2017 Mazda CX-9 LTD – A Trendy SUV
Stylish and premium with sporty driving dynamics, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 is well geared up!
The global car buying trends are shifting rapidly. Once two doors coupe were considered cool because of their stylish designs and sporty appeal. But marketing gurus placed practicality of 4 doors has discarded the same notion. In other ways, automakers have to use fewer body styles which will increase the pace of the production at the assembly line. Interestingly, there’s a new shift towards coupe-like 4 door sedan which offers best of the both worlds: the cool seductive styling of the sporty coupes while retaining the practicality of the 4 doors.
Similarly, station wagon and MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) or vans have now replaced with SUVs. Though you may see then vans on the road, however, they are now filling the needs of the commercial purpose rather than finding individual garages. Annoyingly now, any car with a raised height large wheels with rugged looks is being labeled as SUVs and automaker are keen to slap this SUV moniker in order to cash in time while the river is flowing with high currents.
Mazda back in 1988 introduced MPV and was quite a success, however following the trends in 2006 Mazda introduced CX-9 crossover SUV (based on Ford’s CD3 Platform that also includes Ford Edge). CX 9 AWD quickly gained success with 3.7l V6 producing 274hp had enough grunt not just for the soccer moms to carry half a team but can traverse in the inclement weather and a pleasure to drive vehicle otherwise.
Enjoying the laurels of the first gen, the second generation introduced in 2016 as 2017 model, has a lot on its shoulder to be a crowning successor. Mazda also overhauled the CX-9 completely. Fully redesigned from the ground up also noteworthy is the significantly light weighted chassis that resulted in shedding of 130 kgs of cholesterol to make it light spirited. Surprisingly, Mazda also throw away the old workhorse 3.7l V6 in favor of the lighter and smaller 2.5l 4-cylinder turbocharged mill. Mazda believed that not only it will return 20 percent better fuel economy and also in performance it will also outshine its predecessor.
This week, our tester is the 2017 Mazda CX-9 ‘LTD” (top-trim). Interestingly it now carries the required GSO (GCC Standardization Organization) window sticker that provides rating depending upon the fuel economy which ranges from Excellent to Very Poor. The 2017 Mazda CX-9 was rated as Very Good with 12.00Km/L.
Striking Appearance – 8.0/ 10
The all-new 2017 Mazda CX-9 bears the Kodo design philosophy or in English, it can be literally translated as ‘Soul of Motion’. Breathing life into the metal sculpture the front end with the large grille in the center and the singular projector beams on their side makes the CX-9 appear like a shark. And it’s a good thing. While other cars in the same segment seemingly lost, The CX-9 is highly identifiable.
Minimal shiny chrome accents in the lower valance on the front bumper to side skirts and rear bumper adds a premium look. While high beltline may not be the right representation of SUV but it’s in tune with the rakish windscreen and narrow windows adding a sporty shooting brake look.
The cabin is without any frills and distortion. The contrast is reflected everywhere. Cream colored leather seats with dark leather on the dashboard and the door claddings. Shiny piano black finish with dark chrome bezels and then the shallow sculpted door pulls in brushed aluminum creates a modern vogue.
The newly designed interior echoes the sharp looking exterior. The dashboard design is not a conventional SUV-like design with free spaces and large buttons design. It’s sleek like a sports car with a smallish flat-bottom steering wheel. Also, the instrument cluster is more akin to the sports car of yore. Out of usual tacho and speedo, the third dial is actually a digital screen feeding the essential info to the driver. Seems old fashion here as these days most automakers are shifting towards fully customizable digital instrument binnacle, perhaps Mazda has miss-queued the opportunity.
In most of my test drive sessions, according to the type of vehicle, if the situation permits, I usually take my kids along with me to have a feedback from them. They were happy in the middle row, however, they found the third row is cramped though accessing the third row was quite easy. The one thing that kids identified on the long trip to the Jebel Jais, is the non-availability of the rear seat entertainment/ DVD screens, compared to the rivals such as Ford Flex, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot.
Turbo Performance – 8.0/ 10
Time now to the test CX-9 performance. There was a looming suspicion in my mind about Mazda’s choice as their propulsion solution: 4 cylinder 2.5L for this big SUV. Uncanny initially with the knowledge in the back of the head, but after a few turns from the inner streets and then a few miles down the Sheikh Zayed Road, I completely seem to forget that it’s such a small power plant producing 230hp and mated to 6-speed Skyactiv transmission. There’s always enough power when needed in the city driving conditions. On the open highway, the Skyactiv transmission was switched into the sport mode, CX-9 without any trace of lugging, moved forward. The engine sound did increase once pulled constantly beyond 4500rpm till the gear reaches the final 6th cog and then got normal once the rpm got settled.
Driving to Jebel Jais, a mountain top that requires 1911 meters to reach the summit includes gradient changes which need the engine to work harder all the time, there are hairpins that require quick braking. Quick steering and off course an agile chassis that adjust to the conditions.
Our tester was fitted with the standard head-up display on a twisty road where you need a constant eye on the road, vital informatics are reflected on the windscreen The CX-9 proved a confident drive from the driver’s perspective and yet remained composed for the passengers as well on the black top. However, once I moved onto the graveled path the lowered front bumper made my heart beat raced even on the dead slow moving CX-9. Yes, the car sits low and chances are, you may hit the bumper. However, with a cautious drive, I managed to drive CX-9 on a rocky road without scraping the front bumper. The permanent AWD system kept the traction where needed the most.
With more than 700 km logged in and a variety of driving styles and situations, the all-new 2017 Mazda CX-9 returned 14.4 km/l fuel economy. Obviously, it’s not the same as illustrated on the window sticker. However, at the same time, the varied driving can impact a drastic change in the fuel economy. A constant day to day drive may bring the fuel economy as suggested.
Top Safety – 9.0/ 10
The 2017 Mazda CX-9 now boasts impressive safety features. Smart driver assists features like Blind Spot Monitoring System, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Driving Beam, Lane Keep Assist, Smart Brake Support, Rear Cross Traffic Alert are all quite helpful. Other features to ensure peace of mind like Dynamic Stability Control & Roll Stability Control to keep the balance in check and a rear camera.
Buyer’s Guide to the Galaxy – 8.0/ 10
2017 Mazda CX-9 proved to a be a better alternative than its rival in terms of driving dynamics. CX-9 is not only posh looking, it has the premium feel inside the cabin as well. Out tester in the top LTD trim priced at AED 159,900 came with all the bells and whistles. From adaptive cruise control to the heart thumping 12 speakers, Bose premium sound system where I enjoyed listening Rangeela rapturously sung by Ali Azmat. Sun shades to cover the rear windows, smart keyless access, 8″ LCD touchscreen, Navigation, and auto headlamps and a sunroof.
You can have your stylish 2017 Mazda CX-9 from any Galadari Automobile here in the UAE. Prices according to the Trim level: