Mazda CX-60 review: A sneaky move upwards towards more premium competition

The CX-60 represents a change in tack for Mazda in many ways and also acts as a precursor for things to come and that is good
Mazda CX-60 review: A sneaky move upwards towards more premium competition

The Mazda CX-60 is an exceptional car in many regards and a sneaky move upwards towards more premium competition.





from €54,100 - €65,490 as tested


a 2.5 litre with a PHEV powertrain

The Spec

really impressive in Homura trim


something of an enigma

Mazda has always dared to be different and that is why it is such an independent force within the car-making game and continues to be a refreshing alternative for so many people who like the sassiness and bravery of the Japanese company.

There are of course plusses and minuses to such corporate individuality and we’ve seen that quite often from Mazda. I mean, who else persevered with the rotary Wankel engine; who else had the wit to come up with the MX-5; and, who else has the smarts to come up with revolutionary engineering solutions to everyday motoring issues?

All of the above are on the ‘plus’ side of the ledger. On the negative side, you’ve got questions such as: why does Mazda always seem out of step with convention when it comes to engine sizes? Or, why does Mazda always seem late to the party with technology?

Well, in its infinite wisdom, the company management as well as its design and technical staff come up with as many unconventional ideas as they have good ones and, given that they’ve only been at the car-making game since 1960, that reinforces the idea that Mazda is truly an independent and unique company with imagination to match.

That they’ve also produced some outstanding cars sometimes gets lost in the mist. Their very first, the R360, was an example. The company’s first ever production car was a little coupe made from advanced materials and was highly engineered. Only ever sold in Japan, it was reputedly a hoot to drive and cost buttons. It dominated the country’s ‘Kei’ (microcar) sector for years.

Come right up to the modern era and you have the Mazda3 and the CX-30 which are built on the same platform and stand out in their respective classes for the right reasons – clever design and driver-friendliness – which are not always seen in small, practical family cars.

The MX-30 R-EV – which we have yet to try – looks hugely interesting and is Mazda’s first stab at an all-electric. Like so many other Mazdas, this car was a while in the making as the company was slow to plunge into the electric market, but when it did so, it did with an unconventional car.

Mazda was rather quicker to adapt some cars to the plug-in hybrid segment and it is one of these we try this week, the CX-60 PHEV. This is an exceptional car in many regards and a sneaky move upwards towards more premium competition, but our continued misgivings about this whole genre leave us somewhat mystified by this beast.

The car is the biggest in the Mazda portfolio but it is also – guess what – quite unconventional. It comes with two power choices in some markets a 2.5 litre with a PHEV powertrain and – nearly unbelievable in 2023 – a 3.3 straight six diesel, which is not being marketed here.

So we have 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor with 173 bhp. The combined output of the two motors makes this Mazda’s most powerful production car with 323 bhp and a massive 500 Nm of torque on offer. An eight-speed auto ‘box is also part of the deal and power goes to all four wheels.

It will deliver some 62 km of all-electric motoring and as we’ve said on many occasions here, this is just about on the good side of useful. As with so many PHEVs, however, we still struggle to see the point and especially so when all tax incentives have been removed from such cars.

Performance is pretty hot with a 0-100 km/h time of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 200 km/h. As is ever the case with these things the claimed consumption rate is ridiculous at 1.5 l/100km – 188.3 mpg – but the reality is that if you get anywhere near 5.57 l/100 km (50.2 mpg) you’ll be doing well.

Somewhat curiously, the CX-60 appears to be at its best in the handling and ride departments when put under the hammer. It seems ponderous and lax when being driven slowly and comes alive when you get serious with it.

Everything seems to tighten up when questions are asked of the car and if the city drive is characterised by a certain lacadaisicality, but everything sharpens up no end when you’re out on the open road.

Double wishbone front suspension helps greatly here, but whatever way the steering is tuned it seems uninterested in an urban environment, but once it has something to get its teeth into, it turns into something else – something much better – when given its head.

Now, a lot of people have criticised Mazda for making this car when it already has the CX-5 on its books. Aside from the 80mm increase in the wheelbase – which makes for a much more roomy cabin – the cars are proportionally much the same. So, why bother?

Well, the CX-60 is actually the first of four new machines we will see from Mazda in the next while, all built on the same platform. So you can see some method to the madness. The only downside is that all will be PHEVs.

But there has been a change in tack at Mazda in that is appears now – and especially with this car – to be going after more premium clientele. The interior of this car is sensational without being overwrought by technology, although it has some nice touches in that area.

Overall, though, the sheer quality of what’s on offer is impressive. The dual-screen dashboard and infotainment is crisp and very clear with no distracting features – a factor in so many cars these days. Mazda has also got to grips with its heads-up displays which are no longer of the Heath-Robinson variety but a much more modern and practical set-up.

The car can also use facial recognition technology to set up the driving position for multiple drivers. Interior space is excellent, but there’s a downside here too because the boot isn’t as voluminous as you might expect in such a big car. Even so, given the quality of the interior and the décor and the specification in Homura spec is pretty comprehensive.

The exterior looks are of a high order too, although I must say I thought a lot of the complexity of the design were lost because of the Rhodium White colour scheme and the subtlety of some of the flank lines in particular were lost.

The CX-60 represents a change in tack for Mazda in many ways and also acts as a precursor for things to come and that is good. But what’s mysterious is that the CX-5 already does most of the things that clients will be looking for in this car and that seems to put it behind the eight ball even before it has established itself.

The mystery of Mazda is therefore sort of encapsulated in this car; it is so good on so many levels that you'd have to be impressed, but once more it seems that Mazda has been caught is some sort of a time bubble, especially as the PHEV thing seems to have run its course.

Time will tell, naturally, but this is a car that hits so many targets dead-on, but still doesn’t completely hit the bullseye either.

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