THE list of possibilities for anyone considering purchasing an SUV seems to be growing constantly and car manufacturers need a unique selling point these days to stand out from the crowd.
Thankfully for Mazda, the mid-sized CX-5 which has just entered its second generation, boasts gorgeous styling, sublime comfort levels, excellent handling capabilities and all the latest on-board technology you could wish for.
First impressions count for a lot with rivals such as the SEAT Ateca, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Kodiaq all vying for sales, but the Mazda looks fabulous from any angle.
The original CX-5 was the car that kicked off the company's award-winning KODO: Soul and Motion design philosophy when it was launched back in 2012 offering an amazing combination of style, driving dynamics and efficiency.
Now the latest version has a sportier appearance thanks to a powerful front end with wider grille, lower roofline, better lighting and slimmer tail lights. Our car featured 17-inch alloys, body-coloured bumpers, privacy glass, and LED daytime running lights.
The biggest changes to the CX-5 are within the cabin where Mazda has combined the finest materials to create a premium and upmarket interior.
Comfort levels are high for all occupants and there is room for a trio of back seat passengers.
The car features all the latest on-board techno treats including a seven-inch colour touchscreen with integrated sat nav system and three years free European map updates.
There is simple smartphone connectivity as well as a DAB digital radio, a 10-speaker Bose sound system and dual zone climate control.
Powered by a 2.2-litre 150ps diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the car was priced at £26,095, although the addition of metallic paint meant the cost increased slightly to £26,655.
It could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 9.4 seconds and maxed out at 127mph According to official figures, the CX-5 can deliver combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 132g/km.
Apart from the design tweaks and more subtle improvements, the Mazda engineers have been busy improving the car's overall performance and handling.
There have been upgrades to the steering, suspension and brakes plus the arrival of G-Vectoring Control which makes the CX-5 more responsive than its predecessor. It is also much quieter within the cabin - even when pushed hard.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated driving position and all the controls, switches and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use.
It's a car that's very easy to feel at home with in a short space of time.
But Mazda is a company that prides itself on delivering vehicles that offer great driving dynamics and this latest CX-5 doesn't disappoint.
In congested city centres, it proved deceptively agile for its size as it weaved through the crowds.
Out on the motorways, it easily kept pace with fast moving traffic and even at higher speeds there was little sign of any irritating engine, road surface or wind noise filtering through into the cabin.
The stiffer suspension means you will feel the occasional jolt along the way when you hit a small pothole, but for a vehicle as high as the CX-5 there is minimal body roll when tackling sharp bends.
The CX-5 is designed as a car for the active family so needs to be practical on all levels and it is.
The boot has a capacity that ranges from 506 litres to 1,620 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there are numerous convenient storage options scattered throughout the car, including a console box beneath the central armrest where USB connection outlets are located.
It rather cleverly has a grove so that any connected cables don't get squeezed when the lid is closed. The glovebox is designed to accommodate a 10-inch tablet and the door bins have grown in size and now feature a non-slip finish.
When it comes to safety, the CX-5 is well equipped with the likes of stability control, six airbags and Smart City Brake Support as standard which helped it achieve the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.