Fuel for thought

The Advertiser - Motoring - - IN THE GARAGE -

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.

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