With compact crossovers being all the rage these days, it’s somewhat surprising that North Americans haven’t met the Audi Q3 before now. After all, it was designed back in 2009 and went on sale in European and Asian markets for the 2011 model year.

Having recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2015 Q3 Quattro I can safely say it’s a case of “better late than never,” because the Q3 is a standout entry in the increasingly crowded mini-SUV segment. But it does put me in the odd position of reviewing a “brand new” model after its replacement has already been unveiled: That’s right, the facelifted 2016 model is already waiting in the wings.

For those who can’t wait to get their hands on Audi’s baby crossover but don’t want to buy an instantly-outdated model, fear not: The 2016 changes are subtle to the point of insignificant, and only die-hard Audi aficionados will ever notice you’re in the vanguard driving a 2015 model. The biggest change is that the 2016 will get a slightly revised grille surround that ties into the headlights. The headlights and taillights are also mildly restyled (though you’ll need to look twice to see the difference), and there are some minor tweaks to the bumper shape and interior trim, but that’s about it. So you could wait for the 2016, but really there’s no need – the 2015 is available now, and no it won’t look embarrassingly outmoded next year, nor will it feature any of the upgraded engines global markets receive.

Based on the same Group A5 platform as Volkswagen’s Mk5 Golf and Tiguan, and looking a lot like a scaled-down Q5, the Q3 is a genuinely compact vehicle that’s significantly shorter in length and taller in height than a Honda Civic, though somewhat wider. Inside, however, it doesn’t give up much at all to the Q5, especially in the front seats. This is partly thanks to the Q3’s transverse engine layout, which allows a more compact engine compartment than the longitudinally mounted engine in the Q5.

Nestled in the engine compartment is Audi’s familiar, silky-smooth direct-injected 2.0L TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic paddle shifting. The engine churns out 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of twist. It’ll haul the Q3 from 0-100 km/h in about 8.2 seconds, but around town it feels quicker than that thanks to its deep, flat torque curve (maximum torque comes on from 1,700 rpm and doesn’t start to taper off until 5,000). The only drivetrain option is the choice between front-wheel drive or Quattro all-wheel drive (as in my test car), with city/highway fuel consumption rated at 12.0/7.7 L/100 km for the FWD version and 11.9/8.4 L/100 km for the AWD version.

My test car arrived in my driveway showing a long-term average consumption rate of 11.3 L/100 km, but I averaged closer to 13 L/100 km in mostly city driving — not exactly outstanding, but not budget-busting either, and I wasn’t sparing the horses. The one point to note is that the turbocharged engine requires premium fuel, raising the fuel costs that much further.

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