All-New Mazda CX-9 Three-Row Crossover Debuts at 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show
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CX-9 offers elevated experience with innovative technologies, new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine and premium, authentic materials
When the Mazda CX-9 made its world debut back in 2006, it was an epiphany: A midsize three-row crossover SUV that defied the conventional design cues and cumbersome driving experience expected of vehicles in its class. Despite being a large vehicle, CX-9 is, after all, still a Mazda. CX-9 quickly captivated the automotive industry, winning numerous accolades.
Now comes the encore: the latest, grandest expression of KODO—Soul of Motion design yet and the high-end model of Mazda’s new-generation lineup. Its cachet is elevated with a proud front fascia that cascades into crisp lines that flow to the rear. Its interior is nothing short of breathtaking, with available Auburn-colored Nappa leather, Japanese rosewood and aluminum. The focus was on authenticity; an experience rather than simply another commodity conveyance.
With the new CX-9, engineers sought to instill driving dynamics befitting of a Mazda—agile handling, tight steering and a responsive, controllable powertrain. To do this, they found smart solutions to keep CX-9’s structure light, yet rigid, with SKYACTIV Technology. They developed a new turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine that delivers instant throttle response, class-leading torque and an estimated around 20-percent increase in fuel- efficiency, based on initial estimates of U.S. EPA testing cycles, making CX-9 among the most efficient vehicles in its class.
Just as CX-9 did nine years ago, the second-generation redefines expectations, aiming for no other target than to be uncompromising in any aspect a family may need or an individual may desire.
When developing the 2016 Mazda CX-9, Mazda’s marketing, design and engineering teams surveyed hundreds of previous, current and in-market drivers, developing a vision of how to focus its efforts to create a vehicle around the personal values of those driving it.
The driver of CX-9 was seen to be a caring husband or wife, a high-achiever, a busy parent—and, still, an individual with his or her own needs and aspirations. CX-9 was developed to indulge personal desires while satisfying rational needs for a practical, all- weather family vehicle. Values CX-9 drivers desire were found to be:
Personal aspiration – A gratifying self-expression that’s as nice to look at and sit in as it is to drive.
Effortless transition – Plenty of storage to reduce clutter for families and ease transition between personal, family and professional endeavors.
Easy parenting – CX-9’s features, such as its third-row access, were developed so that even children could use them. One second-row seat can even be folded forward while still accommodating a child seat so that it does not have to be removed.
Couples retreat – With an intricate design, indulgent interior ambience and fine craftsmanship, CX-9 serves as an atmosphere parents can enjoy, whether they’re ferrying kids to soccer practice or by themselves on a weekend vacation.
With those simple core principles in mind, designers, engineers and product planners collaborated in Mazda’s Japanese and North American offices over the next several years to build upon the vision that would become the new CX-9.
Attention to Detail
From the moment one steps foot into the new CX-9, that person is greeted by an atmosphere of beauty and detail. Even the door jambs are finished with a level of precision that lends an air of sophistication.
Once seated, passengers notice a vertically stacked center console with details that wrap around from the dashboard to the rear seats, designed to envelop passengers in comfort and serenity. The fact that there is more than 53 pounds of sound deadening installed below the floor in three sections only complements the calm aesthetic.
A sweeping single piece of aluminum adorns the dashboard, emphasizing width, with a forward-angled dashboard that is flanked with Auburn accents in the new, flagship Signature trim level. Satin and polished finishes on the aluminum plinth evoke Japanese craftsmanship and are inspired by Japan’s famous hand-made knives.
Further heightening the elegant atmosphere is rosewood trim on the center console and front of the cabin, supplied by a premium guitar-maker. Supple Auburn Nappa leather covers seating surfaces in Signature trim with a modern design and is also evocative of bespoke horse saddles—a subtle nod to Mazda’s Jinba Ittai—“horse and rider as one”— philosophy. Jinba Ittai also represents the notion that drivers should have utter confidence and control in their vehicles.
KODO’s strength lies in proportion—a long hood, swept greenhouse, large wheels and short overhangs convey stability and a contained sense of energy ready to be unleashed. At 199.4 inches (5065mm) long, CX-9 is 1.2 inch (30mm) shorter than its predecessor, but its wheelbase has been stretched 2.2 inches (55mm), benefiting passenger leg room as well as entry to and exit from the rear.
CX-9 carries shorter overhangs on both ends—2.3 inches (59mm) shorter up front and 1 inch (25mm) shorter in the rear—with its A-pillars shifted back 3.9 inches (100mm), lengthening its hood and adding a sense of strength through proportions.
Housing large wheels— 18 and 20-inch wheels—CX-9’s tapered fenders are pushed to the edge of its body, giving the vehicle a wide, trapezoidal stance.
The smooth lines start up front with a bold, five-point grille with double bars. They’re flanked on either side by standard low- and high-beam LED headlights. The bold grille introduces a strong lower body and sleek upper body that elevates KODO, introducing sleek curves that provide a premium appeal in a segment awash with convention. The overall effect is one of purity, simplicity and Japanese beauty.
Designed to make CX-9 look as though it were carved from a single ingot of steel, Machine Gray is the newest signature color from Mazda, complementing CX-9’s surfacing.
In order to do achieve its look, perfect, blemish-free panels are a necessity, which come as a result of ultra-precise stamping and assembly. Paint is applied in a primer, a black base coat to add depth, the Machine Gray color and, finally, a clear coat—all spaced out such that the paint has time to set in a precisely climate-controlled environment. But that does little to describe the engineering complexity behind such a breathtaking color.
Machine Gray has a depth and luster usually reserved for concept vehicles, using principles and processes adopted from lessons learned when developing signature color Soul Red.
Additionally, CX-9 will be available in Soul Red, Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver, Jet Black, Deep Crystal Blue and Titanium Flash (colors may not be available in all markets).
Introducing the Turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T Engine
Absolute control, absolutely. This is a hallmark of Jinba Ittai. When a driver puts his or her foot down on the accelerator, a vehicle should do what the driver expects, harmoniously working to find the right gear at the right engine rpm to deliver the performance called upon for a given situation.
Throughout the SKYACTIV engine series, Mazda has never focused on the numbers that appear in the catalog. Rather, Mazda aims to offer customers a combination of great performance in everyday driving situations and excellent fuel economy. And Mazda’s engine development philosophy is to offer these two factors by combining the right displacement with the simplest configuration of technologies, as best suits each class of vehicle.
Based on this philosophy, Mazda’s SKYACTIV engine family has delivered it promise of combined performance and fuel economy, and it continues to do so with the introduction of the new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T. But how did Mazda land upon the decision to create this new engine?
When Mazda’s engineers set out to design a new engine specifically for CX-9, they looked at how drivers used their vehicles. Customers want effortless acceleration through bountiful torque delivery, so engineers developed the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T with enough power and torque to provide ample acceleration without having to hunt through the gears.
Customers also expect top-notch fuel economy—not just on a catalog label, but in the real world, too. Mazda had a clean sheet from which to design a new powerplant. A large- displacement, naturally aspirated engine could deliver instant performance, but it would lack fuel-efficiency. A small-displacement, naturally aspirated engine could deliver fuel- efficiency, but it would sacrifice a premium performance feel. Finally, turbocharged engines often promise both effortless acceleration and high fuel-efficiency, but oftentimes, in the real world, their efficiency is not much better than a larger-displacement engine. Turbocharged engines can also “lag” before their turbocharger spools up, creating a sluggish, disappointing driving sensation when power is called upon.
However, Mazda’s latest engine, the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T, is a realization of excellent real- world and catalog fuel-economy as well as spry acceleration, featuring a host of technological advancements to achieve this goal.
One piece of technology is Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo, the world’s first turbocharger with the ability to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine speed. The system routes engine exhaust to the turbocharger’s turbine through smaller ports at low rpm. It works similarly to when one might place his or her thumb on a garden hose, creating a strong amount of pressure through a smaller outlet. This allows the turbocharger to spool up quickly, creating instant boost—up to 1.2 bar (17.4 psi) of pressure. When the engine is in the heart of its rev range, it opens up secondary valves, allowing for greater amounts of exhaust gas to pass through the turbocharger. The system is complemented by the 2.5-liter engine that already benefits from more torque at atmospheric pressure than a comparable 2.0-liter by virtue of its size.
Further assisting CX-9 to maximize turbocharger efficiency is a 4-3-1 exhaust. With this setup, the exhaust from the middle two cylinders (2 and 3) is joined into a single port, while the exhausts from the outer cylinders (1 and 4) each have their own ports. These three ports come together at the entrance to the turbocharger’s exhaust side, where there is always one exhaust pulse arriving every 180 degrees of crankshaft rotation. Not only does this very compact manifold keeps the exhaust pulses separate for maximum energy extraction, it also harnesses each exhaust pulse to suck the residual exhaust from the adjacent ports.
That only tells so much of the story. In order to increase fuel-efficiency, SKYACTIV-G 2.5T employs the efficient combustion of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine and marries it to a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, which helps prevent burning excessive amounts of fuel when the engine is running at higher temperatures. In many turbocharged cars, heat is controlled through adding more fuel to the combustion chamber; Mazda’s cooled EGR reduces the need for that.
While Mazda sees no discernible benefits on regulated test cycles from this technology, it benefits the consumer through real-world gains.
The cooled EGR helps bring engine temperatures down from approximately 500 degrees C (932 F) to just over 100 degrees C (212 F), allowing SKYACTIV-G 2.5T to operate with a compression ratio of 10.5:1—one of the highest numbers of any gasoline-powered, turbocharged engine.
The net result: 310 lb-ft (420 N-m) of torque at a low 2,000 rpm and 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm on 93-octane gasoline (227 horsepower on 87-octane gasoline). At 55 mph (88 km/h), a driver needs just 18 horsepower to maintain speed on flat roads with a front- wheel-drive model—a four-horsepower reduction versus the outgoing model, illustrating reduced friction in all parts of the driveline and enhanced aerodynamics.
Additionally, as an example of CX-9’s readily available power, in the outgoing CX-9, when a driver needed 90 horsepower at highway speeds, the vehicle would have to downshift from sixth to fourth gear. However, the new CX-9 can more quickly draw upon that power with faster, better-controlled throttle response and stay in sixth gear, allowing for a smoother operation and a greater sense of confidence.
When coupled with a weight reduction of over approximately 198 lbs. (90 kg) versus the outgoing model, CX-9 boasts improvements in driver control, chassis dynamics and performance—all leading to a greater sense of confidence from behind the wheel.
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