LUXURY compact SUVs have come a long way since the Audi Q3 was born seven years ago.
The sector has developed into a lucrative, fast-moving marketplace that quickly leaves any stragglers behind.
So Audi's launch of an updated Q3 last year boasting impressive hi-tech gizmos and lots of style was a timely one.
The exterior sports an eye-catching face with snazzy LEDs and an eight-sided grille frame plus sporty front intakes. There is a tougher, stronger road presence thanks to sharp creases, flared wheelarches, smart alloy wheels and a taller stance.
The airy cabin hosts a who's who of hi-tech gadgetry with Audi's virtual cockpit system stealing the show thanks to a dazzling display that can be configured with whatever driving, sat nav information or graphics you desire.
Not content with this the Q3 also sports another large central touchscreen that handles the rest of the car's entertainment systems and functions.
The interior is well put together using high quality materials while the fit and finish is exemplary. The options on the mid-range S line model sampled here include ambient interior lighting at Â£100 and a Â£275 Audi sound system which I wouldn't put you off as they add to the experience.
A three-spoke multi-function flat bottom steering wheel is also a useful addition but will set you back Â£250. It and the front seats are adjustable - for Â£675 you can get electricity involved to power the operation - ensuring a perfect driving position.
You start to get the picture that the Q3 35's price-tag can quickly grow - and indeed when all the options listed on my specification sheet were added on the cost rose from of Â£34,150 to Â£37,565.
You do get a bigger motor for your buck though as the latest Q3 is longer and wider than its predecessor so comfort is a given with plenty of space for all as well as lots of storage space for their bits and bobs and a plethora of cup holders. The rear bench slides backwards and forwards depending on your boot storage requirements while the backrest angle can also be adjusted.
With the rear seats pushed forward a maximum of 673-litres is available for luggage or shopping. This reduces to a not to be sniffed at 530 litres when they are pushed all the way forward and if folded out of the way a cave-like 1,525 litres becomes available. There are LED lights in the tailgate and the option of hands-free opening.
As far as safety is concerned all Q3s are fitted with automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection and lane departure systems with other handy systems such as automatic cruise control available as an option.
Power is provided here by a sprightly 1.5-litre, front wheel drive petrol engine which, with the help of a seven-speed automatic S tronic transmission, takes you from a standing start to 62mph in 9.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 128mph.
Fuel economy is good - ranging between 36.7 and 38.2 under the WLTP testing regime - thanks to stop/start and cylinder on demand technology which also helps reduce emissions.
The Q3 handles well with lots of confidence-inducing grip and offers one of the most comfortable rides in its class. There is no effort to make it a serious off-roader, but its target audience sticks to the carriageway so it is unlikely to be an issue.