The last time we got behind the wheel of Mazda’s new BT-50 ute we headed out to the forest for a bit of rough and tumble (after all, they do plant 5 trees for every vehicle sold). However, since rugged utes are increasingly being used as family wagons, Mazda has handed the BT-50 over to their arts and crafts department to create a new upmarket Takami edition. We decided to take it up town to see how it fared.
For Mazda, Takami is the moniker they assign to the editions that sit at the top of their respective model tree’s, certainly with respect to options, fitting and refinement, but the name seems even more fitting when added to the 1.8m tall BT-50 since translated, Takami literally means ‘height’ or ‘elevated place’.
To avoid any confusion, nothing has been done to the BT-50’s performance or handling, for the Takami edition this is all cosmetic, but don’t think that makes it any less special, as the list of additional upgrades, both superficial and practical, is well and truly noteworthy.
The ute’s signature Mazda family grille has been blacked out, making it less blingy and more subtle. Less subtle are the extended black wheel arch flares that envelope the 18-inch alloys that equally come in a gloss black. The mirror caps and door handles are, yes you’ve guessed it, black, however the side steps and roof rails are in a shade of gunmetal grey and silver, while separating the cabin from the tray is a BT-50 embossed sports hoop bar.
The rear itself hasn’t been fettled with much, it still comes with LED lights, chrome badging (bit nothing saying Takami) and a black handle for the rather heavy tailgate, but this upmarket model does come with a retractable and lockable roller lid for the deck, allowing you to store stuff in the rear away from prying eyes (or fingers).
As anticipated, more of the Takami improvements are found inside, with the cabin boasting khaki with black suede, leather furniture that really brightens the environment, with the front seats being well-bolstered and heated and the driver’s seat having the added benefit of 8-way electric adjustment.
The brighter trim extends to the dash, console and door cards, making the landscape that much more improved, and from there on in, all boxes are ticked in terms of 9-inch infotainment screen, 8-speaker stereo and the myriad of Mazda driver and safety aids such as hill launch, attention and blind spot assist, plus adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and emergency lane keeping…
As I said before, the powertrain and handling in the Takami BT-50 hasn’t, so there’s still plenty of grunt available from the 3L turbo engine (140kW/450Nm), but it’s also just as diesel ‘rattly’ when cold, I feel like city-living owners or neighbours would prefer a little more sound deadening for those early morning starts – especially since I used the remote start feature, a lot.
The suspension itself is still grand and comfortable whatever the surface, so ideal for those times when you have to mount kerbs and (even in the narrower city car parks), the steering feels light enough to manoeuvre this big ute around, especially with the aid of camera views and sensors.
Having such a tall riding position meant that sightseeing around the city was a breeze and looking for those elusive street parks a fraction simpler, and whether alone or with the family, the cabin space and upmarket feel added and an extra sense of achievement and maybe even a hint of smugness when pulling up beside ‘lesser’ utes.
The Takami edition elevates the BT-50 into another, more premium space, where it’s just as comfortable pulling up to a luxury hotel as it is doing the school run or being out in the wild (some would say that the latter two are the same). It’s a poshed up ride that justifiably sits at the top of the model range and as such will have many ute ‘wannabes’ feeling very covetous.