Ian Lamming finds comfort and capability in the latest Mazda CX-5

If you’re like me you will feel for the parents of attractive children who tinker with their looks.

They might dye their copper locks black to look gothic, bulk up or slim down in the extreme, or do strange things to their lips, teeth and body parts.

It’s a similar thing with cars as owners and manufacturers alike start with a true form then add unnecessary appendages in the pursuit of aesthetic perfection only to overdo and undo the vehicle’s best attributes.

Not so with Mazda which always excels in the appeal of its model line-up, CX-5 being a fine example.

The latest variant, the third generation, polishes that to perfection making this popular SUV better looking than ever, starting with a bold grille, slimline cutaway headlamps and curvaceous lines. Short overhangs, perfect proportions and a tidy tail, with smaller rear lights shrunk again but actually looking better for it, leave CX-5 more striking than ever.

There’s a 20 model line-up so plenty of choice but today’s test model is top of the range – the all-wheel-drive GT Sport with a 2.5 litre petrol engine and 194PS to boot.

Having close to the magic 200PS makes all the difference and coupled to a slick six speed automatic gearbox gives CX-5 impressive amounts of poke. When you need to pull away sharpish, there’s bags of acceleration; when mid-range grunt is required for a safe overtake or a bit of hill climbing, then that is there in abundance too; and when you want to just cruise on the motorway at the legal limit, it is happy to oblige sipping at the fuel at a modest rate of around 35 miles per gallon.

It sits nicely on the road too and handles sharply, precisely, in a confidence-inspiring manner. Those who enjoy driving can’t fail to be impressed. Those who aren’t fussed may not notice the great dynamics but will nevertheless enjoy the supreme quality of the interior. Mazda has a philosophy when it comes to building vehicles and it is called Jinba Ittai, which describes the overall feeling of ‘togetherness’.

The quality of the build is a legacy of Japanese craftsmen. The interior exhibits this quality with Mazda only using the best leather and trim materials, which extend over the dash, while all the controls and dials look and feel top grade.

The colour screen is smaller than many and functions are performed using an alloy knob on the centre console rather than by touch. It is closer to hand than reaching for the screen and more controllable too. A Bose hi-fi is superb offering the very best in aural quality.

Function also comes into play. CX-5 is a good size SUV with more than useful carrying capacity for adults, children, pets and their luggage. It is comfortable and capable and looks as good as anything in its class. It is pure in form, refined and stylish, with superb dynamics and a comprehensive specification to match. New CX-5 is a tasteful evolution of what has gone before and can’t fail to be popular with its suitors.

Fact File
Mazda CX-5 AWD GT Sport
Engine: 2.5 litre petrol
Power: 194PS
0-62mph: 9.3 secs
Top speed: 121mph
Combined MPG: 35.3
Transmission: Six speed auto
CO2 g/km: 182
Price: £38,905.00