2018 Mazda CX-9 2.5L Turbo 2WD: Big and quick

By THOMAS HUONG | 12 March 2018

THE second-generation CX-9 is Mazda’s flagship three-row crossover SUV (sport utility vehicle) that has a new 2.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine to deliver quick acceleration without turbo lag, and at the same time, decent fuel economy.

The seven-seater SUV was launched in Malaysia in November last year, with only 60 units imported from Japan.

There are two variants, namely a 2WD (two-wheel drive) at RM281,449 and all-wheel drive variant with a 4WD badge at RM297,349.

Both variants have the same equipment, trim and safety features.

Our test drive unit here is the 2WD variant, which was loaned to us for a weekend.

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Mazda’s Kodo — Soul of Motion design philosophy aims to evoke speed, grace and power; and the CX-9 is certainly sculpted to showcase athleticism and flowing motion.

The sleek exterior lines are eye-catching, and highlights here include the long hood and distinctive five-point grille with double bars which are flanked by LED headlights.

LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights provide more premium appeal, while the large 20-inch wheels convey boldness and power.

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The CX-9 has the SkyActiv-G 2.5T, which is the first turbocharged engine in the SkyActiv-G series.

Mated to a SkyActiv-Drive 6-speed automatic with manual shift, the powertrain delivers 228hp at 5,000rpm and an impressive 420Nm at a lowly 2,000rpm.

We found plenty of low- to mid-range torque and hardly any turbo lag, when we stepped hard on the accelerator pedal.

Gear shifts are silky smooth, and the SUV never felt laggy in propelling its 1,854kg kerb weight during highway cruising, on uphill slopes or overtaking manoeuvres on lorry-choked country roads.

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Fuel Consumption

The CX-9 has Dynamic Pressure Turbo technology, which is a world-first turbocharging system that can vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed.

What this technology aims to do is eliminate turbo lag and provide improved fuel economy.

According to Mazda, Dynamic Pressure Turbo provides up to 25% quicker response than a twin-scroll turbocharger at engine speeds below 1,500rpm.

During the weekend, we put Mazda’s claimed fuel efficiency of 8.98 litres per 100km or 11.1km per litre to the test.

We were quite impressed by the CX-9 fuel-sipping quality, as the trip meter showed our fuel efficiency at 8.8km per litre, after driving 329km on a mix of highways and in slow-moving traffic on country roads over three days.

The CX-9 (2WD variant) has a 72-litre fuel tank, and our remaining travel range was 203km.

For a powerful turbocharged 2.5-litre SUV that weights close to close to two tonnes, this real-world fuel efficiency result is very decent.

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The leather-clad interior has an air of elegance and thoughtful design, and a highlight here is a sweeping single piece of aluminium that sweeps across the dashboard to emphasise width.

There is plenty of nice comfort kit here, including powered front seats, a space-saving electric parking brake, rear air-conditioning vents and automatic climate control, and 4 USB ports to power your mobile devices.

You also get Active Driving Display with driving data like vehicle speed projected onto the windshield in the driver’s line of sight.

There's a MZD Connect rotary knob to control the infotainment system, which comes with Voice Command and a 8-inch full-colour touchscreen.

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The black-themed interior looks sporty, and the leather upholstery looks classy.

The 12-speaker Bose Premium Audio produces top-notch sound quality, while the powered sunroof lets more light into the cabin.

For more comfort, the second-row seats can be reclined, and slide forward for easy access to the third row.

Overall, the interior is quite well-designed for comfort and convenience.

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The CX-9 has the convenience of keyless entry via buttons on the front door handles.

However, the rear door handles do not have these buttons.

There’s one-touch powered up/down function for the four side windows.

As for storage and mobile device charging options, the CX-9 impresses again.

Between the front seats, there are two cup holders and a storage box with AUX, 2 USB ports and a SD card slot.

We also found 2 USB ports and 2 cup holders integrated with the centre arm rest in the second row.

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Other storage options include front seat-back pockets, bins on all 4 side doors, and 4 cup or bottle holders for the third row.

Also, the third row seats can be folded flat. Rear cargo capacity is a huge 810 litres (third row down) or 230 litres (third row up). Another premium feature is the powered tailgate.

Ride and Handling

The new CX-9 has Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC) which provides improved cornering control.

The benefits of GVC are more precise steering, improved handling, better passenger comfort, and less fatigue for the driver.

This is part of Mazda’s Jinba Ittai — “horse and rider as one” — philosophy.

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The CX-9 also gets high ratings for occupant comfort, with its MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension that provides a nice balance of comfort and sportiness.

Road bumps and irregularities were absorbed without fuss, and our 2WD unit was a composed creature at sedate speeds on twisty roads. The electronic powered steering is precise and didn’t feel too numb.

Ground contact comes from 20-inch wheels with Falken ZIEX CT50 A/S 255/50 tyres, which have a unique symmetric tread pattern and provided smooth, quiet rides.

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- Six airbags,
- Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
- Dynamic stability control (DSC)
- Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
- Emergency brake assist (EBA)
- Traction control
- Emergency stop signal (ESS)
- Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
- Speed-sensing auto lock
- Walk away lock
- ISOFIX child seat anchors
- Adaptive LED headlights (ALH)
- Lane Departure Warning (LDWS)
- Lane Keep Assist
- Driver Attention Alert
- Smart City Brake Support (front and rear)
- Blind Spot Monitoring
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Reverse camera
- All-round disc brakes

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- Mazda G-Vectoring Control
- LED headlights with Auto On/Off and Auto Levelling
- LED daytime running lights
- LED rear lights
- Rain sensing wipers
- Keyless entry
- Powered sunroof
- Powered tailgate
- Start-stop ignition
- Windshield-projection Active Driving Display
- 8-inch full-colour touchscreen
- MZD Connect Infotainment system with Voice Command
- Bluetooth hands-free
- 4 USB ports
- GPS Navigation
- 12-speaker Bose Premium Audio
- Leather seats
- Three-zone automatic climate control
- Rear air-conditioning vents
- One touch powered up/down for all 4 windows
- Powered 10-way driver’s seat with two-position memory function
- Powered 6-way front passenger seat
- 20-inch wheels with 255/50 tyres
- Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)
- Electronic Parking Brake

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- 5 years or 100,000km (whichever comes first) warranty

- 3 years or 60,000km (whichever comes first) free maintenance including labour, parts and lubricants


The CX-9 is priced at RM281,449 with GST, on the road without insurance

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At this price tag, the CX-9 finds itself in a segment where Malaysian buyers can opt for premium European 5-seater SUVs.

So, for your money, the CX-9 offers seven seats, lots of storage space, and plenty of premium comfort and safety features.

It has outstanding driving dynamics — surefooted handling, tight steering and a smooth, strong turbocharged 2.5-litre powertrain with commendable fuel eocnomy.

Its interior materials and packaging are impressive, and the roomy cabin is a nice place to be in during a long-distance weekend drive.

It’s a great SUV for the urban jungle.

This big, strong, refined and well-packaged crossover would appeal to those who have deep pockets and are not too particular about brands.

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2018 Mazda CX-9 2.5L Turbo 2WD
Engine: 2,488cc SkyActiv-G DOHC 16-Valve, turbocharged
Max Power: 228hp at 5,000rpm
Max Torque: 420Nm at 2,000Nm
Gearbox: SkyActiv-Drive 6-speed automatic with manual shift
Boot capacity: 810 litres (third row down), 230 litres (third row up)
Fuel tank: 72 litres
Kerb weight: 1,854kg

Price: RM281,449.70 with GST, on the road without insurance
- 5 years or 100,000km (whichever comes first) warranty
- 3 years or 60,000km (whichever comes first) free maintenance including labour, parts and lubricants

Safety Features: Six airbags, anti-lock braking system, dynamic stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, traction control, emergency stop signal, Hill Launch Assist, speed-sensing auto lock, walk away lock, ISOFIX child seat anchors, Adaptive LED headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Alert, Smart City Brake Support (front and rear), Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, reverse camera

Comfort features: Mazda G-Vectoring Control, LED headlights with Auto On/Off and Auto Levelling, LED daytime running lights, LED rear lights, rain sensing wipers, keyless entry, powered sunroof, powered tailgate, start-stop ignition, windshield-projection driving display, 8-inch touchscreen MZD Connect Infotainment system with Voice Command, Bluetooth hands-free, 4 USB ports, GPS Navigation, Bose audio system with 12 speakers, leather seats, three-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning vents, one touch powered up/down for all 4 windows, powered driver's seat

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CarSifu's Rating: 7.8