THERE are not that many SUVs on the market today that offer dynamic handling while still meeting all the demands for practicality along the way - normally you need to prioritise between one or the other.
But there are exceptions to this rule and the Audi Q3 is one of them.
It sits alongside the likes of the Range Rover Evoque, Volvo XC40 and BMW X1 as stand-out models that combine supreme luxury, great handling and off-road ability, yet can still be used for a family getaway.
Once the baby of Audi's SUV range - a title now claimed by the Q2 - the Q3 is a great looking car with athletic styling.
Eye-catching features include a huge front grille housing the Audi rings and number plate, sweeping light clusters with LED daytime running lights, bod-coloured door handles and mirrors, privacy glass, twin tailpipes and smart alloy wheels.
Move inside and the interior is of a high quality with soft-touch surfaces, leather upholstery, heated front sports seats with power adjustment and four-way lumbar support, ambient lighting and a three-spoke multi-function flat-bottomed steering wheel. There is 'S' badging on the seat backs and steering wheel as a gentle reminder that this is an S line model.
There is a wealth of technology to explore too with full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, plus Audi's excellent virtual cockpit which allows you to personalise the information you see behind the steering wheel.
With the high degree of seat movement along with ample steering wheel adjustment, getting a comfortable driving position is a quick and simple process.
All dials and readouts are ideally placed for ease of use and Audi has ditched its rotary dial in place of a 10.3-inch touchscreen which is simple to operate.
It's good to see that all the climate control dials are separate though beneath this screen, so adjustments can made quickly on the move without having to navigate through an on-screen menu.
Priced at £33,260 (£37,565 with options fitted), the Q3 in S line trim was powered by a 1.5-litre 150ps petrol engine mated to a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission.
It could complete the 0-62mph dash in 9.2 seconds and topped out at 128mph. According to official WLTP figures, it could deliver a combined 36.7-38.2mpg with carbon emissions of 133g/km.
Those performance stats may not sound that impressive. However, the manner in which the Q3 behaves certainly is.
Out on the fast-moving lanes the car gripped the road like glue and was beautifully composed and balanced. The acceleration through the gears was swift enough especially in Dynamic mode and the steering wheel-mounted paddles are there for extra fun.
It's easy to forget you are driving an SUV after a short while in the Q3 and with effortless motorway cruising, it eats up the business miles.
The cabin is well insulated against any road surface, engine or wind noise and the stiffened suspension on S line models does an excellent job of smoothing out the rough surfaces.
Other drive modes are available when you want to calm things down a bit called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Individual. There is also an Off-Road setting, along with Audi's four-wheel-drive system, to keep you moving in more adverse weather and driving conditions.
In town centres, the visibility ahead and sideways is good thanks to the elevated driving position, although the thick door pillars do slightly block the over-the-shoulder view. However, the parking system plus (a £300 option) warns the driver about any obstacles in front or behind the vehicle.
The Q3 can easily accommodate a couple of adults in the back with plenty of leg, head and shoulder space. A third could squeeze in but their feet would have to straddle the large raised central tunnel.
Storage options are good with a boot capacity that ranges from 530 litres to 1,525 litres with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere there are deep pockets in all the doors, a glovebox, front and rear cup holders, a covered central box and a non-slip tray in front of the gear lever.