The new Mazda CX-60 is the Japanese firm's crucial new range-topping SUV, representing a step change in terms of design philosophy, positioning and – most importantly – electrification.
Arriving to top the brand’s European line-up, it brings Mazda’s first plug-in hybrid powertrain, pairing a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine with an EV motor in the new eight-speed wet-clutch gearbox to produce a combined 323bhp and 369lb ft, making this the brand’s most powerful road car yet. Meanwhile, a 17.8kWh battery supplies an engine-off driving range of 37 miles. All these figures stack up favourably against PHEV rivals at a similar price point, namely the Volvo XC60 Recharge and BMW X3 xDrive40e.
The CX-60 PHEV's powertrain – entirely unrelated to the one seen in strategic partner Toyota's RAV4 PHEV – is expected to get it from 0-62mph in 5.8sec and emit just 33g/km of CO2 on the WLTP combined cycle.
While the hybrid is expected to take two-thirds of European sales, a pair of 48V mild-hybrid six-cylinder engine options – hence a bonnet that's noticeably longer than on the four-pot Mazda CX-5 – will be added to the line-up later on: a 3.3-litre diesel in 2022 and a 3.0-litre petrol in 2023, which uses Mazda’s SPCCI compression-ignition technology for improved efficiency. The company has yet to give power or performance details for these new motors.
The new motors were chosen against the industry trend towards inline-four power, acknowledges Mazda, because 500cc cylinders give the best balance of torque and thermal efficiency, so it’s better to boost the outright count rather than individual capacity.
The new arrival sits atop an all-new native rear-wheel-drive platform – a layout Mazda says allows for improved dynamic balance (as proved by the MX-5) and refinement – which will be used for four new models by 2025, including the three-row CX-80 and the wider CX-70 and CX-90 SUVs for the US market.
Mazda’s commitment to the dynamic appeal of its mainstream models was a driving factor in the architecture's development. As well as optimising weight distribution and being fitted with double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, it’s equipped as standard with a new Kinematic Posture Control function, as used by the Mazda MX-5, which promotes flatter cornering and sharper turn-in by varying braking force to each wheel.
Measuring 4745mm long by 1890mm wide and 1675mm high, it is distinctively larger than the CX-5 it will be sold alongside, and while the visual resemblance is obvious, the CX-60 marks an evolution of the brand’s Kodo design language, with heavy influence from 2017’s stunning Vision Coupé concept. The most obvious differences are a flatter treatment for the front end and a markedly altered silhouette, which are cues expected to define the Japanese brand’s new models over the coming years.
Inside, the CX-60 follows the driver-centric ‘Jinba Ittai’ (horse and rider) philosophy common to all its models, but with a tangibly enhanced focus on high-quality materials and attention to detail. One notable upgrade over the CX-5 is a significantly larger 12.3in central touchscreen - up from 10.25in.
Available to order in the UK now ahead of deliveries getting under way in the autumn, the CX-60 is priced from £43,950 in entry-level Exclusive trim, £46,700 in mid-rung Homura guise and £48,050 for the range-topping Takumi car. Those prices line the CX-60 up closely against the new Lexus NX – also available with a 300bhp-plus PHEV powertrain – in line with Mazda's push to position itself comfortably among more traditional premium marques.
The firm's UK boss, Jeremy Thomson, told Autocar last month: "We do strongly feel that there is a place for a Japanese premium and that means defining what we mean by Japanese premium and that will take some time to deliver." The next models based on the new platform are expected to be positioned similarly.