Innovative design and engineering are at the heart of Mazda’s SkyActiv strategy. It is an all-encompassing label applied to fuel and weight-saving improvements made to the chassis, body, engines and transmissions of not just the Mazda CX-5, but an entire range.

If that weren’t enough, the CX-5’s exterior has been shaped using Mazda’s latest ‘Kodo – soul of motion’ design language, which introduces a wide-mouth grille that will characterise the firm’s family face for some time to come.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
As is becoming the norm, the CX-5's steering rack is electrically assisted

Mazda claims the CX-5 is one of the most aerodynamic compact SUVs around, with a drag coefficient of 0.33.

Underpinning the CX-5 is a clean-sheet, scaleable platform which, thanks to the increased use of high-tensile steel, is stiffer and lighter than the brand’s previous architecture.

The suspension is divided between MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the back. The latter has been mounted higher than usual to improve damper efficiency. As is becoming the norm in this class and others, the steering rack is an electrically assisted system.

The real beneficiaries of the SkyActiv R&D budget are the powertrains. Along with two heavily revised transmissions (a smaller, lighter six-speed manual and a tweaked six-speed automatic), the engine line-up is refreshingly simple and fiendishly clever: there’s one 163bhp 2.0-litre petrol and one 2.2-litre diesel unit split into 148bhp and 173bhp variants.

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Despite their differing capacities, they share a basic structure (allowing them to be built alongside one another) and, remarkably, the same compression ratio.

The upshot of Mazda’s meticulous attention to detail is simple: a class-leading combination of power and economy. The 148bhp version tested will serve up 280lb ft of torque from 1800rpm, achieve 61.4mpg combined and emit just 119g/km of CO2.

The petrol CX-5 is only available with the manual transmission and front-wheel drive, with the lower-powered diesel the cheapest way into an automatic CX-5. For a 4WD automatic, the 173bhp diesel is necessary.

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