READING back through my take on the Mazda CX-5 following a test drive in late 2017 I can’t help but think that I sold the Japanese brand a little short.

While they are honest, worthy family SUVs, even passing reference to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar as vehicles that the Mazda was attempting to elevate itself away from, feels a little remiss.

On second appraisal it’s clear that the CX-5 is more than worthy of comparison to the likes of Volvo’s excellent XC40 and the Audi Q3.

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This is the premium end of the mid-sized family SUV sector and no doubt.

With Mazda’s must-have Soul Red metallic paint the 184PS GT Sport AWD looks as slick as anything in this class, its compact squinting head and tail-light clusters typical of an unfussy appearance dominated by a jutted, chrome framed grille.

Inside, a sense is of solid build quality backed by a fair dose of tactile materials, including the neatly stitched dashboard covering and leather seats.

Albeit tested with what I’d expect to be the rarely specced six-speed manual gearbox in rangetopping trim my CX-5 test car came in at £32,910.

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The panoramic sunroof, tow bar and Bose sound system are all premium perks of the top trim, but standard on all CX-5s are LED headlights, auto power folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio and that seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Among GT Sport highlights is a reversing camera, powered boot, traffic sign recognition, a headup speed and satnav display, keyless entry and that sound system.

The CX-5 expresses little off-road pretence. There’s no hill descent control or locking differential.

Mazda works to a mantra of “Jinba Ittai”. Translated as “car and driver as one” it implies that the CX-5 will entertain with its driving dynamics.

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In reality, it exhibits some roll in sharper corners, a tendency towards understeer quelled somewhat by the application of torque vectoring on four-wheel-drive variants.

The 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine pulls strongly, but favours the application of a few revs to deliver the best of its performance — quoted by Mazda as a 9.3 second dash to 62mph and 126mph top speed — and the six-speed automatic gearbox is not quite as snappy as some at speed.

Mazda’s perseverance with larger engines across its range has not been at the cost of efficiency.

Its claims of 54.3mpg fuel economy and 137g/km CO2 emissions sit in the middle of the pack in this class.

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Its real strength is in its balance of quality, style and practicality, though.

Front and rear cabin space is up there with the best in class, with a 506-litre boot adding practicality as a strength above and beyond its unmistakeably premium style.

Mazda’s CX-5 feels like a pretty honest take on the modern SUV package, but there’s also more than a touch of polish which is hard to ignore.