MAGNIFICENT ‘SEVEN’ FROM MAZDA

Mazda_CX-9_frontTo most people ‘affordable luxury’ in a vehicle would seem as far out of reach as a winning lottery ticket. However, there are those who are fortunate enough to know the feeling of it.

Enough, indeed, for Mazda to cater for these lucky folks with its luxury CX-9. Now, the importer has just landed a super-luxury version of the CX-9, the Azami LE, Down Under.

What’s more, the new seven-seat ‘palace’ on wheels will set back its buyer a mere $1500 – petty cash – over the existing Azami range-topper.
Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi said the new Mazda CX-9 defined a new meaning for affordable luxury.
“Since its 2016 launch, Mazda CX-9 sales have always skewed to high-grade all-wheel drive variants, so we added Azami LE to give those looking for luxury even greater choice in the range.”

Azami LE introduces a new and luxurious interior trim, featuring wood highlights, while Azami and Azami LE grades add the 360-degree view monitor, heated steering wheel and front seat ventilation.

While on the job, Mazda also took the opportunity to make improvements across the CX-9 range with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity for all grades, ActivSense safety technologies now standard across all models and revised suspension, steering and NVH reduction.

Mazda_CX-9_rear

Large seven-seater SUVs are relatively rare; Toyota Kluger, Kia Sorento and the recently released Holden Acadia are about it.

I became a pampered person for a week with an Azami LE AWD, which sells for $66,490, plus on-road costs, and made the best of every minute.

STYLING
Mazda CX-9 has a restrained trapezoidal radiator grille slotting in neatly between the LED headlamps, the only hint of extravagance being a bold Mazda badge in the centre.

At more than five metres long, the CX-9 is far from bulky in looks. The use of 20-inch wheels with a bold design impart a modern no-nonsense look to the high-end wagon.

INTERIOR
As befits any flagship the Azami LE interior is something special and offers the most sophisticated Mazda CX-9 cabin yet. For example, seats are clothed in a deep red, Chroma Brown nappa leather.

Mazda_CX-9_interior

Timber decorative panels on the doors and centre console, which is framed by elegant ambient LED lighting, add a premium touch, while a more minimalist overhead console design and hand-crafted box stitching on the leather wrapped steering wheel complete the high-end character of the vehicle.
Finally, Azami and Azami LE grades boost comfort with ventilated front seats, new heated steering wheel and plusher cushioning on the centre armrest.

INFOTAINMENT
It has been a long time coming, but the Mazda CX-9 is the first SUV in Mazda Australia’s lineup to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This connectivity is used all grades and incorporated into Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system.

Azami and Azami LE also adopt new equipment, including Mazda’s 360-degree View monitor, a 7-inch TFT LCD monitor in the centre of the instrument panel, a frameless rear vision mirror and windscreen de-icer.

At the heart of Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system is the large commander control knob on the centre console surrounded by a selection of switches. No skittish touchpad here to test the driver’s patience as in some computer-aping control layouts.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The CX-9 is fitted with a turbo-charged petrol engine, producing 170 kW at 5000 rpm and 420 Nm at 2000 rpm.

SAFETY
The Mazda CX-9 relies on a comprehensive suite of safety technologies as standard across the range, including lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, smart brake support and smart city brake support (forward / reverse).

Active Driving (head-up display) on the windscreen is now standard on all model grades from Sport to Azami LE.

DRIVING
From the warm welcome of keyless entry, ease of access to all three rows of seats and push-button start, the wagon continued to exhibit comfort and quality I could easily become used to.

At more than five metres long, slow-speed manoeuvring and parking could have been a problem but technical assistance from sound and visual warnings took away the stress.

Suspension and steering changes have resulted in greater refinement and more linear damping responses, even at low speeds and on all road surfaces, offering smooth, stable vehicle behaviour.

Noise, vibration and harshness levels have been further improved with increased thickness for the headliner, so there’s no end to the CX-9’s hallmark quiet ride,

Mazda’s all-wheel drive is an on-demand system featuring 27 sensors which check road conditions 200 times per second to give added traction when needed.

Mazda rates the AWD Azami LE combined fuel consumption at 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres. However, the test vehicle used between 7.1 and 13 litres per 100 kilometres on a typical mix of running.

SUMMARY
The Mazda CX-9 is better looking than the clumpy Kluger, more spacious than the Sorento and has more kit than the Acadia. Say no more.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL LINE-UP
Mazda CX-9 Sport FWD $44,990
Mazda CX-9 Sport AWD $48,990
Mazda CX-9 Touring FWD $51,390
Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD $55,390
Mazda CX-9 GT FWD $59,390
Mazda CX-9 GT AWD $63,390
Mazda CX-9 Azami FWD $60,990
Mazda CX-9 Azami AWD $64,990
Mazda CX-9 Azami LE AWD $66,490
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-9 Azami LE 2.5L Turbo 4-cylinder petrol 6sp automatic AWD SUV)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 170 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 420 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 206 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic, AWD

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5075 mm
Wheelbase: 2930 mm
Width: 1969 mm
Height: 1747 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1924 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 74 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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