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The 2024 Mazda CX-90: At the cusp of luxury

The 2024 Mazda CX-90: At the cusp of luxury

It’s no secret that Mazda has luxury ambitions, and the famed Japanese brand has made this clear over the last half decade as it surely but steadily evolved its product line into a more premium space.

As we have seen in recent years, Mazda has decided to buck the trend and set itself on a path to maximize its limitations and profits. Volume be damned.

In the grand scheme of things, Mazda is not a huge company. Yes, it’s a multinational corporation with factories and businesses around the globe, but in terms of ultimate sales, it will not compete with the likes of Toyota, Nissan, or Mitsubishi. It just doesn’t have the manufacturing footprint to do so.

No, the Mazda boardroom has instead decided to let the brand go after a smaller niche market with customers who value quality and an emotional connection with their rides above everything else. To match the limited volumes, it can produce and, more importantly, for the survival of the company, to maximize profits. An efficiently manufactured car with a premium driving feel and experience that approximates more established premium European brands can command higher prices and, therefore, higher margins.

This premium space is where Mazda is now. And seeing how the market has been steadily evolving into a more SUV- and crossover-focused realm this past decade, Mazda has diverted its meager resources towards cars that people are looking for while offering a rich driving and riding experience. Enter the all-new Mazda CX-90.

Introduced globally by Mazda North America Operations (Mazda USA) this past week, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is the Hiroshima brand’s latest flagship offering. Taking off from the highly successful Mazda CX-9 seven-seater crossover, the CX-90 raises the bar in size, build quality, and performance, at least against its earlier models.

Again, it is no surprise that the US market gets first dibs on the new model, and it is, after all, Mazda’s most significant sales driver. So it would make sense to have a product whose size is more akin to the preferences of Americans.

The Mazda CX-90 is 63 mm longer than the CX-9 it will purportedly replace, and it stands wider than the CX-9, and even has a longer wheelbase for more interior space. But it’s not only in size that the Mazda CX-90 excels over its eventual predecessor.

The commanding presence of the latest rendition of Mazda’s Kodo: Soul of Motion design language shows who the brand is targeting. Marques such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi, Volvo, and even Lexus are obviously in Mazda’s sights.

Echoing cues from the Mazda 3 and CX-30, the Mazda CX-90 looks more like a sculpted mass of metal with no character lines at the side. Like the models above, it relies on the reflections of light and shadow to define its form. Mazda designers have translated this design language into the new large platform which underpins the CX-90.

But that’s where Mazda’s Takumi designers and engineers excel – discovering a unique connection between man and machine. Mazda designers made efforts to achieve visual appeal from minimalist interior design. And between the luxurious feel of the Nappa leather and wood trims, the new fabric materials, the awe-inspiring panoramic sunroof, or the bevy of technological and active safety upgrades infused in the Mazda CX-90, it would seem that the cabin has been built to arouse emotional responses from the driver and his seven passengers. Yes, the Mazda CX-90 has been designed for eight. But it also has provisions for captain’s chairs in the second row for even more luxurious accommodations.

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But what is the use of having a commanding presence and a luxurious ride without the power to project them? The Mazda CX-90 will be made available with the brand’s most powerful mill, a brand-new 3.3-liter Inline-six turbo. With 340 horses and 500 Newton meters of torque, the Mazda CX-90 can walk the talk against its three-rowed peers.

Mazda will also introduce a Plug-in Hybrid EV powertrain with a 2.5-liter gasoline engine working alongside an electric motor and a 17.8 kWh battery. The 323-horse setup will rely on a torque converter-less eight-speed automatic transmission.

Of course, Mazdas have been known for their handling and sporty ride. With MX-5-derived Kinematic Posture Control to keep the CX-90 planted at the corners, the rear-biased all-wheel drive Mazda CX-90 is poised to maximize the handling benefits of having a longitudinally-mounted engine. A trait, by no coincidence, is common to premium and luxury SUVs.

So what is the cost of all of this perceived power, prestige, and luxury appeal? When Mazda Philippines brings this in to replace the aging CX-9, expect a price increase to go with it.

The top-of-the-line CX-9 AWD Exclusive already retails for P2,990,000. With everything coming with the Mazda CX-90, Bermaz Auto Philippines will be hard-pressed to keep that price at bay. But for those who want the feel and drive of a BMW, an Audi, or a Mercedes-Benz, the CX-90 might become the practical choice.