There's no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to family transportation, and while today's car buyers have a greater range of choice than ever before, it can take some effort to find a car that really does precisely fill the void in their automotive life. Fortunately, cars like the Mazda CX-5 exist to plug those niches in the market that other manufacturers have left gaping.
You see, hundreds of SUV buyers have considered a Nissan Qashqai or Seat Ateca on the basis of their chunky styling and cheap running costs, but found them just a little on the small side. There's also the Honda CR-V, Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq, but not everybody wants seven seats, nor to commit to the financial stretch for an Audi Q5 or Land Rover Discovery Sport. For this substantial chunk of the population, the five-seat Mazda CX-5 might well be the answer, as a stylish, practical family SUV with some clever tricks up its sleeve that take the stress out of daily life.
Further strengthening the CX-5's case is that it appears to be really good value for money, especially when you factor in how much equipment it comes with as standard. It offers petrol and diesel engines, the former being the cheaper to buy and, so far, have proved the most popular. If you cover a lot of miles, though, you definitely shouldn't rule out the more frugal 2.2-litre diesels. As you might expect, options include four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox.
Over the next few pages, we'll tell you what the Mazda CX-5 is like to drive compared with its key rivals, along with how it stacks up for space, the verdict on interior quality and an insight towards its reliability. We'll also determine whether it really is such great value as it first appears.