THE Mazda CX-9 is the largest sports utility vehicle (SUV) in the company’s model lineup.
It was first manufactured in 2006 by Mazda in Japan’s Ujina 1 plant in Hiroshima. Due to the CX-9 dimension, which exceeds government regulations and the engine displacement obligates a large annual road tax, the CX-9 is not sold in Japan.
Currently, the CX-9 is in the second generation and was awarded numerous awards last year, which includes last year’s Wheels Car of the Year, Best Mid-size SUV in Car and Driver’s Annual 10 Best Trucks and SUVs for 2017 and 2018.
Bermaz Motor Sdn Bhd, the sole distributor of Mazda vehicles in Malaysia, introduced two variants to the Malaysian market last November — the Mazda CX-9 Skyactiv-G 2.5L Turbo 2WD and the Mazda CX-9 Skyactiv-G 2.5L Turbo 4WD.
We took the Japan-imported, Mazda CX-9 Skyactiv-G 2.5L Turbo 2WD for a spin.
The CX-9 is powered by a 2.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine mated to a six-speed Skyactiv torque converter automatic transmission. It produces 228hp at 5,000rpm and 420Nm of torque from 2,000rpm.
It was reported that the CX-9 2WD is able to complete the century sprint in 7.2 to 8.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 210kph.
The Mazda CX-9 Skyactiv-G 2.5L Turbo 2WD measures at 5,075mm in length, 1,969mm in width and 1,747mm in height, and it weighs 1,858kg.
It has a 230 litres of boot space with the last row seats up, and 72 litres of fuel tank capacity.
Unlike the Australian-spec Mazda CX-9, the Malaysian-spec does not come with Mazda’s i-stop, the intelligent engine start and stop system, but it comes with G-Vectoring Control (GVC) and full colour heads-up display.
On top of that, it is equipped with LED daytime running lights, 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, LED tail lights, 8-inch full colour touch screen, the MZD Connect infotainment system, 12-speaker Bose sound system, keyless entry with push start button, powered sunroof with sliding and tilt glass, powered tailgate, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, eight parking sensors, front fog lamp, rear fog lamp and triple-zone auto climate control system.
As for Mazda CX-9’s safety aspects, it comes with six airbags, i-ActivSense advanced driving aid system, which includes the lane departure warning system, lane keep assist system, driver attention alert, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, smart city braking support, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, brake assist, traction control, autonomous emergency braking, dynamic stability control, hill launch assist and ISOFIX childseat mounting points.
The Mazda CX-9 Skyactiv-G 2.5L Turbo 2WD is priced at RM289,571, excluding insurance. It is covered by a five-year, 100,000km warranty and a three-year or 60,000km free maintenance.
The Mazda CX-9 is an attractive, quick, spacious and comfortable SUV that drives like a sedan. It has modern and sharp looks accompanied by the capability to ferry seven adults.
It has a neat and polished interior that is finished with solid material. The buttons to adjust the SUV’s infotainment system, drive modes, air-conditioning system, electronic parking brake, push to start button, lights, cruise control, wiper and honk, are easily accessible for the driver, either it is located near the gear lever or the steering wheel.
The SkyActiv-G 2.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged engine is powerful. The mid torque engine is efficient and practical for highway driving. It delivers punchy acceleration without any turbo lag. Throttle response is crisp and acceleration is smooth. The big SUV will exceed the speed limit easily without the driver noticing it.
While the engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the combination is near perfect. It provides smooth and quick gear change, as well as the most efficient gear selection.
With the GVC, the CX-9 performs like a sedan. When the system detects changes in steering angle, it cuts the engine torque slightly, which is hardly noticeable. It will also help to employ the inner tyre brakes to help the SUV to turn sharply, without having passengers being thrown around during the corners.
The heavy-weighted steering feels lively. It responds to the driver’s instructions accurately and provided precise feedback. The dampers and suspension system absorbs most rough and damaged road conditions flawlessly. Unless the CX-9 is driven over a huge sharp bump, at most conditions, its occupants won’t feel discomfort.
It has one of the best noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). The wind, tyre and engine noise is absent at most speed. It is very quiet, even on the highway. Occupants can easily have a conversation without having to raise their voices.
The 8-inch full colour touch screen MZD Connect infotainment system is easy to operate and the 12-speaker Bose sound system plays loud tunes in fantastic clarity. It carries strong bass and loud treble. However, it is slightly short from the concert-like sharpness and atmosphere.
We managed to drive the CX-9 over 650km. It averaged 9.8 to 11.3 litres per 100km (l/100km) after a mixture of city and highway driving. On the highway, cruising below the speed limit, it recorded 7.2 to 8.8 l/100km. After some full throttle acceleration, it showed 11.7 to 13.2 l/100km. Not bad for a 2.5-litre turbocharged SUV.
Overall, we enjoyed every moment in the CX-9. However, there are some features missing from the SUV. It is better if the CX-9 comes with the central locking and unlocking button, for the convenience of the driver to lock and unlock the vehicle.
It will boost the long distance driving experience if the CX-9 is equipped with adaptive cruise control. We felt that the SUV should come with more USB charging ports or 12-volt power sockets for the convenience of the occupants to charge their gadgets.