Mazda has made it crystal clear it wants to evolve into a legitimate luxury brand to take on BMW. To achieve its goal, the Japanese marque has engineered a new rear-wheel-drive platform. Yes, you’ve read that correctly – RWD. Not only that but new inline-six gasoline and diesel engines have been developed, complete with mild-hybrid tech.

The first product to get the new underpinnings is the CX-60 for Europe, Japan, and other markets. The United States will get it as well, but as widebody version called CX-70. It’s a handsome SUV clearly showing it has been conceived to accommodate longitudinally mounted engines. The RWD-based platform has been created with electrification in mind as the vehicle boasts a plug-in hybrid setup. In fact, this is Mazda’s first-ever PHEV.

At 4,745 mm (186.8 in), 1,890 mm (74.4 in) wide, and 1,675 mm (66 in) tall, the Mazda CX-60 is 37 mm (1.4 in) longer than the X3 while having virtually the same width and height. Its wheelbase stretches at 2,870 mm (113 in), which is only six mm (0.2 in) longer than the BMW’s. Since we’re talking about the plug-in hybrid, it’ll do battle with the X3 xDrive30e.

Mazda Is Embracing Luxury

Although we mentioned straight-six engines in the beginning, this CX-60 PHEV doesn’t have them yet. Instead, it relies on a naturally aspirated four-cylinder with a 2.5-liter displacement working with an electric motor. Mazda claims the two produce a combined 323 hp and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft). That’s actually 35 hp and 80 Nm (59 lb-ft) more than the X3 xDrive30e.

Mazda will sell the CX-60 exclusively with AWD and an eight-speed automatic transmission, much like the X3 xDrive30e. This PHEV model gets a 17.8-kWh battery, which is larger than the BMW’s 12-kWh pack. It stores enough energy for a WLTP electric range of 63 kilometers (39 miles), a smidge more than its Bavarian rival.

Effectively Mazda’s most powerful road car ever, the CX-60 sprints to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 5.8 seconds, making it 0.3s quicker than the X3 xDrive30e. It has an electronic top speed limiter kicking in at 124 mph (200 km/h) while the BMW is 6 mph (100 km/h) faster.

The CX-60 clearly shows its premium ambitions on the inside. While the exterior is a subtle evolution, the cabin seems more upmarket and in line with a brand that wants to fight the German trio. Even the base model is nicely equipped with a 12-inch touchscreen, dual-zone AC, cruise control, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

How much does the CX-60 PHEV cost? From €47,390 in Germany where BMW wants €60,300 for the X3 xDrive30e before options.

[Source: Mazda]