WHILE the dinky two-seat MX-5 continues to take all the plaudits, Mazda UK has quietly and more subtly being doing extremely well in the highly competitive SUV market with the CX-5 since its launch back in 2012.
It currently accounts for over 20 per cent of Mazda's UK annual sales and this is set to be further enhanced from June 30 when the second generation CX-5 arrives.
Again with a choice of either diesel or petrol engines prices start at a competitive £25,695 for the former and £23,695 for the latter.
At first glance there might seem to little difference in looks to the original model but Mazda UK boss Jeremy Thomson declares: "There are three key areas of change we wanted to see - a slightly more stylish front end look, overall improvements in terms of comfort and refinement inside and lastly to make it much quieter to drive.
"All three have been achieved and there's all round new levels of sophistication and higher standard equipment levels while prices have only risen on average by between Â£200 and Â£900 compared to the outgoing models," he said.
"Crucially too we have been able to maintain our reputation of Mazda's love of driving with this new model with improved handling and less interior noise and vibration."
He went on: "We've had excellent residual values too on the first generation and expect that to be maintained on this new model with again an equal mix of both retail and fleet sales with the best selling version likely to be the 2WD Sport Nav manual (Â£28,695) and total sales for the rest of this year over 8,000."
The subtle styling changes show a nice slightly wider grille at the front and better headlights along with slimmer tail lights which overall gives the car a smarter and freshen up.
Interior-wise on initial inspection again there may not appear to be too many changes - but there are and the new model is topped out with far better all round quality including soft-touch trim finishing with plenty of chrome on the dashboard and doors. The seats are more comfortable too.
The seven-inch infotainment screen is now free standing while the main instruments and controls are much the same as before but for the driver there's a new head-up display shown on the windscreen rather than the pop-up out of the top of the dashboard last time round making it much easier for the driver to use.
A minor improvement which will please many is that all interior storage pockets have been deepened to give more room so avoiding that niggle on the first version I encountered where bottles of water and the like kept falling out when on the move.
The platform and wheelbase are unchanged as are the engines with the choice of a 2.0-litre 148bhp petrol or a 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel with two outputs - 163bhp or 173bhp - with a choice of either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. Again as before the AWD only being offered with the diesels.
Underneath Mazda claims this model has 15 per cent more torsional rigidity thanks to a revised chassis and a new torque vectoring system as already seen on the Mazda3 and 6 and better overall stability is helped by the car sitting 35mm lower than the previous model.
To cut out the noise inside which some owners complained about on the original model Mazda engineers have added 50kg of sound deadening and on first drive it's clear that this has worked - the interior is so much quieter once on the move with hardly any noise intrusion from the engine or road surface.
The 2.2-litre AWD Sport Nav with automatic gear change (Â£33,195) is impressive on a first drive with good mid range acceleration when needed and decently smooth gearshifts up and down and with nicely weighted steering there's good, accurate turn-in for those twisty country bends and hardly any body roll to notice.
It can manage 0 to 602mph in 9.5 seconds, tops out at 128mph and has an official fuel figure of 53.3mpg with emissions of 152g/km.
The car sits on 19-inch wheels which was okay but slightly better for a softer ride and excellent cruising then the SE-L Nav models sitting on 17-inch wheels is the answer in my book.
Either way and whatever model a driver chooses the overall ride and drive is much smoother and quieter and this latest CX-5 is all round better in crucial areas in terms of comfort and lower noise levels.
The more budget conscious buyer looking at the high levels of standard equipment on the SE-L Nav models won't be disappointed either.
It has much more on offer than before and includes an impressive list of privacy glass, LED headlights and fog lamps, front and rear parking sensors, heated auto power folding door mirrors, rain sensing front wipers and more.