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Wheels of the Week: Precision when it matters with Mazda

The new Mazda CX-60 3.3L Takumi edition lives up to the name’s symbolism, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

The Mazda CX-60 3.3L Takumi automatic all-wheel-drive lives up to its name in subtle ways, as it joins Mazda’s SUV lineup. 

Takumi symbolises dexterity and precision, in a tradition of master craftsmanship in Japan. That subtlety ranges from the steering – which at first may seem too stiff until it settles into a sense of precision – to the Bose sound system, which delivers not only clear and immersive sound, but also customisable settings that enable a personalised listening experience.

The dexterity does not extend to the suite of on-board technologies, however, as the 12.3-inch TFT LCD centre display, which should be the command centre for the Mazda Connect infotainment system, lacks touch functionality. That means it has to be managed via a rotary dial alongside the gear lever, creating distance and dissonance between the screen and its controls. At this price level, touch-screen is an expectation.

The system supports wireless Apple CarPlay, but demands a plug-in for Android Auto, so that smartphone integration is not completely seamless. That said, once plugged in, it always connects seamlessly, and remembers you every time you connect. The same cannot be said for many of the other wireless systems in high-end vehicles. A wireless charging pad is handy for recharge if one is connecting an iPhone wirelessly, or a passenger wants to charge a phone. Two USB-C ports in both front and rear suggest a car being prepared for the future.

The on-board navigation system is relatively user-friendly, bearing in mind the absence of touch-screen, and provides real-time traffic updates. That said, the mapping on smartphones is always superior to that available on any car on the market.

Safety is a priority, with an advanced Driver Monitor system with Driver Attention Alert that uses an infrared camera to detect signs of driver drowsiness or inattention. Other safety features include Adaptive LED Headlights, which adjust their beam patterns based on driving conditions, and a 360-degree view monitor with see-through view that helps with parking and manoeuvring in tight spaces. 

Mazda radar cruise control is a highly dexterous touch. Add the likes of intersection brake support, passive collision signal, blind-spot monitoring, rear and front cross-traffic alert, distance alert, and rear, front and side radar, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, and all safety bases are covered.

A head-up display (HUD) projects key information onto the windshield, which in theory allows drivers to stay informed without taking their eyes off the road. In practice, it is not usable during bright daylight – especially not if one drives with sunglasses, However, it comes into its own at night. 

Comfort offers a further clue to the precision of the car’s engineering. A dual-zone automatic climate control system maintains a comfortable cabin environment for both driver and passenger, although it would have been useful to have rear climate controls.

The interior is a blend of luxury and practicality, with high-quality materials like black Nappa leather upholstery and metallic inlays, giving the cabin an upscale feel. Storage options enhance the sense of thoughtful design, with well-sized door bins and a deep cubby under the centre armrest. The boot offers generous 477l of space, expanding to 1726l with the rear seats folded.

A 12-speaker Bose sound system is a highlight of the CX-60, with settings like Centerpoint and AudioPilot designed both to locate sound precisely and to reduce road noise. Centerpoint uses an enhanced algorithm to converts stereo signals to multiple channels, allowing greater precision in reproducing sound and creating a wider, more spacious sound field. AudioPilot automatically adjusts music to compensate for background noise.

The car’s performance is smooth and responsive performance, with the 3.3-litre inline-six turbo diesel engine promising 187 kW of power and 550 Nm of torque. That delivers ample power when pulling off and a refined ride on the highways. Accelerating when at cruising speed has a small but noticeable lag, and the suspension is not kind to roadbumps, but it handles potholes comfortably. In other words, it performs when it matters.

The CX-60 3.3l engine is enhanced by 48V mild-hybrid technology, which makes for superb fuel efficiency.

The Mazda CX-60 is a strong contender in the SUV market, combining advanced safety features with a luxurious interior and robust performance. While there are areas for improvement, such as integrating more intuitive touch functionality, the overall package is impressive, delivering a refined driving experience.

Pricing begins at R1,049,200.

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