Most people who follow the auto industry know that diesels are popular in Europe – and more and more so in the U.S. – but it appears Mazda underestimated how many people in Japan want an oil burner. According to the Nikkei, Mazda expected to sell just 1,000 CX-5s a month in Japan, but it instead sold 8,000 in February, the first month the CUV was on sale there. Oh, and 73 percent of them were diesel-powered.

Even though Japan has strict emissions controls, the "not electric, not hybrid, not a drag to drive" Skyactiv-D technology is giving clean diesels a good name in hybrid-happy Japan. It's been a long road, with a multi-year break when no domestic automaker sold a diesel passenger vehicle in Japan, a drought that ended in 2008 when Nissan introduced the X-Trail 20GT SUV. The question is, where do diesel sales in Japan go from here?

Read our First Drive report of the U.S. version of the CX-5 here.