Ever since the Shinari concept broke cover in 2010, Mazda has been on a remarkable journey of revival, in terms of not just in terms of exciting designs and engineering advances. While this has reflected positively on its sales figures, what’s of wider consequence for the industry is that it has ignited the spark of resurgence in most other Japanese carmakers, who have been languishing in a cesspool of mediocrity and complacence for years. The role Mazda’s ‘Kodo — Soul of Motion’ concept has played in infusing excitement into the mainstream car market is quite significant.

The current CX-9, the brand’s flagship SUV, is the most striking embodiment of this philosophy. We were the first to drive in the region when it was launched here in late 2016. Now we have the SUV in our long-term fleet for the coming six weeks.

Characterised by a large chrome grille that sticks out aggressively, the CX-9 boasts a profile that lends it a very Jaguar-ish ‘ready-to-pounce’ stance. The headlights and taillights are sleeker in design than before and feature signature LED graphics, which add to its distinctive appearance, especially at night. Overall, it exudes a level of chiseled elegance that you will generally find in vehicles bearing more premium badges and commanding much higher prices.

The cabin is also suitably premium, with large, comfortable seats finished in supple leather, and high-quality, soft-touch plastics, gloss black and brushed aluminium trims adding to the overall ambience. The fact that it’s taller and wider than before at 1,716mm and 1,969mm respectively, combined with the substantial 2,930mm wheelbase, frees up considerable amounts of space inside. There’s a third row of seats as well, the practicality and comfort of which will be put to the test in subsequent weeks. The CX-9, even in its previous iteration, has been one of the most engaging models to drive in its class. The dynamics and overall comfort and ride quality aspects will also be looked into and reported on in the coming issues.  You will also get a long-term assessment of the fuel efficiency and performance of the turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that has replaced the more powerful but less torquey 3.7-litre V6.

There’s also a host of driver-assistance systems and technology features to be assessed, including radar-based adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and prevention, correction, adaptive headlights, smart brake support, front, side and curtain airbags, rain-sensing wipers, and a head-up display, among others.

The CX-9 is undoubtedly one of the best looking seven-seater SUVs around, but does it deserve to be on your list of prospective family SUV choices? Watch this space in the following weeks to know.


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