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The Mazda CX-5, unveiled in 2011, was the first of Hiroshima’s new SkyActiv models, debuting the brand’s then-new Kodo design language and efficient high-compression petrol SkyActiv-G and low-compression diesel SkyActiv-D engines. It’s now five years old, however – and its facelift arrived nearly two years ago – which means that it’ll soon require a replacement.

Our spy photographers have caught the next-generation CX-5 being tested in Los Angeles, and in near-production trim too – making it easier to see what the upcoming C-segment SUV will look like. And although it looks very similar to the current car from afar, there are a number of changes that reveal themselves upon closer inspection.

The front end of the car looks more aggressive and dynamic, with a larger mesh grille (slats on the current facelifted model) and slimmer headlights – the grille’s chrome surround flows under the headlights instead of above them, a first for Mazda. The sleeker air intake design low down on the front bumper appears to be inspired by the new CX-9, giving the car a more mature look.

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Along the sides, the character line that goes above the front fenders now sweeps gradually downwards across the doors as on newer Mazdas, while the current car’s characteristic swoosh low down looks to have been replaced by a more conventional horizontal line.

At the rear, the slimmer tail lights, a tailgate design lifted from the Mazda 3 hatch and a sleeker rear bumper with wider fog lamps complete the look. The dual-tone alloys seen here appear to be a size larger than the existing CX-5’s standard 17-inch wheels, although we expect larger wheels to be an option as before.

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Under the bonnet, the CX-5 could see the debut of next-generation SkyActiv-G petrol engines, incorporating Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) – which uses high compression to ignite the fuel without a spark, much like a diesel engine. More efficient next-gen SkyActiv-D diesel engines should also feature, along with the possible inclusion of the CX-9’s new 2.5 litre SkyActiv-G turbo petrol engine.

Elsewhere, the CX-5 should receive the new G-Vectoring Control technology, along with Traffic Sign Recognition and a camera-based Advanced Smart City Brake Support with pedestrian detection – all of which made their debut on the facelifted Mazda 3.