Unprecedented fever for new seven-seater Mazda CX-9 SUV
SOME cars can't help but generate excitement before their showroom launch.
Just look at the Ford Mustang or BMW M2 as recent examples, or, of course, any new arrival sporting a Ferrari badge.
But a Mazda SUV? Well, yes.
The thing is, much as we'd all love a 'Stang muscle car or something fast, red and Italian in the garage, lots of sensible folk get excited about the cars they're feasibly going to buy. Like the incoming seven-seat Mazda CX-9.
The Japanese giants are a bit handy at building SUVs desirable to Aussies. Mazda's mid-size CX-5 crossover has been the country's best-selling SUV for quite some time, while the 2015-introduced CX-3 has shot to the top of the small SUV sales charts just as we predicted.
The big boy CX-9 has been with us since 2007 and has had a couple of facelifts during that time, the last being in 2012. It's no bad thing, but is showing its age next to new or refreshed competition.
And then there's its Achillies heel. The CX-9 features a normally aspirated 3.7-litre petrol engine returning over 11-litres/100km in both front- and all-wheel drive layouts. And in today's terms, that's not too family friendly.
The all-new CX-9, due for launch here in July, comes equipped with a 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbo motor returning a far more palatable 8.4-litres/100km in 2WD guise. This is an improvement of nearly 25% and will make the CX-9 the most economical seven seater petrol model in its class.
And the people are excited, Mazda tells us. As the first 60 CX-9s arrived in Melbourne from Japan - ready for the national media launch - Mazda said it had almost 55,000 potential purchase leads registering interest in the vehicle, a record for the brand.
Of course we've no way of knowing how many of these will turn into sales, but to put things in perspective, that 55,000 figure eclipsed the 34,000 leads seen with Mazda's brilliant new MX-5 roadster of last year, and that's a car with a hugely switched-on fan base.
Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said: "Never have we experienced such pre-launch interest in a Mazda nameplate. This gives our sales team a fantastic starting platform, with the goal being to turn as many of these potential buyers into CX-9 owners."
So what can new buyers expect? Mazda's lightweight Skyactiv technology has seen a shedding of over 160kg from the CX-9 range topper to aid that fuel economy figure, while there'll be a boost in advanced safety technologies and Mazda's Kodo design language adding more pizazz to the body lines.
For the first time shoppers can choose from four grades: entry-level Sport, mid-grade Touring, high-spec GT and ultimate Azami: all available as 2WD or AWD. This brings the seven-seater in line with the four choices on the smaller CX-5 and CX-3 SUVs.
Expectations are high for the new CX-9 which is sure to make a strong impact in the seven-seat SUV market. The current CX-9 costs from $43,770, and we look forward to bringing you our first-hand impressions on the new Mazda in early July.