PEO­PLE­POWER

The re­freshed CX-9 is a peo­ple­mover with plenty of util­ity

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On The Web - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

Mazda’s CX-9 sev­enseater has a mid-life nip-and-tuck, putting it in a dis­tinct niche as a peo­ple­mover with style

THE el­der states­man of the Mazda CX range, like a Swiss army knife, can do a va­ri­ety of jobs. Af­ter a mid-life nip and tuck, the CX-9’s dis­tinc­tive looks are honed with­out any loss of the util­ity that makes the seven-seater a pop­u­lar, if niche, choice among large SUVs.

VALUE

Mazda loads up the CX-9 when it comes to looks and spec­i­fi­ca­tion. All models have Blue­tooth, USB and aux­il­iary in­puts, re­vers­ing cam­era, three- zone air­con, auto head­lamps and wipers and a 3.7-litre V6 matched to a six-speed auto. The front-wheel drive Clas­sic starts at $44,525 and the Lux­ury $52,980. The all-wheel drive Lux­ury is $57,480, with the Grand Tour­ing $63,828.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The au­dio and sat­nav up­grades match the newer en­trants in this class. There’s Blue­tooth with au­dio stream­ing, the up­graded speech recog­ni­tion sys­tem works with au­dio and nav­i­ga­tion and the sat­nav is straight­for­ward to op­er­ate. The Grand Tour­ing has bi-xenon head­lamps, day­time run­ning lights and re­mote op­er­ated power tail­gate.

DE­SIGN

‘‘ Kodo’’ is the key word at Mazda for the cor­po­rate look and the CX-9’s new grille fol­lows the CX-5 and Mazda6 styling. Re­mod­elled front and rear bumpers and lights to match make it rea­son­ably easy to pick from the out­go­ing ver­sion. There’s pi­ano black fin­ish around the in­stru­ments and bur­gundy metal strips run down ei­ther side of the cen­tre con­sole. The sec­ond-row seat­ing ad­just up to 120mm to fit larger oc­cu­pants, and adults will cope with short-ish trips in the pair of third-row seats. Boot space is mar­ginal with the seven seats oc­cu­pied but ex­pands dra­mat­i­cally (up to 1911 litres) with two on board.

SAFETY

The CX-9 hasn’t hit AN­CAP’s wall but the US ver­sion rates as a five-star car.

There are six airbags to pro­tect all oc­cu­pants, with the full suite of safety soft­ware and the likes of lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, blind spot mon­i­tor­ing and for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing.

DRIV­ING

Big but light on its feet, the CX-9 is anal­o­gous to a rugby for­ward. There’s enough sheet metal for an im­pos­ing look on the road but that’s not the im­pres­sion from be­hind the wheel, where the lightly weighted steer­ing adds to the im­pres­sion of agility.

Rapid changes of di­rec­tion, es­pe­cially on gravel, re­mind the driver this is a big bus. It’s more in­er­tia than body roll, though, so the pas­sen­gers won’t feel nau­seous even at a brisk pace on back roads. Noise sup­pres­sion is first-rate and there is lit­tle ev­i­dence the Mazda is es­sen­tially a seven-year-old car.

The V6 has enough urge to pro­pel the CX-9 at a solid pace, ei­ther off the line or dur­ing over­tak­ing, and the wide seats hang on as well as the car does. In most cases, the front-wheel drive model will suit most peo­ple and does plenty to im­press. There would want to

Runs in the fam­ily: The CX-9 echoes the Mazda6 nose; mid­dle row seats slide fore and aft; third row can fit adults — briefly; cargo space is huge

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