Mazda says buyers of its popular CX-9 are so fond of life’s little luxuries that it has upped the ante on its aristo Azami model in the shape of the LE, thus bringing the range of the award-winning seven-seat sports utility vehicle to five.
Customer demand was the reason for the addition of the Azami LE, says Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi. “CX-9 sales have always been skewed to high-grade AWD variants, so we added Azami LE to give those looking for luxury even greater choice in the range.”
These petrol-powered Mazda SUVs (no diesel) – consisting of Sport, Touring, GT and Azami in front- or all-wheel drive have a wide range of driver support systems, including Mazda’s comprehensive safety package, i-Activsense.
The system has been extensively improved for a second time since the second-generation CX-9 was first launched in 2016 and run out across the entire model range.
Alongside existing technologies, including smart city brake support (forward and reverse), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and driver attention alert, come Mazda radar cruise control with stop/go function, smart brake support, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and high beam control fitted standard on all grades.
All Mazda CX-9 grades are now equipped with an active driving display, which projects key information onto the windscreen, and tyre pressure monitoring.
The high-spec Azami gains even more advanced equipment, including front seat ventilation, a 360-degree view monitor, instrument panel-mounted 7-inch LCD TFT multi-information metre display, heated steering wheel, windscreen de-icer and frameless interior rear-vision mirror.
The new CX-9 also becomes the first SUV in Mazda Australia’s lineup to hook up to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with its MZD Connect infotainment system.
Mazda CX-9 Sport and Touring have standard 18-inch alloy wheels with a pattern we are told is designed to accentuate their size. Your call on this…
Wheels on Sport are finished in dark silver, while wheels on Touring have a bright silver finish. The GT, Azami and Azami LE have 20-inch alloys finished in bright silver.
The addition brings a new level of sophistication to cabin surroundings with rich red Chroma Brown nappa leather on the seats, genuine timber decorative panels on the doors and centre console, framed by ambient LED lighting.
A minimalist overhead console design and hand-crafted box stitching on the leather wrapped steering wheel complete the deluxe interior.
The touches of luxury would not be complete without a smooth ride in quiet, vibration-free surroundings, so Mazda engineers went to work on the suspension and steering system to give the car a more linear driving feel and greater ride comfort, while noise, vibration, and harshness levels have been further reduced.
Mazda’s SkyActiv-G 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine has been carried over to the updated CX-9, with 170 kW of power on tap at 5000 rpm and 420 Nm of torque at 2000 revs. Fuel economy is obtained using
Mazda’s i-Stop system automatically cuts the engine when the car comes to a halt and restarts it when the brake is released.
The engine is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel-drive or i-Activ all-wheel drive, except in the Azami LE which is all-wheel drive only.
Our launch drive in Tasmania was book-ended by the top-notch Azami LE all-wheel drive, selling for $66,490, plus on-road costs, and entry-level Sport front-wheel drive, costing $44,990, a difference of more than $21,000.
As well as the dollar gap, the Azami LE carried more than 72 kg in weight more than its cousin due to mechanical and spec differences. The LE obviously had been engineered for a softer ride – too soft to tackle sure-footedly some of the uneven road surfaces encountered – behaving rather loosely on steering, and despite all-wheel drive, lacking in far-from-relaxed conditions for the driver.
Surprisingly, it was the front-wheel drive Sport that provided a more planted stance on the road, with positive steering feedback to the driver, even on broken bitumen surfaces and unsealed forest tracks.
Mazda claims Azami LE AWD fuel consumption of 8.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle and the Sport FWD 8.4. The Tassie twosome came up with closer to 10 L/100 km in a mix of town and country driving.
AT A GLANCE
CX-9 Sport FWD: $44,990
CX-9 Sport AWD: $48,990
CX-9 Touring FWD: $51,390
CX-9 Touring AWD: $55,390
CX-9 GT FWD: $59,390
CX-9 GT AWD: $63,390
CX-9 Azami FWD: $60,990
CX-9 Azami AWD: $64,990
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.