Mazda CX-60 PHEV – Driving tank with flashlights

Downsizing is almost a dirty word for the Mazda brand. While the competition often resorts to smaller, bored-out petrol engines even for hybrids, Hiroshima has decided to stop time and offer something proper again. In the case of the CX-60 PHEV, it’s an atmospherically charged four-cylinder with decent displacement and a combined output of up to 327 horsepower. Add to that all-wheel drive, an automatic transmission, a decent ground clearance, and you’ve got an interesting SUV that has a few unmissable advantages…
Mazda to me has always been a car company that went its own style and against the flow. For example, it was the only one to actually use and fit the unique Wankel engine, which will soon return in modified form in the MX-30R-EV, in production vehicles. Then, at a time when all brands began fitting turbochargers to their models and downsizing, Mazda began producing modern atmospheric units. And recently, it even offered the Skyactive-X gasoline powertrain, which works on the principle of running diesel engines.
All of today’s Mazdas have a look in common besides the concept, and it’s quite successful again in the case of the CX-60. It looks modern and rugged, and most importantly, it actually feels like a pretty big car. I was a bit bothered that the side profile is a bit too monolithic, and some hint of a moulding or some interest probably wouldn’t hurt it. But then again, let’s face it – there’s beauty in simplicity. And I believe the CX-60 will age slower than all those pre-designed sci-fi one-offs of today.
I like that the daytime running lights along with the turn signals extend all the way to the grille and the fact that the turn signals don’t have that horrible “dynamic” habit from the German concern but in the case of the CX-60 they go out slowly, which Mazda says is supposed to mimic a heartbeat. The thin and interesting rear lamps also have a nice light signature and so perhaps the only major minus can be considered the absence of front fog lamps.
So, as is obvious from the photos around here, the CX-60 is not a small car at all. The test piece measures 4,745mm in length, 2,134mm in width and 1,686mm in height. The wheelbase is a respectable 2,870mm, which sort of in itself clearly suggests there’s going to be a sea of space in the cabin – we’ll get to that later. It’s also something of a convention that press cars come with pretty much all options and option packs, and this CX-60 was no exception.
We got our hands on the Takumi version, which is at the very top of the range. The oversized dashboard is adorned with unconventional quilted décor, and the all-leather seats up front are oversized luxury chairs that driver and passenger will easily fit into. The front seats, however, lacked more pronounced lateral guidance, which was especially noticeable when negotiating sharper corners. Fortunately, the manufacturer makes up for the small negative by making sure the seats are heated, ventilated and fully electrically adjustable. I very much appreciate the driver’s face recognition function, which replaces the classic setting of the car according to the key or app used.
The internal environment is well known from other models of this brand. The wide central infotainment screen, which is of course again not touchscreen here, and it doesn’t matter at all. The rotary dial with four buttons on the sides, complemented by a smaller volume control and a favourite functions button, is a great working system. It’s just that entering a destination into the navigation takes an awfully long time most of the time, as you have to scroll the wheel to find individual letters. I could use that touch here with the P in gear , at least along the lines of the CX-30. I have no complaints about Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The non-touchscreen controls here are intuitive enough not to distract me too much from driving.
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The CX-60’s interior has a pleasantly classic feel, thanks in part to a climate control panel with lots of buttons. Because of the placement of the engine and transmission, which is essentially under the dash, the center tunnel is wide and tall. Thanks to the car’s decent exterior dimensions, this doesn’t mean a lack of spaciousness, it just sits differently here than in conventional crossovers with the engine across the front axle.
So the wide center tunnel can fit, for example, the cup holders next to the gear selector. But this, interesting by design, lever is probably what annoyed me the most in the whole car. Its path, in the form of an inverted L, takes more than a little getting used to. More than once, I’ve wanted to shift from D to P, so I’ve simply depressed the fuse and moved the selector, which remains in the selected position, all the way forward in a straight path. Only mistake, that’s a reverse gear after all and to park you have to move it further to the left. I don’t understand why something simple and established has to be complicated like this unnecessarily.
There’s relatively plenty of room in the back bench, but the small door makes it harder to get in. The boot isn’t as spacious as the CX-60’s exterior dimensions would suggest. It also lacks some of those simply-clever bag hooks or at least side cubbies. But since we have a PHEV, at least the car will offer two 230V sockets with 1500W of power.
For the CX-60 to make it in today s over-engineered world, it needs to have plenty of safety and assistance systems. You’ll find adaptive cruise control, Level 2 autonomous driving with highway assist, and similar modern gadgets that work relatively reliably. But let’s stop at the adaptive lights with matrix function to carve out vehicles and objects. The effect and range of the lights is excellent, but the blanking isn’t as good as other, less premium brands already offer today.
So, finally we get to the most important part – how the new CX-60 drives. Right off the bat, let’s jot down one “piece of wisdom” that’s been proven over the years – a longitudinal engine on the front axle and primarily rear-wheel drive is the best way to build a fun and functional car. If you’re familiar with Mazda’s lineup, quite possibly the internal combustion engine specs tell you something. It’s the same unit that works in the range-topping CX-5 or the outdated 6. There, combined with the six-speed automatic, it didn’t suit me, as it needs relatively high revs to really shake the car. However, this problem is solved by the electric motor in the case of the plug-in hybrid CX-60. Those interested in the most powerful version of the CX-60 can expect to accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds, and the most the CX-60 will allow you to go is 200mph.
So, under the huge front bonnet we find a longitudinally mounted 2.5-litre atmospheric four-cylinder that delivers 141kW (192bhp) of power. It’s aided by a 129kW (175k) electric motor, resulting in a system-beating 241kW (327k) and 500Nm, delivered to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox without a hydrodynamic torque converter. The latter has a multi-leaf input clutch, belongs to the Skyactiv-Drive family and was developed in-house by Mazda. It certainly doesn’t lack for smooth shifts at higher speeds, but it could use quite a bit of work on shifting in traffic. Not to mention connecting the internal combustion engine after driving purely on electricity, which can take even an experienced test driver by surprise in certain situations.
The plug-in hybrid also includes a 17.8kWh battery pack that promises a paper range of up to 63 kilometers. I managed to cover a maximum of 46km on a single charge in cold weather, with electricity consumption as high as 28kWh per 100km. Slow current charging can be done with just 7.2kW of power, so a full battery charge will take well over two hours. At least an 11kW or preferably 22kW on-board charger would be useful here, so that the owner can recharge the car even during a short shopping trip in a shopping centre or a coffee somewhere on the motorway. That way it’s really just about charging at home overnight.
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The manufacturer gives a combined consumption of 1.5 litres of petrol + 23 kWh of electricity. Those who regularly charge to the full can expect a very favourable average fuel consumption, which in cold weather can be somewhere around 2-2.5 litres per 100km. However, once the battery runs out of power, consumption starts to climb towards ten litres of petrol, which still can’t be considered a disaster, considering the car’s power and weight. Of course, there are several driving modes to choose from, so the driver can go in hybrid, sport or even pure electric. The CX-60 also has a relatively small, 50L gas tank. When filled to the top, the on-board computer shows a combined electric and petrol range of about 330 km. Add to this the size and capability of the adequate consumption of 9 -10 l of petrol per 100 km and 28 kWh of electricity per 100 km. I tried to charge whenever I had the opportunity and a 100% charge means a displayed range of only 46km.
Pretty much all Mazda models drive and have always driven great, whether we’re talking about the little MX-5, the CX-30 crossover, or the Model 6 executive wagon or sedan. The Japanese automaker has always made cars that aren’t just for getting from one point to another, but can entertain the driver and give them a unique driving experience. And that’s where the problem lies in the CX-60… Despite the presence of four-wheel drive, the Mazda CX-60 is more of a permanent backseat. That’s because the rear axle is always the primary drive, and only in the event of a slip do the front wheels engage. This makes for a bigger portion of fun, but it’s always the electronic stability system that tries to tame it.
Not that it would be that bad. For what a big SUV it is, it has pretty precise steering and, for an electrified vehicle with kinetic energy recovery, very well proportioned brakes. Even the weight of over 2 tonnes doesn’t stop the car from being fun to drive around district corners. The heavy plug-in hybrid, which carries with it both batteries and combustion engine, did not indulge in understeering behaviour at sharper tempos but on the contrary it was felt that the rear tends to overtake and wants to enjoy a slight skid.
It’s sad but most disappointing in the case of the CX-60 is the chassis. It’s overly stiff for my tastes, unyielding and thus can’t even filter out bumps properly. It noticeably oversteers on some types of bumps and is simply not comfortable. Compared to the rest of the car, the chassis feels underdone. It goes without saying that with heavy flashlights on board, it’s difficult to find a compromise in suspension setup, but competing automakers have shown that hitting the ideal setting is indeed possible. The base Mazda CX-60 2.5L e-Skyactiv PHEV starts at €50 760. The range-topping Takumi trim then starts from €57,860. The test piece, with add-ons for audio, safety pack and pearl paintwork, almost topped the magical €65 000. Here, the new CX-60 is already bobbing in the waters of more luxurious brands.
Let’s conclude by saying that the new Mazda CX-60 isn’t exactly a perfect car, but it does have a number of qualities that will make many people like it a lot. And I sincerely hope there are as many of them as possible so that Mazda can continue to stick to that classic concept that all of us “chauffeurs” enjoy the most.