Can the Mazda CX-60 power its way onto fleet choice lists?
Mazda took a different approach to rivals with the new CX-60. Reflex Key Account Manager Molly Loach found strengths and weaknesses when she put it to the test
Fuel: Petrol/Plug-in Hybrid
0-62mph (secs): 5.8
Range (WLTP miles): 39 electric-only
Battery (kWh): 17.8kWh
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The mid-sized SUV market has some big names bidding for your business, from Audi’s Q5 and BMW’s X3 to the Lexus NX, Volvo XC60 and volume alternatives including the Peugeot 3008 and Toyota RAV4.
Now Mazda has a new name for your choice list in this segment with its CX-60, which also takes a different approach to power and performance.
Like most current offerings, it features a plug-in hybrid option, but based around a larger 2.5-litre petrol engine. The CX-60 also bucks a trend by featuring a brand-new six-cylinder diesel that is one of the largest on offer at 3.3-litres.
Although this is an unconventional approach, everything else is reassuringly Mazda, which means great quality and a premium feel to the cabin, where you get to experience the work of Japanese ‘Takumi masters’ on the interior.
We took the CX-60 2.5 PHEV Homura out on the road to see what the new Mazda has on offer to tempt drivers and fleet managers.
The CX-60 is very eye-catching at first glance with a streamlined appearance that looks particularly nice with the black paintwork that adorned our test model.
Its silhouette is quite subtle, although the imposing grille at the end of a long bonnet gives the SUV a real presence, so it still manages to stand out on the road.
The black leather seats in our Homura specification model were very comfortable and came with a heating and cooling function. Combined with the heated steering wheel, it was perfect for cold winter weather.
Although Mazda follows the trend towards touchscreens controlling most car features, the physical buttons for elements such as heating make it easy to quickly change the temperature of the cabin.
There is a feeling of quality throughout which lifts the CX-60 above some volume rivals.
The inside is spacious with plenty of hidden storage options to keep your belongings out of view.
There is a big boot with more space under the floor and with the seats down you get up to 1,726 litres of capacity for even the bulkiest baggage.
There is plenty of room both front and rear and with the rear seats in place you can sit three adults comfortably, even with taller passengers in the front.
Some testers say it feels like a bigger car on the outside than the interior space suggests and that the lengthy bonnet could have been shortened to make the cabin bigger, but for my purposes it was very suited to family use.
The sporty steering wheel is a clear indication that Mazda wants this to be an SUV that is a driver’s car, which means its dual wishbone front suspension leans more towards performance than comfort. With direct but light steering it performs best on open roads, where it feels smooth, grips well and is composed through corners. However, over the bumpy, potholed surfaces of many towns and cities it feels less settled, with uneven surfaces sending constant feedback about imperfections into the cabin.
There are several driving modes that work well with the eight-speed transmission, which switches between gears seamlessly, or you can opt to change gears manually using steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Our test plug-in hybrid model combines a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. On the road that means great efficiency and lots of usable power.
The combined output of the 2.5-litre engine and electric motor is 323bhp, with lots of low-down torque for keeping up with city traffic, while returning diesel levels of fuel economy.
There is a claimed 39 miles of zero-emission range from the 17.8kWh battery pack, but not if you make the most of its acceleration, which can power the CX-60 from 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds.
If you have a home charging point, it takes around two hours to replenish the battery, which becomes nearly eight hours if you rely on a standard three-pin plug.
There are lots of driver aids in the CX-60, but the technology felt too intrusive and left me wishing for a more basic approach.
The car comes with a head-up display, which projects key information onto the windscreen in front of the driver. In practice, it just made me feel dizzy and took my focus away from the road, which undermines the whole idea of the system.
Regular interruptions from safety features became a distraction too. Recent research by road safety charity Brake seems to support my experience, as it found 41% of drivers have turned off some vehicle safety features because they were so intrusive.
However, the car also takes convenience to a whole new level. Facial recognition technology automatically restores driver preferences when you get behind the wheel, including seat, audio and climate control, to get the CX-60 just the way you like it.
Making manual adjustments is also simple using the dual-screen dashboard and the easy-to-use infotainment system.
Overall, I really like the comfort and space offered by the CX-60, especially the heated seats and steering wheel. I would prefer a less sporty set-up for the suspension based on my specific uses for the car, and less intrusive safety features, especially the head-up display.
However, the CX-60 offers a different choice to some of the more established competitors, great build quality and an element of exclusivity that will help you stand out from the crowd on the road.