When you drive a small car, being bullied by other hulking vehicles and reckless drivers becomes part of the daily struggle on your commute. Not to mention some Malaysians who seem unaware of the location of their car’s indicator. So, when we had the opportunity to take the Mazda CX-9 for a spin recently, I was more than a little ecstatic.
Mazda was once known as Toyo Kogyo Co Ltd, which began in Hiroshima, Japan, by launching locally made motorcycles and tricycle trucks in the 1930s. The company was later renamed Mazda Motor Corp, which was derived from Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian god of harmony, intelligence and wisdom in one of West Asia’s earliest civilisations. The name also paid tribute to the family name of the founder, Matsuda.
After the war, Mazda resumed production of its tricycle trucks, lovingly called bantako by locals, and it quickly became a common form of transport. It was not long after the development of the six-seater, 701cc tricycle passenger car in 1950 that tricycle trucks became obsolete. In 1962, Mazda became an international success, competing on a global scale and the rest, as they say, is history.
The predecessor of the CX-9 is the spacious Mazda MPV, and the incredible amount of room in this seven-seater is apparent as well. Jumping into the driver’s seat, I already felt higher than all the other cars around me. Inside the snowflake white, pearl body is a sleek and understated black interior complete with polished silver accents. Equipped with an MZD Connect that has a full colour touch screen display, my iPhone was quick to connect up, allowing me to easily play music and use Waze or Google Maps. The screen was also handy when parking this mammoth of a vehicle as it featured a 360° View Monitor, making sliding in and out of bays a breeze.
What differentiates Mazda’s vehicles from other Japanese brands is its Western approach to the engine. In the 1960s, it stood out in the market when the company decided to enhance German engineer Felix Wankel’s rotary engine technology. Mazda released the world’s first twin-rotary engine in 1967 in its Cosmo Sport. It is this amalgamation of precise German engineering and striking Japanese design that make Mazda a worthy competitor in the luxury car market.
A more recent development is the car brand’s SKYACTIV technology, which minimises fuel consumption while maintaining overall engine performance. The CX-9’s beating heart is the SKYACTIV-G 2.5L turbo petrol engine that delivers a reduced engine torque and has a fuel efficiency of 8.98L/100km. This model also includes the i-ACTIVSENSE assist for maximum safety. This technology includes functions such as Smart City Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning system and more.
My family climbed in, squabbled over the preferred playlist to emit from the booming 12-speaker Bose premium sound system and we set off for an adventure in Kuala Lumpur. Usually, I avoid driving in our buzzing and traffic-filled city centre, but this time, I was completely at ease. No jam could get us down, as everyone had ample room while enjoying the cityscape roll by. Even my six-foot-something uncle and cousin had their legs stretched out. There wasn’t even an argument from those in the third row, which also had lots of space.
Mazda sport utility vehicles are definitely a Malaysian favourite as you cannot drive two streets without catching a glimpse of the brand’s confident front grille. The CX-9 still feels that bit bigger than the CX-3 or CX-5. The drive is comfortable and passengers are cocooned, barely disturbed by potholes and bumpy roads. But that is the pleasure of an SUV, to whizz off to your destination in absolute luxury, yet you command enough of a presence that everyone sees you coming. And the Mazda CX-9 is no different.
This article first appeared on Jan 13, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.