Published on December 7th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mazda CX-9 2017 test drive review
Here comes the Mazda flagship model and we test drive it to see if it has enough zoom zoom and presence to take on the luxury SUV brands. This all new Mazda CX-9 SUV is lighter and more economical than its first-generation predecessor which has been on the market for the past decade. Even before its launch we are test driving this SUV to get an initial feel behind the wheel. Its estimated official arrival is the first quarter 2017 and it will be the flagship for the Mazda brand.
This all-new luxury 3-row sporty SUV is the final vehicle in the current Mazda lineup to receive the full SKYACTIV efficiency treatment, starting with its powerplant. Gone is the Ford sourced 3.7L V-6, which is now replaced by the company’s first SKYACTIV petrol-turbo engine.
It is a 2.5L twin-scroll turbocharged engine that produces impressive power. Horsepower may have dropped by 46hp to 227hp with this new SKYACTIV engine when compared to the outgoing V-6, but torque is up 54Nm to 420Nm, all available at just 2,000 rpm. Mazda claims that high quality petrol will increase horsepower from 227hp to 250hp while torque remains.
Mazda expects a 20% increase in fuel efficiency but we were seriously not in tune to find out if the claims is true or not. Why? Well buyers of luxury SUVs are really not interested in fuel consumption, as if there were, they would buy sensible compact vehicles.
With a long hood, swept greenhouse, large wheels and short overhangs, this CX-9 convey stability and a heft. At 5065mm long, this CX-9 is 30mm shorter than its predecessor, but its wheelbase has been stretched by 55mm, benefiting passenger leg room as well as entry to and exit from the rear.
This CX-9 carries shorter overhangs on both ends 59mm shorter up front and 25mm shorter in the rear-with its A-pillars shifted back 100mm, lengthening its hood and adding a sense of strength through proportions.
The smooth lines start up front with a bold, five-point grille with double bars. They’re flanked on either side by standard low- and high-beam LED headlights.
The bold grille introduces a strong lower body and sleek upper body that elevates KODO, introducing sleek curves that provide a premium appeal in a segment awash with convention. The overall effect is one of purity, simplicity and Japanese beauty.
Climb aboard and the doors open and close smoothly and shut with a satisfying ‘thunk’ and you will find a well laid-out and airy cabin. There really is a huge amount of space with generous elbow room on both sides of each front occupant. The typical Mazda looking dash and centre stack is a welcome sight and it is home to the automatic dual-zone climate control and audio system. All knobs and buttons are logically laid out and controls are easy to use on the move.
There is a high quality feel with all parts of the cabin and you just need to run your fingers along all components to realize that Mazda has moved the game up right next to Lexus and Infinity. Also pleasant to grip is the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter. There are 3rd row seats and it is large and ready for adults.
When it comes to carrying passengers rather than cargo, the CX-9 is equally accommodating. There’s loads of room in all directions in the back, including headroom. The other good news for rear passengers is that the split backrests can be individually reclined and the large doors make getting in and out effortless. Three adults can travel happily in the back and with the centre armrest down, two will get genuine comfort.
From the commanding driver’s seat there’s an excellent view of the road down the bonnet. In fact, visibility all round is first rate and with sensors on both bumpers, parking this CX-9 is easy. The well-shaped and supportive front seats are powered and drivers of most heights will get a very comfortable position.
Mazda’s all new SKYACTIV-G 2.5 Turbo is very impressive on the go as it features a host of technological advancements to achieve this goal. One piece of technology is Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo, the world’s first turbocharger with the ability to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed. The system routes engine exhaust to the turbocharger’s turbine through smaller ports at low rpm.
It works similarly to when one might place his or her thumb on a garden hose, creating a strong amount of pressure through a smaller outlet. This allows the turbocharger to spool up quickly, creating instant boost-up to 1.2 bar (17.4 psi) of pressure. When the engine is in the heart of its rev range, it opens up secondary valves, allowing for greater amounts of exhaust gas to pass through the turbocharger. The system is complemented by the 2.5-liter engine that already benefits from more torque at atmospheric pressure than a comparable 2.0-liter by virtue of its size.
With an impressive 420Nm of torque at a low 2,000 rpm and up to 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm this SUV does not lack in power delivery in all driving conditions. In city crawls or on the open highway, this CX-9 will provide the driver with more than enough power when called and the chassis will ensure good road handling.
The 6-speed automatic features a Sports mode which allows the driver to override gearchanges manually using the selector lever. In Sports mode upshifts have to be made manually but downshifts are still made automatically as the road speed drops; first gear is selected for you when the vehicle stops. All shifts are very smoothly executed.
Despite this CX-9’s ground clearance there is minimal body sway when hustling along, even when pressing on along twisty roads as the suspension delivers first rate damping and good comfort. What roll there is, it is more car-like and this CX-9 feels secure and responsive from the driver’s seat whilst the cabin remains quiet and very well insulated. Three-point turns are accomplished without fuss, thanks to an excellent turning circle. Brakes are good and they never feel tired or lacking.
CX-9 Safety Arsenal
Mazda has been a leader in building safer vehicles and this CX-9 carries all their passive and active safety features. There is i-ACTIVSENSE, which provides active safety features like Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) and Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM).
Mazda CX-9’s i-ACTIVSENSE suite features new and notable safety features, including: Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring (ABSM), Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Lane-Keep Assist System (LAS) and Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Control, Smart City Brake Support, Distance Recognition Support System and Forward Obstruction Warning.
If this Mazda CX-9 is launched at the estimated selling price of RM250k, the immediate luxury SUV rivals like Lexus and Infinity will have a tough time convincing new customers. Take the CX-9 and compete it against the Europeans and the value proposition of this CX-9 grows when you look at the level of quality and refinement presented.
The new Mazda CX-9 Skyactiv-G 2.5L Turbo is available in 2WD and AWD. Selling price for 2WD is RM 281,449.70 and AWD RM 297,349.70 (OTR without insurance). Available in 5 colour choices; Machine Grey*, Snowflake White Pearl*, Deep Crystal Blue, Sonic Silver, and Jet Black. (*Premium Colours)
Mazda CX-9 2017 model specifications
Engine: 2488cc-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 250bhp at 5000rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2000rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed (SKYACTIV-Drive)
Selling Price: From RM281,449.70 (2WD)