Mazda CX-9 Review – Dressed to the Nines

Silly season is almost upon us, a chance to spend quality time with loved ones and family (sometimes they are even both). You buy presents, eat copious amounts of food and get the invite to attend parties and events where you have an excuse to dress up in flashy attire. Now although I complain about it, there is something about donning a Tux or a new suit, a crisp cotton shirt and a tie (bow or other) and heading out the door. But however good you look on the outside it’s what others can’t see that often makes the difference and what makes YOU feel extra special. It’s the added touches that aren’t so obvious – the expensive cufflinks, the watch, the choice of cologne and even the brand new designer underwear. Which brings me onto the new Mazda CX-9.

Mazda CX-9There is little doubt that the Mazda new Mazda CX-9 has a good looking exterior. The GSX AWD model I got to spend time with was very upmarket, especially in its Machine Grey Metallic paint and sparkling chrome brightwork but like I said, it’s often the things that you can’t see (or hear for that matter) that make the difference.

Let me tell you a little more about what’s visible first. The trademark Mazda grille takes dominance over the front, its big smile dwarfs the LED headlights (thankfully they burn brightly at night though) with body sculpted air scoops that are highlighted in chrome completing the visage. Accented Sills and arches flow down the vehicle’s side with a strong shoulder line for profile masculinity. The Auto tailgate offers up easy access to the rear cargo space, while the ‘round eye’ LED tail lights and two tailpipes add both class and a hint of drama. Overall; the 7 seater SUV doesn’t look too big or bulky but is extremely roomy inside

Mazda CX-9Three rows of leather clad seats, that are heated in the front, are 60/40 split in the rear and 50/50 in the rear-rear (my son’s favorite place). The finishing is refined, door cards merge into the dash, with piano black, aluminium and touches of leather everywhere you care to look.

Mazda CX-9Then you dig a little deeper. ‘Hidden’ under the bonnet is a SKYACTIV-G 2.5 litre turbo in-line, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC S-VT petrol engine that has its 170kW @ 5,000rpm and 420Nm @ 2,000rpm accessible by Electronic (drive-by-wire), it even has i-stop (still don’t like that but understand its relevance) and i-ELOOP regenerative braking. Plus a very smooth SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed Automatic with Manual Mode (that I felt no need to use).

The 8” colour touchscreen display (that you can see) is the central hub for MZD Connect Infotainment System. A raft of ‘connected’ services there at your fingertips (screen and wheel), a turn of the Commander dial or Voice.

There is more Mazda magic too, designed to keep you safe and on the road. Smart City Brake Support – Forward/Reverse (SCBS-F/R) At forward speeds of 4-30km/h (and reverse speeds of 2-8km/h), SCBS monitors the vehicle in front to assess the likelihood of a collision. If the system detects a high risk of impact, it issues visual and audible warnings and primes the brakes for a faster response. If you don’t brake, SCBS brakes automatically. Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) – I could go on but I think you get the picture. Oh wait; one last thing – ever wondered what happens if you pull on the electronic handbrake switch at high speed? Yep me too. We got to try it out on the track and it’s (thankfully) a bit of an anticlimax. Rather than locking up the rear wheels and putting you into a crazy spin, it simply applies progressive braking and brings you to a controlled stop – handbrake skids are a thing of the past!

Mazda CX-9As you may know, I don’t have a 7 seater family but I there are three of us that use such space to spread out. My son commandeered the rear-rear quarter, a place to hide and a place WAY back in the rear view mirror. I will also point out that there was no need for ‘seat climbing’, accessibility to the third row is very easy. Wife chose second row, a good place to back seat drive (the powerful stereo too care of that). Leaving me to head up the ship and be the grand controller – just the way I like it.

Mazda CX-9The CX-9 drives sweetly and almost silently (when the rest of the family aren’t there). No need to shout, very limited road noise but (surprisingly) you still feel connected. There are a lot of electronics working hard behind the scenes but it doesn’t feel intrusive, you just go about driving as if they are not there at all. We went to the store and went to the park, the beach and markets and even though my wife overpacks for EVERYTHING & EVERYWHERE, there would have been plenty of room to accommodate a family twice the size.

Mazda CX-9Like I said at the outset, stepping out in refinement is all well and good; but to make things really special you need to scratch surface and look at lies beneath. To say this Mazda CX is well dressed is a bit of an understatement – it’s definitely ‘Dressed to the Nines’.

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