What do big engines and 2023 have in common?

Not a lot. All we see these days are tiny petrol units connected to electric motors and, apart from that, an entire market dominated by 2.0-litre four-cylinders.

But maybe we shouldn’t be so sure. Why? Because Mazda has just gone and done something utterly ridiculous.

It has unveiled the fresh and beautiful CX-60 – with an all-new 3.3-litre diesel engine involving mild-hybrid technology.

Yes. You heard that right.

It does, indeed, sound bonkers. But when you see Mazda’s theory put into practice, suddenly, it’s the Japanese automaker execs in Hiroshima who are the ones guffawing.

You would imagine that, on a mid-size SUV like the CX-60, it’ll be returning under 40mpg. But it doesn’t. The Mazda manages 56.5mpg in its lower-powered form, which produces 200PS, while the more powerful 254PS variant of the same engine does 53.3mpg.

The secret sounds simple: a bigger engine needs fewer revs to get performance out of it, so you save fuel. But there’s more to it than that; otherwise, everyone would’ve been doing the same for years.

There is an alternative plug-in hybrid (PHEV) too, which produces 327PS and looks even better on paper. But it makes the SUV’s already firm ride even stiffer. Plus, its all-electric range isn’t enough to provide the biggest savings for company car users when compared with some of the competition.

The focus is on the diesels, then. And they’re available in three trims.

The Exclusive-Line sits at entry level with 18-inch alloys, two 12.3-inch screens for infotainment and digital instruments, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, navigation and a DAB radio. It also features a head-up display, dual-zone climate control and black leather upholstery with heated front seats.

The Homura grade gets black 20-inch wheels, electric-folding door mirrors, a Bose sound system and electrically adjustable front seats with an adjustable driver lumbar support. It also vaunts heated outer rear seats, ventilated front seats and an automatic tailgate.

Finally, the Takumi edition tops the range with silver and black 20-inch alloys, a white maple wood interior décor and white Nappa leather seat trim.

The top two grades also feature the Mazda Driver Personalisation System, which includes facial recognition. So, the latest CX-60 will automatically adjust everything for you when you get in, which is convenient if you share the driving with others.

The focus of this car review is on the Homura and Takumi trims. But bear in mind that the entry-level model is well-equipped, and it’s a significant price jump even to go for the mid-range Homura grade.

In addition, the ride is firm enough without the extra two inches of alloy wheel you get if you pick either the Homura or Takumi trims.

Under the bonnet, the 200PS diesel has plenty of shove and should suffice for most people’s needs. For example, it reaches 62mph in 8.4 seconds, whereas it’s 7.4 ticks of the clock in the 254PS version.

I would stick with the lower-powered edition. It is more than capable enough, although it is rear-wheel drive, whereas the more powerful version is all-wheel drive.

Those with bad backs might not appreciate the hard ride, but driving enthusiasts will love it, as the stiffer suspension helps the handling.

While no SUV will ever handle like a sports car, the hybridised oil burner performs excellently around bends, limiting body lean well. The steering is direct, and the wheel provides excellent feedback, fuelling your confidence around bendy B-roads.

One of Mazda’s fuel-saving tricks is shifting up through the gears early, which can make things a tad jerky. With an eight-speed gearbox, that means it’s more noticeable unless you’re thundering down a motorway continuously in eighth.

Nevertheless, it’s a minor gripe and isn’t enough to rain on the parade. Furthermore, such is the excellent handling that the all-wheel drive of the 254PS version only adds a little extra grip over the 200PS rear-wheel drive model.

Step inside, and you’ll probably agree with me that the cabin belongs at the premium end of the market. The 12.3-inch ultra-widescreen infotainment system peers over the top of the dashboard, and it’s awe-inspiring in terms of clarity, looks, menu layout and responsiveness. The digital instrument display is equally impressive, although the lack of customisability is a hindrance.

It looks nice, feels great, and it’s comfortable. The forward visibility is excellent, and all models get a reversing camera to aid your rear view, although a 360-degree camera is an optional extra.

There is plenty of space in the front, but the rear does lack a bit of legroom. And even though it’s a reasonably hefty-sized SUV, the Mazda still isn’t quite wide enough to comfortably seat three adult passengers on longer journeys.

The interior has lots of storage spaces, a notably large glove box, a sunglasses holder and reasonably sized door bins.

The boot’s capacity is 570 litres, but it’s reduced to 477 litres in the hybrid. However, Mazda quotes a figure of 1,726 litres for both once you fold the rear seats down in a handy 40/20/40 configuration. Plus, there’s no boot lip, which is even more convenient.

Safety-wise, the CX-60 was awarded a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. It scored 88% for adults, 91% for children, and 76% for safety assists, which include driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.

The only safety feature not included across the range is a separate driver monitoring system, which is found in both the Homura and Takumi models, but not on the entry-level Exclusive Line.

Tax-wise, the lower-powered diesel emits 129g/km of CO2, with the 254PS model producing 138g/km of CO2.

The PHEV, meanwhile, returns 188.3mpg, emitting just 33g/km of CO2, thanks to a 17.8kWh battery.

A full charge of the PHEV takes just under eight hours from a domestic socket, while a dedicated 7.4kW home wall box will do the same in around two and a half hours.

Overall, the new CX-60 e-SkyActiv D is a big surprise – and not just because of that superbly economical yet power-hungry diesel engine.

It is a car for those who want to enjoy driving, as Mazda prioritises handling over comfort.

There are a few minor gripes, but they’re not enough to ruin what is, essentially, a fabulous vehicle.

Fast Facts: Mazda CX-60 [e-SkyActiv D MHEV 254PS in Takumi trim, as tested]:

  • Max speed: 136 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 7.4 secs
  • Fuel economy: 53.3 mpg
  • Engine layout: 3.3-litre six-cylinder petrol
  • Max. power (PS): 254
  • CO2: 138 g/km
  • Price: £50,730

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Mazda

Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is Sorted Magazine’s Motoring Editor. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches around the world. The dad-of-three has a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism and has been a presenter and producer at ITV Central. He has also worked as a radio reporter and undertakes video and voiceover work. You can follow and interact with Tim on Instagram @tbarnesclay

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