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Mazda PH launches a tough-looking pickup called BT-50 Pangolin

It looks as tough and rugged as its animal namesake

Mazda gives its range-topping BT-50 an animal-inspired name rather than a cryptic label. PHOTO BY VINCENT SUAREZ

The pickup battleground is turning hot these days, with every automaker aiming to make the fairest one of all. That also means coming up with a macho name worthy of top-dog honors like Conquest, Athlete and Wildtrak. Mazda also wants in on the alpha-truck game as well, and its moniker has taken inspiration from an armored mammal.

Instead of stripes, this thing gets scales. PHOTO BY VINCENT SUAREZ

For those who don’t know, a pangolin is a mammal that’s covered in protective scales. When threatened, this animal curls up into a tight ball for protection and can use its tail should it decide to go on the offensive. It’s practically a larger armadillo, with a diet consisting of bugs and insect larvae which it catches using a sticky tongue.

And it is the pangolin which Mazda Philippines has named the range-topping BT-50 after, complete with decals unique to this trim level. But this isn’t the only design touch that the Japanese automaker has applied to its badass pickup truck.

Fender overriders done right with matching wide wheels. PHOTOS BY VINCENT SUAREZ

Perhaps the most obvious are the black 17-inch alloy wheels. But while the color is something that’s common with its competitors, it’s the offset that isn’t. The BT-50 Pangolin has wide fender overriders, and the rims were specially made so that the offset matches the extra width. This gives Mazda’s pickup an aggressive rally-truck stance. Other exterior add-ons include a matte-black roof rack and roll bar, and body-color trim pieces.

The JVC head unit has smartphone integration. PHOTOS BY VINCENT SUAREZ

There are no pangolin-related touches in the truck’s interior, though. Leather upholstery is standard for a comfortable ride. Audiophiles should enjoy the aftermarket JVC head unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other conveniences include climate control, a reversing camera, parking sensors, and hill-descent control.

The 3.2-liter engine's idle is truck-like, but the five-cylinder layout makes it smooth. PHOTO BY VINCENT SUAREZ

At the heart of the BT-50 Pangolin is still the old 3.2-liter turbodiesel engine from Mazda’s previous partnership with Ford. Despite the advent of upgraded engines from its competitors, this five-cylinder still holds its own with 197hp and 470Nm—numbers that are anything but underpowered. This is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, which sends drive to all four wheels.

Is this the outgoing BT-50's last hoorah? PHOTO BY VINCENT SUAREZ

Even though a new BT-50 is on the way, the Pangolin is still very much a good purchase. With a proven powerplant and Mazda’s five-year service plan, this truck is certainly one that should be able to brave the road conditions in the country. Its wild-animal look makes the P1,400,000 special introductory price very much worth it.

Badass enough for you?

Miggi Solidum

Miggi is an editor-at-large at VISOR. Professionally speaking, he is a software engineering dude who happens to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wants a platform from which he can share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads. He writes the 'G-Force' column.