You could count on your fingers that the Mazda CX-60 plug-in hybrid would be our most successful. But that diesel would not come at all is a small surprise. We will see in Spain if we are missing something.

Everything aboard the CX-60 we find ourselves in looks pretty much the same as it did in our endurance test vehicle. Well, now we’re looking at a slightly less luxurious version of the Takumi opulence we’re used to and there’s no button to keep the battery charge at a certain percentage, but otherwise it’s a feast for recognition. One press of the start button and everything changes completely. Not a few electronic beeps followed by the silence we know from the PHEV, but a frantically cranking starter motor followed by an old-fashioned farm rumble. Yes, it’s a diesel! As we are already in Spain for another Mazda model, we do not want to miss the opportunity to get to know this engine. Relative to bpm, the auto-ignition would be unsaleable with us, but in other parts of the world the new SkyActiv-D will just go on sale. Are we missing something about it?

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Two variants of the CX-60 Diesel: 200 and 254 CV

Launching a new six-cylinder diesel engine in 2023, you just have to dare. The six-cylinder measures no less than 3.3 liters and comes in two power variants: 200 hp and rear-wheel drive or 254 hp and all-wheel drive. The maximum torque also differs: 450 Nm for the weaker version, 550 Nm for the thicker version. For this first introduction, we are pleased with the 200hp autostart, also because it is rear-wheel drive and our endurance tester is a 4×4.

Diesel is a mild hybrid

The diesel is somewhat of a hybrid – it has a 48 volt mild hybrid system, so the starter can help get you going a bit while driving. Mazda has gone to great lengths to make the six-cylinder as clean and economical as possible. The philosophy: The relatively large engine can run most of the time on a lean burn that consumes less than a smaller power source that has to work much harder. If that’s true in practice, we obviously can’t confirm it during an hour of driving, but the fact is that after that hour we see that the on-board computer is at 5.2 liters per 100 kilometers and you certainly can’t do that on our PHEV if the battery is once empty. Due to the lean mixture concept, the engine sounds like an old diesel. That’s not unpleasant to hear given the six-cylinder, but compared to a BMW or Mercedes six-cylinder, it’s less refined. Once at cruise speed, the engine hangs listlessly below 2000 rpm and you hear nothing. Compared to our endurance test, even this 200-hp version already gives the sense of self-evident that you sometimes miss in the PHEV when you want to move fast. By the way, we can now say for sure that the crazy “screaming” sound that sometimes comes from the transmission of our resistance tester is a product feature. The diesel also has it when the gearbox shifts to ‘6’.

Mazda CX-60 e-SkyActiv-D

Mazda CX-60 with six cylinders that is far behind.

Lighter weight is the biggest advantage of diesel

The biggest advantage of diesel is not the engine itself, but the effect of the lower powertrain weight on handling. Compared to our PHEV, the 200PS rear-wheel drive variant is around 175kg lighter and it shows. Mazda would like the CX-60 to have dynamic steering and has therefore tweaked the chassis rather severely. That takes its toll on our endurance tester; comfort suffers greatly. The rear axle, in particular, sometimes bounces on rough road surfaces, as if the chassis didn’t grab onto the dough in time. The Mazda doesn’t immediately become a magic carpet due to the diesel engine, but we like the compromise much better. It’s tight on the road, but it soaks up the poor road surface, rather than delegating that task to your spine. If we are very honest: the more we drive the diesel CX-60, the desire for it to come to the Netherlands grows.