Six years after the launch of the original CX-5 SUV, Mazda’s SkyActiv model revolution has come full circle.

Having touched the Mazda 3 hatchback and saloon, the bigger 6 saloon, the 2 supermini, the CX-3 crossover and even the fourth-generation MX-5 sports car, this curiously named programme of technological overhaul – which has brought new platforms, new engines and new thinking to the Japanese firm – has returned its focus to this: the second-generation CX-5.

Predictably, there’s less of a gleam of radical newness to this car than there was to its predecessor, as Mazda inevitably enters a period of consolidation and refinement.

But there’s now a weight of expectation on the CX-5’s shoulders created by the success of the car that it’s replacing.

The first CX-5 got in fairly early on the current craze for SUVs and of which a remarkable 1.5 million units were built and sold around the world over a six-year lifespan. The CX-5 now accounts for 25 percent of Mazda’s global sales volume.

Such popularity could be significant for this replacement, since a stronger established business case will likely have markedly increased the money and resource Mazda was willing to sink into this car than might have been invested otherwise.

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There’s no expensive new platform to eat up the lion’s share of that development budget, either: the car sits on an updated version of its predecessor’s mechanical underpinnings, although an extensive model replacement programme has – according to Mazda – altered the car’s dimensions and exterior styling, made it more rigid, improved its steering, suspension and braking systems and given it a completely new interior.

This time around, Mazda is promising the same taut and agile handling that made the previous CX-5 so appealing to keener drivers shopping for a typically soft compact SUV, but partnered with a much more expensive-feeling and better-equipped interior and much improved cabin refinement.

The company plainly has the SUV segment’s premium and ‘semi-premium’ brand players in its sights but is setting out to undercut them by several thousand pounds in some cases once equipment level is taken into account. So where’s the catch?

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