Mazda enters the larger section of the mid-sized SUV segment with this very premium-feeling CX-60. Jonathan Crouch drives it.
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 39 mile driving range. It's most affordable than obvious rivals, better equipped - and really rather different.
Mazda thinks differently - and continues to do so with this car, CX-60. This SUV is the largest model the brand has made in recent times and in this Plug-in Hybrid form, the fastest too. The platform's all- new and there's a hand-finished 'Crafted in Japan' design ethos that the company hopes will propel this car into contention with premium rivals.
Previous Mazda followers will be interested to see if the brand's usual sharp handling has been preserved by this 2.1-tonne SUV; the company promises it's snappily-titled 'Skyactiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture' platform will help deliver that. It's a chassis that's made possible the introduction of a PHEV powertrain - the company's very first. And a pair of more conventionally-electrified 'M hybrid' mild hybrid petrol and diesel units. So, Mazda is going up-market, in product size, image quality and luxury. Can cars like this one support that move?
Mazda has correctly identified that, with a couple of exceptions, upper mid-sized SUVs are generally pretty uninspiring to drive. So enormous efforts have been made here to deliver something a bit more engaging. Or at least as engaging as a two-tonne crossover is ever going to be. This CX-60's stiff new 'Skyactiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture' platform helps here. Plus to that new chassis, the engineers have built in clever corner-stabilising system lately added the MX-5 sports car - Mazda calls it 'Kinetic Posture Control'. It all sounds quite promising, particularly as the engines are new too, all of them, in typical Mazda style, bucking the industry trend for low capacity sizing and turbocharged tech. All are linked to a freshly-developed 8-speed auto gearbox, which ditches the usual torque converter in favour of a multi-plate clutch and an integrated electric motor/generator.
Most customers will want the four cylinder Plug-in Hybrid model we tried, which mates a 2.5-litre petrol engine to a 175PS electric motor powered by a 17.8kWh battery which, when fully charged, offers an EV driving range of up to 39 miles. The system output (distributed to all four wheels via an on-demand AWD system) is 327PS, the highest of any Mazda yet made and enough to get you to 62mph in just 5.8s. It's also enough to give some credence to the brand's claim that this car puts the 'Sport' back into SUV and though slightly vague steering prevents it from claiming overall class honours in that regard, the CX-60 comes close. If you don't want your CX-60 to be a PHEV, two other engines are available, both of them non-plug-in powerplants, the 3.0-litre e-Skyactiv X petrol and the 3.3-litre e-Skyactiv D diesel we've also tried, the latter available in rear-driven as well as AWD forms. Both are large capacity six cylinder units and each also features electrification but it's of the much less significant mild hybrid kind.
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. Pricier trim levels get you niceties like a facial recognition feature that uses a camera to adjust seat and steering wheel position based on the driver's physique. What we like most about Mazda cabins though, are the exemplary ergonomics, enhanced here by the way that the new slim 8-speed auto gearbox has minimised transmission tunnel width, allowing for near-ideal pedal and seat placement.
If you're able to stretch to the top-spec version, your eye will be drawn to the cool white nappa leather upholstery, the pale maple wood trim and an unusual hand-stitched fabric dashboard covering, apparently inspired by 'Musubu', the art of Japanese binding. Across the range, the screen tech isn't as in-your-face as it usually is with expensive new models in this day and age, mainly because the 12.3-inch centre display is long and narrow and the virtual gauges on the instrument monitor (also 12.3-inches wide) look quite realistic. Cabin storage is reasonably provided for and Mazda's put in a great deal of effort to make forward visibility better than it usually is on a larger SUV of this kind.
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. With all the engines, 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 PHEV variant is offered in the UK in three well specified trim grades: 'Exclusive-Line' (priced from around £45,500), 'Homura' (priced from around £48,000) and 'Takumi' (priced from around £49,500). If you'd prefer the 3.3-litre mild hybrid diesel model, prices start from around £43,000 for the 200PS model with base 'Exclusive-Line' trim and rear wheel drive. You can also have a CX-60 diesel with the same 'Exclusive-Line' trim and AWD, plus a higher-output 254PS engine, priced from just over £45,500 - or from just under £51,000 in top 'Takumi' trim.
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 39 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 7.2kW garage wallbox (20-80%) should be about one and a half hours. There's no option to get a three-phase 11kW charger or a DC charger.
As for the diesel, well the 200PS engine returns a WLTP average fuel consumption of 56.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 129g/km in rear-wheel drive 'Exclusive-Line' guise. While the AWD 254PS diesel model's average fuel consumption is 53.3mpg, with CO2 emissions from 137g/km.
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.
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.