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[Review] 2016 Mazda CX-9 SUV

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The 2016 Mazda CX-9 was launched in New Zealand two months ago and already it has been well received by the public. It has won the best Large SUV category in the AA motoring writer’s guild awards, and was a very close contender to winning the safest car for 2016 based on the ANCAP.

The Mazda CX-9 is a big car. Big enough for it to have seven seats. While most SUVs that have seven seats are pretty tight at the back, the CX-9’s third row seating is pretty comfortable. This is due to the fact that the second row seating is able to be moved forward a notch to make more legroom for passengers in the third row seats. Even with the second row seating moved forward, passengers in the second row seats still were able to have enough legroom.

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However an overlooked design in the third row seating would be that there was minimal air flow to the back. When we went for a road trip down to Blue Springs with 7 passengers in the car, the passengers seated in the third row complained about how hot it got in the back. Second row passengers are able to have their own air conditioning, which is supposed to flow to the back. However, because of the placement of the air vents, air is directed to the second row passenger’s knees or head.

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One of the first things you would have to notice on the Mazda CX-9, is Mazda’s Kodo design which defines as the Soul of Motion. While the colour blue on our model isn’t as striking as Mazda’s signature ‘Soul Red Metallic’, it still defines what a signature Mazda car looks like. The strong powerful stance of the front grille really foreshadows the amount of power you will be able to get in the CX-9.

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There are two variants of the CX-9, the GSX and Limited. Both offer the same SkyActiv-G 2.5L 4 cylinder turbo-charged engine with i-stop (shuts off the engine when brake is fully depressed and automatically restarts when lifted) and i-ELOOP (regenerative braking). It produces a mighty 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque, and is pretty exciting and powerful for a 7-seater SUV! This is due to the turbocharged petrol engine, and is almost totally perfected by Mazda engineers to eliminate turbo lag.

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When driving around our usual test drive routes around the back streets of West Auckland, more notably the rural roads out in Kumeu – Helensville, the Mazda CX-9 handles and corners exceptionally well for a large SUV. The Electric Power Steering makes for comfortable light steering when driving at average speed on the main road, while on more rugged terrain and high speed driving, the steering is more firm and steady.

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Fuel consumption after a day.

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Staying in touch is powered by Mazda’s 8-inch MZD Infotainment System with Bluetooth audio/phone, radio, and Pandora audio features, and a built-in navigation system. There is no Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality at the moment, however the improving navigation system (provided by HERE Maps) and the very simple-to-use infotainment system mean you really don’t need to mount a phone holder to your windscreen. The system was able to read out my texts and reply to messages with the built-in responses. Because the touchscreen sat too far away from me in the middle of the dashboard, the easiest way to control it is via the commander dial in the center console. I have been very impressed with Mazda’s infotainment system especially the simple but powerful features that come with the system. Unfortunately the GSX model doesn’t come with Bose audio sound system. Changing the volume and tracks can also be done on the steering wheel.

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My model here is a GSX FWD, but can also be configured to have AWD. The Limited grade model comes only in AWD and includes a fair bit more goody tech features than the GSX grade model. The GSX and Limited models come with Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RTCA), Smart City Brake Support – Forward (SCBS-F) and Smart City Brake Support Reverse (SCBS-R). In addition the Limited model has Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), Smart Brake Support (SBS), Adaptive LED Headlamps which improve visibility at night, and prevent other drivers from being blinded by your headlamps, (ALH), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane-Keep Assist System (LAS) and Driver Attention Alert (DAA). All these safety features basically provide a second set of eyes and ears for the driver, and I wish they came standard on all models including the basic models.

Throughout the week I got an average fuel consumption of 9.7L/100KM, filling up only once after the Blue Springs trip. This is above the theoretical fuel consumption figure of 8.4L/100KM, but not by much which is pretty good considering I normally add an extra 3L/100km to theoretical ratings. The Mazda CX-9 takes regular 91 Unleaded fuel, and if you fuel up with 98, you get slightly more performance (more power).

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There was just enough space in the boot to store a couple of things including umbrellas when the third row seats were up. When the third row seats are down there is 810 litres of cargo room volume. In the above pictures you can see how much room you get when the third row seating is down, and when the second row seating is down too.

I drove very frugally for perhaps most of the week to try and get the best fuel consumption rating, but definitely had to try Sports mode which was a flick of a switch away. Sports mode prevented the car going up a gear until the rev counter was at a higher level, and it sure did provide a good oomph! In fact, the CX-9 was already pretty powerful without Sports mode on, as overtaking a long truck with 7 passengers gave great power.

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The Mazda CX-9 is a very capable and safe vehicle and is great for medium to large sized families. The very high 5-star ANCAP safety rating (scoring 35.87, just under the maximum overall points score of 37) mean you can drive knowing that your family will be kept safe with its strong chassis and airbag protection, as well as all the extensive modern tech safety features included such as Smart City Brake Support and Lane-Keep Assist System on the Limited model.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-9 is priced from $52,995 for the 2.5L FWD Petrol GSX model, $55,495 for the 2.5L AWD Petrol GSX model, and $62,995 for the top of the line 2.5L AWD Petrol Limited model.

For more information on the 2016 Mazda CX-9, please visit https://www.mazda.co.nz/model/cx-9/awd/25l-petrol-limited