Mazda CX-60 review

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Mazda enters the larger section of the mid-sized SUV segment with this very premium-feeling CX-60. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The Mazda CX-60 aims to establish Mazda in the premium part of the upper mid-sized SUV segment. In this, it'll be aided by sharp driving dynamics, a refreshing different and rather classy cabin and the option of a PHEV powertrain with a 37 mile driving range. It's most affordable than obvious rivals, better equipped - and really rather different.

Background

It's been a very long time since Mazda had any sort of properly large luxury car. The last time it launched one (the Xedos 9 in 1994), it didn't feel confident that the Mazda badge would be premium enough, but there are no such inhibitions here with this CX-60.

It's an SUV (of course), one of several large models from the brand due imminently; this is a 5-seat crossover aimed at cars like the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. A 7-seat version, the CX-80, is planned to follow, which will target cars like the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90. Like those models, this Mazda offers plug-in hybrid tech, which is what this CX-60 launched with and which will interest the majority of customers. Most of them won't want the alternative mild hybrid petrol and diesel six cylinder options you can ask your dealer about. But is this car properly 'premium'? Let's find out.

Driving Experience

Mazda has identified - rightly - that, with a couple of noticeable exceptions in this class (think BMW X3 and Porsche Macan), mid-sized SUVs of this sort are somewhat uninspiring to drive. It was determined that the CX-60 should be better and to that end, Mazda has developed the 'Kinetic Posture Control' system from its MX-5 sports roadster to work for this large crossover. This brakes the inside rear wheel when powering through turns, which better manages body control and helps to settle the car. In this, the set-up's helped by a low centre of gravity, a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension system and various selectable drive modes.

What about engines? Well most UK customers will want the Plug-in model, which uses a 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine paired with a 100kW electric motor. There's an 8-speed auto gearbox, 4WD is standard and total output is 323bhp, good enough to power this substantial SUV to 62mph in 5.8s, which for reference is 0.3s faster than a rival BMW X3 xDrive30e. The 17.8kWh battery pack offers a 39 mile driving range.

If you'd like a PHEV alternative, Mazda has developed two 48V mild hybrid six cylinder powerplants for this car. There's a 3.3-litre diesel. And a 3.0-litre petrol unit, this using Mazda's clever SPCCI compression-ignition tech for enhanced efficiency.

Design and Build

You'd certainly recognise this as a Mazda - which might not necessarily be a good thing for this car's premium aspirations, particularly as it might be mistaken for the company's mid-sized CX-5 SUV at first glance. It's actually quite a lot bigger than one of those, measuring 4,745mm long, 1,890mm wide and 1,675mm high. The styling is heavily influenced by the brand's 2017 'Vision Coupe' concept, but features a flatter treatment for the front end and, obviously since it's a crossover, quite a different profile silhouette.

Inside, Mazda's usual 'Jinba Ittai' ('horse and rider') driver-focused design philosophy prevails, but here it's been upgraded with higher quality materials and greater attention to detail. And more technology of course: the 12.3-inch central touchscreen is the largest the brand has ever offered. As usual for the class, there's comfortable space for two adults in the back and room at a squash for three. And a decent-sized boot that isn't too impeded by the battery pack on the Plug-in version. It's 477-litres in size (570-litres including the under-floor compartment); fold the rear bench and you can extend capacity to 1,726-litres. If you need third row seating, you'll need to ask your dealer about the forthcoming 7-seat CX-80 version of this car.

Market and Model

The CX-60 is offered in the UK in three highly specified trim grades: 'Exclusive-Line' (priced from around £44,000), 'Homura' (priced from around £47,000) and 'Takumi' (priced from around £48,000). Across the range, customer choice is further enhanced with the ability to add two option packs - the 'Convenience Pack' and the 'Driver Assistance Pack', with a further 'Comfort Pack' available with base 'Exclusive-Line' trim. There's the additional option to specify a Panoramic roof on 'Homura' and 'Takumi' models. To give you some class perspective, rival Lexus NX 450+ and BMW X3 xDrive30e models start at around £50,000.

You get more equipment with the CX-60 too. The mid-range 'Homura' variant most UK customers are expected to want is visually distinguished from the base 'Exclusive-Line' version by body coloured wheel arch mouldings and a dark plated signature wing grille surround, plus gloss black mirrors and honeycomb grille treatment, while 20-inch black alloy wheels finish the exterior look.

Inside, the 'Homura' grade features seat heating for the outer rear seats and ambient lighting, plus it's equipped with the Mazda Driver Personalisation System that will recognise the occupant of the driver's seat via facial recognition and automatically adjust the surroundings. Top 'Takumi'-spec gets you 20-inch black machined alloy wheels and body-coloured mirrors, combined with chrome plated signature wing grille treatment and side window surrounds, while the gloss black bar type radiator grille design is another feature unique to this flagship grade.

Cost of Ownership

The CO2 efficiency figures for the PHEV version are rated between 33 and 37g/km, which entitles owners to a low 12% Benefit-in-Kind tax banding. That means a lower monthly tax liability too of course, rated for base 'Exclusive' trim at £88 for 20% tax payers and £176 for 40% tax payers. The combined cycle fuel figure - 188.3mpg - is as real world-irrelevant as it is with any other PHEV. Indeed, if you don't regularly plug the thing in, you'll just be driving about in quite a heavy petrol-powered SUV, which isn't a very frugal thing at all. But if you make use of the 37 mile all-electric driving range, then you can expect this car to be about as frugal as a good SUV diesel in this class. And of course, it'll be a lot cheaper to tax, as we said earlier. Charging time from a 7kW garage wallbox should be about two and a half hours. There's no option to get a three-phase 11kW charger or a DC charger.

We should additionally mention the warranty, the usual unremarkable Mazda three year / 60,000 mile package. You can manage maintenance with a useful 'My Mazda App', which can give you reminders about servicing and through which you can book your car in at your local dealership and access a digitally-stored record of your model's service history.

Summary

Whether customers in this segment will view the Mazda badge on this model as being properly 'premium', it's difficult to say. As far as we're concerned, the car itself certainly is, in every way that really matters. The cabin's beautifully finished and refreshingly different from anything else in the segment. And Mazda's put some effort into making this CX-60 more engaging to drive than most of its rivals, most notably with its 'Kinetic Posture Control' system.

On top of all of this, it'll count significantly in this Mazda's favour that it's considerably more affordable than its more established premium segment mid-sized SUV rivals, particularly in the PHEV form that most customers here will want. It'll be a pity if all of this worthy effort is shipwrecked on the rocks of badge snobbery. The CX-60 deserves better. Over to you.

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