SHOULD you ever be late for an appointment, then it's always better ifyou have a good excuse.
That was the situation Mazda found themselves in after taking theirtime to join the compact crossover revolution that has swept the SUVmarket.
For until 2012, Mazda had put all their eggs into their 4x4 CX-7basket, but the vehicle's sheer size, along with high running costs,certainly put many buyers off, so something had to done quickly.
With the advent of the mid-sized CX-5, there was now no excuse formissing out on the crossover party, for the Japanese marque's SUVinterpretation proved a gem that was well worth the wait.
Mazda engineers worked extra hard to design lightweight yet strongbody shells mated to highly-efficient yet powerful, ultra-greenengines that offered great fuel consumption and emissions similar tothose of hybrid vehicles.
And that's what they achieved with their sophisticated SKYACTIV technology which cut CO2 emissions by up to 25 per cent and choppedfuel consumption by up to 30 per cent.
The CX-5 came with both petrol and diesel powerplants, but all-wheel-drive was reserved exclusively for the oil-burner.
However, for those not fussed about taking their car off road or haveno desire to tow a trailer or caravan, then a front-wheel-driveversion suited their needs down to a T.
In diesel guise, the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel proved one of thebest around. Light, torquey and quiet on the hoof, it pulled like atrain from the very word go.
Inside the cabin was plenty space for five to get comfortable, whilethose in the rear were rewarded with class-leading legroom.
Even so,boot space was not in any way compromised, with 1,620 litres availablewith the seats folded and 503 litres when everything was up and inplace.
Out on the road, the CX-5 performed as good as the rest.Handling was precise thanks to the car's sporty electric steering anda suspension setting that was nicely balanced for both comfort andfast cornering control.
A gear shift that was as close as possible to that fitted to the MX-5Roadster added to the car's sporty credentials.
From a safety aspect, the CX-5 came well kitted out with ABS,traction control, dynamic stability control, emergency brake assistand six airbags.
It also featured a clever low-speed city brakingsystem which pulled the car up automatically if it sensed an impendingcollision when travelling at speeds of up to 20mph.
At launch, the lead-in SE-L trim diesel model came in at a competitive£22,995, while the fully-loaded range-topping 2.2 Sport Nav model,which added full leather upholstery, larger alloy wheels, bi-xenonheadlights with adaptive front lighting system, reversing camera,six-way power adjustable and heated front seats, nine-speaker premiumBose audio system and integrated TomTom navigation system provedsomething of a snip at £25,595.
So used car buyers take note, for it doesn't take the Brain of Britainto know which model I would go for.
A 2012 2.2 SE-L trim model on a 12-plate will cost between £11,195 and£13,575 depending on condition and mileage, while a similar age 2.2Sport Nav model will set you back between £12,980 and £15,740.
Move on a year to a 12-plate and prices range from £12,425 and £14,850for the SE-L and between £14,400 and £17,210 for the Sport Nav.