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A close battle between the two vehicles had been predicted ahead of the Japan Car of the Year awards ceremony, which took place earlier this week at Zepp Diver City on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay.
However, the Mazda CX-5 ended up storming to victory by pulling in 363 votes, compared to the 318 votes cast for the jointly-developed GT86/BRZ sports car.
The Japanese manufacturer's new SUV struck a chord with the award ceremony's 60 jurors due to its innovative Skyactiv technology, on top of an impressive level of handling and its economical clean diesel engine.
Commenting on the feat, Mazda's Kiyoshi Fujiwara stated: "It was a long road. In the early days of Skyactiv development, I had a lot of opposition from colleagues suggesting this technology was not the answer.
"But we stayed true to our goals, and here we are today, fully recognised by the Car of the Year jurors. Thank you!"