MAZDA’s CX-9 range has been around for about 15 years, and in that time has gone from strength to strength. The latest range features a new sophisticated, performance oriented variant known as the GT SP AWD.
Finished in Polymetal Grey (in our case), the all-wheel drive GT SP features a number of exclusive finishes and touches that elevate its look and feel to a whole new level. While it may look the part, it actually hasn’t had a power upgrade.
On the outside, black 20-inch wheels and mirrors exude a sense of refinement only the darkest of shading can bring. It’s well executed, and is certainly one of the better uses of black accents we’ve seen from manufacturers.
Inside, our CX-9 GT SP was finished with a burgundy leather, with black instrument panels and red stitching. It’s a very nice place to be, despite not having the softer Nappa leather found in the Azami and Azami LE.
The first notable upgrade is a 10.25-inch infotainment system that is sleeker, wider and has a much higher resolution than its predecessors. It also runs on entirely new software, also found in the new versions of the Mazda3 and CX-30.
This new and improved infotainment system sees integrated navigation, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth audio and wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Mazda has also nestled in a Bose surround sound stereo, which absolutely cranks.
No matter the music you are into, this system is sure to make your ears fall in love with the clear bass, and the clarity of the top ranges. The CX-9 GT SP also sports a reversing camera, paddle shifters, sunroof, dual-zone climate control and Mazda Connect.
If your backside is feeling cold, you can also turn on the heated seats, both front and rear. The third row doesn’t get heated seats and you’ll have to look at the Azami for ventilation. The CX-9 GT SP can be configured as a six or seven seater.
Should you desire the six seater, you simply opt for captain’s chairs in the middle row. From the driver’s seat there is a decent range of electric adjustment to position yourself comfortably behind the wheel, and plenty of headroom and shoulder room too.
The second row is the same, where you could quite comfortability seat three adults next to each other, with ease. The third row is an even a bigger surprise, where a six foot person will just about fit in, with minimal shoe-horning.
It’s a genuinely impressive car, and from the moment you open the door, you can tell the build quality is excellent, with no rattles, squeaks or hums from any trim pieces. All materials are premium quality, with soft padding fitted to almost every surface.
It almost feels, dare we say it, Range Rover-esque. The boot opens via a power tailgate, which is quite slow to operate, but once it’s open you’ll get 810-litres of luggage space in five seat mode. Put tht third row up, and that will drop to about 230-litres.
Under the hood of the 2021 Mazda CX-9 GT SP remains the same 2.5-litre turbo charged four cylinder engine found in the other variants. It produces a healthy 170kW and 420Nm. Mazda claims a combined fuel consumption of 8.4-litres/100km.
Good luck with that is our response. In what might be termed regular driving (the usual mix of suburbia and open roads), the best we could manage was 12.0-litres/100km. It could do with a little more power too, which makes the GT SP badge a little confusing.
We should tell you it can also be had in front-wheel drive, if you’re interested. On the road though, the CX-9 is impressive, there’s no lumbering demeanour and it rides very comfortably, whether it be around town or on the open road.
That’s despite sitting on those black 20-inch wheels and relatively low profile tyres. The steering provides just the right amount of communication through the wheel too, and there’s plenty of safety technology to keep the clan safe.
You’ll find Mazda’s smart city brake support, blind spot monitoring, radar cruise control with stop and go, rear cross traffic alert, six airbags, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and driver alert.
The GT SP variant sets a new standard for Mazda, and will see its rivals scramble to try and keep up. With new and improved technology, sophistication and luxury, with a hint of sporty, it will be hard to walk past.
And while we’re a bit peeved by the lack of additional performance, it’s still attractive and loaded with extra inclusions. It, like the rest of the CX-9 range, also has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
The 2021 Mazda CX-9 GT SP is priced from $65,985 (drive away) and is available in six colours, including Polymetal Grey, Machine Grey, Sonic Silver, Deep Crystal Blue Mica, Jet Black or Snowflake White.
Our test vehicle were provided by Mazda Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Mazda CX-9 GT SP, contact your local Mazda dealer.