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2022 Mazda CX-5 detailed: Australian timing, split styling confirmed for Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage rival

Top-spec Mazda CX-5s will now have body-coloured wheelarches instead of black-plastic cladding.

Mazda’s crucial CX-5 will receive a fresh makeover next year to try and steal the spotlight away from the best-selling Toyota RAV4 SUV, headlined by two distinct design directions.

Though the slightly-tweaked exterior was leaked last week, which showed off a lower-grade car with black-plastic cladding, high-end variants will actually be fitted with body-coloured wheelarches for a more premium look.

This means Maxx, Maxx Sport and Touring grades will retain a rugged SUV aesthetic with black-plastic trim, while the GT SP, Akera will sport the upmarket look.

In addition to the split design, the 2022 CX-5 also scores a slightly redesigned front grille and fresh-head and tail-light designs with rectangular graphics.

Mazda Australia is yet to detail the specifications for each grade, but promises that the top-spec Akera will feature a Nappa leather interior and the GT SP will receive red-coloured contrast stitching throughout the cabin.

However, the boldest change might be in the Touring, which sports lime green accents on the grille, seat upholstery and air-conditioning surrounds.

The changes to the 2022 CX-5 aren’t just cosmetic though, with the six-speed automatic transmission also tuned for smoother acceleration, while suspension is also tweaked for a more comfortable ride – at least in overseas versions.

Mazda is also claiming that road noise has been “greatly reduced, particularly when driving on rough surfaces such as gravel”.

A new ‘Mazda intelligent Drive Select’, or Mi-Drive, switch is also included on some versions of the new CX-5, letting drivers choose the most a driving mode most appropriate to the situation.

The Off-Road mode introduced in the early 2020 update is also integrated into the Mi-Drive selector.

A UK press release also touts that a wireless smartphone charger is also included in some grades, though whether that feature makes it to Australia is still unclear.

Mazda Australia will bring its 2022 CX-5 to local shores in the first half of 2022, with full specifications and pricing to be confirmed closer to launch.

For reference, the current CX-5 kicks off at $31,190 before on-road costs for the base Maxx front-drive manual, and tops out with the Akera diesel all-wheel drive for $52,380.

Mazda Australia boss Vinesh Bhindi said the changes coming to the CX-5 will help it stand out from the rest of the mid-size SUV crowd.

“A focus on constant improvement and evolution has helped Mazda CX-5 remain a favourite in Australia, with each update building on the winning formula of style, safety and comfort that has held momentum for almost a decade,” he said.

“This latest update meets customer demand for self-expression and personalisation, addressing their style and lifestyle more acutely than ever before.”