Motoring: The CX-9 - a family car with bite

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Motoring: The CX-9 - a family car with bite
The Mazda CX-9

Published: Sun 15 Jan 2017, 3:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Jan 2017, 3:23 PM

WHEN WAS THE last time you saw a seven-seat car and thought, "hmmm I've got to get me one of those"? Akin to having your pick of the in-flight beverage trolley treats and lumping for a little pouch of still water, or bumping Monica Bellucci for Jean-Claude Junker on your fantasy dinner-party guest list, to desire a quintessential family car is often a clear farewell bid to youthful exuberance. Until today.
The traditional 'ZoomZoom' enjoyment with which Mazda has always made its mark even translates to this, their latest big-ticket item, the 2017 CX-9. Now, you'd probably expect it from the best-selling two-seat roadster of all time, the MX-5, or even the entry-level hatchback the Mazda 2. Both models possess more than their fair share of the joie de vivre essential for an economical car in their respective segments to succeed. How on Earth then has the Japanese manufacturer managed to transplant this vivacity into an automobile sector most people only look to when all they really desire is a safe box on wheels for their increasing litter? Easy. Since the company's parting from Ford, Mazda has been able to focus on what it does best: delivering enjoyable, good looking cars which offer drivers a bit of spice and luxury at a reasonable cost. It's a formula which has worked for decades and the CX-9 is the epitome of this philosophy.
The greatest improvement we can see over its predecessors (before we get to how handsome the body has become) is the complete overhaul of the spacious interior. It's simply beautiful. A comfortable and opulent environment in which to find yourself, sit inside and you will no doubt wonder why everything in there doesn't bear a designer marque. Like walking into a Versace property we could see this being the official car of some high-end hotel simply as a result of its 'haute-to-trot' credentials. We were staggered at the upgrade. The instruments feel delicate yet crafted with longevity in mind. The seats stitched and moulded from soft leather (on the CX-9 LTD model) and branded panels lining the footwells scream chic. If appearances are your main concern, there is no need to worry. We think the CX-9 stands up to scrutiny in our notorious 'Keeping up with the Joneses' (or should that now be Kardashians?) society.
It's more of the same when you focus your eye on the slick lines of the bodywork. A chrome grille, LED lights and 20-inch wheels really are the 'razzle-dazzle', yet it is the overall shape with which we are most impressed. Far from looking like the left-over frumpy outfit at a bargain-basement store many of these crossover people carriers can resemble, the CX-9 is desirable. The turnaround is amazing. You want to be seen driving it. The three-rows of seats are encased in metalwork so attractive, from the outside, you barely notice it's so large. Mazda has actually achieved something many cannot with a car of this magnitude - subtlety and elegance. It's not going to solely be trips to IKEA on a Friday for you, Mr. or Mrs. CX-9 owner. You shall also go to the ball.

You're probably beginning to see a theme emerging here. Like the first time we saw Michelle Pfeiffer walk into shot in Batman Returns, we're in love. To drive this not insubstantially sized flower is as smooth and light as riding a kid's go-kart around a freshly mown field. The suspension is second-to-none, providing a cushioned driving experience without the body roll which usually follows in the corners. Steering is a dream as a result of the reduced weight from a more efficient engine and electrical power assist.
The 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo under the bonnet is a lovely engine, far better than the noisier V6 in the older versions, and provides more than enough oomph. Around 250hp gets you from 0-100km/h in just over seven seconds - a very decent time - and we've been driving it about 50km each day for a week and still have over half a tank of fuel remaining. The CX-9 comes in two-wheel and all-wheel drive versions and while we'd recommend all-wheel drive, the experience is not diminished if you choose not to.  

The technology at the driver's disposal is similar to that found in the historically more salubrious labels. We were reminded of BMW's iDrive when scrolling through the radio channels using the central knob to navigate and a tap to select. The parking sensors and rear-view camera, as always, were a delight to have especially while getting used to the dimensions.

Mazda's tagline for the CX-9 is 'beauty at every angle' and having lived with the car for a while now, that beauty is going to be hard to give up.
CX-9 GS 2WD - Dhs119,900
CX-9 GT AWD - Dhs139,900
CX-9 LTD AWD - Dhs159,900
All come with free 3YRS/60,000kms service, free rust protection and inner guard.

By David Light

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From the back
From the back
The cockpit
The cockpit
Reminded us of the iDrive system
Reminded us of the iDrive system

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