Mazda CX60: if you think diesel is dead, think again

The Mazda CX-60The Mazda CX-60
The Mazda CX-60
So diesel is dead? Not so insist Mazda, which is putting its money where its mouth is with a new model which seems set to breathe new life into this unfashionable mode of power.

Everyone’s talking electric at the moment, which is all well and good if you have plentiful funds to make it viable and predictable driving routes which steer clear of range anxiety.

EV has much to commend it but it won’t suit all needs, which is why Mazda is venturing into the premium SUV market with this elegantly styled model, the CX60. OK, so a snappier name might have helped, but nonetheless this model will snap at the heels of various Audis, Volvos and dare we say lookalike Jaguars.

That’s right. For the first time, a Mazda looks – and dare I say – feels like a Jag. Just as well, for this £50,000-plus model is expensive for a Mazda.

The Yorkshireman in me says it’s expensive for any car, come to that. But few people if any buy cars outright these days.

Leasing – or renting – might be a more accurate description. Anyway, you will get a more accurate feel when you compare monthly figures. Suddenly, the Mazda is a good value offering. Was it ever so!

This model marks new ground for Mazda but one which this model seems good enough to tackle.

Mazda is bold. Several marques have already removed diesel from their car line-ups – Renault and Jeep, for example – due to dwindling popularity.

CX-60 debuted last year as Mazda’s new flagship SUV with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The diesel version is badge e-Skyactiv-D. Again, not as snappy as it might have been but bear with. For it’s under the bonnet that this vehicle shines.

At a time when manufacturers are downsizing engines, Mazda has done the opposite with a 3.3-litre inline-six unit; far larger in capacity than all its competitors.

It burbles, offers good economy, drives well and feels sporty. Not many engines offer those qualities. And believe me, I’ve not met an electric motor yet that stirs the heart.

For those who like substantial cars, they don’t come much more substantial than this. Just driving around the car park, you could feel the vast wheels churning the tarmac. OK, so be careful with your driveway, but it shows this model is a beast.

CX-60 is rather large, and that huge bonnet helps to accommodate the longitudinally-placed 3.3-litre six-cylinder engine.

Mazda often choose Yorkshire for their launches – who can blame them? – but this time they ventured just over the border into Scotland.

We ventured through Melrose, Kelso, Roxburgh and so and across some of the most beautiful roads with oil painting scenery, that it was hard to imagine this was not Yorkshire.

The car coped without fuss. There are two power outputs – one with 197bhp and 450Nm of torque, with drive sent to the rear wheels, and a 251bhp version offering 550Nm of torque and all-wheel-drive. Both are paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox too, which is a wonderful gearbox.

For someone who would always choose manual over automatic, maybe this unit is the one to convert me.

I tried three versions of the car. The less powerful model is still able to manage 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds and hit a 132mph top speed. For an engine of this size, and in something as big as the CX-60, it’s efficient. Mazda claims 56.5mpg and 129g/km CO2 emissions.

It offers plenty of pace in day-to-day driving, and is refined and quiet. It feels more settled and planted than I expected.

Mazda has successfully adapted its design language into its largest car ever sold in Europe, and to our eyes at least the CX-60 is very smart.

Designers were aiming for premium and they have pulled it off. There are subtle ‘Inline 6’ badges on the front wings, as well as a small ‘e-Skyactiv D’ logo on the rear boot lid.

Mazda cabins are always decent but this is the smartest yet. There’s a large central display controlled by a rotary dial in the middle, and it’s a method that’s far less distracting and easier to use than wrapping everything up in a touchscreen. The quality and ergonomics throughout are excellent.

In terms of boot space, the CX-60 offers a generous 570 litres, though rear space isn’t quite as plentiful as you’d hope for something this size, and in truth doesn’t feel much bigger than Mazda’s smaller CX-5 in this respect.

This is a superb new engine that shows there’s still life in diesel power, even if it might not be trendy to say so. Offering impressive efficiency, a stunning interior and generous equipment levels, I certainly prefer it to the plug-in hybrid.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mazdas – the MX-5 in particular – but this is the first big Mazda which I have truly admired. It’s a huge, solid piece of kit but it also feels subtle and sporty.

So, while many car companies follow the flock it’s good to see Mazda has the confidence to go its own way.

CX60 isn’t without big-spending competition. But I expect enough independent-minded motorists to choose this over the more common alternatives.

Mazda CX-60 3.3D Takumi

Price: £50,730. Test model comes at £53,380 when you add features such as machine grey and rhodium white paint (£750), convenience and driving assistance pack (£1,900)

Engine: 3,283cc via eight-speed automatic

Power: 251bhp

Torque: 550Nm

0-60mph: 7.4 seconds

Top speed: 136mph

Economy: 54.2mpg combined

Insurance: Group 39A

CO2 emissions: 139g/km