White Mazda CX60 PHEV charging on public charger

Living with a Mazda CX60 PHEV – Reports 1-5

Report 5

Mazda CX60 PHEV charging screen

February was a bit of a mixed bag for my time with the Mazda CX60.

A half term trip to set fire to my credit cards – or as it’s more commonly known, four days at Centreparcs – meant a 180-mile round-trip hardly suited to the PHEV powertrain.

However, it proved a good lesson in how regular charging can prove the answer to long journeys with a PHEV. With the rising ambient temperature of spring having a positive effect on the Mazda’s range, I left with a full charge. That gave me between 25-30 miles of electric range on the motorway and the remainder on the petrol engine.

Plus, with Centreparcs having expanded their chargers at my location, it meant that at the end of our wallet-rinsing break, we also left for the return journey with a full charge. Better yet, a brief stop on our return had free charging (albeit very slow), so another top up, added to our on-board volts.

The end result was that yes my average has dropped to 93.6mpg (still highly impressive), though nowhere near as much as it might have done without that charging. I’ll go more into the costs of charging in my next report, but it’s a good lesson in how running a plug-in hybrid almost needs more forethought than a full EV or ICE car simply due to its unique set up. For all of the criticism aimed at PHEVs though, my time with the CX60 is proof that you can make it work if you want it to.

In the meantime, the Mazda has to go back to my local dealer for some recall work to do with the steering. While there it also needs two programme updates as well, which I’m hoping might resolve the slight driveline shunt that sometimes occurs on very light to no throttle input. It’s almost as if the battery inverter is getting confused between whether to switch to regenerative braking or not but frustratingly it isn’t always consistent.

What is consistent mind you is the utter filth that the CX60 is currently caked in. The bad weather means the Rhodium White paint is now a shade of road-dirt grey, but I’ve been reluctant to wash it in the knowledge that it will simply get disgusting again within a day. As soon as the weather improves, the bucket and sponge will see the light of day once more. I promise.

Report 4

White Mazda CX60 PHEV rear frosted over

Now is the discount of our winter tents. As the famous camping shop sign goes…

Well if I thought that the cold snap of my previous report was bad, that was nothing compared to recent weeks. With the thermometer barely able to manage positive figures even during the day, there have been some chilly commutes at either end of the day in the Mazda. The CX60’s onboard gauge has been regular showing me minus six in the mornings.

It hasn’t just been my fingertips complaining either, so has the Mazda. A full charge has been showing as low a 21 mile range at times, which is pretty poor from a 17.8kWh battery. Even worse, at one point the battery still had a 32 per cent state of charge with a three mile range showing. Clearly, it doesn’t like the cold. Sometimes it even self-cancels the EV mode to fire up the engine when there is still half a charge left in the battery. To be fair, it’s not alone as a PHEV in this regard.

We do have some good news to report though. Mazda got in touch after my last report and it seems that I need new glasses for the new year. The CX60 does have a rear washer for the back windscreen, it’s just hidden entirely out of sight behind the rear spoiler.

The nozzle was clearly blocked, so a lengthy spray with some WD40 and it is, hurrah, now working. Given that the rear windscreen was inevitably getting filthy given all our recent rain, it is I admit, frankly pathetic how pleased I am to have a functioning rear washer. What’s that saying about tiny things pleasing tiny minds?

Still, the heating steering wheel and three-stage heated seats are working overtime on virtually every journey at the moment and are little short of brilliant and, despite that foreshortened electric range, my January mileage hasn’t seen me venture on any trips long enough to dent my 100mpg average. There are some longer drives to come though, so I’m expecting that to drop – just like the prices at the camping shop.

Report 3

White Mazda CX60 PHEV parked in tight car park space

There is a famous quote which says that no winter lasts forever.

I’m certainly hoping that’s the case for my Mazda CX60 plug-in hybrid. After the initial cold snap of late November when the EV-only range dropped as low as 26 miles, the milder, if wetter, weather has now seen that rise slightly to 29-30 miles. My occasional commute to the station on chilly mornings, when I’m pounding the heater and heated seats and steering wheel, has meant an essential charge on my return in the evening.

The good news is that that regular charging and lack of any long journeys has seen my average fuel economy rise to 100mpg, the bad news is that the winter weather is making itself felt in other ways.

First, there’s the colour. As I mentioned in my first report, the optional Rhodium White may not have been my first choice, but I thought it worked with the black alloy wheels. Unsurprisingly with all the rain, it hasn’t taken long before the CX60 has started to look grubby, but interestingly the look seems to have plateaued somewhat. It feels like it’s not getting any dirtier, which sounds an odd thing to say, but it seems to be true – or maybe I’m just becoming more accepting of the filth.

And talking of odd things to say, I also need to properly investigate the CX60’s rear windscreen. When I noticed the rear windscreen washer wasn’t working, further investigation showed a lack of a washer bottle to top up and then, actually, a lack of any washer pipework either. So there’s a rear wiper but, very oddly, no rear wash (or ‘bidet’ as it used to be called in the trade).

So either there isn’t one, which again is annoying in the winter, or I’m being fantastically stupid and need a visit to the opticians… I’ll keep you posted. However, my eyesight wasn’t so bad that it didn’t notice the chiming tyre pressure warning light which also coincided with the colder weather. No single tyre was showing as particularly low, but a quick top up of all four saw it reset, so that was a thankful easy win.

I was also very grateful for the CX60’s size with the usual Christmas tree shopping before the festive period, where just quickly lowering the seats left me with plenty of room. Not so grateful though for the car park in Windsor that we visited for a pantomime where the spaces were ridiculously tight – even for the Mazda.

Report 2

The poor Mazda CX60 hasn’t exactly had a warm welcome.

No sooner had it arrived that I’d taken it to North Wales and back, twice, on my continuing stages of Offa’s Dyke, meaning more than 300 miles each day and now the winter has well and truly kicked in.

If there’s one thing that a large SUV plug-in hybrid like this doesn’t like it’s undoubtedly long motorway journeys and then to couple that with sub-zero temperatures, it’s pretty unfair on the CX60. Yes, the big Mazda’s average fuel economy took a pounding on those long journeys.

While officially, the electric range is 39 miles, the best we’ve seen is 36 miles and on chillier mornings that has dipped as low as 26 miles. And once that battery power is gone, we’re running a two-tonne SUV with a 2.5-litre petrol engine. With a 50-litre petrol tank, those 300-mile-plus days when walking can necessitate a top up when is an unwelcome novelty.

The Mazda too sometimes needs a reminder that it’s a plug-in hybrid too. Frustratingly, the only way to adjust the level of regenerative braking is via the onboard menu – rather than via simple and quick button – and even the maximum setting could still be stronger. Even so too, even when in EV mode, there can sometimes be a slight shunt while driving as the power is delivered, especially so on very light throttle, so I’ll keep an eye on that.

Still, my more regular miles have seen my mileage already trip over 1000 miles in my ownership and we’re getting used to the CX60’s foibles. The heated seats and heated steering wheel are a boon in the cold, although I’m missing a heated front windscreen and the steering wheel is only heated in the ‘horns’ at the side, so between 10 and 2 and then between 8 and 4 remains cold which feels odd.

That said, having stepped out of a Vauxhall Astra, I’m already loving the CX60’s size and have already used it to transport some longer roof panelling for the roof of our garden office which simply wouldn’t have been possible in anything smaller. That, and the requisite tools required were easily swallowed into the Mazda’s boot without a problem.

Report 1

White Mazda CX60 PHEV at petrol pump

It probably isn’t unfair to say that as car companies and new models go, Mazda hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of electrification. The MX30 isn’t without appeal, but even the most hardened EV fan would admit it has a limited audience – even with the latest rotary-engined, range-extender version.

And then there’s this new CX60. It takes a brave company to launch a new diesel into the market at the moment, but alongside this plug-in hybrid version, there’s no question that the CX60 has some appeal. That’s particularly the case with this PHEV’s 2.5-tonne towing capacity.

So can this CX60 PHEV perform as a late arrival to a fleet market that’s being dominated by full-blown EVs? That’s certainly what I’m hoping to find out. With a 2.5-litre petrol engine allied to a 17.8kWh battery, the Mazda boasts 33g/km emissions and a frustrating 39 mile EV range – giving it a 12% BiK rating. Just one more mile of EV range would have seen that figure drop to 8%, the next bracket down.

Combined that gives it an output of 327PS which is enough to drive it from 0 to 60mph in a very swift 5.8 seconds. That’s hardly slothful for what is a 2.1-tonne SUV and certainly it’s not a light car – or a small one. I have, admittedly, just stepped out of six months in a Vauxhall Astra, so I’m having to adjust my mental parameters to that of an SUV as opposed to a hatchback.

Size issues aside, I’m in the mid-range Homura-trim CX60 in Rhodium White (a £750 option) with 20-inch black metallic alloy wheels. I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a big fan of white cars but I’m all for challenging conventions. Despite that however, I have to say that I don’t not like the combination with the black alloy wheels. With autumn here and winter approaching though, I do reserve the right to have this statement thrown back in my face at a later date. I could come to regret this choice.

This particular, pre-specced car, has the Convenience Pack, Driver Assistance Pack and the Panoramic Sunroof which bump this test car’s price up to £52,020, which is no small change, despite the fact that it’s a big car. I’ll go into more details on those packs in due course, but the CX60 has already had a baptism of fire to Wales and back in a day which saw the average economy nose-dive and is just recovering with some more local journeys. Watch this space.