THE initials SUV have become a synonym for family car these days.
Surging popularity in five-door high-riders have meant they are a golden ticket for manufacturers - a must-have in most car ranges.
But some Sports Utility Vehicles happen to be a considerably more sporty than others. One of the best examples is the Mazda CX-5, recently rejuvenated and freshened with more upmarket cabin and exterior styling.
Flagship of the Japanese marque's line-up, the new look model with sleeker headlights and more defined grille has turned the five-year-old design into a real head-turner.
Beneath the bonnet of the CX-5 AWD Sport Nav, top model in the range, is a 2.2-litre four-pot diesel that knocks out a reasonable 173bhp.
With decent aerodynamics and pared down weight it puts up a good performance compared with most rivals - 62mph comes up in under nine seconds and it tops out at 129mph.
But better than the statistics is the calm, refined way in which the Mazda delivers the goods.
Engine noise is remarkably well suppressed. It's only at idle that you detect a touch of the inevitable diesel clatter - the rest of the time only the immediate surge of power reminds you this is an oilburner.
Another quality that boosts the sporting credentials of the latest CX-5 is its handling and roadhlding.
With well-damped suspension which suppressed roll angles, it can weave quickly through curves and cope better than most crossovers with directional changes.
The body remains taut and responsive and the steering, though a trifle numb is quick enough to encourage swift, safe manoeuvres.
This athleticism is accompanied by a comfortable ride that irons out the majority of road imperfections. Only at slow speed over knobbly surfaces is the general composure upset slightly.
The standard six-speed manual gearbox is light and swift, and a pleasure to use. Despite the punchy performance, the CX-5 is pleasantly frugal. Most owners will easily squeeze 40-plus miles out of a gallon and my own average was 42.5mpg.
A good SUV has to be practical as well as fun to drive and the Mazda manages to deliver well in this area. There are loads of bottle-holders, cubbies and storage places within the newly refashioned cabin which is much classier and easier to live in than the precious model.
Materials used for the facia and the interior in general are of noticeably better quality than previously and add a definite air of occasion for passengers and driver alike.
The boot remains the same size as its predecessor with 506 litres of space which is around average for the class. The three-way split rear seat flip down easily to expand cargo area.
A generous spec for the Sport Nav model includes seven inch touch screen, sat nav, climate control, head-up display, Bluetooth and DAB radio.