Me and my car: Nimble workhorse for tradies

21 September 2018
Wairarapa Times Age

Peter Wolfkamp, Newstalk Zb's resident builder, site foreman, and a dad, drives a Mazda BT-50 What are you driving?

A 2015 BT-50. It has about 55,000km on it and the colour is metallic blue, almost black.

It's automatic and I got it new.

This comes to me direct from Mazda New Zealand.

I sat down with them and the discussion was what does a tradie want in a typical ute?

Tradies carry stuff, tow stuff and store stuff. We put this all together with this ute.

It has a canopy on the back rather than the tray cover.

I put the roof racks on, the tow bar and added the pull-out tray so that I can get to my tools.

Why did you choose this ute?

I am a brand ambassador for Mazda and have had links with them for five years.

I was driving the earlier model BT 50 and then they had a facelift.

This has a lot of other improvements that I have noticed.

In terms of road noise, it is way quieter.

The steering seems to be nimbler, there are a few things around the dash and the integration inside the car has been upgraded.

This vehicle is as comfortable to drive as any passenger vehicle I have had.

Although it is a four-wheel drive, the reality is that much of my driving is on urban roads and this ute must be heavy enough and strong enough to take either a significant load inside the vehicle or to tow a reasonable amount.

It does those things well but also for everyday driving to and from work it is nimble and relaxing to drive for a vehicle that is 2.7 tonnes and 5.4m long.

I drove Auckland to Masterton a couple months ago and it was comfortable on the open road and I felt good when I got out.

How does it work as a family vehicle?

Being a double cab, we could have a child restraint in the back seat for my son Joseph, now 10, and as he has got older he has jumped in with me in the front seat.

It is not surprising that the double cab utes have become the most popular in New Zealand because most of us, while we are working, also have responsibilities at the weekend.

I can take my tools out of the back and put in some gear to go to the beach.

I can put a bike rack on the tow bar, a kayak on the roof rack.

How do you find it to park?

It's big and that doesn't suit every car park.

But the reversing camera makes you look good when you go in to pick up a trailer.

I had to back a trailer up a hill and the trailer had about 1.5 to 2 tonnes on it and an auto was no problem.

It's also an advantage to have an auto for Auckland traffic.

Any other cars in your garage?

My wife has a Suzuki Swift, but this is the only vehicle I drive whether I am going to a meeting at school or going to work or heading down country.

Next vehicle?

I understand there are changes afoot for the Mazda BT-50 so we will wait and see what happens.

How many people does it fit comfortably?

We had friends over from Europe earlier in the year and for four adults and a child it is a comfortable car to go sightseeing.

What do you keep in your ute?

The car charger for the ubiquitous phone.

A first-aid kit because I work on a construction site.

Generally, some water.

My laptop and office gear.

Again, for tradies, your ute becomes your office.

The back seat often has files, paperwork and plans.

A spare pair of clean boots that I can swap out for the dirty ones.

A hi-vis jacket.

Favourite movie car scene?

The car chase in Ronin where they're using the big Audi.

Favourite racing driver?

I was listening to an interview about Scott Dixon the other day.

I know he is well regarded by a lot of New Zealanders, but I think we underestimate how confident, how well known he is in the US.

What an amazing achievement, going from a little kid racing karts to one of the big names on the American racing scene.

BT-50 commercialcare disclaimer

** is also available to new BT-50 owners where every scheduled service completed by Mazda specialist technicians for a 3 year/100,000km term (whichever wherever occurs first) will cost no more than $200 (incl. GST) per service for models built after 1 November 2012. *** 3,350kg applies to earlier models.

* whichever occurs first