apply it to their own range. So maybe look for ‘Storm’ and ‘Lightning’ edition Mazdas in the future!
“We have been extremely pleased with how the Brand-New Mazda BT-50 has been received by our dealer partners, customers and media since its mid-2020 launch,” said Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi.
“The range-topping, uniquely-Australian BT-50 Thunder makes a strong statement with a bold and assertive aesthetic, while retaining the high level of specification and safety attributes expected of a Brand-New BT-50 model.”
The Thunder specification starts with a distinctive lower front bumper in place of the standard item, to which an angular steel nudge bar has been added. Atop this sits a Lightforce dual-row LED lightbar, while a branded skid plate is incorporated below.
Wheelarch flares are also part of the spec, sitting over black 18-inch alloys. Side steps, also in black (but in a different design to the standard BT-50) are included, along with a sailplane-style premium sports bar.
There’s also a drop-in liner for the ute’s tub, with an electric-powered roller tonneau on top.
Competing the package are ‘Thunder’ decals on the tub sides. There are no interior upgrades or extras: not even a set of branded floor mats.
All the bolt-on parts are finished in black, regardless of which of the seven available paint colours (unchanged from the standard BT-50) are selected. Most of the bolt-on parts are also available individually through Mazda dealers, but combining them on the BT-50 Thunder saves around $4,000.
Standard Power, Safety and Spec
Beyond its front bumper, bolt-on parts and identifying decals, the BT-50 Thunder is the same as the BT-50 GT it’s based on, meaning a 3.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engine that’s shared with the new Isuzu D-MAX, producing 140kW and 450Nm maximums, matched to a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.
Dual-range four-wheel drive is standard, along with a switchable locking rear differential for improved traction.
Suspension is unchanged from the standard BT-50, comprising an independent double wishbone and anti-roll bar front end with leaf springs on the solid rear axle. Same goes for braking, with ventilated disc up front and drums at the rear.
Other standard features include LED headlights, foglights and DRLs, power mirrors, keyless entry and remote starting, power windows, leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter boot, heated front seats and 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control air con, sat nav, DAB+ digital radio, 9-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Standard safety and driver assistance tech includes cruise control (with adaptive cruise control and stop/go on automatics), front parking sensors and a reversing camera, traction control, ABS, Dynamic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Hill Descent Control, Hill Launch Assist, Turn Assist, Attention Assist, Emergency Lane Keeping and Stop Signal, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-keep Assist System (autos only), Speed Assist System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a full airbag suite.
The BT-50 Thunder arrived in Mazda dealerships in April, with launch pricing of $65,990 for the manual and $68,990 for the auto. These are both $9,000 premiums over the GT grade that the Thunder is based on, but Mazda claim the BT-50 Thunder offers an additional $13,000 of value.
One the introductory offer expires, the drive away prices will become the list pricing for both versions.
All pricing is backed by Mazda’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, with complimentary roadside assist and 12mth/15,000km service intervals.
See your Mazda dealer for more details.