I’m not sure quite what to make of the new Mazda CX-60, the latest addition to its range of SUVs. My test car arrived in a highly fetching shade of “platinum quartz”, a colour which sort of hovers intriguingly between beige, grey and taupe. It’s very much on-trend (I think) and contemplating its place in the spectrum occupied far too much of my time. It’s nice, anyway. Let’s continue inside…
The fit and finish was mostly impeccable, as you’d expect from a Mazda. Mine was a top-of-the-range version in “Takumi” trim. The leatherwork was very bright and white, and the dash also featured tasteful wood in shades of grey. There was nothing to get your heart racing in there, but then again this is intended to be smart, reliable and habitable family transport.
And you do get to enjoy a full-length panoramic glass sunroof, so at least your passengers get to see more of the world. You can easily say it’s just another mid-sized SUV in a market saturated with them. You can just as truthfully remark that there isn’t that much more that this sort of car can do that a competent old-school estate couldn’t, such as the still-attractive Mazda 6 tourer. But it seems to be what the market wants these days, and the Mazda is a competitive entrant.
It’s also a highly engineered one. It combines quite a large petrol engine with a hybrid electric motor, and is actually also four-wheel drive, at least in this particular version. You can fill it up with petrol, of course, but also plug it in overnight and generate a little more power for the batteries as you drive. That means that you can get around 30 to 40 miles out of it in electric-only mode (as ever, depending on how gently you proceed).
Now, that means it’s the ideal car for a certain type of household – one that needs the space, does multiple shortish journeys (where the hybrid set-up gives you quiet, economical motoring), and probably out in the countryside where the all-wheel drive can assist with the mud and snow. But all those batteries and transmission bits inevitably add to the weight and cost, so for most purposes, a two-wheel drive petrol-only option would be best. If you’re set on clocking up astronomical mileages, then the 3.3-litre diesel is the choice, albeit environmentally flawed and vulnerable to future punitive taxation. It’ll be a rare beast, that one.
Even with all that kit on board, the CX-60 can certainly get a move on, with 60mph coming along in under six seconds from rest, and on to a top speed well in excess of 100mph. On the move and in a hurry, the CX-60 is about as refined as these hybrids tend to be, which is to say a little bit moany. Cruising at motorway speed it’s perfectly fine, and the driver assistance pack gives you safer, semi-autonomous driving. Controls are a sensible mix of buttons and touchscreen, which isn’t true for every manufacturer these days.
So it’s quite impressive in many ways, the CX-60, though I actually prefer its larger sibling the CX-5, recently revised and much the nicer drive. But I have quibbles. The styling, for a start, lets it down. Usually, Mazda designs are a tactile blend of curves and swathes, often crafted by hand in clay back in Hiroshima. The CX-60 is just a bit too much of a slab-sided tank for my taste, and actually looks more like an MPV than an SUV, and not a particularly cute one either. At low speeds, the transmission was also surprisingly clunky, as if moving in and out of gears and across from electric assistance to full-petrol power was too much for the automatic gearbox’s brain.
Most disappointing was a faulty front light, all fogged up and with intermittently defective indicator light. It’s so unusual to find such a fault on any new car, and especially a meticulously manufactured Mazda that it’s disproportionately worthy of note. Naturally, it would get fixed easily at a dealer, free of charge under warranty, but buyers expect so much nowadays. I mean, it’s pretty much a £50,000 car, after all. Am I being unreasonable?