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CX-9 refresh could lead to MPS revival

On boost: A new turbocharged petrol engine could light the fire under Mazda's dormant MPS range.

New turbo petrol engine for next CX-9 may see resurgence in Mazda's MPS sub-brand

18 Mar 2015

MAZDA’S largest SUV, the CX-9, will be replaced with an all-new model that will make it into Australian showrooms in 2016 and it is likely to be powered by an all-new 2.5-litre SkayActiv turbocharged petrol engine.

The CX-9 will also be the recipient of a SkyActiv Chassis update, as well as a switch to Mazda’s company-wide Kodo design language.

Australia is Mazda’s second-largest market behind the United States for the CX-9, which will be produced at the increasingly busy Hiroshima plant alongside the CX-5, new CX-3 and the MX-5/Fiat 124 Spider twins.

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said the CX-9 would be revealed “next year,” and when pressed on the configuration of the new powerplant, he did not deny the existence of a new turbo engine, suggesting that the size of the vehicle would be a determining factor.

“You know it’s a heavy vehicle,” he said. “It’ll need something that can deliver the right sort of result.”

Mazda Australia marketing director Alistair Doak added that he “can’t really comment on that, but the fuel numbers on that car will be very, very good”.

This will no doubt boost the appeal of the CX-9 which has been criticised for its fuel consumption figures that sit between 11 and 11.3 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, depending on the variant, from its thirsty 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine.

Mazda has also no doubt lost sales to its competitors due to its lack of diesel powertrain.

Mr Benders and Mr Doak both denied that a larger diesel engine would be offered alongside the new petrol powerplant in the second-generation version.

Mr Benders said that the importance of the car to the Australian market gave Mazda Australia input into the new model.

“It’s big for North America and for us,” he said. “We’re involved in all the discussions behind it. We’re actually the second-biggest market (in the world) behind the United States. We even beat Canada.”

While a number of car-makers offer SUV versions of their workhorse utes – think Holden's Colorado and its 7 sibling, Ford's Ranger and the imminent Everest and Mitsubishi's Triton and the Challenger – Mr Benders said that the CX-9 would not be joined by an SUV version of the brand’s BT-50 ute.

“There’s not enough global demand to chase it,” he said.

Mr Doak, meanwhile, suggested that another sportscar off the MX-5 platform was a possibility.

With the much-rumoured return of the rotary engine all but put to bed, the arrival of a medium-capacity turbocharged petrol engine would give Mazda another option when it came to specifying powertrains for future sports models.

Along with the all-wheel-drive drivetrains in both CX-3 and CX-5, a return to the MPS era for both Mazda3 and Mazda6 certainly looks feasible.

“We’d certainly look at turbocharging petrol engines for more performance instead of using something like a V6,” Mr Doak said when asked about turbocharging future generations of Mazda petrol engines.

He later suggested that the soon-to-be-released MX-5 may spawn another model.

“Senior management at Mazda Corporation have gone on the record as saying the (MX-5) chassis is stretchable, so hopefully one day we’ll see another sportscar off that,” he said.

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