BATH time in our house usually involves plenty of suds, rubber ducks, and the occasional soapy stoush. But this time around it’s in the driveway and it involves our four-wheeled boarder, otherwise known as a Mazda CX-9. Something of a farewell pressie for a car that has endured plenty.
Like carbon-dating rocks, the back seat is a receptacle for all that has gone on over its six months of duty. Sand, crumbs, and the occasional raisin are expertly arranged with a plastic wrapper buried near a seatbelt buckle.
All reminders of trips to the country, dozens of beach runs, and months of Saturday sport.
Washing the Soul Red exterior reinforces the CX-9’s lofty dimensions. Extra stretching is needed to cover the extremities of the roof and, while it has 10-spoke wheels, their simple design makes it easy to sponge off a light coating of brake dust.
Its lengthy body was a boon for friends and family who hitched a ride. The ability to put a car seat in the very back row was a big win when employed occasionally, and was some consolation for the CX-9’s lack of air vents way aft.
Running on 20-inch rubber means some gribbles over small imperfections, but the inherent suppleness of its MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear made for respectable plushness. Mixed in with some meatiness to the steering, its mannerisms are something appreciated on a final fling up a local set of twisties.
It’s quiet, too; for a brand with its fair share of tyre-roaring models, the CX-9 defies expectations, cementing its position as a seriously relaxed cruiser.
While its all-wheel drive was never wholly put to the test, its presence made it easier to utilise the full 420Nm on faster gravel blasts, and all but eliminates the front-wheel chirp of 2WD CX-9s, although firing out of an intersection can occasionally elicit some slip.
Alternating between ULP and 98-octane showed there was an edge with the latter.
But it was mainly top-end, way out of the engine’s natural habitat. Besides, the chances of bettering its 8.8L/100km official figure on any fuel were slim, short of meandering along a country road. For suburban duties there’s a higher price to be paid, right down to the (now departed) kid droppings.
‘Natural Stone’ leather prone to discolouration, and shows wear quicker than fabric
Date acquired: January 2017 Price as tested: $64,695 This month: 954km @ 11.9L/100km Overall: 4094km @ 11.8L/100km 34 3 3 WEEK 24 34 44 3 0 0 5 9 1 7 3
The CX-9’s 12-speaker Bose sound system is a source of joy and frustration. Decent bass and crisp high notes are a refreshing change from the cheap items that typically grace mainstream SUVs. Having a digital tuner also unlocks new stations, f d rom the daggy to the informative. But the DAB tuner is not as good as others we’ve sampled. The aerial and/or receiver is prone to dropouts, which makes for frustrating listening. Plus, the tuner can be slow at changing channels, taking up to 10 secs before normal service is resumed.