THE omnipresent SUV has truly come of age.
Loved by outdoor types, mums doing the school run and even A-list celebs, the chunky but practical crossover finally manages to be most things to most people.
Its last hurdle to cross after meeting our stringent demands of comfort, refinement and economy was saloon-car handling, ie the sort deft dynamism that allows a driver to sling it around a corkscrew bend and come out not only safely but smiling too.
A few SUVs now succeed in this achievement. One of them is the Mazda CX-5, a well priced roomy five-door that's a tad bigger than some of its obvious rivals yet impressively wieldy for a high rider.
Available in petrol form as 2.0-litre or as a 148bhp or 172bhp diesel, possibly the best option is the lower powered of the two diesel which we drove. Although there's the option of four-wheel -drive, most owners go for the purely front-drive model as driven here.
Last year the subject of a subtle mid-life nip-and-tuck the latest styling changes have highlighted those already good looks as well as elevated the cabin interior to German levels of finish and refinement.
It's a pretty large engine - 2.2-litre - for a four cylinder diesel but the smoothness and power delivery is up there with very best. It pulls hard from around 1,200rpm right up to the red line with little sign of harshness, and strong torque mid-range.
The six-speed manual gearbox is a treat with light, swift changes and well-spaced ratios. An automatic is also offered.
With most SUVs there's a fair bit of body roll during press-on cornering - it's the payback for a decent ride. But the CX-5 manages to provide smooth, absorbent travel alongside near flat cornering and a steering system with more road-feel than average.
Noise levels are commendably low, partly thanks to the muted diesel engine and also because the smooth shape produces little road noise. There is, however, a degree of rumble transmitted by the tyres.
Given that the CX rattles off the 62mph dash in under 10-seconds and can top 127mph, few would complain about the fuel consumption which in my hands averaged 42mpg - the official combined figure is 56.5mpg.
Equipment level matches or betters its rivals with sat nav, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors and privacy glass all included in the spec.
An integral feature, and a major reason for choosing an SUV, is carrying capacity. The CX-5 delivers well in this department with ample leg, head and shoulder room for five adults along with a big luggage area. It can absorb 506 litres of cargo with rear seats in place and up to 1,620 litres when the three-way split rear row is folded. What's more the load is completely flat.