Mazda calls the CX-60 the most important model it has launched for a decade. You can see why, for while the company makes some cracking cars until now there’s been a good chance they don’t make the car you want.
Mazda hasn’t had a proper flagship, it hasn’t offered a plug-in hybrid in Europe and it has been yonks since they offered seven seats. They don’t even have a range that starts above £30,000 when the brand’s increasingly premium feel clearly warrants it. The CX-60, and later-arriving CX-80, put all these things right.
Plus it’s a bit of a looker in that very Mazda way; a generic SUV shape but pleasing enough and nicely detailed with the cool Japanese aesthetic echoed inside with a modern take on heritage Japanese craftsmanship. Think maple wood, nappa leather and chrome.
The CX-60 launched first is a five-seater, but a long-wheelbase version with three rows of seats called CX-80 will come later. Both will feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain which combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 134PS (100kW) electric motor for a system output of 327PS (244kW) and torque of 500Nm (370lb ft). It’s the most powerful road car Mazda has ever made (the last of the RX-7s in stock form had 280PS (206kW)).
In time other engines will be available for it including mild-hybrid petrol and diesel options with rear-wheel-drive only. But for performance the PHEV is the one to go for, with 0-62mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds, along with its CO2 rating of 33g/km.
With its 17.8kWh battery the CX-60 is able to deliver an electric-only range of up to 42 miles when you select EV from among the drive modes available. Other modes are Sport, Off-road and Towing. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic.
In this plug-in hybrid form, the CX-60 is all-wheel drive with the electric motor spinning the front wheels and the Skyactiv petrol engine driving the rears. Mazda says this layout plus excellent body rigidity and suspension of front wishbones and rear multilink results in plenty of driver engagement of the sort other Mazda models do so well. The firm says positioning the heavy batteries low down between the axles gives the CX-60 a particularly low centre of gravity for a PHEV and handling that is “on a par with the best in the premium segment."
As Mazda’s biggest car, it is also carries a torch as the brand’s most practical model, with what are said to be “new levels” of comfort and space for passengers plus a 570-litre boot. The longer CX-80 with three rows of seats and accommodation for seven is yet to be unveiled but is unlikely to be far behind.
The CX-60 arrives in UK showrooms in the autumn but you can order one now. Prices start at £43,950 putting it well above the brand’s other SUVs including the all-electric MX-30 and former top SUV, the CX-5. That costs from £28k showing just how far upmarket Mazda is going with this one. The best CX-60, called the Takumi, is priced from £48,050.
But then it does seem to come with all those flagship-type accoutrements. There’s a long list of comfort, convenience and safety features – including even a facial recognition system that automatically adjusts the car’s settings and seat position for different drivers.