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CAR OF THE WEEK: Mazda’s CX-60 is up front with comfort

March 4th, 2023 10:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

CAR OF THE WEEK: Mazda’s CX-60 is up front with comfort Image

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by Brian Byrne

WHEN I had an introduction to the Mazda CX-60 a while back, I remember liking the way the company was thinking. Moving upwards into a true premium brand — though I have personally always considered their products to be at the top end of their market, not least because of their cars’ reputation for reliability. The CX-60 was the first model from a new Large Product architecture aimed at lifting the brand to a new level.

 

The car was also a new shift in being a rear-wheel-drive model, with availability of AWD. Rear-driven wheels are a thing with both BMW and Mercedes-Benz, reflecting a notion of better handling by ‘real’ drivers from the string-backed driving gloves era. Never subscribed to it myself, especially in slush and snowy conditions where FWD as popularised by the original Mini from the 1960s showed its worth (as had the Citroen Traction Avant from the 1930s, but that was long before my time).

 

Going RWD also means the CX-60 and its upcoming siblings now have longitudinal engine placings instead of the transverse and more compact powertrains used in FWD. This has had had an effect on the body design, resulting in a longer engine bay and bonnet than in, say, the FWD CX-5 SUV which has previously been the Mazda flagship on this side of the world. 

 

Especially in the last decade I have very much been a fan of Mazda’s styling, but after living with the CX-60 for a while, I think they’ve lost something here. The massivity of the front is rather brutal, and there’s a mis-step in the proportions of the bonnet and the passenger areas. The Mazda is larger than the Skoda Kodiaq and smaller than the Kia Sorento, but the shapes and proportions of both others are aesthetically more pleasing to me.

 

I don’t have the actual figures to hand, but I’m convinced those others also have more room in the cabin, because of the longer engine compartment in the Mazda. Bluntly, if the driver is a six-footer like me, then my knees in the back seat would be wedged into his seat-back. I have reservations too about the interior trim, on the dashboard a beige fabric-style finish that I don’t think will last without looking scruffy.

The review CX-60 as sold here is also Mazda’s first plug-in hybrid, based on a 2.5 inline four petrol engine with an electric motor and new 8-speed automatic geabox. Total output is 323hp, and with a very respectable 500Nm of torque thanks to the electric boost, that allows for a sub-6 seconds 0-100km/h if pushed. The electric range of the setup is claimed at 63km, but from experience I always take these figures to be 20pc less in real world.

The CX-60 a big car, but surprisingly perky for all that, though I never felt like throwing it about. And it is comfortable on the distance journey, provided you’re not long-legged and confined in the back seat. Somehow, though it is a subjective view, I think what has been a stellar design team over the last decade has, uncharacteristically, dropped the ball with this one.

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