Mazda Australia announces rugged BT-50 Thunder variant

Mazda has lifted the lid on its ‘uniquely Australian’ range-topping BT-50 variant, called the Thunder, adding specialist Australian engineering and some visual tweaks to the popular ute.

The BT-50 Thunder is based on the top-spec BT-50 GT dual-cab 4×4, and is described as meeting a number of Australia’s ‘unique demands’, including the need for a Lightforce dual-row LED light bar, single hoop steel bull bar, and aggressive visual tweaks.

These visual tweaks include a set of wide fender flares, side steps, 18-inch black alloy wheels, a premium sports bar around the rear of the ute, and an electric roller tonneau, as well as Thunder decals. Mazda says that all up, its aggressive treatment to the BT-50’s style and capability amounts to around $13,000 of added value.

The BT-50 Thunder is powered by the 3.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel already featured in the latest BT-50 lineup. It supplies 140kW and 450Nm, with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Mazda says the manual Thunder variant is rated at 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle, while the automatic is rated at 8.0L/100km (same as GT variant).

The BT-50 Thunder is fitted with a dual-range 4×4 system as standard, which includes a locking rear differential for improved traction. The Thunder can be optioned with a range of mica and metallic paint finishes at no extra cost as well. Mazda Australia’s managing director, Vinesh Bhindi said:

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“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. 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 BT-50 Thunder will be available from $65,990 for the manual, and $68,990 for the automatic, when it goes on sale in April (excluding on-road costs).

For those interested, the GT grade, on which the BT-50 Thunder has been built, offers features like powered mirrors, leather upholstery, heated seats, parking sensors, LED headlights and running lights, dual-zone climate control, a 9.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, and a whole heap of Mazda’s safety equipment.

Mazda is packaging the BT-50 Thunder with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, with complimentary roadside assist for those five years.

Alexi is a contributing news journalist and junior road tester at PerformanceDrive. He has a passion and appreciation for the engineering in cars, as well as new technologies that lessen the impact on the environment. His dream cars are an M3 to drive to work, and a LaFerrari for the weekend.