Tested: 2023 Mazda CX-60 2.5L Dynamic

By the time this article is finally published, I will feel twice as sorry for this poor vehicle as I already do.

My very first bout of sympathy goes out to the “Zoom-Zoom” spirit which defined Mazdas of the olden days. They were affordable yet zesty. Cheeky and tasty. Or, as I should’ve put it in the first place, cheap and cheerful. Nowadays Mazda is just like every other car maker out there: producing premium products to rake in premium profits.

Isn’t that a real pity?

I’ve lamented this fact before – probably in every Mazda review of the last few years – but it really irks me that this true Volkswagen competitor ignored the vast chasm left by formerly affordable vehicles, and instead followed the herd upstream. Where the grass is greener and the vehicle finance departments are absolutely overcrowded.

They’ve also abandoned a few of their cornerstone products, like their performance hatchback or, more recently, a facsimile double-cab. I mention all of this with the greatest of respect because Mazda South(ern) Africa is here to sell good products for decent profits, not to appease some reclusive journalist from Namibia.

And I must also commend them for reading the market right by withdrawing from the fierce bakkie market or silently slipping out of the declining hot hatch segment. This finally brings us to the doorstep of this new and fairly large Mazda SUV, because its maker correctly identified that the buying public simply cannot get enough of them.

Despite a confusing numbering system, their compact CX-3, not-so-compact CX-5 and somewhere-in-the-middle CX-30 tallied up enough sales for the local retailers to bring in this medium-sized CX-60 model. And this is where my second salvo of pity creeps into the equation: we got the base model 2.5 Dynamic on test.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good base model because it contains the essence of the range and doesn’t tarnish your view with the tinsel of a fancier version. Mazda even managed to strike a good balance between standard specifications and price point: this 5-seater 2WD Automatic with most mod cons costs around R740,000 right now.

I typed 2WD (two-wheel drive) for two reasons: firstly, because the dearer “Individual” model is AWD (all-wheel drive) and secondly, because this vehicle is rear-wheel drive. Yup. Read that again. This medium-sized, brand-new Japanese soccer mobile has a longitudinally-mounted engine and rear-facing gearbox which drive the back wheels.

I’m unsure what the basic reasoning for this was as we weren’t invited to the press launch, but I know for a fact that transversely-mounted drive trains, FWD and/or mild AWD are a favoured layout for modern SUV’s because it leaves the engineers with more room to include extra passenger space and creature comforts.

We’ve all become accustomed to the central gearbox tunnel which splits the front cabin in half, but it’s actually superfluous in most new vehicles; because the gearbox sits elsewhere. However, in Mazda (and everyone else’s) defense, I’ve long ago learnt that the cavity is well used by control units, cabin sensors, comfort modules and other boring but necessary tech.

Speaking of which, this entry-level derivative boasts with toys like fully automatic LED headlights, keyless entry and start, heads-up display, a panoramic sunroof, leather seats, wireless charging tray, full PDC with reverse camera, power tailgate, electric steering wheel adjustments, dual-zone climate control, digital instrument cluster and a frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Quite a few competitors will charge quite a bit extra for all that…

Go for the more expensive AWD 2.5 model and things get even freakier, with adaptive this, blind-spot that and fully automatic everything. Both these models are powered by a comparably boring but dependable 2,488cc in-line 4-cylinder (naturally-aspirated) petrol engine worth 141kW or 261Nm; with the obligatory “sport” mode.

Mazda just launched a jolly powerful and very out-of-trend 3.3L in-line 6-cylinder turbo-diesel hybrid (read our launch report here) which should be the vehicle of choice for anyone who lives up country, likes to put foot, or often loads their SUV with plenty of passengers and luggage. Should make a brilliant tow-car, too!

Anyway, back to this more affordable 2.5L CX-60. It deserves pity but respect in equal measures because Mazda gave it plenty of tools to overcome any shortfalls when compared to its muscular i-6 sibling. Torque only peaks at 3,000rpm so it gets to play with a fairly fast and smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox.

Mazda claims 0-100 in 9.6 and we managed exactly 9.59 seconds. That’s very impressive!

The same goes for our once-off brake test from 100km/h which was over in just 2.88 seconds and 39.82 meters. While not record-setting, that’s pretty acceptable for a swish SUV with a gross weight of 2,300kg. Other notable notes include the ground clearance of 179mm, 11.7m turning radius and 477 to 1,148L of luggage capacity.

The futurist-sounding Skyactiv-G (engine/fuel management system) and i-stop (start/stop) system even manage to reduce CO2 emissions to a claimed average of 170g/km; which is exceptional for such an old-fashioned lump. Ditto the claimed average consumption of just 7.3L/100km from the 58L tank.

Our real-world average was obviously higher but most drivers agreed that a steady highway cruise could match that number. City and/or spirited driving will easily tilt 10L/100km which highlights another subjective issue our testers found: the tank could’ve been a bit larger to extend refueling intervals.

At this point I would love to tell you that this Mazda CX-60 2.5 Dynamic is a tail-happy joy to drive but I hasten to admit that I didn’t know about its rear claws until the day of performance testing. I’m also ashamed to admit that – in my observation – each and every crossover/SUV has blended into a unified soup.

Admittedly, it’s a soup of great sophistication and predictable safety, mixed with brand-specific sportiness or a desperate attempt at interesting design/s. And with a final apology to Mazda and this new CX-60, this vehicle falls safely into the middle of all that adequacy, with the only unique feature being a drive-train setup I hardly noticed.

Each new CX-60 is sold with a highly competitive 5-year (unlimited mileage) warranty and matching service plan with three years of roadside assistance.

Leave a Comment