New car test: Mazda CX-60 Diesel: good vibrations

Belgium, and even Europe, represents only a tiny part of Mazda new car sales. If the Japanese engineers think a 3.3 litre diesel in-line 6 engine is perfectly suited to their large SUV, there’s no point in arguying with them… even though such a big lump is not tax friendly in our small country. For the time being, let’s just enjoy this nice, sober and efficient engine.

The hybrid CX-60 arrived in Belgium by the end of last year and it didn’t won us all over. When Mazda made public that petrol and diesel in-line 6s were coming, we were very happy. After all, we are fans of good old fashioned engines ! We recently discovered the diesel version in Girona, Spain. The e-Skyactiv-D engine is available with 200 or 254 HP. It was developed according to the principles of « correct sizing » : optimizing an engine’s capacity to improve its fuel efficiency and power figures. This one features Mazda’s 48V M Hybrid Boost system, making it powerful, fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. Most driving was done using the less powerful version. We honestly think it’s perfectly adequate for the job. The 8-speed automatic transmission is new and only rear wheel drive is available in 200 HP guise.

Moving is an art

The CX-60 is quite a large car but the interior is well designed and a pleasing place to be for both driver and passenger. The feeling of space is real, even if the center console is rather bulky. As ever with Mazda, materials are top grade and the fit and finish are perfect. The steering wheel is nice to grab and not cluttered by useless switches. The dashboard central screen is not too big and we like it that way, displaying a reduced quantity of useful information. The rear seats are a bit cramped and boot space is somewhat reduced, especially considering the CX-60’s overall dimensions.

Now is the time to discover how this big diesel reacts on the road. It is rather muted but revving it will release a nice unobtrusive sound. However, there’s no point trashing as its generous torque (450 Nm) available low in the revband is so nice to feel relaxed. The current crop of hybrid petrol cars tend to push us to rev them, even though it’s not their cup of tea. Thanks to its small electric motor, the in-line 6 responds instantly to the slightest push on the right pedal. However, it does it in its own silky smooth way, never feeling sporty doing so.

The motorway is the place to be

Feeling relaxed and in a comfortable environment, we were ready to cross Europe driving the car below enforced speed limits. The CX60 loves to cruise along, its engine is never too loud and we averaged 5,5 l/100 km during our test. The second part of the test took part on some nice winding roads. The CX-60’s suspension is perfectly tuned for such conditions, it moves about with alacrity. No heavy battery to move about here and no doubt that being 200 kg lighter than the PHEV version helped matters. Mind you, there’s no way to have the rear axle sliding or doing donuts. Nothing will make the CX60 go astray. A short drive of the 254 HP version didn’t convince us more power was needed. The 4WD was useless in dry weather conditions but we understand it’s needed on some markets facing unfair weather conditions most of the year.

Registering a CX60 Diesel means there’s a first € 2500 tax to pay in Wallonia and Brussels. Then, annual tax is a whopping € 1500 ! In Flanders, the registration tax is €1640 and annual tax is lower too, at € 740. This will definitely impair sales, unfortunately. Quite a distressing thought once you have tasted this particularly well- made car and are ready to munch kilometers in a relaxed way while electric car drivers queue up at recharging stations. Restrained and pleasing to live with, the inline 6 suits this large size SUV quite well, releasing a nice sound.

The RWD 3.3d 200hp starts from €47,290 in Prime-Line trim and goes up to €57,890 for a top of the range Takumi 254hp 4WD car. That’s not cheap by any standards but the CX60 gets more standard kit than its no less expensive competitors. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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