A Mazda executive in Australia has suggested the new BT-50 will be both quicker and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, despite adopting a less powerful engine.

While the outgoing BT-50 shares much with the Ford Ranger (including its five-cylinder oil-burner), this third-generation model is based on Isuzu’s new D-Max (the latter is scheduled to start rolling off the Port Elizabeth assembly line only in the second half of 2021 although production in Thailand has already started).

Like the D-Max on which it’s based, the flagship double-cab variant of the new BT-50 is powered by Isuzu’s 3,0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, which delivers 140 kW at 3 600 r/min and 450 N.m from 1 600 to 2 600 r/min.

While you’ve no doubt noticed that’s a little down on the outgoing 3,2-litre five-pot’s 147 kW and 470 N.m, Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak told motoring.com.au the new BT-50 would be lighter and quicker.

“Obviously, when you look at the headline numbers they’re less than we currently have, but you could speculate performance will at least be equal if not better – and we know it will be better – than the current BT-50 because the torque delivery is better,” Doak said, without revealing specific performance figures.

“There’s also a more efficient gearbox, so the 2020 model will have a more efficient drivetrain, and also the new model is lighter than the current BT. So even though the numbers come down the performance will go up,” he said.

Doak added there would be a “significant improvement in fuel consumption, which takes us from the back of the pack to the front”.

It’s not yet clear whether Mazda will also offer the BT-50 with a smaller engine to replace the current range’s 2,2-litre turbodiesel.