Fuel for thought
MOST family-sized seven-seat SUVs sold here run on diesel. But Mazda has bucked this trend with the petrol-only CX-9.
That’s because the US is the biggest market globally for the CX-9 — and Americans favour petrol power for passenger vehicles.
The cost of developing a diesel CX-9 for Australia has to date been deemed prohibitive — because it would not sell in sufficient numbers.
So Mazda instead designed the 2.5-litre turbo petrol in the CX-9 with diesel-like characteristics — the focus is on power delivery at low revs.
Mazda says the result is economy that sits between fourcylinder diesels and V6 petrols.
To find out how much of a difference there is in real-world running costs, we jumped out of a Hyundai Santa Fe diesel longterm test car (which we’ve grown fond of and can’t understand why more people don’t buy them) and into the top of the range CX-9 Azami.
The Santa Fe Elite with a 2.2-litre turbo diesel is more fuel efficient (7L-8L/100km on the open road and 11L-12L around town) than the CX-9 (10L-14L so far).
I’m missing the Hyundai’s digital speed readout in the instrument display. In the Mazda, the speed is projected on to a head-up display on the windscreen but you can’t see the numbers clearly when wearing polarised sunglasses.
I’m enjoying the extra grunt but it can overpower the front wheels at times. Even though it’s all-wheel drive, the front wheels want to follow the contour of the road if you step on the accelerator in a hurry.
The Mazda is also much bigger than the Santa Fe, which is good for space but makes it harder to park — and to negotiate car parks.
No doubt with more time behind the wheel we’ll get accustomed to it.