2023 Mazda CX-60 PHEV: A Taste of Mazda Crossovers to Come

Published on September 7, 2022 in First Drives by Antoine Joubert

Mazda plans to launch a trio of fully electric vehicles built on a unique platform by 2030. Also this decade, the Japanese automaker will introduce five plug-in hybrid models, all of which will have a more conventional hybrid variant. With electrification finally coming to Mazda vehicles, it looks like cars such as the Mazda3 and the iconic MX-5 will have to follow suit in order to survive.

Unsurprisingly, most of the new models will be SUVs and crossovers, starting with the three-row CX-90 as a replacement for the CX-9, then the two-row CX-70 to compete against the Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Murano, among others. Mazda’s lineup will comprise the CX-30, CX-50, CX-70 and CX-90, as the popular but aging CX-5 is likely on the way out.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Little information is available at this time about the three future EVs. We know that a range-extending variant of the MX-30 featuring a rotary engine will launch early next year, kind of like the old BMW i3 REX that used a small twin-cylinder to charge the battery on the go.

The Fate of the Combustion Engine

Combustion engines are far from dead at Mazda. The company is researching new ways and solutions to make them ever more efficient and capable in the spirit of Skyactiv technology. A brand new inline six-cylinder engine is coming, with turbocharging also part of the mix as standard in North America (unlike Europe). It will feature mild hybrid assistance and pair with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, also developed in-house.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Unfortunately, it appears we won’t find it in a sort of Mazda6 replacement. Instead, the turbo straight-six will reside under the hood of the 2024 CX-90, which Mazda will introduce next year in two power configurations. That model will be joined by the CX-70 on a completely new Large Vehicle architecture that currently underpins the Mazda CX-60 sold on the other side of the Atlantic. Forget about a CX-60 here in Canada, as it would be too close to the CX-50 in terms of size, but you can count on its larger siblings being equally fun to drive.

The RWD-biased architecture boasts superior rigidity and contributes to the dynamic handling characteristics Mazda cares so much about. The six-cylinder engine is mounted longitudinally a la MX-5, with a small electric motor fitted between the engine and transmission.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

The CX-70 and CX-90 will also be available with plug-in hybrid technology combining a 187-horsepower, 2.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine with a 100kW electric motor. While their official specs have yet to be revealed, they should be similar to those of the 2023 Mazda CX-60 PHEV that we had the opportunity of test driving in Europe. All-electric range is somewhere between 55-60 kilometres, while total system output is rated at 323 horsepower. Peak torque is a very impressive 369 pound-feet, which results in explosive acceleration.

On our watch, the CX-60 PHEV was able to cover 56 kilometres on battery power alone, and then regained 18 kilometres of zero-emission range through energy recuperation over the next 70 kilometres or so. That’s fantastic, and something neither the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV nor the Toyota RAV4 Prime can achieve.

Naturally, the CX-60 delivered amazing agility and handling in the process, but also proved remarkably quiet. On the other hand, the eight-speed transmission felt hesitant at times, especially when the gas engine kicked in.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Mazda’s Big Year

In addition to the range-extending MX-30 and all-new CX-90, Mazda is expected to introduce a hybrid variant of the CX-50 for 2023, which could mark the end of the CX-5—unless the company decides to keep the latter around for one more year in Canada, just like it did with the CX-3.

For the record, the current-generation CX-5 is entering its seventh year and accounts for 42 percent of Mazda’s total sales. Canadians love it, but there are no major updates to the model for 2023.

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