Road tests

New Mazda CX-60 2022 review

Mazda’s attack on the mid-size market comes in the shape of the CX-60 plug-in hybrid but can it eclipse the competition?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

Mazda's first fully fledged premium SUV is a solid effort. The CX-60's cabin  delivers a unique feel and plenty of quality in top-spec Takumi trim, which is also good value compared with established premium rivals. Some rival plug-in hybrids offer greater electric range and more refinement, even if the Mazda acquits itself well enough dynamically. It adds practicality into the mix meaning the Mazda has all-round appeal, it's just that it doesn't excel in any one area, and in an ultra-competitive class like this one you need to stand out.

This new CX-60 represents Mazda's push to go premium and take on established German brands in the upmarket SUV sector – we're talking Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

Plenty of other brands have tried the same trick in the past with mixed results. Lexus, for example, has finally made it work with its latest NX, rising to the top of the class, but for the likes of Infiniti (in Europe at least) the outcome wasn't as successful.

But Mazda has engineering heritage and experience on its side, and it's launching the CX-60 with a very 'of-the-moment' powertrain. It's a plug-in hybrid that combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a 17.8kWh battery feeding an electric motor for a total of 323bhp and 500Nm (making it the most powerful road car Mazda has ever built), plus a claimed all-electric range of 39 miles.

In some ways, that latter figure is a shame, because just one more mile would see it drop from the 12 per cent Benefit in Kind tax banding to just eight per cent, upping its appeal to company car users. But there's still plenty to like, with the potential for up to 188mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 33g/km, yet still a lively 0-62mph sprint of 5.8 seconds.

Given the Japanese brand's ambition to take on premium players, we're trying the top-spec £48,050 Takumi model, which really shows the car off in its best light. Mazda is making much of its Japanese heritage with a 'Crafted in Japan' tag line, and the tactile fabric on the dash – highlighted by some intricate and delightfully precise stitching. Light maple wood trim inlays also help it feel good for the money, combined with the attractive metal detailing and soft leather dotted around the cabin. What plastics there are feel good quality, too.

Even this range-topping Mazda CX-60 model is £4,915 cheaper than an entry-level Audi Q5 TFSI e 50 Sport and the Mazda gets lots of equipment as well. You’ll find a pair of 12.3-inch displays, including a digital dash and a central screen. The latter features sat-nav, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the simple click wheel is super-easy to use, while the screen's graphics are sharp enough too.

Other standard kit includes dual-zone climate control, heated and vented seats and a heated steering wheel (plus heated seats in the rear), full keyless go, LED lights, cruise control and plenty of driver assistance and safety tech. A reversing camera, a 12-speaker Bose stereo and 20-inch wheels also make the cut.

On the move you sometimes notice the presence of those big wheels. While they look great, they combine with the extra mass of the plug-in hybrid's battery to  mean that bumps in town aren’t handled quite as adeptly as we've come to expect from Mazda's finest SUVs. However, the CX-60 is still on par with most of its rivals – including Volvo's XC60 – and when you up the speed the ride smooths out.

The trade off is decent body control that, combined with weighty but precise steering, means the CX-60 is fairly agile. The chassis contains the PHEV's extra mass well, but it's clear that by adding the plug-in powertrain to attract company car buyers, Mazda has compromised slightly the usual impressive dynamics we've come to expect from its SUVs. The CX-60 still handles sweetly and offers engagement that's a cut above some of the premium alternatives, balancing this with enough comfort and fair refinement.

The powertrain is more of a mixed bag, though. While there's no argument with the performance on offer, the electric motor delivering a 270Nm burst of torque on its own to make progress feel easy and punchy at low speed, the 2.5-litre petrol engine sounds coarse when revved. We'll see if the new six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines arriving later will be any better.

Most of the time noise from the naturally aspirated unit is actually well suppressed on the move and the CX-60 delivers decent cruising refinement, but around town this serves to highlight the whine you hear from the electrified side of the propulsion system. 

Add to this a few jerks that were apparent on our test car as the ECUs worked out the best combination of petrol and electric power sources, and it's not at the cutting edge of the class when it comes to smoothness. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission's shifts are, in the most part, nicely slurred.

When it comes to practicality there's plenty of space in the rear seats, with good legroom and no issues with headroom despite our car's £1,000 panoramic roof; the 570-litre boot is competitive for the class too.

You also get two types of charging cable – a regular three-pin plug and a Type 2 connector. Using the latter hooked up to a 7kW wallbox the CX-60's battery will take two hours and 20 minutes to replenish fully, so practicality on this front is fair too.

Model:

Mazda CX-60 2.5 e-Skyactiv PHEV AWD Takumi

Price:£48,050
Engine:

2.5-litre 4cyl petrol PHEV

Power/torque:323bhp/500Nm
Transmission:

Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

0-62mph5.8 seconds
Economy/CO2:

188mpg/33g/km

On sale:Now

Now read our list of the best mid-size SUVs...

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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