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Mazda makes a fresh start with facelifted CX-9

Smooth SUV: Clever aero design details imbedded into the bold new CX-9 have helped improve fuel economy.

2010 Mazda CX-9 brings better economy, more value and a posh Grand Touring line

1 Oct 2009

MAZDA Australia has moved to reinforce the position of its CX-9 SUV as one of the best-performing and biggest-value seven-seat medium-sized soft-roaders on the market, launching a facelifted model range this week imbued with a fresh new look, additional features, a more economical engine and a base price that takes it back below the $50,000 mark.

Priced from $49,990 – a $2000 reduction from the equivalent outgoing model and the same figure with which the vehicle was launched in December 2007 – the 2010 CX-9 continues with the Classic and Luxury model lines but also adds a new prestige variant known as the Grand Touring.

The Luxury has a manufacturer’s list price of $56,990, which is down a substantial $3115 over the run-out model to sit a few hundred dollars below its 2007 launch price, while the Grand Touring starts from $63,186.

Although Mazda has lowered its expectations for the CX-9 to 260 sales a month, which is well down on the 380 it averaged last year and the circa-300 sales a month it has managed to secure in the current economic downturn, the SUV will continue to provide important sales volume alongside its five-seat twin, the CX-7, a facelifted version of which also arrives this month.

22 center imageDown from an expectation of 400 sales a month at launch in 2007, this less optimistic outlook for CX-9 should be more than offset with the revised CX-7, which will be launched with two new engines – a non-turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol (driving the front wheels) and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel – in addition to the continuing 2.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder.

The powertrain changes are not as monumental for CX-9, which continues with the biggest engine available from Mazda: a 3.7-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 with sequential valve timing (S-VT) and maximum outputs of 204kW at 6250rpm and 367Nm at 4250rpm (with 90 per cent of torque available from 2800rpm).

Driving all four wheels through the familiar Aisin-built six-speed ‘Activematic’ automatic transmission and Mazda’s ‘Active Torque Split’ AWD system – the latter able to direct up to 50 per cent of torque rearwards via an electronic control-coupling in the rear differential – the 2010 CX-9 still tips the scales at around two tonnes and has the same acceleration claim of 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds, but its official fuel consumption rating has fallen from 13.0 litres per 100km to 12.2L/100km.

Carbon dioxide emissions have also fallen, from 309g/km of CO2 to 291g/km. According to Mazda, the improved environmental performance stems from engine recalibration – that is, an update in the transmission control module to make it compatible with low-viscosity ATF automatic transmission fluid oil – and better aerodynamics, the latter evident by a drag coefficient reduction from 0.370Cd to 0.365Cd.

Aerodynamic improvements come from newly designed (larger) wing mirrors, redesigned front tyre deflectors, an airflow-enhancing protrusion on the tail-lights, fine detailing on the front bumper and the addition of a duct from the bumper face to the radiator.

The fundamental suspension design comprising MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear carries over, but Mazda engineers have attempted to improve the CX-9’s ride comfort with retuned front dampers.

In finetuning the high standard of equipment that appears across the range, Mazda has upgraded the cabin with anti-whiplash front head restraints, a 4.3-inch full-colour LCD dashboard screen, WMA audio file compatibility, higher-grade seat trim (soft-touch cloth on the Classic, softer black leather on the Luxury/Grand Touring), chrome-plated finishing on oft-touched items (rather than silver-coloured paint), and a new double-opening centre console storage area.

Satellite-navigation is now available, as a standard item on the Grand Touring and a $3323 option on the Luxury, bringing with it Bluetooth functionality. The Luxury also now picks up heated door mirrors with three-position memory and reverse tilt-down functions, while the Grand Touring has a number of exclusive new features such as Xenon headlights, smart keyless entry/start and a remote-operated power tailgate.

As before, all CX-9 models are fitted with an impressive amount of standard safety equipment, including six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Rollover Stability Control (RSC), traction control (TCS), anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assist (EBD).

Continuing cabin highlights include three-zone climate-control air-conditioning (the rear unit now with push-button controls and LCD indicators rather than the previous rotary dial), cruise control, a six-speaker six-CD MP3-compatible in-dash stereo, automatic headlights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, remote central locking and a reversing camera (now with a wider angle and guide markings).

Apart from leather trim, the CX-9 Luxury adds 20-inch wheels (up from 18s on the Classic), power eight-way driver’s seat adjustment (with three-position memory), power four-way front passenger seat adjustment, a 277-Watt Premium Bose amplifier with 10 speakers (including subwoofer), chrome exterior doorhandles and a power sliding glass sunroof.

The Grand Touring model has all of these features, plus the aforementioned sat-nav and hi-tech headline items.

As we saw at the New York auto show in March, the distinguishing marks of the CX-9 facelift centre on an updated Mazda corporate face, which includes a bolder five-point grille, a wider and more three-dimensional lower grille, a more aggressive front bumper and redesigned headlights and foglamps.

The main items of interest at the rear are the Nagare-inspired LED combination lights. The new exterior paint colour unveiled in New York – Dolphin Grey – has also joined the Australian palette, which comprises six mica/metallic colours.

Of the 260 sales Mazda hopes to sell each month, 60 per cent are expected to be from the Luxury line, with 26 per cent at Classic level and 14 per cent Grand Touring.

Mazda CX-9 range pricing:
Classic (a) $49,990
Luxury (a) $56,990
Grand Touring (a) $63,186

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