Mazda CX-60 e-SkyActiv D254 – Six-cylinder! Rear wheel drive! Diesel!

In the automotive world there are topics such as the ban on the sale of internal combustion cars from 2035, the introduction of the impossible Euro 7 standard or the future of synthetic fuels, and here I am sitting in a new large SUV with a six-cylinder diesel engine with a 3.3 Litre… Isn’t that beautiful!
The Mazda brand has shown us once again that it doesn’t seem to care too much about the trends of other car companies and the whole EU eco-craziness. At a time when everyone is racing to see who will electrify their entire fleet of models first, and when diesel is already considered almost the epitome of evil, the Japanese carmaker has introduced a diesel inline six-cylinder. And not just any… While downsizing is still on the rise, Mazda is upping the displacement of its diesel engine to 3.3 litres from the previous 2.2 litres, adding two cylinders and claiming that the all-new design will make the unit even more efficient than ever. Add to that the fact that the CX-60 is primarily built for rear-wheel drive, so you can have the weaker version as a pure rear-wheel drive. Mazda developed the platform entirely in-house, as well as the engine and eight-speed slat-clutch transmission. I applaud!
Let’s leave the CX-60’s design aside for now; after all, it’s not fundamentally different from the previously tested version with a plug-in hybrid gasoline powertrain. The only difference is the fancy INLINE6 lettering on the front fender. Rather, let’s break down the highlights that fill the hole under the front bonnet…
The all-new in-line diesel six-cylinder has a displacement of 3,283 cc and is supercharged by a single turbocharger with variable blade geometry. The engine design is based on the previous 2.2-litre four-cylinder and two additional cylinders have been added. However, the new engine has also been given new tweaks that make it possible to burn a leaner mixture over a wider rev range. It uses advanced DCPCI (Distribution-Controlled Partially Premixed Compression Ignition) combustion technology, taking care of more agile acceleration response, and most importantly, aims to improve the powertrain’s thermal efficiency to a respectable 40%, and that’s over a significant part of the operating range.
The pistons have a specially shaped bottom with two bowls so the mixture is injected into two areas at once. At the same time, the injection is maximally dispersed, which should result in more efficient combustion, quieter operation and of course lower consumption. The high-pressure injection during one cycle can handle up to five injections in a short period of time (the original diesel four-cylinder could only handle four and needed a longer time). By extending the PCI low-temperature combustion, exhaust gas recirculation can be used up to very high loads, which significantly reduces NOx emissions.
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The reality is that the engine will growl a bit on start up, but then once it settles in at low rpm, peace and quiet reigns on board. A big part of this is the first-class soundproofing of the engine compartment. With the bonnet open, the diesel injector rattle is of course audible, but almost nothing comes through. When you step on the accelerator pedal, there’s the characteristic diesel ‘hum’, but this time it’s a slightly different sound of an inline six-cylinder, which suits the big SUV perfectly.
For the test, we got a more powerful variant with 187kW (254hp), 550Nm of torque and all-wheel drive, where the cardan shaft primarily drives the rear wheels and the front wheels are connected via an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch when needed. The paper performance may not break records, but it all makes up for the character and especially the mammoth torque that is almost always present. You can get the diesel CX-60 in two power outputs – 147kW (200k) or 187kW (254k). There’s no difference between the two, the only difference being provided by the powertrain and the fact that the weaker version belongs to the rear accident and the stronger one to the quad. Greetings to all those who put their “unblocked” power to the rear drive!
The inline-six cylinder shows power from some 1500 rpm, and even the 5000 rpm redline doesn’t stop it in its flight. It accelerates linearly and without any hesitation, and the 8-speed gearbox tries to keep the revs as low as possible, which of course contributes to the low appetite. In sport mode, virtually nothing changes, except the control unit holds the lower gear a bit longer.
Not to be outdone, let’s also recall the bit of electrification the engine had to get. The diesel six-cylinder is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, which also includes a 12.4kW electric motor with 153Nm of torque, working in a 48V mild-hybrid system. This stores the energy recovered by regenerative braking in a lithium-ion battery pack stored under the driver’s seat, which has a capacity of 0.33 kWh. The energy is then used for coasting, when power is needed for overtaking and for turbocharger shutoff.
Another interesting feature is the “gliding” of the gearbox, where the control unit disengages and shuts off the engine from any speed, at very low load and when decelerating. It was very common (with adaptive cruise control engaged) for the CX-60 to shut off the engine when catching up and “crawl” to the set distance with only a little help from the electric motor in the gearbox.
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Mazda claims that on the WLTP measurement cycle, the CX-60 can go 37% of the time with the six-cylinder off, almost always with the foot off the gas. And I have no reason not to believe that. Oddly enough, it works and doesn’t disturb too much, although sometimes the diesel engine connection is a bit clunky. However, this can be fine-tuned and solved in a software update of the gear set…
The consumption is very interesting with the diesel CX-60. With both versions, it can keep between five and six litres of diesel. With the quad, you’ll have to watch your right foot a bit, but it can be done. In a week and more than 900 kilometres driven, consumption has settled at 5.7 litres/100km. For such a big car, which had only 900km on the time it was taken for test, it’s almost fascinating. And since the tank has a capacity of 58 litres, a quick calculation says that the range will be well over 1,000 kilometres in case of quiet driving. Greetings to all electric cars!
The only negatives I can think of are the 20″ wheels, which the CX-60 is quite hard on. Mazda chassis have never been very comfortable and that hasn’t changed here, which is kind of a shame with this type of car. It could use some sort of air suspension or at least adaptive dampers with variable stiffness. On the other hand, the stiffer chassis allows this mammoth to go quite nimbly and into corners without having to sweat all the way to the shoulder blades somewhere behind the apex.
The car handles perfectly and like other models of this brand IS A JOY TO DRIVE. But people probably won’t buy a CX-60 because of this. But if you’re a long-distance commuter, spend a lot of time on the highways, and want a bit of that character from a family SUV in addition to the pragmatic benefits, the diesel CX-60 is for you. In base Prime-line trim, with a weaker version and rear-wheel drive only, the diesel CX-60 starts at €44,390. If you want a more powerful quad, you’ll pay an extra €5,000, and the highest Takumi trim tested starts at €55,090. With extras for paint, audio and sunroof, we’re getting to the €60k mark. Whether that’s a lot or just enough, I’ll leave to each brand fan’s judgement.
I hope that the diesel CX-60 will do well in our market and wish it from the bottom of my heart, because such a locomotive, with such a small consumption and even more a primarily a backwoods locomotive – a fantasy. Being a wagon with numerical designation “6”, I have a clear automotive dream…