Hand car washes see so many customers that the vehicles become virtually invisible… but not Mazda’s CX-60. “Great looking car!” the guy shouted as he chamoised off the final drips and took my £20.
He’s right. This Mazda is one imposing vehicle, exuding a distinctive, purposeful, premium air with – I feel – a dash of first-class airliner glamour. Just as well too, as it’s competing in a sector crowded with worthy competitors. Close in size to Volvo’s XC60 and a size up from Mazda’s CX-5, the CX-60 is a swish, high-riding five-seater family vehicle, also competing with the likes of BMW’s X3, Audi’s Q5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
There’s no mistaking it’s a Mazda. From the front and side, it hides its girth well with a chiselled nose – similar to the CX-5’s trademark shark-like overhang – and an elegantly curved bonnet. The roof tapers attractively at the rear, reducing the visual mass and presenting a slightly sporty edge. The tailgate lines – a design challenge on any big SUV – are leavened with an aerodynamic ‘bump’ to be found just below the rear window.
The elegant profile is echoed by a stylish, retro, silver-ringed ‘lozenge’ behind the front wheel arches, bearing the legend ‘In Line 6’, differentiating this model from its plug-in hybrid siblings which are powered by a 2,488cc four-cylinder petrol engine and 173bhp electric motor. And therein lies the story of this car. Under the bonnet is what makes this CX-60 so different; a potent, smooth-revving 3.3-litre mild hybrid turbodiesel. Available in two states of tune, 197bhp or 251bhp, this is the AWD (yippee) Takumi Auto model so takes the more powerful variant. How’s 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds and 136mph sound?
But with diesel sales declining, why has Mazda gone down this route (in addition to those PHEVs and Mazda’s new 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine which will soon be joining the line-up)? Well, there’s still a sizable market for diesel; many love the low-revving ‘grunt’, especially on a long journey. The 58-litre tank also yields a range of 693 miles (no range-anxiety there) and dollops of punchy torque right on demand. It’s great for towing, too, with a 2,500kg capacity.
Why 3.3-litres? Mazda believes more is less; a bigger engine works less hard and will be less stressed than a smaller unit. It will also run cooler – more efficiently – overseen by its new combustion control software, than a more modestly sized powerplant. The proposition is a six-cylinder engine offering better fuel economy than a comparable four. Also, you get that creamy smoothness and intoxicating burble known only to drivers of in-line sixes. It sounds a bit American actually, and I like that.
What else is on offer? It’s notably a step up in size and feel from the impressive CX-5, with which I’m highly familiar, having driven that for a year. So, the first thing you notice, apart from those dashing lines, is the palpable air of extra space and luxury, boosted by the Takumi’s great panoramic sunroof.
Mazda, famed for going its own way, has incorporated very unusual, premium-feeling, easy-on-the eye woven fabric and stitching in the cabin (always favourably noted by passengers). It sits well with the White Maple veneer, the airy feeling inside and an ambience that wouldn’t be out of place in a private jet.
Equipment levels are generous, highlights including a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster and 12.3-inch colour centre display, wireless Apple CarPlay, connected services and head-up display. The Takumi (the highest of three levels, including Exclusive-Line and Homura) also gets 20-inch black metallic alloy wheels, a stylish gloss black front grille, ‘Mazda Driver Personalisation System’, plus a banging 12-speaker surround-sound system by Bose.
I was particularly chuffed to discover that the Mi-Drive selector lets the driver flip between Sport, Normal, and (yes I’ve already used it in the Yorkshire Dales while posing the car for pictures) Off-Road driving modes. It’s going to be fun, and rather luxurious, getting to know this car better.