Un­veil­ing new CX-9

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL | -

MAZDA’S all-new CX-9, which will have a more ef­fi­cient tur­bocharged en­gine, choice of driv­e­trains and top safety fea­tures as stan­dard, is due in show­rooms in two weeks.

Mazda Aus­tralia has an­nounced pric­ing and some of the specs for the last piece in its SkyAc­tiv SUV puz­zle, the long-awaited re­place­ment for the large CX-9.

The Ja­panese-built SUV will be avail­able next month in front- and all-wheel-drive across four grades (Sport, Tour­ing, GT and Azami).

There will also be the com­pany’s new 2.5-litre tur­bocharged SkyAc­tiv four­cylin­der petrol en­gine that makes 170kW at 5000rpm and 420Nm at 2000rpm.

A six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is the only gear­box avail­able, while Mazda’s i-eLoop re­gen­er­a­tion setup will feed re­cov­ered ki­netic en­ergy from the brakes back into the CX-9’s an­cil­lary elec­tri­cal sys­tems.

The CX-9’s range-wide of­fer­ing of AEB in both for­ward and re­verse di­rec­tions is quite a land­mark for the seg­ment.

Fuel econ­omy fig­ures have dropped dras­ti­cally over the thirsty out­go­ing 3.7-litre V6e­quipped model. That’s thanks, in part, to the new en­gine but also to weight re­duc­tions across the board of up to 160kg, ac­cord­ing to Mazda.

Front-drive CX-9s will re­turn 8.4L/100km on the com­bined cy­cle (an almost 24 per cent im­prove­ment), while all-wheel-drive ver­sions will of­fer 8.8 litres per 100km (almost 21 per cent bet­ter).

The CX-9 will also hap­pily run on reg­u­lar 91 RON fuel.

Pric­ing for the seven-seater starts at $42,990 be­fore on-road costs for the en­try-level Sport front-driver. The price tag for the top-rank­ing Azami – which is a new name­plate for Mazda – is $63,390.

The se­cond-gen­er­a­tion CX-9 will come in slightly cheaper than the almost 10year-old first-gen­er­a­tion SUV, while the num­ber of vari­ants dou­bles to eight, thanks to the ad­di­tion of the front-wheel driv­e­train across all four grades.

Ba­sic spec lev­els also – un­sur­pris­ingly – im­prove, with ad­vanced blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, rear cross traf­fic alert and AEB (for­ward and re­verse) of­fered as stan­dard across the CX-9 range. TOY­OTA Aus­tralia has posted a profit of $236 mil­lion – the se­cond year in a row it has fin­ished well into the black and a stark turn­around from the $437 mil­lion loss two years ago.

This is fur­ther ev­i­dence there is more money in im­port­ing cars than man­u­fac­tur­ing them lo­cally.

Toy­ota set aside most of its shut­down costs in the two pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial years.

It will close the Camry fac­tory in Al­tona on the out­skirts of Melbourne in De­cem­ber next year, weeks af­ter Holden and a year or so af­ter Ford.

How­ever, it’s not all good news for Toy­ota, which has been Aus­tralia’s No. 1 brand for 13 years in a row.

Toy­ota’s dom­i­nance is be­ing eroded by the growth of se­cond-placed Mazda, Hyundai in third and most of the other top 10 brands.

In 2008 – Toy­ota’s best sales year with 238,983 de­liv­er­ies – the Ja­panese brand ac­counted for an as­ton­ish­ing 23.6 per cent of all ve­hi­cles sold na­tion­ally.

Last year that fig­ure slipped to 17.8 per cent on a tally of 206,236 sales.

To the end of May, Toy­ota has 17.1 per cent of Aus­tralia’s new-car busi­ness, or about one in six sales.

Toy­ota says it plans to re­fresh more mod­els – and add to the range – to fill the void when lo­cal Camry pro­duc­tion ends. How­ever, although Toy­ota will con­tinue to sell an im­ported Camry from 2018, an­a­lysts have fore­cast a sales slow­down.

True de­mand for Camry is much lower than the cur­rent rate, which has been driven by dis­counts of up to $8000 per car to keep the Al­tona pro­duc­tion line mov­ing.

Once the fac­tory closes, will the com­pany be able to make up for lost Camry sales as well as sus­tained at­tacks from ri­vals on its top-sell­ing im­ports, the Corolla small car and HiLux ute? Or has Aus­tralia reached “peak Toy­ota”?

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