Mazda aiming up with big CX-90 SUV
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Mazda aiming up with big CX-90 SUV

By GoAuto - 16 February 2023


MAZDA’S 2023 is shaping as a biggie with a swag of new models launching including the CX-60 hybrids with turbocharged straight six-cylinder engines with mild-hybrid assistance – and in diesel and petrol no less – followed by the big bopper CX-90 due here sometime in the second half of the year, likely September.

It will (eventually) replace the CX-9 mum bus and possibly the CX-8 too but is nothing at all like those vehicles apart from being in the same large SUV segment.

The Mazda CX-90 is due in Australia around September.

Like most car-makers, Mazda is aiming at Audi, BMW, Genesis and Mercedes-Benz with the CX-90. Translated, that may mean the model is priced at a similar level as the ‘aspirational’ brands mentioned.

The handsome CX-90 utilises the same new-generation underpinnings as the incoming smaller CX-60 SUV, stretched to suit, with the new seven-seater said to offer a “new level of family luxury and Mazda premium design”.

Aussie spec’ CX-90s will be exclusively hybrid-powered and will include a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model that lobs a little after the launch of the mild-hybrid models.

Mazda Australia says the newbie will share showroom space with the four-cylinder CX-8 and CX-9 large SUVs… at least until the end of 2023. In the US it will replace the CX-9.

Locally, the Mazda CX-90 will be exclusively hybrid-powered.

As expected, Mazda has confirmed the CX-90 will cost more than the CX-9 to a level likely to achieve the honour of being the most expensive Mazda ever sold in Australia. Whispers around Mazda dealerships suggest it might even crack $100K especially with the latest CX-60 Azami PHEV already nudging $86,000 plus on road costs. That makes the smaller, top of the whizzer CX-60 some $10,510 more than the current and larger top of the range CX-9.

The CX-9 is exclusively petrol powered with diesel buyers catered for in the smaller CX-8 range.

The new three row CX-90 will be available with inline, six pot turbo diesel and turbo petrol engines out of CX-60 featuring mild hybrid assistance.

Whispers suggest pricing of high-grade CX-90 variants may top $100K.

Both donks are 3.3-litres in capacity but have significantly different power and torque outputs.

They feature Mazda’s proprietary SkyActiv technology with the petrol version rated at 254kW of power and 500Nm of torque. These numbers make it the “most powerful mass production petrol car ever developed by Mazda” as it has 13kW more than the CX-60 donor vehicle, while the turbo-diesel version is rated at 187kW and 550Nm.

Both units benefit from Mazda’s “M-Hybrid Boost 48-volt mild-hybrid system”, that comprises an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission. It is there to assist acceleration from a standstill and to run in EV mode under deceleration.

Regenerative braking is a given and is used to top up the battery pack mounted under the driver’s seat.

Unusually, the transmission is an eight-speed automatic, not a CVT, that’s specific to this application. Some sense has prevailed with engineers designing the CX-90 drivetrain with a rear-biased all-wheel drive system.

Mazda CX-90 program manager Mitsuru Wakiie said, “while the new model’s six-cylinder engines fly in the face of the trend towards downsized powertrain technology, the company specifically targeted lower emissions, lower fuel consumption and higher power and torque outputs when compared to the four-cylinder engines in the CX-9 and CX-8”.

The transmission is an eight-speed automatic, not a CVT, which should improve driveability.

“With the bigger displacement we were able to achieve both the driving performance, and, at the same time, the fuel economy,” he said. “I believe this is the best value from a customer's perspective, so I don’t think we are against the trend.”

Mr Wakiie said internal testing had shown fuel consumption figures for the six-cylinder CX-90 models are lower than those of Mazda’s existing diesel and petrol large SUVs. However, no official numbers have yet been released by Mazda.

Dancing further down the electrification path, the CX-90 will also gain Mazda’s e-Skyactiv plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) powertrain, which pairs a conventional 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor, fed by a 17.8kWh battery pack for combined outputs of 241kW and 500Nm.

Developed and tuned for the US market where serious direct competition will come from the likes of Toyota’s Grand Highlander (Kluger) among others, Mazda Australian has confirmed that it will form part of the local range in 2024 or later.

The CX-90 will also gain Mazda’s e-Skyactiv plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) powertrain.

“We will add that to the powertrain line-up in 2024 and beyond. It won’t be at launch. We will start with two powertrains and add the PHEV,” said Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi.

“The first-ever Mazda CX-90 is the absolute pinnacle of Mazda premium; our most advanced model ever with exceptional levels of sophistication throughout that can be enjoyed not just by the driver, but the whole family,” he said.

Some CX-90 details include Mazda’s “Kinematic Posture Control” that is designed to “suppress body lift on tight corners, enhance the grip and allow all occupants to maintain a natural posture”.

The interior features additional occupant room thanks to large dimensions from the wide body and long wheelbase. Higher spec’ models will likely sport Nappa leather, maple fascia and two-tone fabrics with tech’ offerings to include three-row USB-C charging, air-conditioning vents for all occupants and a 12.3-inch display screen likely across the range.

Pricing and specifications for the new model will be revealed in coming months ahead of its arrival in Australia.

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