We’ve brought you news of the Mazda Drifter – now Peta Lee takes the BT-50 3.0-litre diesel version on the road in her latest review.

Not just another bakkie

There’s nothing like a big beefy bakkie to make a girl feel small and petite! And despite my thinking that this was just another bakkie, the Mazda Drifter BT-50 3000 quickly dispelled that illusion.

Mazda Drifter is a highly desirable leisure vehicle

Price: R284 990


On our first outing, turning up into the steep and sharp right-hander leading to my house, it displayed its grit by performing a rather unexpected little wheelspinning quickstep – delighting my daughter and waking me up very quickly.

Torque it has – in buckets full. But it also has other attributes that account for it being a highly desirable leisure vehicle.

Safest in its class and highest torque too

Not only is it very handsome, it also offers class-leading safety and the three-litre diesel version I drove has, I subsequently discovered, the highest torque in its class (380Nm @ 1800).

Lots of space in the Mazda Drifter too

The double cab has ample space for two front passengers and two in the rear, and despite the generous layout here, no sacrifice has been made in the rear load space – loading a big bicycle flat was absolutely no problem, and we could still fit on the canvas cover with no strain. And opening the tailgate was a piece of old takkie: no broken nails and there’s a step on which to stand which makes life easier.

Inside, the Drifter – or mine, anyway – there was attractive Harley coloured upholstery: black with unusual burnt orange corners and stitching, and an easy to read and all clearly visible bank of gauges and dials.

All the trays and cup-holders you’ll need

The kids found the concealed flat tray on the front passenger dash, which was quickly filled with thin books, tissues and miscellaneous other paraphernalia, and the twin cupholders in the central rear armrest came in very useful, too.

Incidentally, I love having a nine-year-old as a co-driver: at the petrol station the pump jockey and I spent a good few minutes searching for the fuel flap opener, and it was she who knew exactly where it was and opened it for us – she’d spotted in on her very first exploration of the vehicle.
It’s next to the bonnet opener, under the dash…

Mazda Drifter is a comfortable ride

Seating is comfy in the bakkie, with a multitude of recline and upright options for both front seats, and it has a height adjustable steering wheel.

On long and winding dirt roads, we skipped around a bit with no load in the back, but the BT-50 felt as though it would be highly capable on the real thing offroad (it also comes with difflock). The usual bone-jarring dongas and potholes, a more than common occupational hazard on South African roads, were handled with aplomb and style, due to Mazda’s more refined suspension and larger shock-absorbers.

Automatic Drifter was smooth and capable

I drove the automatic version and found it smooth and capable. Incidentally, the vehicle has an 80-litre fuel tank, so you should burble along for ever and a day on a tank of diesel . . .

The Mazda BT-50 has 10 000km service intervals and a three-year or 100 000km warranty. With all models, you get the Mazda Motion five-year or 90 000km service plan as well as three years of roadside.
Oh, and price? R284 990.