For the first time in North America, Mazda will sell its CX-5 SUV, arguably its most important model, with a diesel engine, its 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D, the automaker revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show mid-November.

Make no mistake, a new CX-5 is big news for Mazda. Globally it makes up more than one-quarter of Mazda’s total sales. In Canada, the midsize CX-5 SUV is the second most popular vehicle in the brand’s lineup, after the compact Mazda3.

And, unlike that hatchback, sales of the CX-5 are growing compared to last year. Canadian buyers can’t seem to gobble up new SUVs fast enough, and the CX-5 is Mazda’s key to a bigger slice of the pie.

So, this is a car that really can’t fail for Mazda. As befits such an important new vehicle, Mazda have thrown everything at the new-generation CX-5.

Buyers will get a choice of three engines: the 2.0- and 2.5-litre four-cylinder motors will carry over from the previous model; and arriving later in 2017 will be the CX-5 DE, with Mazda’s 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D engine.

In other markets, this motor uses sequential twin-turbos to make 148 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 rpm. All-wheel drive will be available, too. Notably absent, however, are turbochargers (on the gas motors) or any kind of hybrid system. Being a relatively small company, Mazda isn’t devoting its limited R&D resources to such technology, at least not yet.

Like all Mazda’s recent styling efforts, the design of the new CX-5 is excellent. The wheelbase is wider than before, and the A-pillars have been moved backwards. The front end apes the bigger CX-9. To an untrained eye it could be mistaken for something off the BMW/Benz/Audi lot.

The new cabin looks like similarly classy affair. A heads-up display, traffic sign recognition, and a full suite of active safety systems — including adaptive cruise control that works in a traffic jam — will be available.

Does Mazda have a desire to push up-market? It certainly looks that way.

Sporty handling was the big selling point of the previous CX-5. Mazda is clearly keen to point out the new model won’t disappoint in the cornering department. Engineers gave it beefier suspension components and a stiffer body structure. A new torque-vectoring system, called G-Vectoring Control (GVC), is said to improve stability through corners.

This time around Mazda wants to attract more than just the ‘zoom-zoom’ crowd. As such it stresses ride comfort and significantly reduced road noise. Has Mazda really created the holy grail and made a brilliant-to-drive SUV that doesn’t sacrifice ride comfort? We’re skeptical, but will reserve judgment until we get to drive it.

The new CX-5 launches in Japan in February 2017, and should come to Canada later that year. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but expect it to start around $23,000 like the previous model.

And with that, the endless march of new SUVs continues.