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Mazda CX-60 review: Price, specification and hybrid performance tested as Mazda sets sights on premium segment

Big hybrid SUV makes a bold statement as Mazda looks to move upmarket and challenge BMW, Audi and Mercedes in the premium sector

The Mazda CX-60 is a bold move from the Japanese car maker on a number of levels.

Not only is it the first time we’ve seen Mazda’s next generation of combustion engines but this plug-in hybrid is also another step in the brand’s electrification strategy and it’s making a statement about its future as the brand sets its sights on the German big three.

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By the end of this decade Mazda aims to be in the mix when buyers are considering models from Audi, BMW and Mercedes. The CX-60 is the first step towards achieving that goal and is positioned to go up against the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. While the CX-60 isn’t cheap, certainly when viewed in isolation — the range starts just a tad below £44,000 — when set next to comparable PHEVs from the premium brands it actually looks keenly priced.

Design

The first thing you notice is that it’s not small. In fact the CX-60 is rather imposing. Stretching 4.75m in length, it’s 20cm longer than big-selling CX-5. Sit the two side-by-side and you’ll note the rooflines are pretty much identical. The result of that is the CX-60 looks less upright. And as you would probably expect, at 2.87m its wheelbase is not only significantly longer than that of the CX-5, but longer too than those of the Q5 and X3.

It’s the first model to be built on Mazda’s all-new platform, which has been cleverly and cost-effectively designed to allow it to accommodate everything from mild hybrids to pure-electric vehicles, and with longitudinal engines and 4WD as well as 2WD.

Seen in profile, the CX-60 enjoys short overhangs, a long bonnet and the cab pushed as far towards the rear as possible. The result is, sitting behind the steering wheel the front grille seems miles away. In fact in some ways it looks and feels like a baby Bentley Bentayga.

And while it’s the PHEV that’s the first in the range to be introduced, in the next 12 months the CX-60 will also get a 3.3-litre, straight-six diesel with mild-hybrid technology, plus a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol MHEV. Both engines benefit from Mazda’s clever trick variable compression technology.

PHEV drivetrain and range

Under the long bonnet there’s a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which is mated to an electric motor to deliver a total output of 323bhp and 369lb ft of torque. That makes it the most powerful production car that Mazda has ever released. Mazda claims 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.

Those figures are all well and good, but in a car of this size and type it’s the efficiency figures which are more important. And on paper they look attractive. The 17.8kWh lithium-ion battery housed under the floor of the CX-60 provides an all-electric range of 39 miles (though development work is continuing which could see that rise to 40 miles). Under WLTP rules, it delivers 188mpg and 33g/km of CO2 emissions.

The latter figure will help make it attractive to company car choosers who stand to benefit from its relatively low benefit-in-kind tax rate.

What’s it likes to drive?

For such a large car, it’s impressive, and it’s clear it is from the stable that gave us the MX-5. No, of course they’re not the same, but they share the same DNA. That’s most vividly seen by the fact the CX-60 has the same brake-based cornering stability system as the wee sportscar.

The SUV boasts nicely weighted steering which is pinpoint accurate and despite its chuckability, the SUV’s body remained commendably flat during quick changes of direction.

What surprised me on the twisting, narrow road which wind round the area close to Cascais, west of Lisbon, was how keen the CX-60 was to turn in. It actually appeared to enjoy it. Sure, if you push too hard it’ll understeer; but really? Would you honestly normally drive that way in a car which weighs around two-tonnes? I wouldn’t. That said, it was certainly more entertainig than a Q5.

Okay, on its 20-inch alloys the CX-60’s ride has a firm edge, but I like that. But most of the time the suspension delivered enough compliance to smooth the ride out.

And while the performance figures mentioned previously confirm the PHEV is no slouch, it’s clearly at its best when the driver takes a relaxed, patient approach to the journey. In town meanwhile, the all-electric drive delivers silent driving with more than enough poke for dealing with city centre traffic.

Interior

There’s ample space in the front, though perhaps not as much kneeroom as you might expect in the rear. There’s a bit more than in the CX-5, but it’s not cavernous. It will though accommodate three adults across the rear, and even fitted with the optional sunroof there was plenty of headroom for six-footers, both front and rear.

We were warned there may be some rattle and noises in the cabin of our drive of a late pre-production CX-60 Homura, but in all honesty there was next to nothing to complain about. In typical Mazda fashion the fit and finish was excellent, and in all the key areas high-grade plastics are used. The switchgear all has a solid feel, and the rotary controller for the infotainment was easy to use,plus the digital screens were crisp and clear.

What I particularly liked was the driver personalisation system. Input your height to the screen on the centre console and the system electronically moves the seat and steering wheel to what it believes is the ideal position for the driver. Despite my cynical nature, it actually got pretty close.

Even more useful is the fact that rather than have to press buttons to reactivate the driving positions of numerous drivers, the Mazda system stores this setting based on facial recognition: you “record” your face on a camera at the edge of the infotainment system. It then automatically scans the relevant profile the moment the driver gets into the vehicle and repositions the seat and steering wheel.

As for bootspace, there’s 570 litres of stowage, which rises to 1,726 litres if you fold down the second row of seats.

Price and specification

Buyers can choose from three trim levels, all of which deliver a good amount of kit as standard. The entry-level Exclusive-Line starts at just under £44,000 and includes a 12.3-inch infotainment system with the same size of digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, a head-up display, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, LED headlights, plus 18-inch metallic-grey alloys.

The mid-range Homura adds electric adjustment and ventilation on the front seats, heated outer rear seats, ambient cabin lighting, a gloss-black finish on some body details, a 12-speaker Bose stereo and 20-inch alloys. Prices start at £46,700.

The range-topping Takumi, priced from £48,059, adds detailing on the dashboard and white Nappa-leather seat trim to match a white-maple wood finish on the centre console. There’s also a gloss-black front grille and body-coloured wing mirrors.

Verdict

If you’re considering a plug-in hybrid, and you can wait till the 72-plate registrations in the UK in September, then you should certainly add the CX-60 to your test list. Given its power outputs, mated to the joy it delivers when it’s driven, it merits serious consideration.

Mazda CX-60 Homura

Price: £46,700; Engine: 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol with electric motor; Power: 323bhp; Torque: 369lb ft; Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive; Top speed: 124mph; 0-62mph: 5.8 seconds; Economy: 188mpg CO2 emissions: 33g/km; Electric range: 39 miles