Comparison: Ranger FX4 vs. BT-50 SLE

Mazda BT-50 3.2 D/C 4×4 SLE Auto vs. Ford Ranger 3.2 D/C 4×4 XLT FX4 Auto

These two bakkies are closely related and we drove them back-to-back…


Choosing the prettiest bakkie feels like asking me which one of my cousins is the best looking. Technically it can be done but it somehow doesn’t feel right. I guess the big news here is that Mazda’s BT-50 (which is based on the Ford) doesn’t look quite as hapless as before. It looks decent.

Another surprise waits for you inside these vehicles where I’d happily award the style award to Mazda’s double cab. Yet again, most elements and controls are based on Ford technology but I found the Ranger’s cabin layout, controls and interfaces less pleasing than those in the Mazda.


Here we have much of a muchness because the Ranger and BT-50’s main dimensions differ by a centimetre here and a few millimetres there. Length is 5,354mm vs 5,365mm, height 1,851mm vs 1,821mm and width 1,860mm vs 1,850mm (Ford vs Mazda). The 237mm ground clearance, 80L fuel tank, 750kg towing capacity and 265/65R17 wheels are identical.


The bakkies’ power plants are also identical at 3.2 litres and five turbo-diesel cylinders delivering 147kW (200hp). They both push out maximum torque of 470Nm but, crucially, Ford claims that their product has a wider spread of revs (1,500 to 2,750rpm) compared to the Mazda’s 1,750 to 2,500rpm.

Weighing roughly the same and using an identical six-speed automatic gearbox, we got the following results with our Racelogic Performance Box. The Ranger did 0-100km/h in 10.61 seconds, 400m in 17.40 seconds (at 126.99km/h) and a once-off emergency stop from 100km/h in 3.06 seconds and 43.86 meters.

And the BT-50? 0-100 in 10.45 seconds, 400m in an absolutely identical 17.40 seconds (at a slightly higher 128.48km/h) and 100 back to 0 in 3.22 seconds and 45.64 meters. Although they were tested on separate days, the climate was quite similar and the Mazda’s slightly fast acceleration was offset by its worse braking.

Safety and Technology

Here’s where you’ll find a few differences but I feel that none of them are deal-breakers either way. The Ford has seven airbags against the Mazda’s six. Ranger has a towbar, navigation and front park beepers while the BT-50 a reverse camera; exclusively.

The former has a five star EuroNCAP crash test rating which means the Mazda should do too.

Both have ABS brakes with emergency force distribution, stability control and remote central locking, cruise control and climate control, pleather seats, auto windows, power steering and power windows, trip computers, Bluetooth, USB and two versions of Ford’s infotainment system.

Price and Warranties

Straight away I need to tell you that the Mazda is considerably cheaper than the Ford at R555,700 vs R616,900 (Prices in ZA). Keep in mind that the expensive Ranger is more established and popular, with superior specifications, is (arguably) better looking and supported by a larger network of dealers with better warranties.

Mazda gives you a three year but unlimited kilometer warranty and Ford offers four years or 120,000km. Service plans are three years / unlimited (Mazda) and five years / 100,000km (Ford). That also adds to the Ford’s superior value retention.

Obviously that makes the Ranger a better buy but if you can’t stretch to that amount – or you keep cars longer than a just few years – I would advise a serious test-drive of the much-improved Mazda BT-50.

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