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Mazda CX-60 PHEV: long-term test review



Our cross-channel jaunt reinforces our first impressions of the car. Its cabin is genuinely nice, and there’s plenty of space, but the powertrain is a major weak spot, especially next to seriously polished rivals.

  • Mileage: 2,824
  • Economy: 42.7mpg

It’s always interesting to try a car late in its development, and then revisit it once it’s made it into showrooms. That was the case recently when Mazda organised a road trip to the Brussels Motor Show and suggested that we might like to take our CX-60. I purloined the keys from chief sub-editor Andy Pringle – and roped my family in for the trip, to see how the big plug-in hybrid would cope with a longer journey.

There’s no denying that Mazda has got the cabin right. The company wants to rebrand its products as “crafted in Japan”, and while it pains me to praise any marketing slogan, this one feels every bit as accurate as it is clever. We were instantly impressed by the mix of plastics and materials, with a brighter-than-usual feel (helped further by the large sunroof) and some novel Japanese finishes like the intricate weave on the dash.

There’s a weight and heft to all of the switches, too; you really need to put in effort, for example, to slide the central air vents from side to side. They feel like they’re counterweighted by a lump of rock.

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Sadly, the Mazda’s powertrain can’t quite match the polish of its cabin environment. The disappointment begins when you pull away with a freshly replenished battery, because the system insists on showing off its electric-running credentials. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory, except that the electric motor sounds like someone squeezing a pair of fairly asthmatic gerbils. This is particularly glaring, of course, when you’re crawling along in a queue – as we found ourselves doing at the Eurotunnel – just the sort of situation where silent EV running ought to be at its most appealing.

The system doesn’t seem that keen to play with the Mazda’s dual-clutch gearbox, either. It’s frequently jerky as it feeds in the petrol power, and can also be flummoxed if you slow for a junction or roundabout and then decide you want to continue moving.

Then there’s the ride quality. I’d hoped, when I drove the late prototype of the CX-60 last year, that its choppy suspension set-up would be fine-tuned before the car went into production. Sadly, it’s still too firm and too easily caught out at low speeds on scarred urban roads. It does become a bit more composed once you get up to a fast cruise – there’s no denying that the steering and body control are pretty decent for such a large vehicle, in fact – but the trade-off seems compromised. The less said about its performance over the Belgian pavé of Bruges after the Brussels show, the better.

These flaws are all the more glaring because the Mazda does so many other things well. The boot easily swallowed our luggage for a family weekend in Bruges; it’s not especially tall but it is extremely long, so it was possible to slide a full-sized suitcase in on its narrow edge. That, in turn, allowed space for me to load in half a dozen cases of finest plonk at Calais on the way back.

There’s no doubt, of course, that our journey was outside the Mazda’s comfort zone. The battery had drained long before we’d reached the Eurotunnel, restricting us to very limited spells of zero-emissions running. The fuel economy figure hovered at north of 35mpg, which would mean pretty frequent refills, even if it’s not entirely obscene for a fully laden PHEV of this size.

Of course, Mazda thinks it has the solution to this – or one solution, at least – with the MX-30 R-EV, the car we drove over to see in Brussels. It too has a relatively small battery, but there’s no physical connection between the petrol engine (a rotary, no less) and the wheels. I already know that I’d love to see that innovative powertrain in something more conventional than the oddball MX-30. But Mazda, true to form, isn’t going that way; instead, its answer for long-distance CX-60 motoring is an all-new diesel engine (yes, remember those?) that’s due in the coming months.

Mazda CX-60: first report

The large Mazda CX-60 premium hybrid SUV slips effortlessly into family life on our fleet

  • Mileage: 1,860
  • Economy: 40.2mpg

It’s not often that I can be accused of being an early adopter. But given that my new fleet car, a Mazda CX-60, registers
a couple of notable firsts for the Japanese company, I have to plead guilty.

You see, not only does this car represent the first time Mazda has targeted the UK’s premium SUV market, it’s also the company’s first plug-in hybrid. And that makes the CX-60 a fascinating model to put through a long-term evaluation.

We assessed the car in a group test, and although it narrowly lost out to the victorious Lexus NX, the “impressive” Mazda did claim the notable scalp of the Volvo XC60. Our testers had plenty of positive things to say about the CX-60, so I eagerly awaited the arrival of my new car. And when the day came, I went and collected it from Mazda HQ, where I could find out more about the car – and the company’s aspirations for it.

The first thing I learned from product specialist Stephen Bird was that very few CX-60 buyers were coming to the car from other Mazdas. In fact, the company has seen a high proportion of buyers trading in Volkswagens, BMWs and Mercedes. Which means it came as no surprise to hear that the average price of the 600 CX-60s Mazda UK had sold by mid-November was more than £50,000.

In that sense, both I and my car are very typical. Not only have I never run a Mazda, this car is also in top-spec Takumi trim, with a price tag of £53,520, including options. Just over a third of buyers have chosen the same trim (mid-range Homura is the biggest seller, taking 52 per cent of sales), but the Soul Red paint on my car is far and away the most popular colour among buyers. Despite being a £900 option (the most expensive of the optional finishes), it’s being chosen by 33 per cent of owners.

So far, there’s no real pattern to CX-60 owners, so my wife, our eight-year-old daughter and I can’t necessarily claim to have much in common with other customers. But what I can say is that the big Mazda has adapted very quickly to the demands of this relatively small family.

Above all, having been used to more compact cars in the past, we’ve been delighted by the sheer amount of space on offer. The two adults up front have plenty of room, and our daughter relaxing in the equally accommodating back soon learned to drop the central armrest to put her soft toys within easier reach. The big boot, too, has been a godsend, first on a half-term trip to north Wales and then on regular visits to Sussex, where I’m helping to clear my parents’ house after my mother died last year.

My hope is that we’ll find the plug-in hybrid powertrain equally suited to our lifestyle. The theory is that, with my wife and I both almost exclusively working from home, our weekly mileage will be pretty low, and easily done on electric power alone. We have off-street parking and can run a charge cable out under the garage door. We don’t have a wallbox, but even from a regular, three-pin domestic socket, it’s easy to do a full charge overnight.

One top-up is usually enough for our pottering around in the week, and then we have the petrol engine to help out on longer trips. But even I will confess that in the car’s first few weeks with us, the balance of the mileage was on long trips. With that in mind, 40.2mpg isn’t too bad from a 2.5-litre petrol SUV, but I fully expect that figure to improve as the balance shifts back to shorter journeys.

Mind you, I have no issue with the CX-60 over long distances. On the contrary, our after-work trip to Wales on a Friday evening through dreadful traffic and even worse weather was a clear demonstration of the Mazda’s abilities and its excellent driver-assistance tech. Our daughter was happy listening to her audiobook via Apple CarPlay, while I was delighted that the adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist made such light work of the heavy traffic.

Some of these features are included in the £1,100 optional Driver Assistance Pack, and the amount I use them has already confirmed that it was money well spent. The same goes for the Convenience Pack, which includes a 360-degree monitor, wireless phone charging and rear privacy glass.

I’m less convinced about the Panoramic sunroof, especially given that I chose the white interior trim, which instantly makes the cabin feel more airy than the alternative black colour scheme. However, we’re yet to see how that pale material copes with the kind of onslaught that only family life and an eight-year-old armed with a pack of Mini Cheddars can muster. As is always the case with these tests, time will tell…

Model: Mazda CX-60 e-Skyactiv PHEV Takumi
On fleet since: October 2022
Price new: £49,520 (£53,520 with options)
Engine: 2.5-litre petrol + e-motor, 323bhp
CO2/tax: 33g/km/12%
Options: Soul Red Crystal paint (£900), Convenience pack (£1,000), Driver Assistance Pack (£1,100), Panoramic sunroof (£1,000) 
Insurance*: Group: 44/Quote: £1,021
Mileage: 2,824
Economy: 42.7mpg
Any problems? None so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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