Driving report: Mazda CX-90 PHEV
Mazda wants to move into the premium league on the way to higher earnings. No vehicle demonstrates this better than the CX-90, which recently became available in the USA. The luxury crossover competes against such image-rich models as the Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade and BMW X7.
Mazda wants to at least partially reinvent itself for the future, apart from the MX-5 and rotary engines. The Japanese are known to be all too happy to go their own way. When it comes to electric drives, they are much more reserved than most competitors, they have recently breathed new life into the diesel and even brought the rotary piston engine out of the drawer to use it as a range extender for electric models. Initially, the brand’s new flagship model, the 5.12 meter long CX-90, is available in the USA alone. The luxury SUV is available with either a 3.3-liter turbo six-cylinder or an efficient plug-in hybrid. When it comes to design, there are no surprises inside or out, because the new CX-90 is as attractive as we know it from Mazda and shows the clear relationship to its smaller brothers from Europe, of which the CX-60 is currently available and in the Next year, the seven-seater CX-80 will have a little brother to the American CX-90.
The US customer can choose how sporty he wants his large Mazda to be. The 3.3-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine delivers 206 kW / 280 hp as a standard version and a significantly more dynamic 250 kW / 340 hp as a Turbo S. If you’re looking at fuel consumption and still want to enjoy fast driving performance, you’re more likely to opt for the version with plug-in hybrid drive. Here, a 2.5 liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with 136 kW / 185 hp is supported by a 123 kW / 173 hp electric motor, which can also drive the crossover, which weighs almost 2.5 tons, on its own when it comes from the 17.8 -kWh battery pack in the underbody. The bottom line is that the Mazda CX-90 PHEV has a total output of 237 kW / 323 hp and the same 500 Nm of torque that the six-cylinder Turbo S can also rely on. The big difference is made by the booming sound of the four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine under load requirements, which even the good eight-speed automatic transmission cannot cover up, on the one hand, and the significantly lower consumption on the other hand, because according to the US cycle for plug-in hybrids, Much more realistic than the EU version, the Mazda CX-90 PHEV runs on just over four liters of premium fuel per 100 kilometers.
Its chassis is decidedly comfortable, but anything but fickle, and the feedback from the steering is also suitable for such a large SUV with its core market in the USA, although Mazda models in Asia or Europe can be moved more crisply and directly. In order to influence progress according to their own taste, the driver can choose between different driving modes. Whichever program is chosen, the differences are manageable and the four-cylinder hybrid cannot come close to keeping up with the six-cylinder in terms of driving pleasure. The subjective difference is significantly larger, even though the engine performance is on par. But even if the sound and thrust of the in-line six make the driver shine, the CX-90 with a plug has a noticeable advantage. Not only does it consume significantly less, but it can also cover significant distances purely electrically. It is not at the level of the latest models from the Volkswagen Group or BMW, where 100 kilometers or even more are possible with a full battery pack in the underbelly. With the large Mazda, the 176 kilogram battery means it takes around 40 kilometers to reach the next charging plug. The driver can choose between different driving modes, which move the all-wheel drive purely electrically or partially electrically and, if desired, also charge the battery pack, which is otherwise reserved for the socket or for braking. Silent driving remains one of the biggest advantages of the Japanese, but there should be a little more range in the 2024 model year.
Whether electric or with a combustion engine – the big Mazda has a lot of motorization and most customers in this vehicle class will cruise casually and enjoy the travel comfort inside. Mazda gives a Mazda almost every conceivable option, as the stately CX-90 is available with either six, seven or eight seats. The best and most comfortable choice is, unsurprisingly, the six-seater with two comfortable armchairs in the second row. Although these cannot be operated electrically, they can be adjusted and air-conditioned manually in a variety of ways. In addition, your eyes will not only be drawn to the countless practical shelves inside, but there will also be plenty of light from the panoramic roof and USB ports wherever you look. Mazda also takes a different approach to the interior than the competition with its top model, as many functions are still operated by a significant number of buttons on the steering wheel and center console. The decidedly low screen could be a little larger if it reflects navigation maps or operating details. The prices are fair, because the 280 hp basic model is already available in the USA for 39,935 dollars and the fully equipped Mazda CX-90 PHEV Premium Plus costs just 57,450 euros. We can at least look forward to the smaller European version of the CX-80.