Tanks for the advice

Low-octane experiment seems to make good cents

TOBY HAGON

FUEL bills can be a sore point with anyone who’s stepped up to a seven-seat SUV. The prospect of lugging around upwards of two tonnes – especially in a spirited way – can easily lead to fuel use well into the teens of litres per 100km travelled.

Not ideal if you’ve also got some human food processors on board churning through your weekly salary concurrently.

Which is why we’ve been keeping an eye on the CX-9’s trip computer pretty closely, moreso over the past month.

For the first time in 3500km the 2.5-litre four-pot turbo has taken a gulp of regular unleaded. The cheaper fuel still achieves the 170kW claimed in the brochure, but it does without the additional 16kW kick delivered from a 98-octane brew. And the engine loses some of its top-end spark once revs lick past 5000rpm.

So, if you’re planning on flogging it on a back road or looking for that extra zip passing a road train you may be disappointed that things peter out that fraction sooner.

But the reality is that’s not what this engine is about, at least for most people, most of the time. And this month the switch to regular hasn’t created a notable performance impediment, mainly because the CX-9 has largely been confined to the suburbs and the occasional city motorway.

There’s still a lusty 420Nm on offer from way down in the rev range. By the time that’s done its job the sizeable seven-seater is generally maintaining pace with traffic.

That laziness is welcome and makes for a relaxed suburban runner.

But the big question is: how much fuel is it using? Well, the ULP does flow through the fuel lines that little bit more freely than PULP, but not outrageously so. After predominantly suburban driving, two fills this month have resulted in consumption of 13.6L/100km, up slightly on the 12.8L/100km figure we’ve gleaned from similar peak hourinfested driving on 98 RON.

From here the CX-9 will get one more freeway run with ULP and a last blast with 98 before it heads back to its home base.

We’ll crunch the dollar figures then.

CRUISE MODE

Radar cruise is handy on busy freeways, but you can opt for normal cruise by pressing ‘mode’

MAZDA CX-9 AZAMI

Date acquired: January 2017 Price as tested: $64,695 This month: 1092km @ 12.2L/100km Overall: 3140km @ 11.L/100km

On the rack

The unexpected inclusion of a towbar on our Azami opened many options for our time with the CX-9, most of which we haven’t explored. However, we did splash out on a bike rack, which made weekend day trips and the occasional early morning mountain bike blast possible. To date we’ve avoided accidentally powering the tailgate into the rack, though it is possible to do so.

Perhaps some Tesla-like proximity sensors are in order.