I’m a film maker, a consultant to our local state member for Bathurst and I own a wedding venue.
Therefore I look for 3 main features in a car that are either important to me, or important to operating one of my businesses. At below $70K, I was initially blown away by the value offered by this car, and for the first 6 months I was hugely impressed.
First off is the space.
My sixth and seventh seats are barely used, so I’ve got 810 litres of room for camera equipment (when filming), beer cases and floral arrangements for the venue. Compared to my Prado it’s nothing, but it’s as much as I need for the uses I put it to. When she's cleaned up, I can also drive around my Minister to media jobs, if my car is more accessible than his Ministerial one at the time.
Seats 3-5 rarely see use usually though. The soft leather is perfect for throwing a camera, or drone, down for a short haul to the next filming location. Having the seats there is like a bonus though, and 7 seats is handy for bridal parties! It's a versatile, modular design.
Secondly, the drive. The CX-9 is good fun with its 170kW-producing 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine. Its claimed 8.4L/100km is much closer to 9.5-10L/100km, so it’s not particularly efficient. I don’t mind too much because the performance is pretty good; it delivers power nicely and revs smoothly through the range, and gears for that matter. I wish I had opted for the AWD model though, as the front wheels can grab a bit when accelerating around corners, and throw the steering out a little.
But, with only 30 kilos of camera gear and nobody else usually in the car, it gets me to shoot locations and back home as quickly as I need.
The car is very comfortable. The leather seats look and feel great and have very effective seat warmers for our chilly Bathurst mornings. The cabin is very quiet, with fairly effective climate control and great Bose speakers.
The tech and safety in this car can be hit and miss though. It has excellent blind spot monitoring but parking sensors that seem to work whenever they like.
There is a good reversing camera, unless the rubbish MZD infotainment system has one of its restarts mid-reverse, or just simply doesn’t boot up after ignition. This problem still wasn’t addressed when I got it upgraded to Apple CarPlay. I paid $500 for the ability to have Google Maps come up on the dash, as the Mazda navigation is awful. The data doesn't even transfer to the active driving display, which was a feature I loved using with the old maps system, even if it took me the wrong way.
Finally, the looks. It’s a fairly subjective issue, but I believe this car is quite presentable. Mine has been through the wars, as I take it absolutely everywhere, but when I first purchased this car it really made a statement on the street. Bold but sleek black and chrome, finished with big 20-inch wheels, the car had delusions of grandeur; as if it was fresh off the boat from Europe.
Unfortunately, they are truly delusions.
This CX-9 has been plagued with problems since the early 20,000km mark. It started with a passenger seat base that was sure a person wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, all the time. I had constant connectivity issues with the MZD and any device I plugged into it - now substituted with random restarts of the Apple CarPlay system. A roof-rack cover plastic strip thing keeps detaching and flying about.
And finally there’s been an i-eloop malfunction error.
The i-eloop system allows the i-stop to shut down the car when I’m stopped in traffic, to conserve fuel. Granted, it might not sound like the biggest issue, but when the error has been on your dash mini-display for over 35000km, and the local Mazda dealer claims it can’t be fixed, you have to ask questions. Not to mention that the error overrides all your pivotal car information, and serves as a constant reminder of this car’s shortcomings.
Amidst these problems I’ve been constantly thrown the same line by my European-SUV-driving mates, “What did you expect?”
If you’d asked me back in late 2016, I would have said 9/10. I loved this car. But the car has seemed to age badly, and is peppered with tiny technical issues that a make this flagship refresh a bit of a fail in the long-term.
I’m due for an upgrade shortly, and I’ll be looking to either Toyota, Land Rover or Audi to meet my needs.