The Mazda CX-60 has one of the best modern car cabins on sale today
At university I studied product design and a part of the course that always resonated with me was learning how design is so important when it comes to semantics and semiotics. For example, those little symbols on your cooker knobs that tell you which hob you are using all has a theory to it expressed through design. Good semantics and semiotics should be second nature.
But in today’s modern cars there is so much tech enhanced by the power of digital screens that getting those semantics and semiotics is becoming increasingly hard and complicated. Gone are the days of having a button that turns on your heated seat, you now need to go through three layers on your touchscreen just to find it. And in many modern interiors there are even three ways you can turn that heated seat on. Madness. There was a discussion in the office the other day that even the yoof felt that the BMW i7’s controls were becoming beyond them, so imagine a 60-year old trying to get their head round it when a millennial can’t.
Yet Mazda appears to have gone the opposite way with the interior of the CX-60, and quite frankly, it's so refreshing. This interior is one of the best interiors I have had the pleasure of sitting in for the last 10 years. Why? Because the semantics and semiotics work. To break it down in simple terms, there’s a central screen that holds all your entertainment and sat-nav (which is basically it) and then below that there is a row of buttons. Yes, actual bloody buttons that only control the heating including heated seats etc. It’s a perfect combination of using both mediums for the right job.
When you get in a car you want to access the heating immediately and this does the job perfectly. And if I want to listen to music then like my phone or iPod back in the day, it's all digitally used by the BMW inspired iDrive central knob next to the gearstick. And even the display itself is simple, basic in some respects but just works. There’s a central digital speedo display that does have a few more bells and whistles to it, but it's simple enough to work out and not too distracting and the elegant style is in keeping with the premium look Mazda is going for with this car. The only annoying thing is it constantly bongs at me to tell me cars are all around me, something my own eyes are perfectly capable of telling me. But I can’t praise Mazda highly enough for this interior and many other manufacturers should look on. Spaceship style graphics and design all look rather impressive but if they are too complicated to use then design has failed.
Not only is it an interior that works, it's also really comfy and the high-up position with a low dash and premium materials and style does make it feel grand. I even like the soft white fabric material with the rather impressive cut stitch and while the fake wood (or maybe its real!) is somewhat cheesy, the retro-inspired chrome trim does work as a package. Although I’m not convinced the feel of the steering wheel is right. It's too thin and plastic-feeling for a premium car which doesn’t help with the driving experience. It almost feels like an afterthought or something lifted from an MX-5.
Feeling brave at the time, we opted for a cream-coloured interior which makes it feel very airy. Having lived with it for a few months now however, I’m coming to understand that if you have children - or wear jeans - never ever spec a light-coloured interior. Thankfully, it appears robust enough and cleans up well.
The only downside? The driving experience currently doesn’t live up to the interior experience.