As an overture to this week's test of the superb Xedos 9 from Mazda a few words of explanation.
Xedos is to Mazda as Lexus is to Toyota, no, not an equation to be solved before you can join Mensa, but to illustrate that
the Xedos sports saloons are made by Mazda but do not carry that company's name as they want their flagship cars to have a strongly separate
Xedos was not a name dreamed up by a wily oriental unfamiliar with the English language but a product of a German company
whose specialty is finding new world names for cars, the same company who dreamed up the name Mondeo for Ford. What does it mean ?...apparently
nothing, but, for the linguistically challenged, it is pronounced K..cee..dos.
But what of the car itself?
The Xedos 9 is a newly launched big sister to the stylish and very successful 6 which saw the light of day in 1992. Both are
very hi-tech and extremely elegant sports saloons that have shaken many European manufacturers who thought they knew how to produce exciting,
fine handling, yet still eminently practical executive cruisers, the 9 is a real Teuton trampler.
For looks the Xedos 9 is an absolute stunner with real road presence and wind tunnel perfected aerodynamics that generate zero
lift and need no tacky add-on spoilers, very nineties, stylish and curvaceous, a slippery shape that is both stable and near silent at high
That sleek, exciting, body has a very low CD of 0.28 and clothes an extremely sumptous and high tech package, not least the
compact yet very powerful, 2.5 litre, 24 valve, DOHC, injected, V6 engine derived from the Mazda MX6 sports car. Almost inaudible until given
some serious welly, a prod from the right foot makes it snarl into frenetic action yet, when cruising, it proves the adage that more cylinders
always equal more refinement as the 168 bhp is developed with the smoothness of a turbine.
A 4 speed auto is fitted as standard, a delightful gearbox which offers seamless changes and real driveability when pressing
Inside, the cabin of the test car was luxuriously trimmed in leather - a £1678 option - with high quality carpeting and
contains some of the best car seats I have ever sat in, well shaped, very comfortable and supportive and there is ample leg and head room for
Boot space is also very good, unusually so for such a flowing body design.
An area where the Xedos 9 scores a little less highly is the dashboard for, while the driver faces a fashionably curvy dash
filled with clear, traditional, instruments and well laid out switchgear, it lacks the strong presence of the exterior and of many of it's
swathed in wood trim competitors. But perhaps I'm just a traditionalist in these things.
Another minor grumble is that the designers seem to have forgotten that driving mirrors are for seeing with, both seemed too
small for such a high performance car.
In all other respects safety is paramount with ABS, Traction Control - of which more later - substantial door bars, a
carefully designed and very rigid structure, seatbelt pre- tensioners and passenger and driver airbags all as standard fitments.
The rest of the specification is just as high with power steering, windows and mirrors, remote locking, air conditioning,
cruise control, electric sunroof, a superb stereo, front and rear heated screens and front foglights.
Boasting a superb all independent, multi-linked, suspension set up, the Xedos 9 is incredibly agile and sure footed with
strong grip from 205/65 tyres and nil roll making driving on any type of road at any speed a real treat for the keen driver, the power steering
has just the right weight and feel and excellent, very stable, braking is provided from discs all round, vented at the front. A notable feature
is the traction control, similar to that fitted to F1 cars last season, which electronically detects and controls wheelspin greatly improving
grip in the wet, a very useful safety feature destined to appear on more and more cars in the next few years.
For the keen driver with an individualistic streak who wants to put something very different in the executive car park, the
stunning Xedos 9 is a truly fine express, a tour de force of the best Japanese car making, a real driver's car with real character, a quality
motor car by any standards.
First Published 1994 - Article © Graham Benge 2007