IT’S fair to say Mazda has a lot riding on the success of its new CX5 compact crossover.

To date, Mazda’s SUV efforts have been greeted with massive public indifference. Of course, it probably didn’t help that the CX7 launched in Europe without a diesel. By the time that massive omission was rectified the parade had moved on.

Mazda won’t be making the same mistake with the CX5 which gets the full benefit of the company’s new Skyactiv fuel efficiency technology.

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With Skyactiv Mazda is striking out in a bold new direction. As the tiddler among Japan’s big car manufacturers it was caught on the hop by the public whirlwind love affair with petrol-electric hybrid technology. I suppose it could have licensed a hybrid power train from another manufacturer but that would have been costly and Mazda would never have owned the technology used in its cars.

Instead, Skyactiv is an exhaustive effort to substantially improve the fuel consumption and lower the emissions of Mazda cars by running the rule over every aspect of a car from the chassis to the bodywork, the transmission and, of course, the engine.

Mazda’s goal is a 30 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency. That’s a far cry from the 100 per cent promise of a hybrid but still a big ask to find from “mature” technology like an internal combustion engine.

Mazda has done this by substantially increasing the combustion ratio of its petrol engine to a record-breaking (for a production engine) 14:1 and lowering the combustion ratio of its diesels (again to 14:1). They are also lighter and smoother for lower friction. The company claims its Skyactiv 2.0-litre petrol delivers fuel consumption comparable with a 2.2-litre diesel.

Depending on the model, the CX5 has fuel economy up to 61.4mpg and emissions as low as 119g/km.

Four petrols and six diesels will be offered. Eight diesel models will be available with four-wheel drive, the rest will be strictly 2WD.

Prices for the 2.0-litre petrol start at £21,395 while the 2.2 diesel (the likely highlight of the range) begins at £22,995.

Standard kit will include alloys, front fogs, climate, brake support and privacy glass, plus parking sensors front and back. Sport models gain 19-inch alloys (and a commensurately poorer ride), bi-xenon headlights, leather, heated front seats and a reversing camera.

The CX5 will be pitched into the market that's currently dominated by Nissan’s Qashqai and the Skoda Yeti. That’s a tough segment to break but if the Mazda can retain some of the company’s famous “zoom, zoom” spirit while still returning class-leading economy it could just be the new class leader.