Launched with a Buzz | Mazda CX-60 PHEV SUV

BY Vivek Max R

Kodo, Ma, Kaichou, Musubu, Hacho and Kakenui for you, Takumi-san?

We at BP have a bit of a soft spot when it comes to Mazda, given their independent spirit, devotion to developing cars that are satisfying for keen drivers, and the general way their cars have evolved over the years. With its latest product, the CX-60, we're hoping the company can inject a bit of driving fun typically absent from family crossovers and SUVs.

The Buzz

The Mazda CX-60 may be a 'tame' family hauler rather than a fire-breathing rotary sports coupe, but it still piqued more than a bit of interest here at the office.

That's because the platform the CX-60 rides on, which will go on to underpin a number of Mazda's larger future offerings (including the next-gen Mazda 6), has the engine mounted longitudinally, which means…

… wait for it…

… a rear-wheel drive mechanical layout!

This bodes extremely well for anyone who loves driving purely for the sake of it, because the smooth, balanced driving feel inherent in such a layout simply cannot be replicated in a car with a transverse engine placement.

This holds true even though the CX-60 itself isn't rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive instead. As a big family hauler it's not supposed be going sideways anyway, but what it does mean is that the CX-60 is a practical SUV that the automotive enthusiast can enjoy in terms of handling dynamics – a traditional Mazda value and strength.

The other big news is that the CX-60 is Mazda's first-ever plug-in hybrid. The Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine is paired with a 100kW electric motor and a 17.8kWh battery to produce a 300hp and 500Nm of torque, making it also the most powerful road car Mazda has ever produced to-date.

The CX-60 sends power to all four wheels via Mazda’s latest generation rear-wheel drive architecture-based i-Activ all-wheel drive (AWD) system mated to a new 8-speed automatic gearbox. Interestingly, this gearbox uses a multi-plate clutch in place of a torque converter for a more-direct torque transmission to the wheels. Despite being a PHEV, 0-100km/h is dispatched in a claimed 5.8 seconds while fuel economy is said to be a staggering 1.5-litres/100km on the WLTP combined cycle with just 33 g/km CO2 emissions!

Equipped with Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive), the CX-60 driver can toggle between Normal, Sport, Off-Road, Towing (only in applicable markets presumably), and EV. The last mode makes it possible to pootle around purely on battery power, offering up to a claimed 63km of range at speeds of up to 100km/h.

Mazda says that two other engines are in the works for the future – a 3-litre straight-six e-Skyactiv X petrol and a 3.3-litre Skyactiv-D diesel, both of which will be mated to Mazda’s nascent M Hybrid Boost 48V mild hybrid system. Both can be equipped either with the aforementioned i-Active AWD system or with rear-wheel drive only, and fuel economy is said to be the same as or better than the 2.5-litre PHEV CX-60 for these new petrol and diesel variants respectively. Cue sideways-enthusiast-dads and -moms spilling their drinks in excitement?

Advancing Kodo

Kodo is the design philosophy that Mazda has used over the past years, and here in the CX-60, it evolves to a new yet still cohesive level, fuelled by the concept of Ma - the calm and dignified beauty of empty space – and further accentuated with fluid body lines that look like they were created by the strokes of a Japanese calligraphy brush. That Rhodium White premium metallic paint is brand new for Mazda too. Pictures speak a thousand words, so see for yourself.

On the inside, things take a noticeably-artisanal turn. The ideas of Kaicho – harmony arising from mixing different materials and textures, including maple wood, nappa leather, Japanese textiles and chrome details – is abundantly clear in the top-of-the-line Takumi trim level interior of the CX-60.

The artisanal interplay continues with the instrument panel stitching courtesy of Musubu - the traditional Japanese art of binding – while a pleasingly eye-catching juxtaposition is visible on the maple wood trim, wrought from the Japanese aesthetic of Hacho – asymmetrical balance, or intentional unevenness.

Interestingly, various trims utilize a woven fabric in their design and construction which serve to catch light at different angles simultaneously and further accentuate the artisanal textures therein. This is furthered by a Japanese stitching technique called Kakenui – “hanging stitching” seams with spaces between the trim fabrics that offer a glimpse of the material beneath.

Combined, all of the artisanal techniques of Kaicho, Musubu, Hacho and Kakenui serve to coalesce cohesively into a decidedly upmarket and airy interior space that is unmistakably, proudly, traditionally and uniquely Japanese in the Takumi trim level of the CX-60.

This is also why we at the office have a soft spot for Mazda. They make unique and outstanding interiors that punch way above their weight with an iron fist clad in a soft-spoken velvet glove, and the CX-60 takes this philosophy to greater heights and depths.

All in, there is so much to look forward to with the new Mazda CX-60. No word yet on if or when it will arrive in Singapore, so we await good news with bated breath.