New Mazda CX-5 is sleek and refined

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Mazda launched the CX-5 at exactly the right time, just as mid-size SUVs exploded in popularity.

Since 2012 it, the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage have been the three dominant forces in the market, leaving big hitters like Ford and Vauxhall behind.

The second generation CX-5 is a tremendously important car for the Japanese brand.

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Mazda held its international launch in Aberdeenshire, and I took various versions on a 245 mile route through the Cairngorms before driving it back to Dundee.

Over that time I got to thoroughly know and thoroughly like the new car.

It’s better looking, with sharper headlights and a more aggressive shape. It looks particularly good in the new “soul red crystal metallic” colour, which Mazda says uses a new three-layer painting process.

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Prices range from £23,695 to £33,195 and there’s a choice of a 2.0 litre petrol engine with 165hp or a 2.2 litre diesel with either 150hp or 175hp.

There are two trim levels, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav, both of which are very well equipped indeed, and a choice of front or four-wheel drive with six speed manual or automatic transmissions.

Vital stats prices are for the 150hp front wheel drive Spot Nav diesel.

Despite having more power on paper the petrol engine needs to be worked hard to get the best out of it. The diesels pull much more willingly and the 175hp unit is particularly lively.

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A lot of work has gone into improving sound insulation – so much so that the new car weighs 50kg more than the old – and the result is a big increase in refinement.

Another area of focus was the interior, which has leapt forward in quality. Wisely, Mazda has kept the Audi-style rotary dial which makes using the controls a cinch – you just twist to scroll through menus.

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The CX-5 costs a little more than the Qashqai and Sportage but it’s a bigger car: Audi Q5 or Land Rover Discovery Sport size. There’s room in the rear for six footers and a 500 litre boot. Newcomers like the Skoda Kodiaq have even more space though.

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The previous CX-5 was one of the most entertaining cars of its kind and the new one retains its dynamic drive. It ate up the Cairngorms’ twisting roads with gusto.

Mazda has done a fine job updating what was already one of the very best mid-size SUVs around.

Price:

£30,195

0-62mph:

10.1 seconds

Top speed:

124mph

Economy:

50.4mpg

CO2 emissions:

147g/km

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