Although the Mazda CX-9 has been included in the range offered by Bermaz Motor since early this year, the limited number of units brought in by Prima Merdu (the importing company) have been actually meant for the Australian market. Since then, Mazda has started production of other versions of its flagship SUV model for different markets with slightly different specifications to make them more suitable to local conditions.
So from now on, the CX-9s it will sell are tuned for the Malaysian market and one of the differences which we are aware of is the suspension settings which are said to be on the softer side. There’s also G-Vectoring Control (GVC) for enhanced cornering.
When the latest CX-9 was launched, the highlight was the new turbocharged SKYACTIV engine, the first turbocharged version of the petrol versions. Designated SKYACTIV G 2.5T, it is a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder unit which is basically the engine in the Mazda6 with a turbocharger added. Of course, the engineers didn’t just bolt on a turbocharger but also made necessary changes to cope with the increased output to ensure reliability.
As with the other SKYACTIV petrol engines, the compression ratio is higher than normal and even though it is 10.5:1 (the non-turbocharged SKYACTIV-G engines have a compression ratio of 14:1), it is one of the highest for any turbocharged engine with a 89-mm bore size that can run on regular petrol (which would mean it should be okay with Malaysian RON95 and RON97 petrol).
The output of 228 ps is less than the 3.7-litre V6 in the previous CX-9 but what’s of more significance is that the torque of the new turbocharged engine is 420 Nm, 14.5% greater than the bigger engine. It peaks at 2000 rpm which means low-end acceleration should be pretty strong.
Traditionally, turbocharged engines have suffered from poor dynamic performance at low rpms, including turbo lag, and disappointing real-world fuel economy. The SKYACTIV-G 2.5T is claimed to overcome these problems with a Dynamic Pressure Turbo (shown on the right), the world’s first turbocharging system that can vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed. This differs from the increasingly common variable nozzle geometry turbocharger which adjusts the speed or direction of exhaust gas flowing through the turbine.
At low rpms (below 1620 rpm), the volume of the exhaust ports is reduced by closing a series of valves located just before the turbine that drives the turbocharger. This reduces interference between exhaust pulses and maximizes the energy of each pulse to obtain a high turbine driving force. At higher rpms, there is sufficient energy in the exhaust flow and the valves open, allowing the turbine to be driven by a steady flow of exhaust gases as in a traditional turbocharger.
Another innovation is a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system that allows the engine to maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio over a wider output range. This system takes some of the inert exhaust gas that results from the combustion process and reduces its temperature by passing it through a cooler before introducing it back into the engine’s air intake. This lowers the temperature of combustion in the engine, preventing knocking, expanding the range in which the engine can maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio and reducing the need to retard ignition timing.
The CX-9 is available with only a 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission (pictured above). Mazda’s transmission is not a typical torque converter automatic transmission and achieves higher torque transfer efficiency through a wider lock-up range. Said to combine the best attributes of all transmission types (conventional automatic transmissions, continuously variable transmissions, and dual clutch transmissions), it can improve fuel economy by 4% to 7% compared to a conventional automatic transmission
Customers can choose the CX-9 with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). Mazda’s i-ACTIV AWD system is an advanced system which uses a number of sensors to constantly monitor the rotating behaviour of each wheel. The system precisely measures the speed of all four wheels and detects warning signs that indicate the wheels may be in danger of slipping, and then adjusts the torque – instantaneously – to specific wheels to maintain grip and stability.
There is also a Front-wheel Slip-warning Detection System that makes it possible to control drive force with a high degree of accuracy. The system uses various sensors to accurately calculate ground speed and front wheel speed, making it possible to detect early the microscopic wheel slips that act as warning signs of potential wheelspin.
In order to help the rear-wheel drive unit respond more quickly, a Torque Control System transfers a very small amount of torque to the rear even in front-wheel drive mode. This is known as ‘stand-by torque’ and it helps the system make a smooth and instantaneous transition to AWD drive mode when the command is received to send torque to the rear wheels.
The CX-9 also has SKYACTIV-Vehicle Dynamics vehicle motion control technologies which includes G-Vectoring Control (GVC). GVC is an active safety technology which controls the car’s dynamics on an extremely minute level, not capable by drivers themselves, so that driving efficiency is significantly improved and cornering can be smoother and safer. Click here to read more about Mazda GVC.
Being a CBU model from Japan, Bermaz has been able to pack the CX-9 with an extensive i-ACTIVSENSE package of advanced safety technologies which make use of detection devices such as millimetre-wave radars and cameras. These technologies provide more advanced Active Safety capabilities as well as Proactive Safety by helping the driver to recognize potential hazards and avoid them or in the worst case, reduce the damaging effects.
As with the other current generation of models, the CX-9’s exterior appearance incorporates the ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design philosophy which is characterised by the large 5-point front grille which projects a bit more in its evolved form. This design language is described as form that ‘captures the very instant energy becomes motion… the muscular beauty you see when an animal pounces, or when a human leaps into action’.
The CX-9 was developed with North American customers in mind and its cabin has been designed for families, which is what market studies found was the case with most CX-9 owners. Like the first generation which was produced between 2006 and 2015, the CX-9 has 3 rows of seats, making it a 7-seater. For those who have no need for a third row, the backrests can be folded down, giving a larger boot space of 810 litres.
To maximize comfort for front-row passengers and space for those in the second row, the interior designers went to great lengths to redesign the front seats with thinner seatbacks, yet make them more comfortable.
The interior designers have balanced the trend of more and more information available to the driver with a cockpit design that allows timely decision-making without confusion, with minimal eye movement and reduced stress, for complete and intuitive communication between driver and vehicle.
The Mazda Connect Integrated Infotainment System with HMI (Human Machine Interface) Carefree Control now includes even the driving position, to enhance the Jinba-ittai experience, to ensure careful and enjoyable driving in all situations. The layout places the highest priority on safety and helps drivers to maintain a stable driving position and concentrate on driving safely, even while dealing with a variety of information.
Prices for the CX-9 are revised downwards to RM281,449.70 for the 2WD variant and RM297,349.70 for the AWD variant, both prices excluding insurance). 5 colour choices are available including Machine Grey and Snowflake White Pearl which are Premium Colours that use a more advanced paint technology and application process.
Bermaz has upgraded its Manufacturing Warranty period from 3 years to 5 years or for the first 100,000 kms. Customers also get 3 years (or maximum of 60,000 kms) of free scheduled maintenance at authorised Mazda service centres.