Nikola Tesla was a genius. Born in Smiljan (Croatia) he was an engineer (both Electrical and Mechanical), a physicist and a futurist. He was the quintessential mad scientist and invented things like the induction motor, a rotating magnetic field, radio remote control vehicle, Tesla coil and of course AC – Alternating current.
‘If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9 then you would have a key to the universe’ is a quote that is often associated with Tesla. Apparently this quote has not been confirmed as being said by him anywhere but (due to his affliction) I would agree that it is perceivable it is his – Tesla had OCD and was obsessed with 3’s – so much so, that in 1899 he ran a series of frequency and vibration tests in Colorado Springs that he believed caused earthquakes in Alaska – hence the quote association.
Tesla may have been on to something (or maybe not – he was a mad scientist after all) but when it comes to these numbers, Mazda have a different point of view and they invited us to Christchurch to tell us all about it.
Met at the airport, we were quickly shuttled to a nearby conference centre where (bearing in mind what I have just said about Tesla) we were given a greeting that included the fondness that Mazda had of Christchurch and a standard earthquake health and safety briefing.
From then on, it was all about the brand new CX-9.
You may be aware that SUV’s are taking over NZ roads, from small and mid-sized to large and even mammoth; it seems NZ (and the rest of the world) have gone SUV mad. Mazda have pinpointed that the large/prestigious SUV area is growing the fastest and after extensive consultation with the market have produced a high end model that fits perfectly the needs of a large modern family, an NZ large modern family. Without further ado; the silk was pulled back and the brand new and very important to Mazda; CX-9 was revealed.
The Kodo theme that runs throughout the brand is instantly recognizable, the CX-9 looks powerful and yet somewhat beautiful. Its signature wings, grille and headlights culminate in a proud face and an attractive exterior design especially in the new ‘machine grey metallic’ paintwork, while the classy interior is filled with refined Japanese craftsmanship. Additional feedback from Kiwi Mazda owners highlighted the need for performance, economy and range plus next level comfort and specifics like easy access to the rear seats (evidently we’re a demanding lot) thankfully the CX-9 has all of this, and then some.
The powertrain has been developed for ‘real world’ driving. The Mazda techs followed (ok stalked) Soccer moms to see how they drove – apparently they drive faster than first expected – and so the engineers adjusted the torque to come in way lower than before. Plus the SKYACTIV engine in the CX-9 also offers the best fuel economy in this class.
It’s a true 7 seater with leg room for all. The seats are very movable in terms of access and lay virtually flat when needed. The i-ACTIVSENSE offers a complete range of driver aids and safety – including adaptive cruise control and a bright and informative head up display.
Bose have been contracted to supply the sounds (12 speakers/294 watts) and just as well, because as the new CX-9’s core weight is much lighter than its predecessor, the NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) department lapped it up with 24kg’s of insulation between the floor and the carpet. The result – A conversation friendly low interior noise – now the whole family can hear what you mutter under your breath.
With the presentations over it was time to get behind the wheel. We drove from the conference centre out to the wilds of the Christchurch countryside. It was effortless. There is a slight sense of removal from the road below but not enough to feel isolated. Steering felt responsive and the ride was smooth. If I’m honest, we didn’t get enough time behind the wheel to give a full report (but I’m sure that will be rectified in the near future), however the taste I got made me want more. Visibility is great and information is everywhere you’d hope it would be. Navigation is simple to use and not too naggy, but aside from the luxurious feel, the thing that really stood out was the CX-9’s quietness.
Mazda are looking to give you the ‘Jinba ittai’ experience (making the rider/driver and horse/vehicle become as one) and the CX-9 fulfills this, it is a very comfortable drive. It doesn’t seem to be too big when you’re behind the wheel but it’s roomy inside and elegant too – I’m looking forward to have it spend some time with my family that’s for sure.
We drove to Mike Pero Motorsport park where we were introduced to the ‘Rally spec’d’ Mazda3 (Gen 6.5) – alright so it’s not really Rally ready but Mazda did take some of these racing learning’s (8 years of it) and put them into G Vectoring Control. There is a whole lot of techy speak (and supportive equations) but what you need to know is that the Mazda engineering wizards have managed to find a way to transfer weight (0.5g’s up to 5kg’s) to the front wheel that needs it (and when it needs it) producing a more fluid drive in cornering and the all important ‘turn in’ – trust me, it works. The exterior design team took the day off with this evolution – the differences are very subtle (why not, it’s essentially a top 2 in the style department) however the electronics team ran amok. i-ACTIVSENSE, Electronic park brake, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist with corrective steering, autonomous braking with pedestrian recognition. All this combined with the GVC and you have a good looking and smart Mazda3 – we got to try it all out on the track too!
Not to be forgotten – the next gen Mazda6 is to have all this magic added to the next release too.
So there you have it, we may not have received the keys to the universe but we got the keys to both the Mazda3 and the CX-9 in the same day. The only thing that was missing was the Mazda6 – but bearing in mind what happened in Colorado Springs maybe it’s better that we didn’t get the complete set – smart thinking Mazda!
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