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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...

Perth & Kinross

Summer season tests Pitlochry theatre cast to the limit

May 3 2016

A unique Perthshire theatrical institution which challenges the memories of actors by presenting different plays on different days is gearing up for the summer season. The model at Pitlochry Festival Theatre was developed with the visitor to the town very much in mind, allowing them to take in multiple performances during their stay. Despite the challenges the “theatre in the hills” manages to receive critical acclaim year after year. This year the 18-strong ensemble have an added challenge – for the first time since 1966, audiences will be able to see seven shows instead of six.   The 2016 season opens on Friday  May 27 with the first performance of Carousel, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical testament to the enduring power of love. Hot on its heels, the theatre is staging Clive Francis` new version of the classic haunted house farce, Thark. Perth-based director Ken Alexander is at the helm of the fast-paced comedy, which opens on Thursday June 2. Fresh from the Olivier award-winning, West End hit The Play That Goes Wrong, designer Nigel Hook has created the set and costumes for this Scottish première production. Alan Ayckbourn’s Damsels In Distress trilogy - GamePlan, RolePlay and Flatspin - are three entirely separate, stand-alone comedies, featuring completely different stories and characters. Uniquely, however, all three share the same seven actors - and the same set and on two special Trilogy Days visitors can see all three plays in a single day. Directed by Richard Baron, with sets and costumes designed by Ken Harrison, GamePlan, RolePlay and Flatspin open on June 9, 16 and 23 respectively. Next to open, on Thursday July 28 is Noël Coward`s funny and moving drama, This Happy Breed.  The play charts the lives and loves of a lower-middle-class family during the turbulent years between the two World Wars and provides a rare chance to see the cast age 20 years before your eyes. Lastly director Clare Prenton and designer Becky Minto have joined forces to present Stephen Jeffreys' adaptation of the Dickens classic, Hard Times which opens on September 1. This moving and uplifting story of betrayal and redemption involves a cast of just eight portray 30 different characters on the stage.

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.

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

Perth & Kinross

Game Plan opens at Pitlochry Festival Theatre

June 28 2016

The combination of director Richard Baron and designer Ken Harrison is never a bad thing at Pitlochry. And, this season, it’s a triple bonus with the pair behind an Alan Aykbourn trilogy which has never been seen in its entirety since its London debut in 2002. And later in the season, Pitlochry theatre-goers can make a day of it – morning, afternoon and evening. The first of the Damsels In Distress trilogy is Game Plan – sometimes touching, sometimes tragic, but, mostly, outrageously funny, although, incongruously, its about sex and death. Lynette, recently estranged from her husband, is feeling the financial strain living in her riverside Docklands apartment in London with her teenage daughter, Sorrel. With the threat of moving away, Sorrel decides enough is enough and decides to set up a website advertising herself as a high-class call girl. Her wacky classmate and neighbour Kelly is aghast but goes along with it, but her first “customer’s” death proves a bit of an inconvenience! It’s an impressive Harrison-inspired setting – luxury apartment complete with fully-working kitchen and a large balcony with a magnificent view of the offices across the river. The three plays are standalone productions although all share the same set and seven actors. The interest will centre on the contrasting roles between each one. Amanda Osborne is mum – loyal and frustrated at her angst-ridden daughter, Sorrel, played by Kirsty Mackay, whose transformation into call girl “Mandy” is quite a revelation. Game Plan runs on various dates until October 12.

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

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

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.


Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s latest play makes Elsie a screen star

May 7 2011

A young Pitlochry girl is preparing to take the stage after landing her dream job. Elsie Cheyne is not fazed by the thought of appearing in front of a large audience as she will not actually be there in person. The nine-year-old has been spared the gruelling schedule of appearing up to twice a week at Pitlochry Festival Theatre (PFT) as her role is played on video. Being a regular at the theatre's weekly hiper youth arts programme helped the youngster win the part in Alan Ayckbourn's comedy Henceforward. Elsie said, "Being part of the hiper programme is so much fun I love it. The video camera was amazingly small, so I wasn't too nervous and the director helped me to try and get everything right. "I was glad I could practice several times before the recording was made." Steve Carlin, head of production and resource at PFT, said, "The unusual thing about this comedy is that we have live action on stage, as you would expect, but also live and pre-recorded video action, which is broadcast on four large screens on the set throughout the show." Directed by Ken Alexander, who was at the helm of last year's PFT comedy hit Noises Off, Henceforward previews on May 19 and runs until October 13. Tickets are available by contacting the theatre box office on 01796 484626 or visiting www.pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com.


Ignite Dundee festival launched with live game design demo

May 9 2014

The V&A’s first ever game designer in residence launched the Ignite Dundee festival with a quick-fire demonstration of live game design. Sophia George put a packed room through their paces, using materials from her upcoming game for the V&A to demonstrate the artistic, creative and design skills that are required for game development. Ignite Dundee runs from May 16 to 31 and showcases the very best of Dundee’s creative talent. The festival features degree shows, exhibitions, theatre, events and workshops and is a partnership between Abertay University; Dundee Contemporary Arts; Dundee One City, Many Discoveries; Dundee Rep Theatre; Leisure & Culture Dundee; Dundee University and V&A Dundee. Sophia is taking part in Ignite Dundee at the Pecha Kucha Night of micro-talks run by Creative Dundee, where she’ll be discussing her game design inspirations. She said: “It’s very exciting to be back in Dundee for the development of my game, after six months in London working with the V&A’s Britain 1500-1900 galleries for research. “I was particularly inspired by William Morris textiles and am creating a game using his Strawberry Thief print. “The game will be a playful celebration of his work, with the player travelling through iconic pieces, revitalising prints and co-creating beautiful artefacts.” Sophia is working back at Abertay University, where she studied for her postgraduate degree, to complete her game with the support of Abertay staff, V&A Dundee and local game studio Denki. “I’m really delighted to be part of the Ignite Dundee festival, both to launch the packed programme today and to speak at Creative Dundee’s next Pecha Kucha Night about my love of game design,” she added. “Dundee is an incredible city of design and innovation, with two world-class universities and a thriving community of artists, designers and makers. “Ignite Dundee is going to be a lot of fun and I look forward to meeting many more passionate, creative people during the festival.” Stewart Murdoch, director of leisure and communities at Dundee City Council, said: “Ignite Dundee is a perfect example of the city’s rich cultural offering collaboration, creativity and culture are all packed into a programme of fantastic events. “This is an exciting programme of activities that will appeal to many people across the city and visitors as well.” The festival includes the best of Dundee’s emerging art and design talent at the Abertay University and DJCAD degree shows, and the Dundee and Angus College end-of-year show. Exhibitions include the playful conceptual art of Navid Nuur at DCA, a showcase of Scottish fine art photography at The McManus, and new commissions from recent Scottish graduates at GENERATORprojects. Events include the V&A Dundee lecture from pioneering digital design and culture organisation onedotzero, the Pecha Kucha Night of passionate micro-talks run by Creative Dundee, and a chance to make a contemporary silver ring with jewellery collective Vanilla Ink. Dundee Rep Theatre is joining forces with Birmingham Rep Theatre to perform Alan Ayckbourn’s play Woman in Mind for the festival.