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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Three-row Mazda CX-90 docks as brand’s most powerful SUV

CX-90 is known to be under consideration for South Africa.


Having started its roll-out of new CX models two years ago after announcing a five model product portfolio months before, Mazda has taken the covers off of the third such model in the shape of the all-new CX-90.

The Hiroshima-based marque’s new flagship SUV positioned by the CX-9, the CX-90 is also its most powerful and after the CX-60, the second to ride on the all-new rear-wheel-drive platform that would underpinned the now cancelled next generation Mazda6.

The look outside..

Unveiled in one of its key markets, the United States, where it will be going on-sale later this year, the CX-90 incorporates a sloping rear design similar to the CX-60, but with model specific LED taillight clusters, a more concave bootlid, chrome finish for the faux diffuser underneath the bumper and up to 21-inch alloy wheels.

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The front facia meanwhile has been altered slightly by way of a smaller grille and not the same enlarged L-shaped air inlets on the flanks of the bumper as those of the CX-60.

While the LED headlights are broadly identical to that of its sibling, a chrome skidplate replaces the latter’s satin silver setup. Also bespoke to the CX-90 is a new colour option called Artisan Red.

..and inside

Despite Mazda declining the divulge details of the CX-90’s dimensions or the adaptions to the platform itself compared to those of the CX-60, it disclose details of the interior it says has been designed in a “dignified” manner “that gives an expansive impression from the dashboard to the doors”.

New Mazda CX-90 revealed
CX-90’s sloping rear similar to that of the CX-60, but with a number of differences

Like the CX-9, the CX-90 provides seating for seven and while similarities to the CX-60 are easy to spot in the look of the centre console, air vents, climate control panel, the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and steering wheel, the seats are trimmed in Nappa leather and can additionally be specified with heating for the second row.

Also carried over from is the 12.3-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the option of a heated steering and panoramic sunroof, plus the availability of maple wood and so-called “tone-on-tone” fabrics it’s sibling doesn’t get.

In addition to upgraded materials and standard type-C USB ports in all three rows, Mazda has equipped the CX-60 with it calls a See-Through View monitor that works in conjunction with the surround-view camera system to provide a transparent image when parking.

New Mazda CX-90 revealed
Interior has been changed slightly from that of the CX-60

Other notable safety and driver assistance systems are Radar Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring and Kinematic Posture Control developed for the MX-5 that “suppresses body lift on tight corners to enhance grip to maintain a natural posture”.

Electrified power

In the United States, the CX-90 will go on-sale powered by a choice of two electrified SkyActiv-G petrol engines also used in the CX-60; a plug-in hybrid that combines a 17.8-kWh battery powering a 100 kW electric motor for a total output of 241kW/500Nm, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid 3.3-litre turbo straight-six rated at 254kW/500Nm.

Despite the rear-wheel-drive layout, all-wheel-drive can be equipped as an option, with the sole transmission being a torque converter eight-speed automatic.

New Mazda CX-90 revealed
As with the CX-9 it is likely to replace, the CX-90 has seven seats as standard

While unlikely to be offered in the States, speculation is rife that Mazda could offer the CX-90 with its brand-new 3.3-litre straight-six SkyActiv-D turbodiesel in other markets.

In the CX-60, the 48-volt assisted oil-burner has two outputs; 147kW/450Nm in rear-wheel-drive models and 187kW/550Nm when twist goes to all four corners.

For South Africa?

Already classified as a model together with the CX-60 and the still-to-be-seen CX-70 and CX-80 with only the CX-50 being a US-market exclusive, the CX-90 is known to be under consideration for South Africa as it has already been confirmed for another key right-hand-drive market, Australia, towards the latter stages of 2023.

Should the investigation produce the desired results therefore, expectations are that the CX-90 could well go on-sale in South Africa as early as the end of the year, or in early 2024. An exact confirmation from Mazda South Africa is expected later in the year.

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