Mazda has aimed to address one of the few complaints about its much-lauded CX-5 by adding a larger engine to its all-wheel-drive petrol variants.
The mid-sized SUV is now kitted out with a 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G four-cylinder powerplant, the same engine found in the Mazda6, and in good news for buyers it will only cost $500 more than the outgoing model.
Though the CX-5 received many end-of-year accolades in 2012, one of the few gripes was with the 2.0-litre petrol engine, which many felt was decidedly lacking in the power department.
The new 2.5-litre unit offers the all-wheel-drive 138kW of power and 250Nm of torque - an upgrade of 25kW and 52Nm that puts it among the best in the mid-sized SUV class.
The 2.0-litre petrol has been tweaked for better acceleration and response, and will remain in the front-wheel-drive version.
Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson said while the CX-5 had exceeded expectations since its release roughly a year ago, the company had to be proactive in making positive changes with new models from competitors such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V hitting the market.
"There's no question the CX-5 did very well last year, but we're under no illusion it had the kind of competition it will have this year," he said.
The new powerplant does address most of the issues of its all-wheel-drive petrol predecessor.
Paired only with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, it can admittedly start to gasp while one's foot is on the floor attempting to maintain speed on long, climbing hills and the automatic can get a bit lost in selecting the correct gear and knowing when to shift.
Some drivers may be tempted to switch into manual mode to have better control over gear selection in these moments, and if they do they will find little to complain about.
But in the type of urban driving most will use the CX-5 for, the new engine provides more than enough power. Even with the air-conditioning going and multiple passengers, the driver never feels they're looking for extra oomph that isn't there, be it on modest inclines or needing to accelerate to overtake.
The increase in power has also resulted in an increase in fuel consumption, with the new engine drinking 7.4L/100km compared to the older engine's 6.9/100km.
However, it could be said the previous model required such exaggerated revving to move it that the new engine could see a dip in on-road consumption.
To further stand out from the latest SUVs on the market, Mazda has also created a new top-spec level for the SUV.
The Akera range sees blind-spot monitoring, a high-beam control system and lane departure warning added to the previously top-spec Grand Tourer.
Akera models will be available only in all-wheel-drive variants, including the existing 2.2-litre diesel, which will cost $48,620.
- MAZDA CX-5 AWD *
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
- PRICING *
Maxx Sport: $36,620
Grand Touring: $43,780