It seems that diesel still has a place and a purpose, especially when it concerns larger SUVs such as the CX-60 – Mazda’s answer to premium offerings from BMW and Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes and Audi.
True, manufacturers are currently either scaling down or turning their back on heavy fuel entirely, however Mazda is doing exactly the opposite with a glorious sounding in-line six-cylinder unit that benefits from the company’s 48-volt hybrid technology.
Called ‘e-Skyactiv D’, and weighing in with a 3.3-litre capacity, this big, longitudinally-mounted motor comes with equally big figures. You will note the word figures because it comes in two states of tune: 197bhp for rear-wheel-drive versions of the opulent five-seater and 251bhp for all-wheel-drive examples.
Both are married to an eight-speed automatic that does a fine job of allowing you to make the absolute most of the available performance (0-62mph feels faster than the suggested 7.4 seconds) and tidal wave of torque (406 lb ft) that comes on stream from the moment you press the accelerator.
There is so much torque from anything above idle, in fact, that you are kept pinned in your seat as you gather speed – an experience that has a pleasingly mechanical backing track to it. But the engine is about much more than performance.
Another of its trump cards is its ability to cover large amounts of ground either side of visits to your nearest forecourt. Low emissions, and combined fuel economy in the mid 40mpg, are supported by a congruous stop-start system that kicks in as you coast to a stop.
Thermal efficiency – an abridged term that describes the ratio of the work done by the engine to the heat supplied to it – has been increased by 40% using ‘Distribution-Controlled Partially Premixed Compression Ignition’ (DCPCI) – a technology that, according to Mazda, makes it “one of the cleanest” of its kind in the world.
From an enjoyment point of view, the all-wheel-drive model we tested serves up unbreakable levels of traction and gives you the confidence to push on in the wet or dry should the need arise. Steering responses are very good for a vehicle that has such a large footprint and body movement is kept in check through the twisty stuff, although the brakes would benefit from extra bite.
Prices for the diesel CX-60 start at a snip under £43,000 for ‘Exclusive-Line’ trim rising to £48,380 for ‘Homura’ and peaking at £50,730 for ‘Takumi’. While a panoramic roof is optional on mid-spec grade, all three can be specified with the optional Convenience and Driver Assistance Pack (£1,900).
Our ‘Takumi’ car came with ‘Soul Red Crystal’ paint (£900) and an array of technology and convenience features packaged inside a cabin that runs its European rivals close for quality as maple wood panels, soft nappa leather, bright chrome detailing and sofa-like cloth are all used.
As for practicality, the cargo area in the CX-60 is competitive for this class at 570-litres, and with the individual folding rear seats out of the way, this mushroom to over 1,700-litres.