A little bit of gloss to keep it feeling fresh

The 2016 Audi Q3 gives compact luxury SUVs a good name with cozy ride quality and accommodations—but it's not the most space- or fuel-efficient vehicle of its kind.

The 2016 Audi Q3 is a compact crossover SUV, new last year to a niche that's quickly expanding.

As the German automaker's smallest crossover SUV, the Q3 is a rival for vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Buick Encore and the BMW X1.

The Q3 sports a tidy, typically Audi shape that's appealing because it resembles the larger Q5 so strongly. It's an obvious lineage--and it has some lookalikes in the form of the Fiat 500X and Lincoln MKC. It's also more stubby than the Q7 and the Q5, Audi's larger utility vehicles. The size and shape look perfectly suited to cities, a bit teensy on the highway. It's a sensitivity to scale that's much more pronounced on its rivals. New this year on the Q3, on higher trim levels, are LED headlamps; all versions get a lightly restyled grille and rear end.

Inside, the Q3's cockpit resembles the one in the related A3 four-door sedan. It's swathed in low-gloss black plastic and metallic trim, all subdued and integrated in the way Audi seems to do better than most of its rivals. On some versions, the Q3's big gauges team up with a 7-inch infotainment screen that flips and folds out of the dash. It's a gymnastic feat that's necessary, since infotainment screens are mostly an American demand in small cars.