A stylish plug-in hybrid SUV that could take on the premium players

Mazda CX-60 is a class act (aside from a slightly sluggish eight-speed gearbox)

The CX-60 is the first Mazda plug-in hybrid model to come to Europe.

The CX-60 is the first Mazda plug-in hybrid model to come to Europe.

 

Welcome to yet another mid-sized SUV/crossover with premium aspirations. We might grumble about this format, but it’s one that buyers clearly love.

Mazda says the five-seater CX-60 is pitched at “astute achievers” (no we don’t know anyone who fits that description either). These folk tend to buy the likes of Audi Q5s and BMW X3s, apparently.

The two-tonne Japan-built car goes on sale later this year and features two- and four-wheel-drive versions. In terms of its market position in the ranks of Mazda, it slots in above the CX-5.

The eight-speed gearbox can whine under acceleration and the engine note is less than premium at times.
The eight-speed gearbox can whine under acceleration and the engine note is less than premium at times.

The SUV space at Mazda is getting a bit crowded and this is before the even larger CX-80 arrives.

The version coming first to our shores is a PHEV (plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle) with green credentials with a CO2 figure of just 33g/km.

Mazda says that by 2030 there will be more acceptance of electrified vehicles among the public and it will ramp up its offerings

Surprisingly, given Mazda’s engineering prowess, this is the first of its plug-in hybrid models to come to Europe. Mazda says that by 2030 there will be more acceptance of electrified vehicles among the public and it will ramp up its offerings to meet the expected demand. By 2030 it says it will have a pure electric car in each of its model’s segments.

The PHEV’s combined fuel consumption figure is impressive at just 1.5l/100km or 188mpg (WLTP).
The PHEV’s combined fuel consumption figure is impressive at just 1.5l/100km or 188mpg (WLTP).

At present there is only one fully electric Mazda, the MX-30. Despite its alluring looks, it suffers from limited range on a single charge, though a range extender variant, with an auxiliary petrol-powered rotary generator, is due to arrive next year and will offer greater range flexibility.

But back to the more family-sized CX-60 and under the bonnet of our test car is a 2.5 litre, four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor.

The CX-60 will also be offered with six-cylinder 3-litre petrol and 3.3-litre diesel engines, both featuring mild hybrid technology.

Less convinced

All PHEVs are automatic and while there are many ways to get the power to the wheels, Mazda has developed a new eight-speed automatic gearbox. On paper it is highly efficient, but during our test drive we were less convinced.

The suspension set-up is typical of those in the premium SUV sector that have no real intention of straying too far off road, with double wishbones up front and a multi-link rear set up. That said, the CX-60 is quite a practical SUV with an impressive 2.5 tonne towing capacity.

On twisty roads, the car proved itself capable, direct and powerful. Its steering weight and gearing were pleasant and relatively responsive

The car’s sporty pretentions are clear but the reality is less convincing. On twisty roads, the car proved itself capable, direct and powerful. Its steering weight and gearing were pleasant and relatively responsive. With a combined power output of 327hp and 500nm of torque, the 0-100km sprint takes 6.8 seconds and top speed is limited to 200km/h.

However, the way the CX-60 gets up to speed is a little rougher than you’d expect from a premium car. Mazda’s new eight-speed gearbox, while ultra-efficient compared to its old six-speed auto, is not as smooth under pressure. The box can whine under acceleration and the engine note is less than premium at times.

In terms of driving in electric-only mode, the CX-60 has a similar sized rechargeable battery to a Toyota RAV4 PHEV, at 17.8kWh capacity. This 176kg lithium-ion battery pack is mounted low in the chassis to have minimal impact of the car’s centre of gravity and has zero impact on cabin or cargo space.

Just input your height and the CX-60 will adjust the driver’s seat, steering wheel, mirrors, climate control and active display for you automatically.
Just input your height and the CX-60 will adjust the driver’s seat, steering wheel, mirrors, climate control and active display for you automatically.

Mazda claims 63km of EV range is available from a full charge and slightly more if used only in an urban only setting. The PHEV’s combined fuel consumption figure is just 1.5l/100km or 188mpg (WLTP).

Like most PHEVs, if you need to you can force the engine to charge up the battery for use at a later time, such as when you you have to visit a low or zero-emission zone.

Party trick

One party trick, which comes in an optional pack called Mazda Driver Personalisation System, adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel, mirrors, climate control and active display automatically to each driver. When you get in initially, the car asks you to input your height in centimetres and then via a camera mounted neatly in the centre dash display adjusts numerous controls accordingly to an optimal setting. And yes, it set my seat perfectly.

The system can memorise a number of drivers and will recognise you next time you hop in and automatically readjust as needed.

Mazda has high hopes for the CX-60 and says initial pre-sales in Europe signal a level of success akin to CX-5.

Initial CX-60 pricing will start at €49,500, rising to €60,050, with four grades on offer and three option packs. A Panoramic roof is an option also.

While our test car was pre-production, with a few minor adjustments in terms of refining the power delivery, we could certainly see how the CX-60 PHEV could take on the premium players.

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