Car reviews - Mazda - CX-60
Highway performance, overall fuel efficiency, engaging steering feel, solid braking performance, cabin packaging and décor, exterior styling and finish
Room for improvement
Engine and transmission calibration, road noise and tyre thrum, harsh ride, dated infotainment array and human-machine interface, some ADAS snarls
Spacious, sporty but not entirely on point… we find out where the Mazda CX-60 falls short
18 Dec 2023
By MATT BROGAN
MAZDA has walked the premium path before. If you’re as old as I am, the Eunos nameplate should ring a bell… If not, think what Infiniti is to Nissan, Acura to Honda, and Lexus to Toyota and you’re on the right track.
The Japanese manufacturer has been talking up its move into the premium arena for some time, but there is no re-branding afoot. Simply, the ‘Mazda Premium’ offering is a more upscale range of models, even using familiar naming conventions; and arriving locally in the form of a range of the CX-branded SUVs.
As well as bringing new looks, richer materials, and advanced driver assistance technologies to the mix, the CX-60 (and soon-to-arrive CX-90 and CX-80) aim at taking on established luxury marques with four-cylinder plug-in hybrid and six-cylinder mild-hybrid engine options, the latter all-new in their entirety.
With diesel and petrol ‘sixes’ available, Mazda aims to cover all bases. For the petrol – which is likely to be the best-seller – we note a combined cycle consumption figure of 7.4 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 171 grams per kilometre. The unit runs happily on 91 RON (standard) unleaded and is bolstered by 48-volt mild hybrid assistance which Mazda says, “supports the engine during light-load range where internal combustion engines are typically not very efficient”.
Mazda quotes peak power and torque figures for the 3.3-litre petrol CX-60 at 209kW and 450Nm, the latter offered from 2000-3500rpm. The numbers result in a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.9 seconds, 0.8 seconds faster than the turbocharged CX-5.
Prospective CX-60 buyers may choose from three grades, three powertrains and four options packages, totalling 14 possible configurations.
The CX-60 range begins with the Evolve (from $59,800 +ORC). It features synthetic ‘Maztex’ black leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, a powered tailgate, dual-zone climate control, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, a 12.3-inch instrument panel display in the plug-in hybrid (PHEV), a 7.0-inch instrument panel for the six-cylinder variants, a wireless phone charger, built-in satellite navigation, Android Auto/Apple Carplay smartphone mirroring and a 360-degree parking camera view.
Mid-tier GT variants add a gloss black grille and black 20-inch alloys, swaps out the base model’s bare black exterior plastics for body-coloured items, adds a light-coloured interior upholstery option and brings a full 12.3-inch instrument panel for all drivetrains, a power-adjustable steering column, a hands-free mode for the power tailgate, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable front seats, personalised driver profile settings and a premium Bose audio system with 12 speakers.
Finally, the range-topping Azami is externally identifiable by its unique slatted front grille, machined-face 20-inch alloys and adaptive LED headlamps. Inside are high-grade Nappa leather and fabric upholstery, ventilated front seats and a frameless interior rear-view mirror. Driver assistance upgrades include semi-autonomous Cruising and Traffic Support tech and a ‘see-through’ mode for its 360-degree parking camera system.
There are also four option packages available, including the $2000 Vision Technology pack (on Evolve and GT grades only), $4000 Luxury pack (Evolve only), $2000 Takumi pack (Azami only), and $2000 SP pack (also available on Azami grades only, and fitted to our test vehicle).
When GoAuto first sampled the CX-60 at its Australian launch, we were surprised to find Mazda’s first ‘premium’ offering was not all we had expected.
Aimed at taking on the likes of Lexus NX and BMW X3 et al, the CX-60 arrived with new inline six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, plug-in technology, evolved safety technology, a richer materials mix, and gorgeous long-bonnet styling… but would it be enough?
To answer that question, we spent some more time with the CX-60 range, sampling the D50e (diesel) Azami SP, P50e (plug-in hybrid) GT Vision, and the G40e (petrol) Azami SP, the latter tipped by Mazda to become its strongest seller – and ergo the subject of this review.
Powering the CX-60 G40e is a newly developed 3.3-litre inline six-cylinder, the first inline six ever offered by Mazda.
The turbocharged unit features mild hybrid assistance from a 48-volt motor/generator set between the engine and its wet-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission and develops a total of 209kW and 450Nm. All CX-60 variants feature a rear-biased all-wheel drive system.
It is an offering that is quite peculiar to experience in city traffic in that it is slow to build momentum, despite the electrical assistance on offer. There is a feeling that the engine needs a few revs on board to operate effectively, and once it reaches higher speeds is happy to ascend the rev range to deliver confident performance.
The transmission is also happier to operate at freeway speeds. In town, the eight-speeder is overly eager to find higher gears, at times conflicting with the needs of the engine. Conversely, it also wants to kick down when there is ample torque to ‘soldier on’, suggesting more work is required in perfecting the overall calibration.
We also noted a little noise from the eight-speed auto when shifting at low speeds (below 50km/h). It is quiet – something you won’t notice with the radio on, for example – like a muted groan; but it is there and becomes rather worrisome as you become attuned to it.
On the subject of noise, it is also evident that Mazda has been unable to shake the road noise woes that have plagued it for decades. The CX-60 is far noisier than any of its premium competitors with considerable tyre thrum evident at freeway speeds – more so over coarse and unsealed surfaces.
There is also a sense that the CX-60 was designed with dynamism in mind, and with little focus on ride comfort.
The double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension arrangement is taut, and the sensitive dampers transmit even the smallest of surface imperfections into the cabin – and at a range of speeds.
It is an annoying experience when driving on poorly kept roads, and one that would possibly benefit from adaptive damping, the likes of which is found in some of Mazda’s premium (and even non-premium) rivals.
Although fidgety around town, the CX-60 is an eager cornering vehicle when pointed at an open road. It offers impressive body control and is not easily upset by mid-corner lumps and bumps. In fact, it is downright enjoyable when allowed to stretch its legs on a long country run.
Throw in accurate and engaging steering and the CX-60 is (dare we say) more BMW than Lexus in its attitude, the rear-drive bias certainly evident when punching out of bends or pulling out to overtake.
And it has to be said that the front seat of the Mazda is a terrific spot from which to enjoy the experience. The seating is supportive with ample adjustment, and the pedals and steering wheel well placed. In that way, the CX-60 really isn’t a massive step up over other Mazda SUVs, which have long set the benchmark in their respective classes.
It is expensive to option up the CX-60 to the SP pack, but it does serve to elevate the feel of the cabin. We also appreciated the thought that has gone into the various storage cubbies, phone holders and drink holders found both front and rear, not to mention the USB charging ports for the entire family.
Head and legroom are excellent, far better than in the similarly sized CX-5, while the broader cabin contributes to the sense of space on offer. The 40:20:40 split-fold rear seat means the centre seat is a little higher and narrower than the outboard pair, but I can’t recall the last time anyone sat there in my own vehicle, at least not for any length of time.
The boot of the CX-60 is a little narrow compared to some in the class but still delivers 477 litres of cargo space (and up to 1726 litres), which is sufficient for the segment. There is a 12-volt outlet and tie-down points up back, and a space saver spare wheel beneath the deck – though not in PHEV models (the vehicle’s 17.8kWh lithium-ion battery takes that space).
On the subject of technology, and perhaps of primary importance to many buyers, is the dash-top Mazda Connect infotainment system. What was once something of a pioneer of its kind, the unit now feels a little clumsy and dated, despite its new operating system.
The familial Mazda interface remains, with the touchscreen locked-out while on the move. Yes, the rotary controller is easy enough to use, but the fact you need to row through multiple screens to access some commands is time consuming and annoying, and possibly more of a distraction than tapping the touchscreen to begin with.
Mazda’s driver assistance features are cautious, but not overbearing. The sensitivity of the ADAS helpers may be adjusted, which is a good thing for those of us who like having them ‘on’ in the background. If we could ask for one improvement, it would be the ability to sort the vehicle’s lane position when only one lane marking (centre) is present.
So, is the CX-60 ‘premium’ enough to convert Audi/BMW/Lexus/Mercedes-Benz buyers? Or to draw up Mazda owners from a CX-5 or CX-8?
It’s an interesting question…
There is a lot to like about the Mazda CX-60, and the fact that many of the issues noted here are relatively easy to fix should mean that the facelifted model will show appreciable signs of improvement. Personally, we would wait for these to come into play. But if you’re hanging to get behind the ‘wheel, our advice is to at least do yourself the service of driving the competition before committing to buy.
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