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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Brendan Cole coming to the Alhambra

January 27 2017

Strictly Come Dancing may be over for another year but anyone looking for a fix of ballroom dancing at its finest need only go to Dunfermline. Brendan Cole is bringing his dance tour All Night Long to the Alhambra Tour tomorrow night. The veteran Strictly performer is touring the UK with his 14 piece band and eight world class dancers. The 40-year old New Zealander has been dancing since he was six and moved to the UK aged 19 with no idea what he was going to do. After working as a builder and roofer he was picked up by the long running BBC show Come Dancing, the precursor to Strictly Come Dancing. He’s been with Strictly since it began, winning the first series with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky. The win threatened to be overshadowed, however, by a rumoured affair with Kaplinsky that saw his engagement with former Come Dancing partner Camilla Dallerup being called off. Since then tabloid newspapers have linked him with a string of dance partners and other celebrities including Shelly Ross Abi Titmuss, Lady Victoria Hervey, Martine McCutcheon, Adele Silva and Emma Gray. Now married to model Zoe Hobbs, and with a four-year old daughter, his laddish days appear to be behind him. Brendan’s touring show will see him, a live band and a team of dancers bring the Strictly experience to stages all over the UK. “This is the fourth production we’ve done – and also the biggest and best,” he says. “We’ve got new band members, a new cast, new dances. The new faces have meant creativity has been extremely high – everyone has had good suggestions. “People who love watching Strictly on TV are blown away when they see it live on stage right in front of them.” The show features a new leading lady, Faye Huddleston, and Brendan says new special effects and choreography will make this year’s touring show his best ever. He’s at the Alhambra tomorrow night and returns to Courier Country next month, performing at Perth Concert Hall on February 20. Although he’s now 40, Brendan is as fit as ever and keeps in shape with a rigorous training schedule. He’s been linked with a potential judging role on Strictly with the retirement of Len Goodman, however, so all eyes will be on the judges chairs when the 15th series of Strictly kicks off this autumn. Cole already has five years of judging experience on the New Zealand version of the show and says he’d be honoured if he was asked to step into Len Goodman’s shoes. www.brendancole.com

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Readers' letters

November 29: Appalled at poor behaviour in parliament

November 29 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - After watching successive First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament, I am appalled by the strident, vicious inanities, boorish rudeness and leaden humour of the leader of the opposition. Whatever the pros and cons of what the First Minister said or did not say and however culpable or not he may be, surely the level of debate in our parliament does not have to descend to the level of the fishwife? Was this not the parliament that began with such high expectations? The parliament the late Donald Dewar said would not be like the bear pit of Westminster, but would be an area of calm, reasoned and civilised debate? Oh, Donald, you must be right proud of your successors! In a time of international crisis, monumental change in the potential governance of Scotland and widespread economic and social problems, must our representatives waste their time in childish name calling? I for one am not impressed and have no confidence in and will certainly not vote for someone who continues to behave like a lout. David Morrison.Panmure Road,Monikie. It's time to put children first Sir, - Re the situation regarding Madras College. A car park is more important than the education and well-being of our children. A green field is more important than the education and well-being of our children. An iconic view is more important than the education and well-being of our children. The custodians of an internationally renowned reputation for education who purport to value education above anything else, the powers that be at St Andrews University, elevate petulance and financial nit-picking above the education and well-being of our children. Why did the North Haugh negotiations fail anyway? The custodians of democracy in North East Fife, the powers that be at Fife Council, elevate petulance and financial nit-picking above the education and well-being of our children. Some of our elected representatives promote their personal political agendas and egos, brazenly ignoring the results of the consultation and views of their constituents, clearly believing that they are more important than the education and well-being of our children, otherwise, why would they be condemning our children to the prospect of a horrendous decant and sub-optimal solution? A warning to parents in the Taybridgehead area if you want to avoid sleepwalking into a solution that does not meet the needs of the area's children I suggest you make your voices heard before it's too late. Isn't it time the education and well-being of our children came first? Lisa Williams.82 Crosshill Terrace,Wormit. New opening for jute? Sir, - Fit-for-purpose sandbags should be available during periods of nationwide flooding. While polypropylene bags may be cheaper than natural-fibre (jute/sisal) bags, they are prone to slippage and spillage due to being easily ruptured. In addition, most polypropylene bags are non-biodegradable and therefore cannot be left in situ, whereas bags/sacks manufactured from natural-fibres are fully biodegradable. Perhaps some imaginative entrepreneur can come up with a small Dundee jute mill project? To include the preparatory side of manufacturing may be asking too much, but there seems little reason why high-speed weaving and making (sewing/stitching) should not be considered. A project of this nature could also help to alleviate unemployment problems. Kenneth Miln.22 Fothringham Drive,Monifieth. Needs to alter her view Sir, - Re the statement on pay differentials from Labour councillor Lesley Brennan in your article, Dundee workers on lower wages (November 26), I have noticed over the past few months that she always seems to veer towards gender issues that only seem to affect women. I think she needs to take off those tinted spectacles and view the real world as it affects everyone be it a woman or man, old or young, able bodied or disabled. I also note with interest that Dundee Labour seems to have moved away from traditional working class representatives and now favours private sector economists such as Cllr Brennan who work in the south of England. How times have changed. Not very representative of the median Dundee woman who earns £19,740. Mick Streets.14S Peter Street,Dundee. They think they know best Sir, - I note that a prominent trade union leader is expressing a degree of concern about the additional levels of bureaucracy which may exist when the national police force comes into effect next April. Many people, including members of the public, have been expressing concern since the plan was first suggested. Like so many features nowadays we are dictated to by politicians who all think they know better, that is until it is too late to reverse the situation, which is the position we are now in as far as the police force is concerned. John McDonald.14 Rosebery Court,Kirkcaldy. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone boss ready for battle with fellow Northern Irishman Brendan Rodgers

August 18 2016

The stock of Northern Irish football managers has never been higher. And two of the best will come up against each other at McDiarmid Park on Saturday. Tommy Wright described Celtic’s recruitment of fellow countryman Brendan Rodgers as a “massive coup.” But the St Johnstone boss will be doing his best to make sure that he is the only unbeaten Ulsterman in the Premiership after their lunchtime clash at the weekend. “My paths didn’t really cross with Brendan much,” Wright said.  “Although I spoke to him when I was at Norwich and he was with Watford. “We had a few conversations when he was Liverpool manager as well. “He’s done remarkably well and is regarded as one of the top coaches in the country. “So it’s a massive coup for Celtic and Scottish football to bring him here. “It’s good to have another Northern Irish manager around the place because we’ve got Neil Lennon back in the country as well. “I think Brendan did his coaching badges in England, Lenny and I did ours with the IFA and Michael O’Neill did his in Scotland. “It’s a decent time for Northern Irish managers, maybe it’s the trend at the moment like it was with Scottish managers a few years back. “It’s always good to see people from your country do well – although in Brendan’s case I hope he doesn’t do too well this weekend.” Celtic’s game against Saints will be sandwiched between Champions League qualifiers for the Parkhead club. Whether that affects Rodgers’ team selection remains to be seen but for the home side, there are no competing priorities. “It’s good to have a week to prepare for the Celtic game and it’s one we’re really looking forward to,” Wright said. “They have added some real quality to their team, they have a lot of pace and they have a buzz around them at the moment because of Brendan going in there. “He’s strengthened them a bit already so it’s going to be a tough task, but that’s something we enjoy. “We have got good results against the big teams in the past and we’re hoping this weekend might be one of those occasions we do it again. “But there’s no doubt it will be difficult because Brendan has made his mark pretty quickly. “He’s a top manager, he’s assessed the players he inherited and has brought quality like Scott Sinclair, Dembele and Kolo Toure in. “They will have come up here from England desperate to make an impact. “He’s also getting the best out of the likes of James Forrest so they’re in good form. “But we’re happy with the way we’ve started and hopefully we’ll be able to give them plenty to think about.”


Cardboard keyboards and digital drums for Festival of Improbable Instruments

April 14 2018

Budding musicians who want the chance to make music with their biscuit tins will finally get the chance at a creative event next week. Cardboard keyboards and tin pot synthesizers will be the order of the day on Thursday, thanks to a collaboration between an unlikely mix of musicians, electronic engineers and games designers. The Festival of Improbable Instruments will be the latest cultural event organised by the team at Weave – a community creative project based at Abertay University. An all-day workshop at the Vision building will give would-be composers the opportunity to craft their instruments, under the watchful tutelage of composer and orchestra director Luci Holland and games and arts lecturers Yann Seznec and Niall Moody. All of the electronic components, wires and materials will be provided on the day, but attendees to the festival – which is free – will be required to bring their laptop computers. Following the construction day, a discussion and rag-tag musical performance will take place at Avery & Co restaurant on South Tay Street. Weave curator Clare Brennan, said: "We are super-excited for this month’s Platform event, which will have a big appeal for people interested in sound, music and digital art, and for anyone keen to try something new. "Weave is all about reaching out to the Dundee community to explore new ideas while encouraging collaboration and I can’t wait to see what our improbable orchestra come up with." Luci Holland is an Edinburgh-based film, game and television composer whose work includes the soundtrack for Japanes animated film The Chronicle of Skeleton and computer games Murderous Pursuits. The event is free to attend but is expected to be popular, so booking in advance is recommended. Information and tickets can be found on the Weave eventbrite website. The evening discussion and performance will run from 5 to 7pm and the workshop at the Vision building will kick-off at 10am and run until 3.30pm.