Scottish Field

The quiet revolution

A smooth and sophistica­ted ride, the Mazda CX-60 impresses petrol-head Neil Lyndon on both quality and value for money


Mazda’s new CX-60 is not exactly what it seems. On the surface, our test car looked like a large 4x4 SUV – imposingly handsome on 20” alloys and manifestly well-made but not obviously extraordin­ary. Under the skin, however, this car is a standard-bearer for change in so many ways that it almost heralds a minor revolution – albeit a quiet, electrifie­d one.

The company’s first plug-in hybrid SUV is also the biggest, most powerful, fastest and most expensive road-going car Mazda has ever produced. Launched as the flagship of their line, it goes up against some formidable opposition – BMW’S X3, Mercedes’ GLC and Audi’s Q5. Priced between £45,420-£51,520, it is less expensive than any of them while also giving Volvo’s XC60 a good run for its money and quality.

The CX-60 also marks a signal change for one of the world’s most original and individual manufactur­ers. In some senses, with this car, we see Mazda coming to heel with the rest of the world.

Throughout the last decade, Mazda has taken a cautious, reserved approach to the green revolution sweeping the automotive domain. While the political establishm­ent was demanding immediate progress towards net zero emissions, Mazda insisted that convention­al, internal-combustion engines would continue to play a part in car sales at least until 2030 and followed a policy of making those engines less polluting – for instance by experiment­ing with non-carbon based fuels such as vegetable oil.

With the CX-60, however, Mazda seems to have given up pushing against the tide and submitted to going with the flow. By 2025, they will have followed this plug-in first hybrid with four more, along with five mild hybrids and their first ever all-electric model. Perhaps this all goes to show that there’s no bucking the market, as someone used to say.

As one of the top manufactur­ers in the world for innovation, reliabilit­y and customer satisfacti­on, Mazda might be expected to do the job well when going for a hybrid set-up. So it proves with the CX-60.

The curvaceous, powerful exterior recognisab­ly shares the DNA of Mazda SUVS while the interior is a match for contempora­ry Volvos which increasing­ly set the benchmark in that department. Top spec versions include light nappa leather upholsteri­es with Kimono fabric accents which are as classy as one of those razor-steel Japanese chef’s knives. The absence of a third row of seats may be disappoint­ing but it means that load space behind the rear seats is like a small van. Towing capacity of 2,500kg is enough to pull a caravan or trailer.

When you take your seat behind the steering wheel, cameras and microproce­ssors size you up and offer their calculatio­n of your best driving position. This then becomes a setting to which the system automatica­lly reverts when you get in the car and it recognises your face. Clever or creepy?

The driving position feels as high as a Range Rover and the CX-60 shifts like a Bentley Bentayga when you put your foot down. The 2.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combine to deliver 323bhp through an eight-speed automatic gearbox which brings 0-60mph in a wig-lifting 5.5 seconds. The range on electric power alone is 39 miles. CO2 emissions are a tax-beneficial 33g/km.

Battery and engine are placed as near as possible to the middle of the car to enhance balance and steering. Ingeniousl­y, when it feels called upon, the four-wheel drive system automatica­lly brakes the inside rear wheel to assist cornering adhesion.

A sophistica­ted suspension setup allows the CX-60 to be driven hard on empty country roads without making everybody in the car throw up but it’s not much fun for anybody. This car is more at home gliding silently in city traffic on electric power or cruising on motorways. In those settings, the CX-60 may be as good as it gets for a large 4x4 SUV.

This car is at home gliding silently through city traffic or cruising on motorways

 ?? ?? Curves for days: The CX-60’S exterior is reminiscen­t of Mazda’s SUVS.
Curves for days: The CX-60’S exterior is reminiscen­t of Mazda’s SUVS.

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