The Mazda CX-5 has become an even more accomplished all-rounder since the updated version of this attractive mid-size SUV was launched earlier this year.

Styling tweaks, subtle improvements to the cabin and increased refinement have made a good car even better.

As well as great family practicality, what the CX-5 also offers is an element of driving fun - not something that's true of the majority of crossovers.

Sharp handling and accurate turn-in when cornering inspire confidence and, while you're always conscious that this is a sizeable vehicle, it does feel surprisingly nimble when a sudden change of direction is needed.

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Its sure-footed and grippy qualities were enhanced by the all-wheel drive system on my test car, which was powered by a punchy and efficient 2.2-litre Skyactiv diesel engine offering 184ps.

The engine was mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, which was slick in the shift.

It makes for a 0-62mph time of 9.3 seconds, which feels a good deal faster in real world driving conditions.

During a week in the car's company, the overall average fuel consumption was 38mpg in mixed driving conditions - unusually close to the official 44.8mpg combined figure.

Even when I'd really put the CX-5 through its paces with a spell of largely second and third gear driving, it still achieved over 20mpg.

Among the recent changes is a 15 per cent improvement in the body’s torsional rigidity, coupled with a tweak to the suspension to increase comfort levels.

In terms of looks, the front end is dominated by the confident-looking grille, which has a shape resembling a smiling mouth which therefore presents a happy face.

The front part of the bonnet overhangs the grille in a stylish manner, while the narrow headlights have a very contemporary look. Viewed from the side, the curvature of the rear doors attracts the light and adds further intrigue.

The clear design language continues to the back of the car, where narrow tail lights echo those found at the front.

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Once inside, the cabin has an airy and spacious feel, with the sunroof adding to that sensation.

The electronically-adjustable driver and passenger seats, coated in brown Nappa leather, are comfortable and offer an excellent range of adjustment, allowing you the option of a low-slung driving position or a higher commanding view of the road ahead.

The ergonomics are excellent, with all the key dials and switches within easy reach of the driver.

A circular rotating dial down to the driver's left controls the infotainment screen, which sits high on the dash, allowing swift access to the navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and vehicle information. I grew to rather like this physical dial as it cuts out any of the fiddliness you sometimes get with a touchscreen.

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The screen can also display your 'fuel efficiency history' - something that's ever-more important due to current prices at the pumps.

A number of higher quality materials can be found across the dashboard and insides of the doors, with the overall fit and finish being even better than that seen on the previous model.

In the back, there's plenty of room for three kids. Two adults could also enjoy a comfortable journey, although a third in the middle would be a bit of a squeeze. Legroom in the back is decent, although a six foot passenger sat behind a six foot driver would be a bit tight.

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The boot is generously proportioned, offering 506-litres of space, and has added ease of use thanks to a false floor that makes the load bay totally flat and by levelling out the lip.

In conclusion, the CX-5 continues to be an SUV that will appeal to keen drivers who also need family practicality from their car - and this second generation version now has even more appeal.

The Lowdown

Mazda CX-5 AWD GT Sport 

PRICE: £37,445 on the road 
ENGINE: 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D diesel 184ps
TOP SPEED: 129mph
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual AWD
0-62MPH: 9.3 seconds
ECONOMY: 44.8mpg combined
EMISSIONS: 165g/km