THERE are still some colours for cars which can cause a stir and our latest test motor is a case in point… for the quite subdued Audi Q3 came in Pulse Orange.

The mid-sized SUV certainly stood out on our grey streets in a colour some would describe as striking while others may find it a little garish.

Either way you are certainly going to get noticed – which is probably just as well as the colour was a £575 option as was the Orange Alcantara trimmed interior, an extra £375.

But colour scheme aside this latest version of the big-selling Q3 has a hard act to follow as the SUV has sold in record numbers since Audi introduced it in 2011.

Our test version was the 2.0 litre petrol S line 45 TFi Quattro 230PS S tronic meaning it had Audi’s excellent 7-speed auto transmission and plenty of power from its smooth four cylinder power plant, 0 to 62 in 6.3 seconds and a top speed double the legal limit at 144mph

I used the Q3 to attend a VW launch event in the Cotswolds and, due in part to a huge part of the M6 being a building site, I bettered Audi’s claimed MPG getting around 38 over the 300-mile plus round trip.

The Q3 was one of the first compact premium SUVs and it proved a hit from the start with around 1.2 million sold worldwide. However, this second-generation car arrives in a now crowded marketplace so it will have to be good to continue that success.

But with a technologically advanced infotainment system, lots of driver assistance features and interior space and a subtly upgraded exterior it now looks like the range-topping Q8’s baby brother.

There are a range of petrol and diesel engines that produce between 147bhp and 223bhp. Depending on the engine you choose, you can opt for front-wheel drive, a quattro four-wheel-drive powertrain and a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch S tronic automatic transmission.

The petrol Q3 range starts with a front-wheel-drive 1.5-litre turbo engine (the 35 TFSI) while the petrol 2-litre models are identified with 40 and 45 TFSI badging and both come with four-wheel drive, which does take a toll on MPG figures. However, being the S line means it gets stiffened and lowered suspension which improves handling and body roll.

S line models also have larger 19-inch alloy wheels than entry-level Sport trim cars meaning more grip and 2.0-litre cars (40 TFSI and 45 TFSI) come as standard with a smooth seven-speed auto gearbox.

Road and wind noise are minimal and any shape and size of driver can get comfortable thanks to a wide range of adjustment in both seating and the steering wheel position.

But where Audi remain ahead of the pack is its digital infotainment and display systems. As standard, you get a 10.25in version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with a 12.3in upgrade available. Conventional analogue dials are replaced with a highly configurable, full colour display that has sharp graphics (including Google Earth maps for 3D sat nav maps) and it’s easy to switch views with the steering wheel-mounted controls.

Rear parking sensors come as standard and a rear view camera is an option on all trims plus a 360deg camera and a parking assistance feature are also available.

As you’d expect from Audi, the interior looks and feels well screwed together, with soft-touch material and metal-effect trims dotted around and quality switches and buttons.

If money is no object, Vorsprung trim gives you a Q3 with virtually every option box ticked. You get big 20in wheels like fitted to the Audi RS6 Performance estate, Matrix LED headlights, that Bang & Olufsen Premium 3D sound system and parking assistance with 360deg cameras and an adaptive suspension system.

So with prices ranging from £29,460 up to £48,465 there is plenty of choice, depending on your budget, and the new Q3 looks like a real contender but it will have its work cut out as almost every mainstream car maker has not got onto the compact SUV bandwagon.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth