Mazda’s rapidly proliferating SUV range must confuse punters, even if the company’s local division thinks it doesn’t.
Let’s make it simple, then.
Riding a new platform and offering rear-biased all-wheel drive and a range of new powertrains, comprising turbocharged inline six petrol and diesel engines and a plug-in hybrid, the Mazda CX-60 is an entirely different beast to the similarly sized, similarly styled CX-5.
Yes, Mazda is gunning for the big boys, and it’s doing it without a fancier badge on the grille. It has tried that in the past with the Eunos brand, and it even planned a more direct Lexus-rivalling nameplate called Amati in the 1990s. Neither worked out, obviously.
So unlike Hyundai with its Genesis brand or Toyota with Lexus, the CX-60 will share showroom space with more humble fare from the company. That means you’ll see this parked on the shop floor next the front/all-wheel drive CX-5.
If you didn’t already know what the difference between 5 and 60 is, though, you do now.
The CX-60 range opens at $59,800 before on-road costs for the petrol-powered G40e Evolve, and tops out at $87,500 before on-road costs for the P50e Azami plug-in hybrid with either the SP or Takumi package.
Three trim levels are available – Evolve, GT and Azami – and each of these are available with three powertrains: a six-cylinder turbo-petrol, a six-cylinder turbo-diesel, and a four-cylinder plug-in hybrid.
Our tester is a top-spec Azami powered by a diesel (D50e in Mazda parlance), and equipped with the optional SP package. That makes it one of the priciest CX-60s, with a before on-roads price of $77,000, or a drive-away price north of $80,000.
There’s a bevy of rivals for the CX-60, all of which wear a luxury nameplate, but the diesel powertrain has fewer direct rivals. As expected of something with a mass-market badge, this fully loaded CX-60 is closer to base model luxury-brand rivals on price.
These include the Audi Q5 40 TDI quattro ($75,500) and Genesis GV70 2.2D Sport Line ($77,388).
Lexus doesn’t offer a diesel-powered mid-sized crossover, but its hybrid NX 350h can be had in all-wheel drive Luxury guise for $73,850 before on-roads, or in Sports Luxury or F Sport trim for $81,350 before on-roads.
Within the mid-sized premium SUV segment, only the BMW X3 can match the CX-60 in offering an inline-six turbo-diesel, but this xDrive30d variant is priced at $104,300 before on-road costs. Even the X3’s four-cylinder xDrive20d turbo-diesel costs more than this straight-six CX-60, with a before on-roads price of $86,100.
Diesel versions of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Porsche Macan and Volvo XC60 haven’t been available for a few years, the diesel Land Rover Discovery Sport was axed more recently, and the new Mercedes-Benz GLC has been introduced in Australia solely with petrol power.
The CX-60 is instantly recognisable as a Mazda inside, but it features a more modern look than the less expensive CX-5 – and in top-spec Azami trim with the SP package, it has some serious wow factor.
The bold two-tone tan and black interior elevates the CX-60’s handsome cabin, with suede trim applied liberally to the dash and doors. The two-tone steering wheel is also an attractive and tactile tiller.
Touch points are generally excellent, from the plush leather wrapping on the sides of the centre console to the particularly squidgy dash top. The cabin is also bereft of gloss black trim, with brushed metal-look trim used instead.
The lower half of the dashboard and the lower reaches of the doors are hard plastic, neither of which is unusual for this segment. But there are a couple of items we feel need improvement.
The steering wheel switchgear, for example, is a bit plasticky and the transmission shifter, from the Mazda parts bin, is a bit clunky.
Then there’s the infotainment dial, which feels plasticky and can be easily rocked. While it works well, for something you’re going to be touching constantly, the rotary dial needs to feel of higher quality. Mazda designers should check out a Genesis GV70 to see how this part should look and feel.
Overall, however, the CX-60’s interior is generally quite classy. It offers a modern design that’s arguably more elegant than an X3 and without the sea of gloss-black trim you’ll find in an NX.
The digital instrument cluster is an elegant affair, down to the typefaces selected. While there’s no map functionality like in various Volkswagen Group and Stellantis products, it has a classy, legible presentation, and has a simulation of Mazda’s traditional analogue instruments.
When you have adaptive cruise control activated, you see a graphical depiction of the car as well as the cars around you. The wireless smartphone mirroring proved reliable, but the wireless phone charger didn’t.
The infotainment screen finally includes touch functionality, something Mazda had walked away from, but this is only available for smartphone mirroring. Otherwise it’s essentially the same interface as in other Mazdas, which is no bad thing – it looks contemporary, and it’s easy to navigate with the rotary dial and shortcut buttons.
Speaking of buttons, Mazda has kept an array of them and resisted the temptation to move key functions to the infotainment screen. There’s a full array of switchgear for the climate control, as well as actual buttons for the heated and ventilated front seats.
The ambient lighting has only one colour, so you can’t make the CX-60’s interior look like a Macau casino as you can with a Mercedes-Benz. You can, however, toggle between low, medium and high intensity.
High-resolution cameras remove any ambiguity when you’re parking your CX-60, with a clear view from each of the multiple cameras on the car’s exterior.
Storage is so-so. There’s no shelf under the centre console, though the bottle holders can easily swallow 1L bottles. But what is up with the CX-60’s centre console bin? When I first opened the softly padded split lid, I initially thought there was some kind of split-level floor for the bin. Why else, I pondered, would it appear so shallow at first glance?
Turns out it is simply that shallow. Inside, you’ll find two illuminated USB-C ports, but don’t expect to fit much more than a pair of phones.
Step into the rear and you’ll find space that, while not class-leading, is competitive. There’s sufficient legroom and knee room, with the front seatbacks scooped out for more room and finished with soft padding and map pockets.
Headroom is also ample for occupants around 180cm tall, despite the presence of a panoramic sunroof, and the centre tunnel isn’t so large as to markedly impede leg room.
There are two USB outlets and a 220V/150W outlet in the second row, plus a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders. Child seats can be secured using the ISOFIX points on the outboard seats, or the three top-tether points.
Open the tailgate and you’ll find another 120V outlet, as well as levers to drop the rear seats and a netted area on one side to help keep small items contained. Under the boot floor sits a space-saver spare.
Boot space is a claimed 477L including the underfloor storage space with the rear seats upright, and 1726L with the 40/20/40 folding rear bench sitting flat.
The bench doesn’t fold completely flat, however, and boot space is lower than in rivals like the X3, GV70 and NX.
The CX-60’s 3.3-litre turbocharged inline-six diesel engine produces 187kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
It’s mated with a newly developed eight-speed automatic transmission, called Skyactiv-Drive, which substitutes a conventional torque converter for a wet clutch.
As with the CX-60’s inline-six petrol, the diesel features a 48V mild-hybrid system and engine idle stop/start. The claimed 0-100km/h time is 7.3 seconds.
As expected of something with greater displacement, the CX-60 shades similarly priced four-cylinder rivals when it comes to power and torque, if not by quite as much as you might expect. The GV70 has 154kW and 440Nm, the X3 xDrive20d has 140kW and 400Nm, and the Q5 40 TDI has 150kW and 400Nm.
The CX-60’s only inline-six turbo-diesel rival, the X3 xDrive30d, has it beat on paper with 195kW, 620Nm, and a 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds. It’s considerably more expensive, though.
Unusually, the CX-60 diesel is rated to tow less than the petrol model. It has a braked towing capacity of 2000kg, while the petrol powertrain has 2500kg of capacity.
It’s seriously thrifty. The official combined cycle claim is 4.9L/100km and over a loop comprising inner-city, suburban and highway driving, we averaged 5.5L/100km.
For reference, in an X3 xDrive30d over an almost identical loop we averaged 7.3L/100km against a claim of 6.4L/100km.
Over the course of a week, we didn’t see fuel consumption in the CX-60 rise above 6.0L/100km; on one mostly highway commute to our office, we averaged just 5.2L/100km.
The petrol six’s fuel economy is nothing to sneeze at either, with a combined cycle claim of 7.4L/100km.
So while the CX-60 doesn’t offer a smaller four-cylinder option like most of its rivals (apart from in Japan, where a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre is offered), whether in petrol or diesel guise this is efficient.
Consider this: a CX-5, Mazda’s smaller but more mainstream mid-sized SUV, uses a claimed 5.7L/100km when equipped with a twin-turbo diesel four, and 8.2L/100km when equipped with a turbo-petrol four.
The CX-60’s ride is so tense, it feels like it needs a vigorous massage.
There’s no adaptive suspension so you’ve got one ride setting: stiff. It gets busy on patchy roads, and road imperfections can result in tight bursts of rebound.
The CX-60 therefore can display a tendency to hop around when there are successive surface changes and road imperfections. One section of Melbourne’s M8 saw the CX-60 springing around uncomfortably.
We know Mazda is known for engineering its vehicles with a sporty feel, and this is a more affordable rival to the likes of athletic SUVs like the BMW X3, but it’s a little too much.
One small consolation is the lack of a sharp, brittle feel reverberating through the structure when you hit bumps, a problem that often plagues vehicles with a stiff ride.
The CX-60 handles well, though I should expect as much given how firm its ride is.
On a winding mountain road, it does a fairly good impression of a BMW X3. It feels planted and poised, with little in the way of body roll.
The rear bias of the all-wheel drive system is evident, too. Even turning from a stop with a heavy throttle input can have you chirping the rear tyres.
It’s quite involving to drive, apart from a relative lack of steering feel. The weighting of the tiller, however, is spot-on for a sporty SUV.
Torque delivery from the turbo-diesel engine is nice and meaty, and the CX-60 is plenty rapid: the 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in a claimed 7.3 seconds, just 0.4 seconds behind the petrol.
It’s a burly-sounding motor too. It’s sonorous – particularly for a diesel – though it does seem noisier than an X3 xDrive30d, with a bit more diesel clatter.
Settle into a cruise on the highway, however, and the cabin is serene. Little in the way of wind noise enters the interior, and while there appears to be slightly more tyre roar than in an X3, this is still a very quiet cabin.
The CX-60 will make the occasional odd sound at low speeds, and the mild-hybrid system integrated with the transmission may be responsible.
We observed some slight jerkiness when slowing and at lower speeds, and while the powertrain allows the vehicle to coast to a stop, you will occasionally feel a shunt. Taking off, we also occasionally experienced some hesitancy from the powertrain.
The mild-hybrid system will allow you to coast not only while slowing down, but also while travelling at high speeds. You’ll be travelling along the highway when all of a sudden the tachometer drops to zero and the i-Stop icon appears in the instrument cluster. There is no jerkiness with this cutting in and out of power, however, unlike the CX-60’s low-speed behaviour.
The transmission, too, is smooth, and shifts quickly. Our main problem with the transmission is the shifter itself, which comes from the Mazda parts bin and has a clunky operation and a somewhat cheap feel.
It’s very easy to activate adaptive cruise control. It takes just one button press, while you can change the set speed to a newly detected limit with another simple button press. The traffic sign recognition, while not flawless, overall works well.
Likewise, the adaptive cruise control and lane centring work well to provide the CX-60 with Level 2 autonomous driving capability. Faded lane markings will have the system beeping repeatedly, however.
Other observations: the adaptive LED headlights are superb; the CX-60 annoyingly doesn’t remember your heated/ventilated seat and auto hold settings when you restart it; and the mirrors don’t dip down when you put it into reverse.
CX-60 Evolve highlights:
- 18-inch alloy wheels, Grey
- Auto LED headlights
- Auto high-beam
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Body colour exterior mirrors
- Side mirrors with:
- Power adjustment
- Auto folding
- Honeycomb grille design
- Black wheel arches and lower cladding
- Remote operated power tailgate (open/close)
- G-Vectoring Control Plus
- 10.25-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system
- 7.0-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster (G40e, D50e)
- 12.3-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster (P50e)
- Head-up display
- DAB+ digital radio
- Satellite navigation
- 8-speaker sound system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charger
- Front USB-C charging points
- Rear console incl. USB-C, 150W AC outlets
- Rear 1500W AC power outlet socket (PHEV)
- Keyless entry, push-button start
- Dual-zone climate control
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Electric park brake with auto-hold
- One-touch power windows
- Leather steering wheel
- Leather shift knob
- Black Maztex upholstery
- Manual front seat adjustment
CX-60 GT adds:
- 20-inch alloy wheels, Black metallic
- LED headlights with ‘dark signature’
- Rear combination lights incl. signature illumination
- Power sliding panoramic sunroof
- Gloss black exterior mirrors
- 2-position memory, side mirrors
- Body colour wheel arches, lower cladding
- Gloss black honeycomb grille
- Exterior mirror position memory
- Hands-free remote operated power tailgate (open/close)
- 12.3-inch TFT LCD digital instrument cluster
- 12.3-inch infotainment system
- 12-speaker Bose premium sound system incl. amplifier
- Driver monitor system
- Personalise system
- Electric steering wheel adjustment
- Heated steering wheel
- Black leather upholstery
- 10-way driver seat power adjustment with lumbar adjustment
- 8-way front passenger seat power adjustment
- 2-position driver memory
- Heated front seats
- Heated outer rear seats
- Surround-view cameras
CX-60 Azami adds:
- 20-inch machined alloy wheels
- Adaptive LED headlights with ‘bright signature’
- Body colour exterior mirrors
- Front bumper with bar-type grille
- Cruising & Traffic Support
- Front cross-traffic alert
- Surround-view cameras with see-through view
- Personalise system with ‘Easy Entry & Driving’
- LED ambient lighting
- Frameless interior mirror
- Black Nappa leather upholstery
- Ventilated front seats
- Leather side door trim with courtesy lamp
SP Package: $2000 (Azami)
- 20-inch alloy wheels, Black metallic
- Dark-coloured side signature
- Gloss black honeycomb-type grille
- Gloss black exterior mirrors
- LED headlights with dark signature
- Suede dashboard panel
- Tan Nappa leather upholstery
- Two-tone steering wheel
Takumi Package: $2000 (Azami)
- Bright decoration panel
- Cloth dashboard panel with ‘Kakenui’ stitching
- White Maple Wood console panel
- White Nappa leather upholstery
The CX-60 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP in 2022
Standard safety features include:
- 10 airbags incl. front-centre airbag
- Adaptive cruise control
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Forward incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist (Turn-across Traffic)
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Driver attention monitoring
- Forward obstruction warning
- High Beam Control (auto high-beam)
- Lane-keep assist
- Parking sensors front, rear
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Surround camera system
- Traffic sign recognition
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Vehicle exit warning
CX-60 Azami adds:
- Adaptive LED Headlights
- Cruising & Traffic Support
- Adaptive cruise + lane centring
- Front cross-traffic alert
- 360-degree cameras incl. See Through View
The Azami’s additional safety equipment can be optioned in both the Evolve and GT grades through the Vision Technology Package.
The CX-60 is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty like every Mazda model offered locally.
Diesel models stick with shorter servicing intervals of 12 months or 10,000km, even though petrol and plug-in hybrid models require servicing every 12 months or 15,000km.
Mazda offers five years of capped-price servicing. These services are capped at $478, $643, $975, $643 and $478, respectively, for a total cost of $3217 over five years. That makes it slightly cheaper than the petrol, which costs $3360 over five years.
Service pricing for the CX-60 is higher than the X3 ($2400 with a pre-paid Service Inclusive Basic package) but cheaper than a Q5 ($3520 with a pre-paid plan). The GV70 has them all beat, however, with five years or 75,000km of free servicing.
Mazda has done the CX-60 no favours by making it look like a CX-5 with a longer bonnet.
The Large Architecture SUVs are some of the most ambitious products from Mazda in years with their efficient new inline-six powertrains and premium aspirations, and yet they’ve all been designed to look a little too familiar.
Even inside the cabin, there are a few too many items borrowed from more affordable Mazdas. At least in Azami guise with the SP package, the CX-60 can boast an interior that stacks up against premium mid-sized SUV rivals.
Where Mazda has really burnished the CX-60’s premium credentials, however, is with the smooth, sonorous turbo-diesel under that long bonnet and the sharp handling from its new platform with rear-biased all-wheel drive.
Also sharp, however, is the ride. Even for something with sporty aspirations, it’s simply too stiff, and there’s no adaptive suspension option that could mitigate this.
We wonder how many premium-brand shoppers will wander into Mazda showrooms, particularly considering CX-60 buyers get the same after-sales treatment as even a base-model Mazda 2 buyer.
Should they do so, they’ll find a vehicle that certainly stacks up well on price, performance, fuel economy and luxury appointments. Alas, premium-brand rivals have it beat on ride quality.
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MORE: Everything Mazda CX-60