It was a balmy Sunday afternoon for a 150 mile drive through rural Mid Wales. Lots of steep climbs, sharp bends, the sort of roads that don’t give great economy, certainly not in a big SUV with a 3.3 litre straight six diesel under the bonnet.

I drove the CX-60 diesel at the launch earlier this year and wanted to find out if the official economy figures would be as good in real time driving. The journey was nothing out of the ordinary but the Mazda was. I reset the economy and watched the numbers go up and up, and by the time I pulled on to my drive the digital readout showed 57.6mpg. That is insane.

It is helped by an eight speed automatic gearbox, standard across the range, with well chosen ratios and needing just under 1,500rpm to cruise at 60mph.

I covered nearly 800 miles in the next six days, 300 miles with a fully laden four berth caravan in tow. Driven solo the CX-60 spent more time in the fifties than the forties, but it was the fuel consumption while towing that raised my eyebrows.

Unless you tow 29.8mpg will mean nothing but let me assure you that is beyond impressive. I would have been satisfied with around 24mpg from a powerful all wheel drive SUV, the sort of return I got from a 3-litre Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Mazda has taken diesel emissions and economy to another level with an engine equally significant as the Ford 1-litre EcoBoost, a three time International Engine of the Year winner.

That said the motoring press, me included, was shocked when Mazda launched this engine when the UK had turned its back on diesel, and at a time when it was 20p a litre dearer than petrol.

Mazda’s UK boss Jeremy Thomson said the majority of sales would be for the petrol hybrid and plug-in hybrid models with the diesel intended to meet the needs of customers who want an efficient, long distance driving car with great towing capacity.

He was right on that score as CX-60 has a towing capacity of 2500kg so it can pull the heaviest of twin axle caravans with ease, with the option of all wheel drive.

Not that CX-60 is just about its engine. This is a sophisticated large family SUV, bigger than rivals like Audi Q5 and Volvo XC 60, and with a starting price of £43,010 is competitive given its generous spec list.

As with all Mazdas you can rely on a sporty chassis and for a big vehicle this handles well, not quite as well planted as the Q5 but sharper than the Volvo, if that is important. The key message is that it does not give way to comfort coping well with potholes and poorer road surfaces of which there are so many.

Inside has the premium feel we have come to expect with high quality materials and a smart layout. The new digital binnacle is a traditional speedo, rev counter configuration but does not give a great deal of additional information like most rivals.

The updated central infotainment centre has a larger touchscreen but can still be operated by the rotary controller between the front seats and is the simplest system I have come across with clear, easy to find menus and sub menus, while the heating controls are neatly laid out physical buttons.

My all wheel drive Homura sits in the middle of a three model range and has a classy finish.

It comes with powered front seats, ventilated and heated, powered steering wheel adjustment, rear camera, auto dipping LED headlights, head up display, powered tailgate and a lot more, but if that is not enough then the convenience and driver assistance pack for £1,900 throws in the likes of 360 degree camera, wireless charging, and additional safety systems. That would be tempting.

I was struggling to fault CX-60 until I got into the back and while it is not tight, legroom is below par for such a big vehicle. That said I appreciated the floor space with the seats down and was able to load two adult bicycles.

Forty odd grand is a lot of money but if this is the size car you need then it becomes an everyday vehicle because it is a big car with small car economy. I would always expect to be averaging high forties to 50mpg with the knowledge that there is more to come on a longer journey.

Fast facts

CX-60 Homura AWD

£48,380 (£52.030 tested)

3.3 litre diesel; 250bhp

0-62 7.4secs; 138mph

53.3mpg combined

138g/km. 1st tax £285

Insurance group 38

Boot: 570-1726 litres

Towing: 2500kg