The Mazda CX-60 is the automaker’s first large SUV in Europe and its first plug-in hybrid. Mark Smyth got to know it better in north Wales.
The Car.co.uk First Drive Verdict: 3.5
If you think electric vehicle companies like Rivian and Tesla are bravely setting new agendas then spare a thought for Mazda. While it appears that there’s a massive move to electric, Mazda continues to stick by the strategy that improving the internal combustion engine by making it even more efficient, is the way to go, at least for now.
Mazda has always liked to be different and while the strategy won’t be acceptable to everyone, technically it’s not wrong, after all there are billions of people around the world that won’t be ready to switch to battery-electric any time soon. That’s not to say Mazda is ignoring electric. It has its MX-30, plus it has committed to making at least 30% of its product line-up pure electric by 2030.
Then there’s this, the CX-60. It’s Mazda’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and the most powerful production road car it has ever made with pricing starting from £43,950 for the Exclusive Line trim. It’s the first of a bunch of electrified models coming by 2025, including five hybrids, five PHEVs and three battery-electric models.
The CX-60 takes Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy into new territory. It’s less about the sweeping, elegant lines we see in models like the Mazda 3 and more about what looks to be American boldness, with a high grille and bonnet line, a slab-sided profile and a cab-rear look. The rear design is probably the most Mazda in appearance but as is often the case, it can also be in the colour choices. Go for the crystal red and some of these elements barely show and the red also happens to look great too.
It’s inside though where things are really impressive. Mazda does interior design better than some premium automakers and it’s easy to see when you glance at the beautifully crafted stitching on the material used for the dash of the Takumi version (pictured). The same is true of the perfectly trimmed white maple wood veneer and the hand-formed metal trim elements. Taking inspiration from nature, fashion and industrialisation, it all comes together in an environment that features solid soft-touch plastics and high quality materials. It all feels very Mazda, very design conscious, very zen-like and very cool.
PRACTICALITY - 4.0 out of 5
The CX-60 is Mazda’s first go at the large premium segment, so you won’t be surprised to read that it’s a big thing, measuring in at 4.7m long and almost 1.9m wide. That’s similar to the Kia Sorento but unlike the Korean which has seven seats, the Mazda is only a five-seater. Instead the space is used for some impressive rear legroom together with a luggage capacity of 570 litres, expandable to 1,726 if you drop those rear seats down. If you are looking for seven seats then fear not, because Mazda will launch the three-row CX-80 in the next couple of years.
It’s worth mentioning materials here because as exquisite as they are, we’re not entirely sure they would stand up well to the messy fingers of kids, particularly the fabric ones in the Takumi but we could be wrong. We did consider spilling a juice bottle on it, but that probably won’t have gone down well on the day and besides, there are multiple trim choices to suit any family needs with Mazda expecting the Homura to be the most popular.
The layout is all decent with most of the controls easy to use once you figure them out. Some are not that intuitive but any owner will find their way around what they use regularly easily enough.
TECH - 4.0 out of 5
Mazda likes to include tech you need rather than tech you think you need but will probably never use. There’s a clear 12.3-inch infotainment screen positioned well on the top of the dash to remain in line of sight, complemented by a superb head-up display. It has navigation, Bluetooth, audio streaming, USB ports, a digital instrument cluster that has a degree of personalisation and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Depending on spec, it can also be equipped with a 12-speaker Bose audio system.
There’s a good load of safety kit including all the electronic aids you might need, or hopefully not need and various active systems such as lane departure and cross traffic alert. Not all models have active cruise control so it’s worth checking if you want that.
DRIVE - 3.0 out of 5
This brings us to how the CX-60 drives. We’re big fans of Mazda, it’s a company that consistently makes good-looking cars that are great to drive, so we expected this new big Mazda to be the same. The hybrid powertrain features a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor linked to a 17.8kWh battery. It all translates into a combined power output of 327hp and 500Nm of torque, which looks great on paper, but is less inspiring in practice. That’s true of the fuel consumption claims too, with Mazda stating an impressive 188mpg, although in reality you can probably expect something in the 40s.
The electric motor allows it to purr around smoothly for up to 39 miles in EV mode and that’s all good but then things start to feel a bit like someone in engineering suddenly remembered they had to finish the car by clocking-off time. The engine lacks energy and sounds slightly raspy, although straight six petrol and diesel mild-hybrid versions are on the way too.
More importantly, the body bounces on every undulation in the road. Now we doubt that any Polestar 2 owner ever makes use of their adjustable Ohlins suspension, but if the Mazda had it, we would have been pulling over to dial the bounce down a few notches. We suspect a bit of rear air suspension would be a better option than phoning Ohlins though, anything to make the occupants feel a bit less nauseous. Mazda’s engineers clearly didn’t test the prototypes on the Welsh roads we were on.
Seeing as we’re in the very unusual position of criticising a Mazda, we might as well also mention some strange noises that came from the drivetrain of the Takumi model we drove, the odd gearbox judder at certain revs and the bizarrely dull feel of the steering - it’s typically precise but lacks the communication of other Mazda models.
Then you get on a smooth piece of A-road or a motorway and let out a massive sigh as the CX-60 devours miles in comfort. Suddenly everything is smooth and serene, the lack of engine noise welcome as you relax in the ambience of that fabulous interior. This is a different kind of Mazda.
VERDICT - 3.5 out of 5
The CX-60 is Mazda’s first large SUV on sale in Europe and its first PHEV model, but clearly there is a bit of work still to do. The exterior design seems a bit mismatched and the drive underwhelming by Mazda standards. However, if it’s great space and interior design you are after, then the CX-60 will have you relaxing in a world of Japanese serenity.
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