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Mazda CX-9 All-Wheel-Drive SUV
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May 2008

EVERY now and again you have one of those moments that make you realise just how middle-aged you are.

First there’s the hamstring tear when you are attempting to relive your glory days in a “dads and lads’’ touch footy game.

Then you find yourself liking Neil Diamond songs.

Not long after this the day arrives when, inexplicably, you stop throwing out junk mail, instead flicking through it in search of discount coupons.

Probably, the most conclusive evidence is when you start looking forward to Friday nights when you can watch Midsomer Murders, the slowest moving of detective shows set in a sleepy English parish with a killer on every corner.

Just when you think there couldn’t be any more stark pointers to your 40-somethingness, along comes the Mazda CX-9.

This is the perfect family carrier and you gaze at it in absolute awe _ the same way you looked at your Honda Superbike when you were 21.

The luxurious seven-seater SUV suddenly is everything you want: it is beautiful, refined and, oh my God, so PRACTICAL.

There’s room for your wife and two fast-growing boys, as well as all the pots and garden enhancements you want but hardly need from Bunnings.

Adding comfort to the fact you are now old enough to be in love with a people mover/family SUV is the knowledge that all your friends are smitten by the Mazda CX-9, too.

Looks are a powerful thing in the car game and this rig is the supermodel of its class.

Once other parents spot your third row of seats, you also find yourself ferrying some extras to soccer on Saturdays.

The CX-9 went on sale last December and is available in two model grades _ Classic (from $49,990) and Luxury ($57,265).

Both come with a willing 3.7-litre V6 engine, Mazda’s Active Torque Split All-Wheel-Drive system, and a six-speed Activematic transmission.

They are generously equipped with climate control (three-zone), alloy wheels, cruise control, and power windows and mirrors. A six-stack, in-dash CD player (MP3 compatible) is operated through a touch screen which includes a reversing camera.

The CX-9 comes with a host of active safety features, including Roll Stability Control (RSC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Traction Control (TCS), antilock brakes (ABS) and front, side and curtain airbags.

Luxury additions include leather seats a glass sunroof, power and heating for the front seats (including memory for the driver), and 10-speaker premium Bose audio.

This is the bigger brother in Mazda’s CX (Crossover Sports) family, which also includes the smaller CX-7 five-seat compact SUV.

CX-9 is marketed in the “mid-sized’’ SUV segment, but at 2080kg and more than 5m long, it is more of a heavyweight.

Excellent driving dynamics make it a breeze to pilot and parking is surprisingly easy. In fact, the wagon’s turning circle is the same as the smaller CX-7.

High seating and good use of glass makes for impressive all-round visibility and the Mazda has a five-star safety rating.

There are numerous storage locations including a lockable and illuminated glove box, glasses compartment, ten cup holders and door map pockets that can also store drinks and other items.

The centre console contains an audio auxiliary jack and 12-volt outlet and can be used to store CDs, MP3 players, iPods or game boys. There is also a coin box on the right hand side of the steering wheel.

The 204kW V6 is a smooth and powerful unit and moves the Mazda along effortlessly. It can zoom from 0-100km/h in just 8.5 seconds if required.

Fuel consumption is probably the only grumble as, due to its weight, the CX-9 drinks more than 13 litres for every 100km covered. With more around-town driving, this climbs up towards 15 litres.

All Australian CX-9s are built at a Mazda production facility in Hiroshima and have been tailored for the Australian market.

Backed by exceptional build quality, on-road manners and styling, the SUV is going to take a power of beating.

Mazda Australia expects to sell 400 a month, with the majority likely to be the $57,265 Luxury specification. We’re busy saving up for one. I will just have to cut out a few more coupons.



ENGINE: 3.7-litre V6

POWER: 204kW at 6250rpm

TORQUE: 366Nm at 4250rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic

ECONOMY: 13 litres per 100km average

FEATURES: ABS, front, side and curtain airbags (6 in total), stability control, reversing camera, three-zone air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, alloy wheels

WEIGHT: 2080kg

PROS: Refined, oozes class, comfortable

CONS: Heavy and gets thirsty with around town driving

BOTTOM LINE: $49,990 (Classic model), $57,265 (Luxury)