Similar in size to the Land Rover Freelander and Volkswagen Tiguan the CX-5 is Mazda's entry into the highly competitive crossover or compact SUV market. On sale in the UK in March 2012 the CX-5 is great to drive and will be available in either two or four wheel drive. Petrol and diesel engines will be offered with both manual and automatic gearboxes.
Price £21,395 - £28,995
The Mazda CX-7 is a quirky looking rival to the Audi Q5. The crossover's looks are inspired by the RX-8 sports car, but despite this sporty influence the CX-7 looks less imposing than rival SUVs. One engine is available, a powerful 2.2-litre diesel, with a slick manual gearbox and four-wheel drive. There's only one specification too, called Sport Tech, which comes loaded with luxuries like electric seats, 19-inch alloy wheels and a camera to help with reversing. The CX-7 is good to drive for a tall car, offering sharp steering and a comfortable ride. The interior is spacious, and there's a decent-sized boot.
The Mazda MX-5 is the world's best-selling roadster, and has been offering value-packed, entertaining driving since it was first launched in 1989. There are 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre engines to choose from, and you can opt for a canvas roof, or a folding hard top – which offers better protection from the elements. Both engines need to be worked hard to extract their performance, but that's part of the fun. The five and six-speed manual gearboxes are very precise. Handling is superb, making the car exciting to drive. The MX-5 is a strict two-seater, but has a good-sized boot. Equipment levels are OK on the entry-level cars, but you pay extra for air-conditioning. The 2.0-litre car is very well equipped.
Price £18,785 - £23,295
The Mazda RX-8 is an unconventional sports car in every sense. Not only does it look futuristic and sleek, it has clever half doors to boost access to the back seats and is powered by a high-revving 1.3-litre rotary engine. The engine isn’t very fuel efficient, but it certainly provides plenty of power to the rear wheels. The RX-8 is great to drive, too, with sharp steering and little body roll. Only one model is available, called the R3. It comes with luxury features like a Bluetooth phone connection, a BOSE stereo, cruise control and large alloy wheels.
The Mazda2 is a great-looking supermini that's also very good to drive. There's plenty of standard equipment and prices are competitive when measured next to the likes of the Ford Fiesta. Limited supply means resale values are strong too, so the Mazda is a safe place to invest your cash. Running costs are also low, especially in the 1.4 and 1.6-litre diesel models.
3 & 5 Doors
Price £10,495 - £13,495
There's a lot to like about the Mazda3. The Japanese family model is available as a hatchback and a saloon, and shares parts with the Ford Focus. Like the Mazda2 it offers sharp looks, excellent build quality, great value for money and economical engines. On the road it feels nimble, and Mazda's focus on reducing the car's weight means it's very responsive. Despite those things it still falls short in a couple of key areas. Rear space isn’t great - which is important for family buyers - and the cabin is awash with confusing buttons and can seem quite dark, and therefore cramped.
Price £15,995 - £20,995
Mazda has thrown caution to the wind with the latest 5 people carrier, giving the seven-seater controversial looks that will divide opinion. They’re just a distraction though, because in every other way the 5 is as sensible as can be, with a clever flexible seating arrangement, lots of cabin storage and some impressively economical engines. It's an added bonus that it's good to drive, too.
Price £19,995 - £21,295
The Mazda6 is one of the best large family cars around. Available as an estate, a hatchback and a saloon it's value for money, reliable, practical and very good to drive. Not only that, but it's also extremely well built and reasonably well equipped. Diesel engines are highly economical, and the car makes a capable cruiser. In short, it does everything well.