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Sunday / 23 June 2024
HomeFeaturesMazda CX-60 review – The perfect SUV for South Africa

Mazda CX-60 review – The perfect SUV for South Africa

The new Mazda CX-60 is the first model in the automaker’s next-generation portfolio of products to arrive in South Africa, and it’s a big step up from the vehicles it has sold in our market for the past decade.

In looks, comfort, quality, and technology, the CX-60 can be considered a real competitor in the luxury SUV landscape and while it has a few compromises, they are few and far in between.

Mainly, it’s not cheap, and there are not a lot of models to choose from.

Mazda offers two CX-60 variants in South Africa with the most notable differences being that one is two-wheel drive while the other is all-wheel drive (AWD), with the AWD model also offering a few additional creature comforts over its more affordable sibling.

After a week of having the top-end CX-60 in the garage, which retails for R844,500, it’s easy to say that where this SUV shines is not on paper or on a screen, but rather, when you get it out into the wild.

All the quality without the cost

What was the most impressive about the new Mazda CX-60, even the Mazda 2 I drove back in March, is the premium atmosphere of its cabin and the quality materials used in constructing it. The door closes with conviction, the leather feels rich, the decorative plastics are well-considered, and everywhere your body parts touch there is a padded insert for added comfort.

The passenger cell is more spacious than what the exterior would suggest and offers a commanding view of the road with the broad, squarish nose stretching out in front of you, and the “Jinbai Ittai” design concept puts all the most-used features in close proximity to the driver’s seat for easy control.

The sizeable central infotainment screen, digital driver’s cluster, and heads-up display (HUD) – all of which measure at least 12 inches in this top-spec model – are wonderful for adjusting the media or the dozens of in-car settings to your liking, and displaying things such as navigation, music, and Apple CarPlay (or Android Auto if you’re into that kind of thing).

Complementing the experience is a 12-speaker Bose stereo with noise-cancellation that can battle it out against the best on the market, as well as niceties including a wireless charger, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start with walk-away locking, and a surround-view camera system that proved particularly helpful on a cold winter morning when all the windows were fogged up.

The Driver Personalisation System is another boon and something I have yet to see on a vehicle, nevermind one under seven figures.

It uses a camera embedded into the front fascia to measure the driver’s eye level and adjust the seat, steering column, and mirrors accordingly. If you want to fine-tune these parameters yourself, you can also do so by only pressing a few buttons.

The interior camera was exceptionally attentive at all times, in fact.

While driving through the beautiful landscape of Mpumalanga ogling the mountains and ravines, there were several instances the driver attention monitor quickly picked up that I wasn’t focusing all my efforts on the road ahead, and made a point of it to let me know that this is unacceptable.

Fortunately, the CX-60’s adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist acted as guardian angels and kept it squarely between the lines and maintained a safe following distance.

The blind-spot monitor – which shows up on the mirrors, the instrument cluster, and in the HUD – also compensated for the broad B-pillar next to the front seats which creates a rather large blind spot.

Adaptive LED lights are one of the most useful features in the modern era, and thankfully, the Mazda has this, too. This allows it to dim certain sections of the headlights to avoid blinding oncoming traffic while the rest remain on bright for exceptional road visibility at night.

As the software is still a new-generation system, there were a few hiccups that will likely be ironed out with future over-the-air updates – I hope, at least.

One afternoon, the Mazda didn’t recognise that the key was inside the cabin and refused to start, forcing me to get out, lock it, unlock it again, and try once more, after which the engine fired right up.

On the highway coming back to Gauteng, the adaptive cruise control was a tad nervous and picked up a car in another lane more than once thinking it was in mine, and it proceeded to slow down the SUV for a few seconds until it realised there was no danger present and returned to normal speed.

In fairness, with all the cutting-edge tech crammed into new cars nowadays it’s rarer to find one without any glitches than one with, so we don’t need to storm Mazda’s HQ with pitchforks and torches just yet.

Out and about, the Mazda’s 2.5-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol motor fares well to keep up with the demands of its driver. The lack of forced induction means power is delivered smoothly and linearly, and there is no sudden and usually-unpredictable thrust from the back like in turbocharged vehicles.

Having 141kW and 261Nm at its disposal the CX-60 could do with more torque. From a standstill, it does sometimes feel a bit long in the tooth even in Sport mode, but if you’re already on the move it supplies acceptable acceleration for overtakes and merging onto fast-moving roads, and it’s quiet as a mouse if you’re not pushing it.

What I enjoyed about the eight-speed gearbox is that it provides two modes of operation via the flappy paddles.

In the first setting, you can swap cogs with whichever paddle you want and after a few seconds, the car will take back control. In the second, you can have the final say in all shifts and even thrust the SUV into red, and it won’t jump up a gear unless you tell it to.

The Mazda isn’t that thirsty for its size, either, as I only had to refuel after getting back home from a 620km weekend trip, with the SUV achieving an efficiency reading of about 7.8l/100km on the open road and 8.2l/100km in the urban sprawl.

The Mi-Drive system’s off-road mode, in partnership with the front camera, also supplied the confidence to turn off the beaten path and do a bit of sightseeing through the mountains on rutted dirt roads that have seen more than their fair share of rain this year, effortlessly bringing us to breathtaking locations and scenery.

Road feedback from the CX-60 was a mixed bag, though.

On one hand, the dampers are rather stiff for a luxury SUV and every so often a bump in your way would feel harsher than it looked; with the firm seats, low-profile tyres, and 20-inch rims, attractive as they might be, not doing it too many favours.

On the other, the foundation translates to very little body roll around corners and lots of sensations channeled through the steering wheel which provides a better sense of control for the driver both on and off the tarmac.

I would personally like a more supple ride, while another reviewer said they prefer the CX-60’s setup over that of other high-end SUVs that have previously been through their hands, so it really just comes down to your own preference.

Verdict

The CX-60 isn’t just the sum of its specifications and features on a brochure, it’s more than that.

It’s not trying to best its segment rivals like the British and Germans that have all started to tease the R1-million mark. Instead, it intends to offer the same experience at a far more attainable price for the South African luxury SUV customer, and it does so quite convincingly.

If this Mazda ticks your boxes but wasn’t on your radar yet, it won’t hurt to at the very least give it a test drive.

It doesn’t have the brand presence of its peers, but it does have the looks, quality, and support of a well-established and trusted brand, at a price many more can afford.


Mazda CX-60


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