Mazda has given a gee-up to its big CX-9 sports utility vehicle by adding a GT SP model to
the range. And the maker has taken nothing from its premium aspirations with the move.

For example, the exterior now includes a gunmetal grey grille design and black mirror
caps, with 20-inch alloy wheels completing the picture. Inside, additions include black
panel décor, red stitching on the steering wheel, door trims, centre console and armrests,
plus classy burgundy leather upholstery for its seven seats.

The CX-9 newbie, at $63,590, plus on-roads, for the front-wheel drive, sits at the middle of
the price range, while the all-wheel drive GT SP adds up to $67,590. Cover includes a five-
year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Servicing intervals are 12 months if capped at 10,000 km between visits. Capped-price
servicing for the GT SP AWD ranges between $364 and $409 per visit, totalling $1910 for
the first five visits.

Styling has held the CX-9’s appeal well, with the new grey grille and black bits setting the
GT SP apart from the rest of the Mazda SUV muscle mob.

At more than five metres long, the CX-9 profile is far from bulky in looks, while 20-inch
wheels with a bold design impart a modern no-nonsense look to the high-end wagon, LED
taillights impart a sleek premium view to the rear.

Black panel decor, red stitching on the steering wheel, door trims, centre console and
armrests, plus classy burgundy leather upholstery for its seven seats take the GT SP to
another level for SUVs of this ilk.

Seats up front are soft and welcoming, while the second row of a double bench layout has
generous head and leg room, the latter spots, of course, subject to their slide positions.

The third row are really only suitable for small stature occupants, while cargo space is
limited to 230 litres with all seats in operation. Fold the third-row seatbacks and there’s 810
litres on offer.

On the upside, the GT comes up with plenty of creature comforts to those in the back,
including the dedicated climate controls, power outlets, retractable sun blinds and bright
LED overhead lighting.

The new GT SP boasts the latest Mazda Connect infotainment system with 10.25-inch
colour screen and boots more quickly on start-up, while a move to digital as opposed to
analogue signals, has sharpened screen resolution and audio sound quality.

The screen is accessed via the traditional Mazda Command Control knob and buttons on
the centre console. Convenience compared to a touchscreen is ‘six of one, half a dozen of
the other’.

Qi wireless smartphone charging can be accessed by placing the phone in the centre
console tray, in front of the gearshift.

With petrol power alone, the Skyactiv-G2.5T turbocharged four-cylinder engine is carried
over across the whole CX-9 range. The engine produces 170 kW of peak power at 5000
rpm and 420 Nm of maximum torque from a low 2000 revs.

Power is put to ground via a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission and, in the
case of the test car, all-wheel drive.

Like all upgraded CX-9s, occupant safety is in the hands of Mazda’s i-Activsense system,
which includes radar cruise control with stop / start engine function, smart brake support
(forward and reverse), lane departure warning and lane keep assist.

To which are added traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert
and driver attention alert. Six airbags (front driver and passenger, front sides, and curtain
front and rear.

The CX-9 powertrain is linked to Mazda’s stop-and-go function which is designed to
maximise fuel efficiency. It works by cutting the motor when the vehicle comes to rest,
restarting it once the brake pedal pressure is relaxed.

This system is one of the better ones on the market, with little lag between engine stop
and start. Mazda claims fuel consumption in the combined urban / highway cycle of 8.4
litres per 100 kilometres for front-wheel drive variants and 9 litres per 100 kilometres the
all-wheel drives.

The test GT SP all-wheel drive recorded 13.3 litres per 100 kilometres around town and
7.2 litres per 100 kilometres on a country run. The tank holds 74 litres of fuel.
The touches of luxury would not be complete without a smooth ride in quiet, vibration-free
surroundings. 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.
Sport Mode can be activated via a switch on the centre console. This increases throttle
response, while moving auto transmission shift points for improved acceleration when
accelerating to overtake, or filtering into when entering a motorway.

At more than five metres long, parking can throw up a problem or two. The reversing
camera helps some way but is lacking the luxury of dynamic guidelines, leaving directions
to a static system. Here, the all-round camera view is a boon.

The CX-9 GT SP’s spacious and comfortable cabin, refined ride and handling and
equipment, plus its unique special touches, set it apart from the rest of the seven-seat
SUV mob.


Mazda CX-9 FWD (Petrol)
2.5 Sport (a) $45,990
2.5 Touring (a) $53,590
2.5 GT (a) $63,090
2.5 GT SP (a) $63,590
2.5 Azami (a) $66,290
Mazda CX-9 AWD (Petrol)
2.5 Sport (a) $49,990
2.5 Touring (a) $57,590
2.5 GT (a) $67,090
2.5 GT SP (a) $67,590
2.5 Azami (a) $70,631
2.5 Azami LE (a) $73,881
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda CX-9 GT SP 2.5L 4-cylinder turbo-petrol, 6sp automatic, AWD)

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): 9.0 L/100km
CO2 emissions 188 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

Length: 5075 mm
Wheelbase: 2930 mm
Width: 1969 mm
Height: 1747 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 2000 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 74 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 7/10
Safety: 7/10
Thirst: 8/10
Practicality: 7/10
Comfort: 8/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 8/10

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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