By Mike Torpey on 2021-06-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Kuro
YOU know you're onto a winner when the design boys just take a step back in admiration of their work.
Sure, the 2021 versions of Mazda's global best seller the CX-5 have been upgraded in various ways, but none of the improvements involve the car's style.
There's a slicker infotainment system for instance, with a clearer 10.25-inch display screen, an expanded range of Connected Services, a vehicle finder and remote locking - even a powerful new engine.
But the design, a result of Mazda's Kodo: Soul of Motion styling philosophy, has been left alone.
Well, that's with the exception of our tested CX-5 Kuro Edition model, which has some touches that really make it stand out as an SUV of exceptional presence.
First though, a little about the CX-5 in general.
It has been around since 2012 and proved a crucial model for Mazda in the UK, where it accounts for 26 per cent of the Japanese company's new car sales. Significantly, it performs strongly in the used market too.
As for looks, a low roofline with sleek sides and dominant front end make the car a real eye-catcher while the interior is both spacious and usable.
The current line-up sees no less than 18 variants up for grabs with a choice of petrol or diesel engines, manual or auto transmission and with front-wheel drive or using Mazda's i-Activ AWD system.
And mated exclusively to front-wheel drive, the 165PS 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine is a mainstay of the range and available in each of the three trim grades -SE-L, Sport and GT Sport.
This was the engine powering our tested Kuro Edition model, limited to 750 examples in the UK and features exclusive touches like heated front seats, black half leatherette and suede seat trim, a powered driver's seat and black dash and door inserts.
There is also red stitching on the seats, steering wheel, knee pads, gearshift surround and armrest.
All attractive but the real difference is made by the Soul Red Crystal metallic paint and 19-inch black alloy wheels.
They give the Kuro an almost menacing appeal that affords it a presence right up there with the most expensive SUVs.
Out on the road you really notice the attention paid to reducing cabin noise and vibration, and at the same time the precision of the steering.
The 2.0-litre engine is quiet and lively once up to speed and especially spirited on the motorway, and we had no trouble matching the manufacturer's claimed average fuel consumption of 42.2mpg.
Those wanting more wallop can opt for the 2.5-litre petrol engine which has just joined the range, though only in high grade GT Sport trim, auto gearbox and all-wheel drive.
Thanks to cylinder deactivation, this 195PS unit will switch between four and two cylinder operation to improve fuel economy.
Meanwhile those still favouring diesel can go for either the 150PS Skyactiv-D engine or its 184PS stablemate.
Whatever the choice though, all models are extremely well specced up, spacious front and back, and the large boot is easily extended as the rear seats drop down at the pull of a tab.
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Kuro Edition
Mechanical:165PS, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
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