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8 September 2023 · Mazda Australia News

CX-60 At Mollymook

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A TASTE OF MAZDA PREMIUM

Surprise and delight’ is a rather wonderful term, don’t you think? It sounds like the mantra of the “imagineers” (and what a job title that is) who create Disneyland rides, or a super chef, perhaps a magician. It’s a term that suggests exceeded expectations, and one that feels particularly welcomed in our straitened times.

There’s the cost of living crisis, the fact that AI is about to steal everyone’s job, and mine in particular, and I swear the oat “milk” in my wife’s takeaway coffee never used to add an extra $1.70 to the bill.

Just as I feared descending into a permanent state of Grumpy Old Man, some ‘surprise and delight’ sparkle arrived, in the shape of the pre-heated cabin of Mazda’s new CX-60. Sliding in with an involuntary “ahhh”, I was greeted by lashings of the kind of soft-touch tan loveliness you’d expect in a designer furniture store.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mazda’s mid-size CX-60 has every right to play the premium SUV card. This all-new model squeezes between the long-established and much-loved CX-5 and the seven-seat CX-8 in Mazda’s Australian SUV range and brings with it a host of engineering and technology firsts.

Brace yourself. The flagship CX-60 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sees not only the brand’s introduction of this efficient technology, it’s also the second most powerful Mazda road car yet produced.

Its 241kW of power and 500Nm peak torque are exceeded only by the all-new three-row CX-90 SUV and its 254kW/500Nm. But because that beast isn’t in Australian showrooms for another month, I can declare the CX-60 plug-in as the reigning champion, albeit briefly.

There are more firsts. Rear-drive biased architecture is introduced, as are new in-line six-cylinder turbocharged diesel and petrol engines - silky music to the ears of driving enthusiasts. Each of these features M Hybrid Boost technology, meaning the entire CX-60 line-up proudly wears hybrid badging.

But beyond the oily bits and clever electrics, the CX-60 moves the game on for the Mazda Premium philosophy. Hence why I’m feeling the ‘delight’ bit. My lavish cockpit is a study in craftsmanship and quality, and the exacting attention to detail is obvious.

To explain, my CX-60 D50E arrives in flagship Azami trim, complete with an optional SP Package, and I’ve every right to feel spoilt.

You want luxury you can see and feel, and the tan Nappa leather seat trim – perforated, heated and ventilated – has all the sumptuousness and splendour you’d find if you’re lucky enough to turn left when boarding an international flight. My two-tone steering wheel adjusts at the touch of a button, while above is a light-bathing full-length sunroof – two more Mazda debuts.

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My journey begins on a July morning in Canberra, and (no surprise or delight here) it’s hovering just above freezing. The CX-60’s plush seat heaters are cranked to maximum, while there’s an extra sense of warmth from the cabin’s soft furnishings. Tan suede also coats the dashboard and inner doors… I could get used to this.

Now firmly in a luxe mindset, I ask the navigation to guide me east to Mollymook on the NSW south coast. There’s a hotel there called Bannisters, co-owned by Rick Stein, a chap who apparently knows his way around a kitchen. ‘Indulgent’ is an oft-used word to describe this restaurant and accommodation, which overlooks an expansive sweep of headland. The CX-60 should feel right at home.

The three-hour drive begins well. The ACT’s featureless white sky immediately makes way for a brighter blue when I cross the NSW border, and the easygoing 3.3-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is whisper quiet as it settles into relaxed radar cruise control mode.

I’ve had a brief science lesson learning about the new diesel’s egg-shaped combustion chambers, greater lean burn and precise injection, but we pay most attention to the figure that matters most to owners: the fuel economy.

A combined 4.9L/100km is phenomenal for an engine this size, not least when offering a healthy 187kW and 550Nm. Somehow, engine boffins have made this straight six-cylinder eight per cent more fuel efficient than Mazda’s 2.2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder.  Just think about that for a second - it’s breathtaking engineering.

Docile when cruising but loaded with muscle when called upon, the new engine’s mated to an equally new eight-speed automatic. More science here, it uses a multi-plate clutch plus an integrated electric motor, boosting efficiency and throttle response.

As we cut between the spectacular Budawang and Monga National Parks, the CX-60’s package of smarts and comfort help dispatch our 200km route with the gentle ease of some seals spotted gently rolling in the shallows when we arrive at the coast.

As predicted, Bannisters turns out to be spectacular. What wasn’t expected was another slice of surprise and delight. It’s mid-winter here, yet the Mazda’s thermometer’s gives an air temperature of 23C. The infinity pool with sweeping views of calm ocean and rugged coastline looks very tempting, not least with whales spotted lobtailing and blowing not far from shore. Talk about expectations being exceeded.

Just south of Mollymook is Ulladulla, one of the south coast’s biggest fishing ports. Perhaps they tell all the tourists this, but I’m assured a top-notch catch of blue fin tuna had been brought to the restaurant. Any doubts I had are erased with the sashimi tasting plate of kingfish, salmon and the hyped tuna. Alright Rick Stein, you know your way around a plate of fish, too.

Freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters join the smorgasbord, then dinner sees them reintroduced in Charentaise guise. The method is eat the oyster, bite into a spicy sausage and then take a good gulp of cold white wine. I decide this is a far more refined exercise than salt, tequila and lemon.

I could mention the seared blue fin tuna with warm sauce vierge, the chargrilled swordfish with red wine sauce or the grilled Shark Bay scallops with hazelnut butter, but until you go yourself, you’ll have to take my word that it’s truly in keeping with the luxe experience the CX-60 brings.

Come morning – and a sunrise over the ocean – I’m out early to sample the rest of the CX-60 range. The 3.3-litre turbo petrol mirrors the diesel’s trick by being more powerful and efficient than Mazda’s current turbocharged 2.5-litre, and the athletic six-cylinder’s performance is standout – there really is nothing like the buttery smoothness of an inline six.

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And what of the plug-in hybrid? It’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is complemented by a 100kW electric motor, and allows up to 76 kilometres on battery power alone – a great deal more than the average Australian commute.

A drive mode button allows me to use only electric power and keep the petrol engine on standby. I cruise the sea-view streets along this striking stretch of coastline, and my sense of cabin calm reaches new heights.

The electric motor can barely be heard as it accelerates through town in zero-emission peace. It’s a simple thing to charge at home, too. In only three hours plugged into a household socket you go from zero to that full 76km range.

Unlike a pure electric car, the CX-60 PHEV has a petrol engine when you need it. And good grief it lives up to its performance name. Working with the electric motor, I squeeze the throttle on a clear stretch and 100km/h is dispatched in under six seconds: that’s hot-hatch territory.

The performance does a decent job of trying to trump the incredible cabin luxury of the CX-60, but it’s the complete package that stays with me.

There’s the business class interior, the brace of high-def 12.3-inch screens, a Personalise system that recognises my face and sets my preferred driving position, plus safety and driver assistance in spades.

For next-level premium class, my car’s tan Nappa leather and suede take some beating. Others may be drawn to a Takumi Package bringing white Nappa leather, white maple wood trim and even a cloth dashboard panel with traditional Kakenui stitching.

If this trip’s taught me anything, it’s that we could all use a bit more surprise and delight in our lives. It’s good to know it’s still out there.