The People’s champion

Farewell rinse reminds Hagon of the CX-9’s COTY-winning capabilities

TOBY HAGON

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’ AGEING

‘Natural Stone’ leather prone to discolouration, and shows wear quicker than fabric

MAZDA CX-9 AZAMI

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

Sharp tunes, blunt tuner

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.