If Mazda wants to be seen as more than just your average, run-about car manufacturer, it needs to pull away from its commonplace formula.
So, the Japanese car maker has done just that and gone rogue with the first ever CX-90. It’s bigger than the CX-9, and more luxurious – and it will eventually replace the CX-9.
Astoundingly, while engines across the industry get smaller, the CX-90 introduces new turbo inline-six mild-hybrid petrol and diesel options. This G50e is actually the most powerful Mazda production vehicle ever.
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: Specifications
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 254kW@5000-6000rpm / 500Nm@2000-4500rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 21×9.5, 275/45
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2220kg
Power-to-weight: 8.74:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 8.2L/100km
Our consumption: 8.5L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 74L/95 RONPower efficiency: 30.97kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.59 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.84 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.32 seconds*
1/4 mile: 15.04 seconds at 158.8km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.700g*
100-0km/h braking: 38.27m in 3.23 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.543g*
Decibel at idle (/sport mode): 42*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 79*
Starting price: $84,555
*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: How much does it cost?
The added space, prestige and engine sizes come at a cost. The pricing range spans from $73,800 to $93,655 (excluding on-road costs), with the entry-level Touring, then the GT, and the Azami at the top.
All three variants come standard with seven seats. You can choose from a 3.3-litre turbo-petrol inline-six mild-hybrid named the G50e, or the same setup in diesel form called the D50e. Both fuel types pair to an eight-speed automatic transmission and 4×4 on-demand with power biased to the rear wheels like a classic European tourer.
We’re road testing the mid-range GT with the G50e petrol engine. It retails for $84,555 (excluding on-road costs).
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: Interior & packaging
The external design states a powerful presence. A long bonnet and hefty rear end give off a rear-wheel-drive-oriented roadster impression. Long horizontal taillights make it appear wide and strong, and smooth and subtle contours along the sides with chrome edging and skirting, and rich colour choices make the CX-90 shine with elegance.
Though, it is still very recognisable as a Mazda with its ‘Kodo’ design philosophy. Especially at the front with its bull shark grille and dominating headlights.
In terms of sheer size, the Japanese-built CX-90 is 45mm longer, 25mm wider and has a 190mm larger wheelbase than the CX-9. That translates to impressive amounts of interior space in all three rows. You get loads of legroom, headroom and side-by-side shoulder space. Extra-long rear doors create a large opening for easier access to the second and third rows. They also open to near right-angles, which improves practicality such as buckling in kiddies.
Climbing into the third row is assisted with a semi-electronic seat retraction. Though, it only half retracts the seat. You still need to add some manual intervention to move the seat out of the way. The second row is on rails, adding to the interior’s versatility.
Further back, the boot offers plenty of volume. When all rows are in place, you get 257L (including some under-floor storage). This is enough to fit a large suitcase upright. With the third row folded down, the space increases to 608 litres. Then with the second and third row folded, you get a copious 2025 litres (including the under floor space and stacked to the roof). Notably, the seats fold flat and there is virtually no boot lip to lift items over. An FYI for taller people, the tailgate height has been increased over the CX-90.
Kudos to Mazda for truly putting the effort in to make whichever row you’re in as luxurious as the rest. All rows receive two cup holders in each outboard seat, USB-C charging ports, air-con vents and comfy leather seats. Our GT model also gives the second-row seat warmers and sun blinds, with climate control. The rest of the space showcases upper-class elegance with blonde wood patterns for the door trims, soft-touch surfaces, brushed chrome highlights, and leather wrapping throughout.
You can bet on an enormous list of inclusions, no matter which model you choose. All variants receive low- and high-speed crash and pedestrian avoidance control with braking, reverse collision mitigation, front and rear cross-traffic alert, emergency steering assist, forward-collision warning, blind-spot and lane-departure warning with lane-departure intervention, driver alert detection, adaptive cruise, road sign recognition, side door exit warning, and trailer sway control. All variants above the base model add surround-view cameras with cleaning, and adaptive high beam.
Other standard highlights across the range include multi-zone climate control, heated driver and front passenger seats, leather and power adjustable front seats, 19-inch alloys (at minimum, the GT wears 21s), an electronic tailgate, a 10.25-inch touch-screen, wired and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 150W AC outlet in the boot, and wireless phone charging.
Our GT then adds the 21-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlamps, a heated steering wheel and second row seats, electric steering column adjustment, a bigger 12.3-inch centre screen and instrument cluster, panoramic sunroof, and a premium 12-speaker Bose sound system. It’s got everything you need and want.
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: Powertrain & handling
We must admit, it’s wonderful to reacquaint with the sound and feel of a straight-six again. The performance and harmony of six explosions in a cycle is just not replicable in a four-cylinder. Historically, inline sixes were around before the commonplace adoption of turbos.
And adding a turbo to this one takes it to another level again. The ‘e-Skyactiv G’ – a tweaked version of the G40e that debuted in the CX-60 – gushes out a remarkable 254kW and 500Nm. Very un-Mazda. It jumps to the job hastily and willingly, and it feels comfortable in the top-end of the rev range, but also smoothly idling around in a higher gear with lots of low-end torque at low speeds.
The 48-volt lithium-ion electric assistance kicks in mostly on take-off to assist with getting such a heavy beast up to speed. It gains 281kg over the CX-9 to bring it up to 2220kg. That heavy weight contributes to a 0-100km/h speed that is not as impressive as the power outputs might lead you to believe.
The official timing is 6.9 seconds. Our test revealed 6.84 seconds using a Vbox and a private road. For comparison, the outgoing BMW X5 40i features a 3.0-litre turbo inline-six petrol that produces 250kW, yet it offers a 0-100km/h claim of 5.5 seconds.
The mild hybrid tech allows the G50e to use Mazda’s ‘i-Stop’ technology at all speeds to save some fuel. The engine turns off whenever power is not applied – even above 100km/h – when coasting or braking. You do notice a very small delay while the engine resumes.
You would be forgiven for thinking a switch to a six-cylinder engine would result in declined fuel economy. But it is much better than we were anticipating. Mazda has done lots of hard work to keep it low for its power outputs. The official average is 8.2L/100km. We were able to achieve a similar reading of 8.5L/100km from a mix of city and highway driving, across a distance of 650km.
Distributing power is done with Mazda’s ‘Skyactiv-Drive’ eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s great to see no boring CVT auto in sight. Though, this eight-speed does things a little differently to a conventional torque converter. It features a wet-type clutch for prompt take-off.
Torque is transmitted directly to all four wheels via full-time ‘i-Activ All-Wheel Drive’. But it biases power to the rear wheels to give off a more engaging push from behind. There are three selectable driving modes; Normal, Sport, and Off-road.
On the bitumen, the handling is not quite up to the standards of the large luxury SUVs from Europe. Nervous traits are evident when pushed through faster cornering situations. Its weight and size are noticed early on in bends, as lean comes into the equation early.
The suspension tuning doesn’t feel quite right. But being soft doesn’t equate to a comfortable ride over bumps. It handles smaller bumps adequately, but you need to slow right down over bigger humps and undulations as the shock absorbers quickly reveal how beleaguered they are supporting this heavy SUV. It’s hard to achieve sporty and comfortable suspension without adaptive dampers, in our opinion. Especially in such a heavy SUV.
What makes matters worse, in our opinion, is the steering. It feels heavy, and our test vehicle did not effortlessly sit centred in the lane. Both of which make it more of an effort to drive. The steering seems to exaggerate the sheer size of the CX-90. More refinement is required here we feel.
Off-road touring is supported by a decent 206mm of ground clearance, and that ‘Off-road’ driving mode. But it is hampered by low-profile 275/45 tyres and the 21-inch alloys, with only a space-saver spare wheel. So, it’s really only suitable for very light off-road excursions and not too far from the main town.
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: Key attractions/reasons to buy
If your budget allows, the top-spec Azami variant can be optioned with the Takumi and SP packages. Both of which offer luxurious six-seat captain-style seating and interior finish upgrades. Also, the CX-90 is impressively huge. If you need big, consider this.
Thoughtful highlights include the 150W AC power outlet in the boot for plugging in accessories during camping and picnics, the easy-to-use controller dial for the infotainment system that helps reduce distraction while driving, and the overall premium look and feel of the interior.
If you miss the good-old rear-wheel drive, straight-six days when petrol prices weren’t a problem, let the CX-90 bring you back with its smooth, harmonious, torquey engine. And it’s not as bad on fuel as you might think.
Mazda provides a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and five years of complimentary roadside assistance. The CX-90 requires servicing every 12 months or 15,000km. Incrementally, the capped-price servicing by a Mazda dealer will cost $437, $644, $558, $1268, $453, $749, and $437 over seven years or 105,000km. Over the seven-year period, models with the diesel engine cost $289 more to service in total.
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: Key considerations before you buy
There is a towing kit available with the CX-90 which also gives an extra Towing driving mode. Mazda explains that this Towing mode optimises the powertrain to accommodate the increased weight, and the AWD system is adjusted to improve straight-line stability and long-distance driving comfort.
Interestingly, the G50e petrol engine has a 2500kg braked towing capacity, which is 500kg greater than the D50e diesel engine because it gets an additional cooling system to support the extra strain of towing a heavy load. It’s rather odd that you wouldn’t reward both engines with the additional cooling, particularly as the diesel offers more torque, at 550Nm, and a lower fuel consumption average of 5.4L/100km; it is perhaps the more attractive option for towing enthusiasts.
A minor quality is in the use of the external door handles. They feel flimsy and smack the door with a cheap-sounding ‘ding’ when released. We also noticed a strange shudder/vibration during slow-speed cornering, such as exiting a side-street. It sounded/felt like the park brake was momentarily stuck on.
Considering the price, the CX-90 will be an interesting model to watch as it falls in an awkward ‘in-between’ position. Mazda as a brand is not as reputable as luxury Euro brands, so it might struggle to lure cashed-up brand snobs.
On the same token, the CX-90 pricing makes it a very attractive option for those taking the steep into luxury. And the main thing is, this feels like a proper premium product, even overshadowing some of the established rivals in some areas, such as cabin design, material quality, and fit and finish.
2024 Mazda CX-90 GT G50e: Video
How does it rate against its rivals?
Mazda is trying something a little different with the CX-90. Bringing inline-six engines back into the picture is daring and admirable. A brand-reshaping move. And it impresses with a huge and luxurious interior. But the higher asking price may scare off Mazda’s loyal customers, however, since this is officially classed as a premium vehicle, the price is actually very attractive. It’s a strange twist.