Immediately impactful, not least because its design is a little more daring than its bigger brother's. The wide-cheeked, curvaceous nose echoes that of the 7 Crossback, but it continues the theme down the flanks with a deep scallop that flicks up into the side window and leads into a bulbous arch that match the front.
This is a car with no shortage of junk in its trunk, and while that might turn off some potential buyers, it’s easy to see others getting a kick from its modern freshness. The term ‘avant-garde’ is punted around with abandon in the car's accompanying PR blurb, but you certainly can’t accuse the 3 Crossback of being boring.
Step inside and there is more evidence of stylistic bravery, although the accountants clearly had an overall veto on all decisions. It is a trigonometrists’ dream in here, with not a roundel in sight and every button or display framed by intersecting angles. It’s also quite dark. Most of the interior options are black on black or paired with dark colours, and the narrow window frames reduce the amount of light coming in.
There is also something of a quality tide mark inside, too, with the pleasant materials above the waterline and the cheaper, tougher parts-bin elements saved for lower down. In practical terms, there is good space for occupants front and rear, making the 3 Crossback viable transport for four adults, and boot and oddment space are competitive, although the glovebox's capacity suffers from the car's conversion to right-hand drive.
The 1.5-litre diesel is clearly not the most refined of units but the sound deadening does a good job of shielding you from its worst outbursts, so you are only ever aware of its busyness rather than disturbed by it. Its performance is also strictly adequate: 0-62mph takes 11.4sec and full-throttle acceleration keeps you with the pack rather than putting you in front of it. The pay-off is strong economy, with up to 62.7mpg combined under WLTP rules, and so long as you are realistic with your demands, it allows the 3 Crossback to cruise in comfort.
Dynamically, the 3 Crossback also seems to fall between two stools. Despite running on 17in alloy wheels in Prestige specification, it tolerates enthusiastic driving rather than displaying any relish for it. The steering is accurate but suffers from slightly curious weighting off centre and little in the way of communication, while the suspension is slightly on the stiff side of the middle ground. There is a little body roll when pressing on, but more of a concern is how frequently it picks out small and medium imperfections in the road surface.