SOMETIMES there are benefits to turning up late to a party. You miss all the early hullabaloo and when the dust has settled, quietly walk in and steal the show.

The Q3 is a case in point.

Audi’s classy crossover may not be breaking new ground, but by holding onto its horses and studying the opposition before launching itself on an unsuspecting public, it has been able to counter the criticisms levelled at some of its rivals.

Not only is it pleasant on the eye, it is built like the proverbial outhouse and has an air of quality as standard.

While up against its siblings, the considerably larger Q5 and the garagantuan Q7, the Q3 might look small, that would be like saying the same of an infant pachyderm. All things, as they say, are relative.

This car gives the same feeling of security a big SUV affords and decent interior space, while sparing the driver from breaking into a cold sweat when it comes to parking or negotiating tight squeezes.

You sit high in the Q3. Not only does it make you feel safe from the idiots that would wittingly or unwittingly want to do you harm, but also gives you a chance of keeping them safe when your own shortcomings become apparent.

I am not what they call long in the leg and so found it easy to get comfortable in the Q3, as did my wife, who is also of average height, but in addition is almost nine months pregnant.

In the rear, our two boys had plenty of room to stretch out and not once did their muddy shoes come into contact with the back of our seats - an all too common occurrence in other cars I have driven.

The boot floor is high and the rear windscreen rakes, but there’s still more than enough room for the monthly shop or your holiday requirements. With the seats up you get 460 litres, while with them down, but not completely flat, that increases to 1,365 litres. Lift the floor up and there’s also space for tools and the like.

You are not left wanting for kit with the Q3, our car came with leather seats, satellite navigation, electronic parking brake, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, climate control and steering wheel audio and telephone buttons, among other things.

If it’s power you want, the 2.0 litre petrol engine in our test car, provided more than enough oomph on the open road. Admittedly, it will cost more to run than the diesel alternative, but I managed more than 32mpg and I wasn’t afraid to give it the beans when circumstances required.

The six-speed gearbox was smooth and felt good to the touch and the digital display means there are no excuses for missing a change.

Ride quality is generally smooth, especially around town and while not exactly fun, you can be less than tender with it without fear of ending up in the weeds.

While some manufacturer’s appear to rush their products to market in a bid to maximise early demand, Audi has taken its time with the Q3.

Do the best things come to those who wait? That’s for you to decide.

SPEC: PRICE: Audi Q3 SE 2.0 TFSi Quattro (Price, as tested, £25,690) ENGINE: 2.0 litre petrol MAX POWER: 211bhp MAX TORQUE: 221lb/ft TOP SPEED: 143mph 0-62MPH: 6.9secs COMBINED FUEL CONSUMPTION: 36.7mpg CO2: 179g/km