Earlier this year Mazda released their new compact SUV, the CX-5, in Vienna, and as beautiful as Vienna is, the city couldn’t compete with the stunning new offering.
It’s always nice to be one of the first to test drive a new car, but it’s always more reassuring to get behind the wheel on your own turf, as I did with the CX-5 last month.
Starting with the all-important looks, we are talking about something that is unmistakably Mazda, but with an all-new excitement and edge to it.
We’re told that the inspiration for the front end of the car is the cheetah, and, even if you never see the resemblance, the look does evoke a slight sense of menace.
You can follow the chrome line that surrounds the grille right through into the headlights, an absolutely gorgeous design touch in my books.
The headlight clusters themselves sit at a very nice angle that follows the contours of the body, while at the same time bulging out to sit proud of the bodywork.
The power comes from a choice of engines, and those available in the Irish market are a 2-litre petrol with 165bhp, a 2.2-litre diesel with 150bhp and a 2.3-litre diesel with 170bhp.
It may not be something you will need to use all that often, but the sat nav system in the car is of the TomTom variety – one of my personal favourites.
The interior of the car offers some very useful cargo space, with a three-way split for the seats, all folding down with ease to cater for a variety of load options.
With the seats up, the CX-5 actually offers class-leading space in the boot, with space for four full-sized suitcases, beating both the VW Tiguan (2-3 cases) and the Ford Kuga (3 cases).
For those moments of musical indulgence, there is a terrific Bose sound system with nine high-performance speakers and background noise compensation technology.
On the safety front, Mazda’s smart City Brake support feature is also included – offering automatic emergency braking at a 6-metre distance when travelling between 4 and 30 km/h.
Other safety features are a rear vehicle monitoring system, that lights up an LED in your rear-view mirror when another vehicle is passing, as well as a lane departure warning system, where the steering wheel vibrates if you stray too far from the centre of your lane.
There are some visibility issues as the body work around the C pillar is somewhat intrusive, and the more powerful of the diesel engines might be considered a touch on the noisy side.
But, with prices starting at €25,195 for the petrol version, this is a car that will appeal to an awful lot of people.