Mazda always manages to add a little sparkle to its cars to help them stand out from the crowd and that extra dash of style and sophistication has been sprinkled in abundance over the new CX-5.

The model first appeared in 2012 but its second generation is an altogether more grown-up five-seater vehicle.

For starters it is one of the more spacious sports utility vehicles on the road, with a price, size and specification that sees it span classes between the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and larger vehicles such as the seven-seater Skoda Kodiaq.

The CX-5 looks and feels larger than similar SUVs such as the Qashqai, but the balance of its controls makes it not only easy to drive but a lot of fun too, thanks to nicely weighted steering, a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox and a lack of body lean on twisting roads.

Both road and wind noise are well suppressed, so long-distance travel is relaxed and comfortable.

Parking is equally easy as all models come with front and rear parking sensors.

Priced from about £24,000, buyers can choose between a front-wheel-drive 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel in either front- or all-wheel-drive forms with two different power outputs.

The car driven here came with the lively 175 horsepower diesel engine which is remarkably quiet and offers the prospect of 50mpg consumption in day-to-day driving.

Two trim levels, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav, are available, both of them sharing a much-improved cabin with higher quality trim, neat controls and clear instrumentation and a high level of standard equipment.

SE-L Nav trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights and power folding wing mirrors.

The entertainment, satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone link are handled like other Mazda models, with a combination of a large colour display screen and a rotary controller which is straightforward to operate.

The Sport Nav specification car driven here rides on 19-inch alloy wheels and adds luxuries such as a reversing camera, heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless entry, powered tailgate and a wiper de-icing system that uses an electric heating element within the glass beneath the wipers to prevent them from freezing up.

Another Sport Nav addition is a superb head-up display that can project up to six pieces of information for the driver on to the windscreen, from the current speed limit and current speed, to satellite navigation directions and a warning of vehicles in your blind spot.

The CX-5 has plenty of space for five with plenty of storage too. The console box beneath the centre armrest has a larger capacity, and is now fitted with a groove to accommodate the power cord of devices attached to the USB port, power outlet and twin AUX mini-jack connection hub located within it.

The flock-lined glovebox has been shaped to accommodate a ten-inch tablet computer and the capacity of both front and rear door pockets has been increased.

Safety systems across the range are state of the art and include smart braking that uses a forward sensing camera and automatically stops or reduces the speed of the car when there is a risk of collision with the vehicle or pedestrian in front.

In addition, using ultrasonic sensors, rear smart city brake support works in reverse at speeds of 1-5mph and is part of the £800 safety pack offered on Sport Nav Diesel models.

That pack also includes a rather special set of headlights using a block of 12 LEDs. With each block able to be independently lit or extinguished, the 12-split LED array links to the forward sensing camera to deliver glare-free high beam, wide-range low beam and a highway mode.

When travelling at speeds of 25mph and above, glare-free high beam detects the position of the vehicle ahead or an oncoming car and turns off sections of the LEDs so that the high beams can be used continuously without dazzling other vehicles.

At speeds of up to 25mph, wide-range low beam ensures that the LED lights illuminate both sides of the road over a wider spread to help light up junctions and corners.

Operating at speeds over 60mph, highway mode increases visibility at a distance by raising the headlight level when driving at motorway speeds.

Yet more bright ideas for a thoroughly brilliant vehicle.

Auto facts

Model: Mazda CX-5 2.2D Sport Nav AWD 

Price: £31,395

Insurance group: 21E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 54.3mpg

Top speed: 126mph

Length: 455cm/179in

Width: 184cm/72.4in

Luggage capacity: 17.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 12.7 gallons/58 litres

CO2 emissions: 142g/km

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles