Is Mazda CX-9 Azami Worth the Money?

Some say Mazda CX-9 is ugly and over-priced, I say they’re wrong. Here’s why.

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First, Mazda CX-9’s looks.

Kodo design means svelte, sexy, exteriors that flow as natures flows.

Talk like that usually means bugger all if it’s got a face like a robber’s dog. Such is not the case here. Mazda CX-9 has a handsome face, if a trifle conservative. It’s a face that looks great on the smaller cars like Mazda CX-3, and MX-5. On larger vehicles though, the language is little stretched.

Thin LED headlights are fully automatic, including their high beam. An enormous shield shaped grille sports a “Mazda Wings” emblem that conceals the radar for the smart cruise control.

20” wheels looks suitably commanding, and the whole thing is trimmed with lashings of chrome and strategically placed blackouts to make the massive SUV look a little less like a block of flats with wheels.

Azami comes with a rather unnecessary sunroof, but generally, the language adopts Coco Chanel’s “less is more” mantra.

It is simple and elegant without a need for gratuitous slashes, dents, lines, and cuts. The surface is smooth from nose to tail, looking as if it has just scored 19 out of 10 in the sucky-blowy wind tunnel test.

Does the cabin say “luxury”, as promised by Mazda?

Even the top draw LE model doesn’t shout “look at moi, Kimmie, look at moi ploise”.

It Is subtle and restrained. Yet, there is a cornucopia of materials and surfacing, layered like a fine Saville Row suit. It is as impeccable as every other Madza interior.

Leather is mostly from a cow, but I defy you to spot was made by man, not nature.

Up front is a cockpit reminiscent if a private jet. Lines run along the doors and over the dash. A tablet rests on top of the centre stack. Although the system has Apple CarPlay, the screen looks a bit mean compared to the latest Mazda3. It needs to be bigger. Bigger is gooder, my nephew said so. I no longer understand the language of the modern 13 year old. I am officially old.

Moving right along, for a people mover, there is ample leather-clad seating.

Heating and cooling for the front pews, and heating for the outer two in the second row. The 3rd scores cup holders and that’s about it.

USB outlets abound, and the cargo hold even has bag hooks for for those shopping trips to the Eastern suburbs. Keep your Paris Hilton sunglasses handy for that one.

What’s Mazda CX-9 like to drive?

Mazda boldly claims the 2.5 turbo 4-pot has the torque of a 747 but the economy of a sparrow. 170kw is impressive enough, and 420Nm certainly halls arse, but Mazda CX-9 is not a sprinter. How can it be? It weighs 2,000kg.

As if to compensate, it sips the cheapest juice, and will even take E10 at a pinch.

Santa’s bag is already full, so it seems churlish to insist on AWD, but needs must. You can get a front wheeler if you can’t manage an extra 4 grand but you’ll be driving this thing for the next half decade so don’t be a tight-arse.

Once you press the starter, after using smart entry to open the door, any lingering misgivings melt away.

You sit in the rarified air of a gentlemen’s club in almost complete silence. You barely feel the gears shifting, and although there are only 6 of them, they seem to manage very well.

Nanny watches over you as you drive. She will throw out the anchors to make sure you don’t hit anything, regardless of the direction, even reverse.

She will keep you within the lanes, and warn you if there is something you don’t see. She is watching your every move, lips pursed. She is looking over the top of her specs, a waving finger, and  a subtle tsk-tsk at the ready, for minor indiscretions. But know this, there is a spanking that awaits you if she has to stop you from looking like a plonker. Nanny is very strict.

Steering is deliciously light.

Once underway, no additional effort is required. You sit high, with the visibility of a penthouse. In case the climate isn’t to your liking, you can select one of 3 zones for your very own. As mentioned, those in front have the option a tasty warm seat that can also waft icy air up your skirts.

City travel can be dreary, but Mazda CX-9 turned to dull in to delicious, the sad in to splendid, and the boring in to beautiful.

Corners are taken gently lest nanny slaps you upside the head.

You waft along regally. Bumps can be heard, however remotely, but you are not bothered.

What’s my Verdict?

I have a few questions first.

Why don’t the hire car companies use Mazda CX-9? Instead, they spend many more shekels on Q7s and X7s. Why? Because Audi and BMW are chic, at least according to the blurb.

Is a large 7 seater SUV for everyone?

In a word, yes.

All-wheel-drives can cross continents as long as there is tarmac. You can’t do any serious off-roading, and why would you want to?

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief encounter. I felt more than a little smug when a crazy rich visitor drove by in his Range Rover or Audi. A Porsche got the stern end of my tongue when he ran a stop sign, missing me by inches.

Through it all, I stayed calm, not because I am the type to remain calm, but because Mazda CX-9 made me calm, and safe.

It was like being warmly cradled, and I liked that.

Mazda CX9 Azami

  • Engine: 2.5L 4cyl turbo, 170kw/420Nm
  • Econ: 8.8 L/100km combined, 91ron or higher
  • Transmission: 6-speed Automatic
  • Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
  • Safety: 5stars tested 2017
  • Origin: Japan
  • Price: $60,990 FWD, $64,990 AWD, $66,490 LE AWD

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