First Drive: Mazda CX-60 diesel 2023 Review

Mazda bucks industry trends with a big powerful diesel heading the lineup...
05th April 2023
Ben Miles



Mazda has been in Scotland to launch a CX-60 large-capacity diesel engine. Not that is not a headline from a decade ago, this is 2023, and despite the winds of both political will and environmental beliefs going in most definitely the opposite direction, Mazda is confident this remains the right move.

The wilds of the middle bit of Scotland, neither the famous highlands nor the vibrance of its cities, feels like the right backdrop for this news. A beautiful place that perhaps gets forgotten about more than it should be and a car that answers every question we need without anyone noticing. Is Mazda right? Do diesels actually have the most important part to play in lowering emissions in the short term? And even if the CX-60 diesel, with its mild-hybrid system, is excellent, will it matter in the end?

We like

  • Strong engine
  • High-spec interior materials
  • Good transmission

We don't like

  • Lower-spec interior materials
  • Could ride better
  • Strange infotainment touchpad



The slab-sided nature of Scotland matches the slab-sided nature of the CX-60. Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy is famous for producing some striking cars at every end of the scale but grafted onto something the size of the CX-60 it cannot help but look blunt. 

The nose is upright almost to Rolls-Royce levels and the sides stand tall with wheel arches tucked ever so slightly inside, making the rest of the car perhaps seem even larger. The front lights are familiar from the current 3 but have the indicators inset toward the grille. 

The rear, like the front, doesn’t manage to round quite as effortlessly as some of the other cars in Mazda’s current arsenal, but it's far from ungainly. Slim rear lights help to bring the design together and exhaust vents at the bottom can be in silver or dark metal.

Performance and Handling


There’s only one diesel engine in the Mazda CX-60, but it comes in two flavours. It’s a 3.3-litre inline six-cylinder skyactive-D unit, which means it’s turbocharged, with Mazda very pleased with its status as the diesel with the lowest compression ratio in the world. Now with a few more tweaks Mazda is claiming this to be the lowest emissions diesel in the segment.

The more powerful version has 254PS (187kW) and 550Nm (406lb ft) delivered through all four wheels, while the lower spec engine has 200PS (147kW), 450Nm (332lb ft) delivered entertainingly through the rear axle only. In both models the performance is boosted by a 48v mild-hybrid system that’s capable of adding an impressive 153Nm (113lb ft) for a short period of time.

In action it means the CX-60 is blessed with something often missing in modern-day turbocharged petrol engines: effortless torque. Especially in the 30-50mph range, the diesel Mazda can offer a significant punch when required. The eight-speed automatic gearbox – neither slushy torque converter or whizzy dual clutch – deals with all that torque smoothly and efficiently, and is relatively hard to befuddle. The only time it does slightly fall over is when Mazda’s smart system for shutting off the diesel powerplant when coasting is active just before you ask for high levels of performance, at which point there is a noticeable moment of dithering.

While the powertrain is a high point, on these thin, lythe Scottish roads the road handling hasn’t found quite the same comfortable home. While Mazda has aimed for more of a performance feel, with double wishbone suspension up front, I found from time to time the steering was a little too keen to return to dead centre. However the CX-60, for the most part, didn’t feel wayward, even on such narrow roads. The downside to that sportier setup is that from time-to-time a larger pothole will send the kind of crashing shudder through the car that makes you double-check if everything is still attached. Damping is nice most of the time, and on the hour-long cruise back to Edinburgh airport the CX-60 felt comfortable, but a winter-battered country road can leave you wishing for just a little more give.



The inside of the CX-60 is treading a line between the two facets of Mazda’s current design direction. On a car that starts north of £40,000, it has to look and feel like a premium product, but there are touches of simplicity that have still remained.

The high point is the use of materials. The fabric on the top-spec Takumi’s dash is excellent, with delicate, Japanese craft-inspired stitching along the dash a nice finishing touch. On the lower spec Homura and Exclusive-Line it’s an all-black affair, but the good soft-touch plastics and a nice amount of front storage space feature on both.

Both specs have their high and low points though, the Homura and Exclusive-Line feel very dark and the Japanese maple on the Takumi will not be for everyone – I don’t like it at all.  

Technology and Features


The most intriguing thing on the CX-60’s spec sheet is the ability to use an internal camera to automatically adjust the seat position for the driver’s build. It’ll also use facial recognition to return to your chosen settings, useful if more than one of the family drives. That is available as standard on Takumi and Homura. 

We drove all three trim levels, and while there’s a significant difference in design between Homura and Takumi, the Exclusive-Line and Homura are very much singing from the same sheet. All get a 12.3-inch screen situated on the dash, and not touchscreen, for infotainment, and a digital instrument cluster in front. The infotainment experience is a mixed bag. I can’t really complain about the lack of touchscreen, as it’s positioned too far away to easily use, but the system of written word menus is a bit of a maze. It’s also presented almost totally in pure black and white with a less than pleasing look. That said, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration will remove most of these issues, even if using both without a touchscreen isn’t exactly as intended.

A heads-up display is standard, as is keyless entry, automatic wipers and lights, USB-C, wireless phone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual zone climate control, heated seats and wheel. There’s a new version of adaptive cruise control too, a major upgrade to the previous cruise system that Mazda had. Sound quality is good, with the higher trims getting 12-speaker Bose systems capable of destroying the sturdiest of eardrums.



There is no doubt that this is a bold move from Mazda. The skyactive-D engine is undeniably excellent and mated to a chunky mild-hybrid system provides the kind of motivation you don’t really find elsewhere. The confidence in Mazda’s words is backed up to some extent by figures. Exec SUVs still sell with diesel engines in significant numbers compared to BEV and petrol alternatives. So, at least according to the data, the market does still exist.

After over-enthusiastically flinging the CX-60 around Scotland for a couple of days I grew to like it. To like it as a car that gives a proper feeling of satisfying torque without needing to be absolutely thrashed, and as a machine that sticks to its guns when the rest of the world wants it to change. I think there’s a place for a diesel SUV like this, Mazda definitely thinks there is. But will you? That’s the only question that matters.


Engine 3.3-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel 48V mild hybrid
Power 254PS
Torque 550Nm (406 lb-ft)
Transmission Eight-speed automatic
Kerb weight 2,025kg
0-62mph 7.4 seconds
Top speed 136mph
Fuel economy 54mpg
CO2 emissions 137 g/km
Price £48,170 (OTR AWD Homura)