VIRTUALLY every car manufacturer is upping its game in the burgeoning world of sport utility vehicles.

But perhaps none more so than Mazda, which has introduced a new version of its CX-5 that raises the bar in virtually every area and pushes it to within the thinnest whisker of being a premium offering.

If I might borrow the words the magical Mary Poppins uttered to describe herself, the CX-5 is practically perfect in every way.

What was once a quite barren crossover landscape is now packed to the gills with multiple offerings of various sizes and across a broad price range.

Mazda has taken the CX-5 upmarket, offering only two trim levels - SE-L Nav and Sport Nav - with six-speed manual transmission available across the ten-model range but no automatic offering on the petrol units.

There’s a well-placed confidence in the beautiful design (which has a fancy Japanese name that I doubt anyone will remember) that sees an evolution of the front-end, sleeker sides and a lower roofline. Check out the new paint job, too. It’s called Soul Red Crystal Metallic and employs some clever technology to increase brightness and depth.

If initial impressions of the exterior are very favourable, they are but a taster for the superb ambience, attention to detail and array of equipment to be found inside. It is here in the cabin that you begin to fully appreciate how much care Mazda has lavished on its best-selling car.

All models feature LED headlights, auto-powered folding mirrors. Dual-zone climate control, DAB radio with CD player and a seven-inch touchscreen display with integrated navigation. Sport Nav cars add a reversing camera eight-way adjustable driver’s seat, six-way adjustable passenger seat, keyless entry, privacy glass and heated front seats and steering wheel.

Available in two highly-specified trim levels, the ten-model UK range starts at £23,695 and includes the latest generation of its all-drive system.

Powered by a familiar range of what Mazda calls its Skyactive engines, the 2.0-litre 165ps is available in SE-L Nav and Sport Nav trim and is offered only with front-wheel drive and a slick six-speed manual gearbox.

Making up the bulk of the range, the 2.2-litre 150ps diesel is available with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive and comes with a choice of automatic or manual transmission.

Sitting at the top of the range, the flagship 2.2-litre 175ps diesel comes exclusively in Sport Nav trim and is equipped with all-wheel drive and like the lower output diesel, it can be matched to either automatic or manual transmission.

Across both outputs the diesel engines have been enhanced with the introduction of Mazda’s noise reducing technology, which makes for an even tougher call on whether to choose petrol or diesel.

Although the petrol units are slightly more responsive, the lower powered diesel engine is expected to find most homes.

Mazda has resolutely stuck with bigger engines combined with a range of technologies, design and build requirements that ensure efficiency and power.

But more than this, it has ensured that the car is fun to drive. Dullards can look elsewhere - this is a car for not only carrying out everyday duties but also capable of putting a smile on your face as you weave along a country road.

That 150PS diesel model will hit 62mph in under 10 seconds, yet still achieve fuel economy of about 56mpg.

The decision to offer the CX-5 in only two trim levels, without an automatic petrol version and with a starting price tag of £23,695 is a slight gamble but there’s no doubt that Mazda has got the CX-5 right in every area.