Shropshire Star

Long-term report: The Mazda CX-60 sets out on another European adventure

The diesel-powered CX-60 appears to be a sure-fit for long-distance driving, but is that the case? Jon Reay finds out on a recent Amsterdam trip.

Mazda Europe Drive

After 12,000 miles in the CX-60 so far, you’d think I might have had my fill of long journeys sat behind its (heated) steering wheel. But given the choice of either Eurostar, plane or Mazda to whisk me off to Amsterdam for a few days, strangely enough, our big diesel SUV felt like the most natural choice.

So on a cold spring morning, we found ourselves boarding the second-ever Eurotunnel journey of the CX-60’s life so far, albeit with a longer stint on the other side of the channel than we’d previously ventured on.

Mazda Europe Drive
The CX-60 gets in the queue for the tunnel

As I’ve mentioned before, almost immediately after stepping onto a European motorway, the CX-60 makes itself at home. Mazda has clearly spent some time tuning this car’s suspension for the continental tarmac – it feels planted at the 130km/h limit, but still perfectly comfortable. Shame we don’t live in France, really.

Unfortunately, those nice smooth roads did highlight one foible with our car: the steering. Over the previous few weeks, I’d noticed it started to feel very notchy, almost sticky around the straight-ahead – something that makes it very difficult to drive smoothly in a straight line.

This isn’t really a problem on our twisty, pot-holed British motorways, but those efficient European road builders like to keep their roads as straight as possible – and for me, that meant four hours of fighting an obstinate steering wheel lay ahead; leaving us weaving around in one lane like a drunk driver.

Thankfully, leaving the car parked on full lock during a cheeky Belgian McDonalds visit temporarily sorted it, but if you’re a fellow CX-60 driver reading this, a proper fix is now available from your local Mazda dealer.

Mazda Europe Drive
The CX-60 settles in for the night

Those foibles aside though, the Mazda got us from Calais to Amsterdam in record time, and in pretty luxuriant comfort too. I’m a big believer in driving rather than taking a plane – partially because it’s a bit nicer to the planet, but mostly because it’s less of a faff.

If you’re like me and hate packing, there’s also the added bonus of bringing – if you really want to – the entire kitchen sink with you. The CX-60 comes under a bit of criticism for not being as spacious as it could be, but you’ll hear no such arguments from me.

Despite my best wardrobe-emptying efforts, there were acres of room still available, and with a boot bigger than both the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, you’d need to spend some serious money before getting anything considerably more capacious.

Mazda Europe Drive
The variety of cameras proved essential in Amsterdam

Arriving in the tight, not at-all car-friendly city streets of Amsterdam, I’ll admit that the CX-60 didn’t feel quite so at home. It’s a city that’s unapologetically designed around bikes – and boats – so ambling around in a two-tonne SUV can feel like walking around Asda in a wedding dress.

It’s here that our car’s optional Convenience and Driver Assistance pack really comes into its own. One of my favourite features of our car is the front-facing camera, and nowhere has this been more useful than trying to park next to one of Amsterdam’s famous canals, rather than in it.

Mazda Europe Drive
Plenty of motorway driving helped the CX-60 to perform well efficiency-wise

Front cross traffic alert seems to have been designed for a country like the Netherlands, too, where at any given moment you need to check for cars, bikes, trams and pedestrians – all at one junction, all at once.

Even though I sold myself on this trip as being cheaper than a pair of Easyjet flights, I didn’t actually expect that to be the case. But despite sitting at mostly 70-80mph – thank you European speed limits – and plenty of stop-start traffic around Antwerp, we managed Calais to Amsterdam and back on one tank of fuel.

That equates to 51mpg without even trying – not far off Mazda’s official, lab-tested combined figure of 54. If that’s not impressive for a six-cylinder, two-tonne SUV, then I don’t know what is.

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