This is the second coming of Mazda‘s CX-7 small 4×4, and this time it’s significantly better armed for fleet than the first time around.

Still only available in one engine and trim, this time that engine is a 2.2-litre diesel rather than the 2.3-litre petrol it had from launch two years ago.

The change of engine to the 173PS diesel comes with a facelift that sees a new nose, chrome additions to the outside and a new rear bumper for the 199g/km off-roader.

Mazda has added a huge amount of standard kit to try and gain appeal. Satnav, six-CD changer leather, 19-inch alloys, climate control, Bluetooth and Xenon lights are all included in the £25,785 price. Metallic paint is the only option available. The brand is hoping to take sales from premium brands such as BMW‘s X3, which is nearly £30,000 before trying to spec it up to the Mazda’s levels.

The Japanese company has always pitched the CX-7 as a sporty off-roader, and that hasn’t changed with the diesel version, which is both a good and a bad thing. Getting the bad out of the way first, the suspension set-up is too harsh for many of Britain’s roads, and the CX-7 jiggles and bumps uncomfortably over every imperfection, while the steering also has an artificial electric feel. But that suspension does mean the car’s body roll is superbly controlled, while the engine is amazingly refined with no hint of diesel clatter entering the cabin. The engine is also plenty potent enough for what is a large vehicle, and accompanied by a pleasingly accurate gearshift.

There’s plenty of room in a well-laid out cabin, too, which maybe just lacks some of the premium quality of rivals, while rear passengers won’t have any complaints about head or legroom.

Mazda is currently weighing up how much of a push into the corporate sector it will attempt with the CX-7. Though it’s got a small problem with a 199g/km CO2 figure, poor service intervals of just 9500 miles and fleets erring on the side of caution about allowing 4x4s onto their lists, it’s a good-looking, very well-equipped, practical and appealing alternative to the regular choices.

Mazda CX-7 2.2d
P11D price £25,785
Model price range £25,785
Fuel consumption 37.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 199g/km (30%)
BIK 20/40% per month £129/£258
Service interval 9500mls
Insurance group 14
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 455/774 litres
Engine size/power 2184cc/173PS
Top speed/0-62mph 124mph/11.3secs
On sale October 2009
Score 7/10
Verdict Very well-equipped, practical
and good-looking 4×4