What did we think of the test Mazda CX-60 PHEV?

Mazda can only be called a maverick in the automotive world, where more and more cars appear on platforms with more and more similar engines. The Japanese manufacturer bravely fights against the prevailing trend with bold solutions and unique options.

Just think Mazda MX-30 R-EV plug-in hybrid It had its world premiere at the Brussels Motor Show. The latter brings the electric Wankel engine, which is used as a generator to charge the crossover’s battery, into the modern age. Or how the Japanese perfectly combine the past with the present.

But the market has its imperatives, and even Mazda needs to sell as many cars as possible to stay afloat in these tough economic times. The sympathy aroused in this framework is not enough to overcome. That is why, apart from the MX-5, the range mainly includes SUVs. Like the new CX-60, which debuted as a PHEV.

I loved it Mazda CX-60 PHEV

Everyone is watching the race. At Mazda, they prefer to look at BMW. After all, the new CX-60 sits on an all-new platform designed to accommodate longitudinally-mounted, propulsion-oriented straight-six engines. This immediately explains the amazing length of its hood.
These top sixes will join the ranks in 2023. Priority has been given to the electrified four-cylinder Mazda CX-60 PHEV, but before tax breaks for plug-in hybrid models are reduced or even dropped altogether.

Along with that electric motor, a PHEV also has to carry a bulky battery pack, which is a bit noticeable in the Mazda CX-60. The suspension is quite firm, which is very pleasant on the best roads. Body movements are nicely controlled, giving you the impression of being on the road in a somewhat sporty SUV. But if you take the CX-60 over bumpy asphalt, you’ll run into the limitations of this setup.

The Mazda CX-60’s handling may not have the stability of an Audi or the dynamism of a BMW, but good balance and pleasant steering interaction make for a fun drive. The natural tendency to lean behind the wheel is counteracted by automatic braking of the inner rear wheel, allowing you to adopt a fun driving style.
Perhaps when the engine palette of this SUV is expanded with these inline-six engines, the dynamic ability will really show.

The Mazda CX-60’s interior experience, despite its lack of digital gimmicks and flashy details, offers an added class of serenity.

Color Soul Red It certainly contributes to this, but even without this typical body color of today, you can immediately see what stylistic vein the Mazda CX-60 comes from. Although this SUV has chosen a slightly modified design route, the blood connection with other models in the series is relatively clear. Wrinkle-free, but with character.
Unlike the body design of the Mazda 3 or CX-30, you have to get used to the lines, as the nose is quite long and the cabin is a bit potty. But the design of the front part expresses the boldness of the Japanese manufacturer, which I can always appreciate.

The overall impression of quality and interior experience in the Mazda CX-60, despite the lack of digital gimmicks and flashy details, also exudes class and serenity. The Japanese manufacturer does not get lost in screens with an overly fantastic design, on the contrary, it prefers screens with almost childlike simplicity and clear menus.
Unfortunately, the center screen is actually too large for the general information advertised, giving the media module a “bare” or simplistic look with a “basic” connotation, like phones for the elderly. The central control knob that Mazda copied from BMW remains relevant, although there are still some gains in the infotainment system.

The Mazda CX-60 has a feature that helps you determine your ideal seating position. It’s a nice touch, but it has nothing to do with the rest. The best seating position is one you feel comfortable in, which includes a good view of the road and a good grip on the steering wheel and pedals. The ergonomics are to my liking, with clear buttons placed in logical places and therefore easy to use. And no annoying haptic controls, lovely.

I didn’t like it Mazda CX-60 PHEV

The rear doors open wide and give you a decent rear seat. The negative effect of a more pronounced front end is compensated by a large wheelbase, but not to the extent that you can judge the Mazda CX-60 as a living champion. A little more interior space may be required for these exterior dimensions. At 570 litres, boot volume is slightly more generous than the slightly more compact CX-5 (522 litres).

Although the headlights of the Mazda CX-60 at first look like squinting someone’s eyes from looking too deeply into the glass. Not everyone can appreciate this somewhat obscure look, as I was regularly reminded along the way that these lights sometimes shine where they shouldn’t. In the urban agglomeration of Flanders in 2023, the automatic high beam function mainly acts as a traffic jam for other road users. And it’s certainly annoying, especially if you don’t immediately know how to turn it off.

Visually, the slightly too long nose suggests the supercharged six-cylinder engines that Mazda will put in the CX-60, traditional combustion engines in gasoline as well as in diesel. The main reason for the Hiroshima is that it is easier to meet Euro 7 standards with a larger engine capacity. We will see what happens in 2023, when the engine lineup is expanded. Until then, the Mazda CX-60 will only be offered in a PHEV version that combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. This electric module is placed between the combustion engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission, from where the driving force goes to the rear and front axles via two cardan shafts. Therefore, the CX-60 uses all four wheels to recover braking energy.

Mazda went its own way and therefore did not knock on Toyota’s door, for example, to assemble the RAV4’s plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The system output of the Mazda CX-60 PHEV is 326 horsepower and a combined maximum torque of 500 Nm, making this SUV the most powerful production vehicle in Mazda’s history. It takes just 5.8 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h, despite weighing 2.1 tonnes. Interestingly, instead of knocking on Toyota’s door to assemble, say, the RAV4’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, Mazda went it alone.

And maybe they were wrong. The plug-in hybrid setup makes a lot of noise, whether it’s the occasional abrupt switch from electric to hybrid mode or the slightly irritating rumble of the electric motor around town. The four-cylinder makes quite a bit of grunt, especially when revving. You can avoid these annoyances by giving clear instructions to the gas and, if necessary, changing the transmissions yourself so that the program does not interfere.

Another point of interest: the digital meters that inform you on the road about the amount of fuel in the tank and the remaining power of the 17.8 kWh battery are not accurate. Thankfully, the combined range was consistently underrated, allowing me to continue driving in electric mode with a dead battery, and the fuel tank miraculously filled up while driving. The promised 63 km of autonomy in 100% electric mode was achieved in practice, except for a few kilometers, which is quite exceptional for a plug-in hybrid.

Mazda CX-60 review

So that Mazda CX-60 PHEV

One of the main advantages of the Mazda CX-60 is its price. Agree, this SUV definitely remains expensive. Especially for the individual buyer looking for a spacious SUV for their family. But relatively speaking, this Japanese car offers a lot for its money. Especially since what you get instead is not a generic car, but an SUV with a strong character that dares to find its own way. Those who call Mazda’s metaverse home will also appreciate the CX-60.

But should we choose this PHEV variant? Only if the accountant really wants it. That plug-in hybrid powertrain doesn’t always seem out of place, so a lot of the Mazda CX-60’s talent doesn’t really pay off. All in all, the Japanese manage to stand out among SUVs without much effort. I’m already looking forward to the arrival of the inline six engines.

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