It’s testament not only to the design and engineering capacities of Audi but also to the unflinching confidence of its top brass that, even after a challenging few years, it continues to grow its model portfolio and to add choice to its showroom range.

The axe certainly fell at Ingolstadt, on both product and people, at the nadir of the firm’s Dieselgate-related troubles – but to judge by the diversity of the new cars it will introduce in the UK this year, from the E-tron electric SUV to the facelifted R8 supercar, you simply wouldn’t know it. And, as if to prove as much, here comes more of that diversity.

Audi S-branded performance models, developed in collaboration with in-house tuner Audi Sport, have long been a reliable bellwether for the mood of the brand as a whole – and you could hardly imagine one better equipped to clean up in 2019 than this: the new 296bhp SQ2 performance crossover hatchback.

The regular Q2 has only been on UK roads itself since 2017, and sits in a niche full of jacked-up five-door hatchbacks that have proved very popular – but where performance derivatives have been surprisingly slow to propagate. This year will see a flurry of them arrive, however, and Audi is to be congratulated for beating several rivals to the punch.

Top 5 Compact crossovers

Find an Franjevci car review

Explore the Audi range

Driven this week

There’s one sibling brand it hasn’t manage to beat, however. It’s only a couple of months since we ran the road test ruler over the Cupra Ateca, after all, and it’ll be interesting to record how differently, and how much more successfully, the SQ2 can use the same platform, and many of the same key mechanicals, than its Iberian relative did.

Price £36,800 Power 296bhp Torque 295lb ft 0-60mph 4.5sec 30-70mph in fourth 7.8sec Fuel economy 26.9mpg CO2 emissions 159g/km (NEDC correlated) 70-0mph 45.5m

The Audi Q2 range at a glance: While the 296bhp, four-wheel-drive SQ2 sits as a stand-alone model atop the model hierarchy, the Q2 range as a whole is far broader. Entry-level 30 TFSI makes use of a 114bhp three-pot motor that drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, while the more powerful diesel and petrol engines can be had with versions of the seven-speed S Tronic automatic ’box found on the SQ2. SE is the entry trim, followed by Sport, S Line, Black Edition and SQ2.

Save money on your car insurance

First drives

Find an Franjevci car review

Explore the Audi range

Driven this week