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.
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.