SINCE it first appeared eight years ago the Audi Q3 has become one of the most common sights on British roads - proving a perennially popular choice in the premium German car maker's extensive range.
The compact SUV market has moved on somewhat in that time though and the Q3 faces significantly more competition these days, not least from its own stable in the shape of the Q2, a more recent addition to the fleet.
Te re-establish a firm distinction between these siblings, and in an effort to maintain its popularity, Audi unveiled the second generation Q3 last year with sharper creases, sleeker lines and more muscular design language around the bolder grille and re-worked bumpers.
On-board technology and engines also received upgrades and, crucially, the dimensions were expanded, the new car being nearly 10 centimetres longer and two centimetres wider than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase - moving it into what Audi calls the ‘upper compact SUV segment'.
As well as creating a sportier, more modern and purposeful presence this means that the new Q3 offers improved interior room for passengers and plenty of loadspace.
Practicality also gets a boost with a rear bench that will accommodate three in relative comfort and slides forwards and backwards by 15 centimetres, depending upon whether you want to prioritise rear legroom or luggage capacity.
The engine line-up consists of one diesel and three petrol units ranging from 150ps to 230ps in output and, depending upon which you choose, variously available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission and Audi's renowned Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Our car featured the most powerful option, the 230ps, 2.0-litre petrol unit - 45 TFSI under Audi's new badging system - which comes with the automatic gearbox and the 4x4 running gear.
With a 0-62mph sprint time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 144mph this offers plenty of pace and pulls well through the gears, with peak torque of 350Nm available from just 1,500 revs.
Behind the wheel, though, it doesn't feel as explosive as those figures might suggest thanks to the transmission's controlled and leisurely approach to gear changes.
Nevertheless, progress is smooth and swift on the open road,as well as being quiet and refined, while around town the light but accurate steering makes picking your way through the traffic fairly trouble free.
Our mid-range S Line version - sitting between Sport and Vorsprung specs - gets a sports suspension which offers some nimble and agile handling but still keeps the ride on the right side of comfortable.
Body roll in corners is minimal and very well-controlled for an SUV while that Quattro intelligent all-wheel-drive system offers impressive levels of grip, ensuring the car feels settled at all times.
Equipment has a distinctly high-tech feel as the Q3 has gone digital.
Analogue instruments have been binned and all versions get Audi's ‘virtual cockpit' - in this case a 10.25-inch screen ahead of the steering wheel which can be configured to show various information including navigation.
There's also a touchscreen multimedia interface in the centre of the dashboard while other kit in S Line cars includes sporty exterior styling, 19-inch alloy wheels, sports front seats, digital radio, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, a powered tailgate, rear privacy glass and LED headlights.
There is no doubt that the Q3 is well equipped. However, Audi still has an annoying habit of making some of the more useful niceties available only as options.
For instance, our car did not have automatic folding wing mirrors, a reversing camera or keyless ignition - all of which can be found on much cheaper alternatives and which I think it's reasonable to expect at the prices charged here.
This, though, is unlikely to deter those who simply love the kudos of a premium badge.