NEVER one for simply following accepted convention, Mazda have introduced an all-new engine to their flagship CX-60 range – and it’s a diesel. A bold move indeed, considering how many manufacturers are gearing up for an ICE-free future (irony fully intended).

However, recent events point to a future that may see the Internal Combustion Engine survive (nay, even THRIVE) beyond 2035 – Read all about the revised legislation here: EU adds e-fuels loophole to 2035 ICE ban

So, are Mazda ahead of the game? It would appear they could be and I wouldn’t be surprised if their new 3.3 litre, straight-6 diesel unit becomes very sought-after in the coming years.

I was delighted to have the chance to put the CX-60 diesel through it’s paces recently, with an invite to join the Mazda PR team and other fellow motoring writers in a two-day drive from Edinburgh to the Scottish Borders and then back again. We were able to drive all three trim-levels of the large SUV and try out both FWD (200 PS) and AWD models (245 PS).

Highly innovative advanced combustion technology makes the new e-Skyactiv D unit one of the cleanest diesel engines in the world. It also features M Hybrid Boost – Mazda’s 48V Mild Hybrid System. There’s also a new, advanced combustion technology – DCPCI (Distribution-Controlled Partially Premixed Compression Ignition) which further improves engine efficiency, emissions and fuel economy.

These two technologies contribute significantly to the CX-60’s excellent driving range, driver-satisfaction and low fuel consumption. The 254 PS e-Skyactiv D delivers 0-62mph in only 7.4 seconds and has a maximum speed of 136 mph, whilst the 200 PS variant returns a WLTP combined fuel consumption of 56.5 mpg and CO2 emissions of only 129 g/km. Both are mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

With an entry price of £42,990, the 200 PS output engine is only offered in Exclusive-Line trim where it is matched to rear-wheel drive, additionally Exclusive-Line can also be specified with the higher-output 254 PS version of the new engine for £45,630 and also features all-wheel drive.

The £48,380 Homura is offered exclusively with the 254 PS, AWD drivetrain, as is the range-topping £50,730 Takumi. 

I took the Takumi model which was fitted with the optional Convenience and Driver Assistance Pack (£1,900) and was finished in Sonic Silver (£650). Pay another £250 for Soul Red Crystal and I’d say you have the ultimate CX-60 3.3 Diesel. It looks fantastic in any colour but in Soul Red Crystal it is something else . . .

Fitting then that this good-looking, mid-sized SUV had some equally-spectacular roads of Scotland to traverse, starting from Edinburgh and then taking the scenic A701 that follows the River Tweed, past the Devil’s Beef Tub and onto Moffat. From there it was fast-flowing, twisting roads towards Selkirk, passing St Mary’s Loch before a short drive to Hawick and the final short leg to Roxburgh. And the weather was pretty spectacular too – clear, bright skies with just the sight and sound of a low-pass from a couple of RAF Typhoons to break up the tranquility. A perfect day.

But was the Mazda CX-60 D up to the job? Did it add to the pleasure of the day or did the SUV wallow around the twisties like a barge? Well, with Mazda always having the driver at the heart of design, it was no surprise to find that this particular SUV was a delightful travelling companion for all 136 miles.

The 6-cylinder refined engine, sharp handling and assurance of AWD made the journey seem shorter than it really was and by the end of, both myself and my travelling companion arrived fresh as daisies.

The CX-60 doesn’t throw you toward the horizon when you mash the accelerator; it’s much more grown-up than that, so rather hurries you along with a push from the rear, proving that Mazda, have indeed, favoured the rear wheels for power-delivery on the AWD models.

Steering feel is exemplary for such a large SUV and rivals the BMW X3, of which the Mazda is in direct competition with. It certainly has Mazda’s trade-mark directness and sharp turn-in, which should please more enthusiastic drivers and is a direct result of the double-wishbone suspension up front.

Even on the larger 20in wheels the damping seemed to handle the worst scarred roads very well. In Sport mode there was some thumping throw the suspension and chassis but it certainly wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

There was a surprising amount of body-roll around the twistier parts of the route, which I found surprising, considering how well Mazda vehicles handle generally. I didn’t expect MX-5 levels of body-control, but the smaller Mazda CX-30 is much better, while the Mazda CX-5 seems happier too. Again, not a deal-breaker as it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the CX-60 – just bear in mind that this is a mid-to-large SUV.

The 8-speed automatic transmission does a very good job of letting the driver get the most out of that 3.3 litre, in-line 6-cylinder diesel unit and I didn’t have any issues with it at all. Push-on, and the diesel engine does get a little vocal but it’s not a bad sound at all. In fact, it’s quite throaty in the upper-rev range and never gets tiresome or grating. This is a very refined, quiet diesel SUV and one that any family would be happy to travel greater distances in. With 550Nm of torque, it could also be perfect for any members of the Camping and Caravanning Club who have a 2.5 tonne home-on-wheels.

You’re going to be happy with the interior of the CX-60 too, as it’s classy, refined and feels a step up from the likes of the CX-5. Like the outside of the CX-60, the interior is bold and eye-catching – especially in this top-of-of-the-range Takumi.

I love a light-coloured interior and the Mazda has one of the best I’ve seen in an SUV. The quality of materials is enhanced by high-quality Japanese craftsmanship, with Nappa leather, natural wood grains and woven textiles adding to the premium feel of the cabin. I particularly liked the drop-stitching across the dash that was very pleasing on the eye but probably not that easy to keep looking fresh – especially if young, mucky hands get near it . . .

However, if you prefer tech over tactile, then Mazda’s new Driver Personalisation System will certainly impress. All you need to do is input your height and the system automatically adjusts seat position, steering wheel, mirrors, Active Driving Display, even the sound and climate control settings. Impressive stuff. . .

There is a full TFT-LCD driver’s instrument binnacle, a large window Active Driving Display and a 12.3-inch infotainment centre display which includes the latest version of Mazda Connect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system.

It’s all simple to control thanks to the large rotary controller in the extra-wide centre console. And yes, all the climate/heating controls are physical buttons so you won’t be distracted and/or furious when you wish to change the temperature while on the move. VW please take note . . .

The chunky gear-shifter completes the spot-on ergonomics of the CX-60 which has some of the best front seats you’re bottom will every be blessed with.

Rear passengers won’t be disappointed either, with plenty of head and leg room available – even for those over 6ft tall. If you’re hankering for a 7-seater then Mazda have the CX-80 coming later in the year which will be largely based on this CX-60.

Boot space is a whopping 570 litres, with split-folding rear seats to allow 1,726 litres of Ikea packages. Or a small wardrobe.

Standard equipment is right up there with the best too. Across the range, you’ll get LED headlights, reversing camera with front & rear parking sensors, 12.3in TFT instrument cluster, heated front seats, 12.3in Infotainment screen, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Smart Brake Assist, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Navigation System and a Head-Up Display.

The Homura adds some gloss black styling with the uprated Bose sound system as well as ventilated front seats. The Nappa leather and panoramic sunroof come as standard on the Takumi models.

While the CX-60 e-Skyactiv D may not be the cheapest mid-sized SUV around, it’s price is justified by the sheer quality of build and cutting-edge technology that has gone into making this smooth, 6-cylinder diesel engine so efficient and refined. At the end of the day, we had achieved a respectable 46 mpg, which considering the type of driving we were doing, is very good. I would expect over 50 mpg on an extended motorway run. And no range anxiety . . .

AT A GLANCE:   

Mazda CX-60 3.3D Takumi

OTR Price: £50,730  

Engine: 3.3 6-cylinder diesel  

Power: 254 PS  

Transmission: 8-speed Automatic  

0-62mph: 7.4 secs   

Top Speed: 136 mph   

Combined Economy: 54 mpg   

C02: 139 g/km  

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