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LA show: New Mazda CX-9 makes global debut

Turbo trickery: A highly sophisticated dual-induction turbo has been added to Mazda’s 2.5-litre petrol four-potter it’s a first for the SkyActiv range.

Second-gen Mazda CX-9 seven-seater due Down Under in mid-2016


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19 Nov 2015

MAZDA has whipped the covers off its second-generation CX-9 large SUV at the Los Angeles motor show, confirming that the big seven-seater will be powered by the first turbocharged SkyActiv engine when it arrives mid-next year.

The latest version has been revealed eight years after the original went on sale in Australia, and the inclusion of the blown 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine confirms an earlier report by GoAuto.

The CX-9 also adopts Mazda’s Kodo design language into its all-new body structure, while the carryover platform has gone on a significant weight-reduction regime.

A significant volume player for Mazda in the United States, the CX-9’s second-biggest market in the world to date has been Australia.

Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said he believes that there is still a place for the large SUV in the local line-up, despite its much smaller volume when compared to its wildly successful smaller siblings – the compact CX-3 and the mid-size CX-5.

“Our customers tell us they love the design, dynamics and value of our first-ever CX-3 and new CX-5 range,” said Mr Doak.

“We expect the brand new Mazda CX-9 to build on that success and to strengthen our presence in the large SUV market.”

The company is also investigating the possibility of importing the yet-to-be-released CX-4 crossover coupe/SUV that is based on the Koeru Frankfurt motor show concept.

The CX-9’s new engine is based on the existing 2.5-litre petrol inline four that is used across the Mazda family. It has been fitted with a sophisticated turbocharging system that is said to reduce intake temperatures by up to 400 degrees C, allowing the use of a higher compression ratio and thus improving economy.

Exhaust gas is drawn into the turbo in two stages throughout the acceleration phase, minimising lag and maximising mid-range torque. A unique 4-3-1 header design also ensures a steady feed of exhaust gas into the turbocharger, while a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system lowers intake temperatures significantly.

Mazda claims that the turbo, unlike traditional variable turbine designs, is the first of its kind to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation via the two sets of valves and exhaust configuration.

Torque is rated at 420Nm, while power is rated at 186kw on 93RON fuel and 169kW on 87RON petrol. No fuel economy figures have been provided.

Mazda is no stranger to the art of turbocharging, having offered blown versions of the RX-7, MX-5, Mazda3 MPS and Mazda6 MPS in recent years.

Like the first-generation CX-9, the new model will not be offered with a diesel powertrain. The second-biggest-selling model in Australia's large-SUV segment – Toyota's Kluger – is also a petrol-only proposition.

While no information was provided about the transmission, the company will likely offer an uprated version of an existing six-speed automatic. The CX-9 will come in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, with the latter system mimicking that in the CX-5.

The i-activ AWD system can measure road conditions 200 times a second, adjusting traction at all four corners to suit. As much as 50 per cent of available torque can also be directed to the rear wheels.

The CX-9’s exterior has been toned down from that of the previous version, reflecting the brand’s latest design language via the large grille opening, narrower LED headlights and black plastic overfenders that can be seen on vehicles like the CX-5.

At 5065mm long, the CX-9 is 30mm shorter than its predecessor, but its wheelbase has been stretched 55mm, while there are shorter overhangs at both ends (59mm up front and 25mm in the rear).

The CX-9’s A-pillars have also been shifted rearwards by 100mm, lengthening the bonnet line.

Three rows of seats are standard in the CX-9, with redesigned front seats offering thinner seat backs for more room, as well as urethane damping in both the base and seat back of the front pews, and the seat cushions of the second row.

Two Isofix points are mounted in the second row, while a 60/40 second row split allows easy access to the third row, according to Mazda.

A MZD Connect touchscreen system is available in seven- or eight-inch sizes, operated via a control knob on the centre console.

The driver also has a 4.6-inch colour TFT screen in the gauges for information readouts in addition to a colour head-up display projected onto the lower windscreen for readouts from the navigation, cruise control and other functions.

In the rear, passengers have two 2.1-amp USB ports available in the second row for charging smartphones or tablets, mounted in the outside passenger armrests.

Mazda’s engineers have reduced the weight of the CX-9 significantly, with 90kg of weight said to banished from the front-drive version, and 130kg deleted from the AWD version.

So successful were the engineers in reducing weight, more than 30kg of additional sound deadening was added back into the car without penalty. As a result, Mazda claims that interior noise levels have been reduced by 12 per cent over that of the previous model.

A suite of active and passive safety measures known as i-Activsense includes advanced blind-spot monitoring which can detect vehicles up to 50m away, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assistant and lane-departure warning, high-beam control, smart city braking up to 30km/h and active forward collision warning.

Available locally since 2007 and lightly updated in 2012, the CX-9’s sales have softened only slightly over the years, and it sits mid-pack in the large-SUV segment.

It has moved 2848 units to date in 2015 for 2.9 per cent of the segment, behind competitors such as the category leading Toyota Prado (12,630).

In total, the first-generation CX-9 has sold 31,771 units to date, with a high of 4605 in 2008, its first full year on sale, almost matched by a post facelift surge in 2012, which netted 4587 sales. Its 2014 total of 3334 was 20 per cent lower than its 2013 tally.

The current mode starts at $43,770 plus on-road costs for the 2WD Classic and tops out at 61,680 for the AWD GT.

More details and local pricing is expected in the first quarter of 2016.

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