A Certain Kind of Plush
The new turbocharged 2.5 litre unit is a welcome addition to Mazda’s stable of engines. Maximum torque of 420Nm is delivered at 2,000rpm, while lag is not very noticeable below this. Our past experiences the 2.5 NA Mazda engine revealed one which seemed a little rough sounding anywhere above 3,500rpm. While this engine also makes all the same noises in this rev-range, having the turbo spool up to deliver maximum torque way before this, shows off very smooth delivery. Power is delivered to the (in our case, our test car was the 2WD version) front driving wheels via a well-mapped six-speed “Activmatic” transmission. There are simply two drive modes, “Normal” and “Sport”. Pop the switch into the latter, and the CX-9 holds its gears a little longer, and easily brings the revs up, revealing that raspy engine note we have all become accustomed to, then again this time, the engine sound matches the acceleration… and oh, there is a little bit of torque steer…. yaay… The CX-9 reaches 100 in just 8.2 seconds.
Yes, the car does cut an imposing presence on the road, and does feel large as-well on the inside. However, we do love how well it responds to the steering inputs. The rack and pinion unit is very precise, and after a while on the road, you might just forget how large this car is, due to how nimble it is, from the way it steers. Turn the car into a corner, and the CX-9 does feel well-planted, all thanks to some magical trickery with how the drive-by-wire engine responds just before, during and after a turn, what Mazda calls G-Vectoring Control, basically similar to a race driver’s art of optimum weight transference. The advantage to you, the family guy with kids and parents in-tow, is seeing in your rear mirror hands up less often, to hold the grab bars, and disapproving frowns when you take a corner a little too quick.
Overall, the CX-9 delivers well as a family car with people-carrying capabilities. The added ride height would get the nod of approval from the older parents who would find it easier to enter and exit, the wife, when she puts the kids into the child seats, and your back when you do the same. For drivers who like a car which handles and has enough grunt, it does this well enough to put a smile back onto your face, (poor guy… I know you wanted something a little more sporty to begin with).
Just buy the 2WD, really, it is good enough. But even the AWD model could give the likes of the Audi Q7 a run for its money!