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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...

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.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

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

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.

Perth & Kinross

Ancient kingdom’s new Pictish stone is the best Scotland has seen for ages

March 9 2018

A Perthshire village’s history at the heart of an ancient royal kingdom is  being celebrated with the first newly-designed Pictish stone to be carved in the landscape in 1,000 years. Sculpted by David McGovern of Monikie Rock Art and standing in the centre of Forteviot, the stone recognises the area's important role in the birth of medieval Scotland. Excavations by the SERF Project (Glasgow University) have highlighted the village as a major Pictish royal centre from the mid-9th Century after it first became important as a regional ceremonial centre from the 8th Century. At its peak, Forteviot was the seat of Cinaed mac Ailpin (Kenneth, son of Alpin) whose descendants ruled Scotland until the 11th Century. Southern Pictland – today’s Angus, Fife and Perthshire – was the core of the Pictish kingdom, which was to become the medieval kingdom of the Scots. The Picts are well known for their artwork on large monumental sculptures, many of which, such as the Dupplin or Invermay Cross, are interpreted as commemorative territorial markers for the royal centre at Forteviot, marking the boundaries and main approaches to the palace. Behind the new stone, which will be officially dedicated on March 17 at noon, is the Tay Landscape Partnership which is a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme led by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust. PK Heritage Trust director David Strachan explained: “Much of the our Tay project has been about engaging people in activities relating to the heritage of the area, which has been fantastic, but this new stone, and conserved original fragments within the parish church, are a permanent marker indicating the importance of the site.” Pictish stone carver Mr McGovern took his inspiration from the local sculpture of the area and motifs from Iona. More than 30 local residents took part in stonecarving workshops and around 100 hours of training were also provided for an apprentice working on the stone. Sophie Nicol, historic environment officer for the TayLP, said: "The community at Forteviot have embraced and taken ownership of their new stone, which marks an important part in the history of Forteviot. "I am looking forward to the official opening of the cross and its dedication and hope it will be enjoyed by local people and visitors for hundreds of years.”

Arts agency boss apologies after funding row

February 22 2018

The boss of Creative Scotland has apologised following outcry over its handling of the latest round of arts funding.Chief executive Janet Archer said she was “profoundly sorry” as she appeared before Holyrood’s Culture Committee to explain its three-year regular funding (RFO) decisions.The body was heavily criticised for pulling the plug on funding for 20 organisations, including high-profile theatre, music and disabled arts groups.The controversy led to the resignation of two board members, and an emergency board meeting which saw funding restored for five of the groups.Arts organisations have called on Creative Scotland to overhaul its processes.Ms Archer told the committee: “I’m profoundly sorry that the delivery of this process has been a negative one for many and we can’t let this happen again.“I will make sure that we learn from this moment and resolve all the outstanding issues fairly and openly.”Creative Scotland had been warning of cuts last year, but the Scottish Government stepped in with £6.6 million increase to maintain arts funding at £99 million over three years and cover a shortfall in National Lottery cash.The body announced three-year regular funding for 2018 to 2021 for 116 organisations last month.A total of 19 groups were new to the list while regular funding was cut completely for 20 others.Concerns were raised about several of those including disability-led arts organisation Birds of Paradise, and the Lung Ha Theatre company, which works with people with learning disabilities.Following a backlash, those organisations had their funding restored alongside three others.Committee convener Joan McAlpine told Ms Archer: “I’m sure the sector out there is hearing your apology for what went wrong, but you did design the system, and when the RFO funding was announced on January 25, you Janet Archer said the decisions had been arrived at through a careful and thorough decision-making process.“That wasn’t true was it?”Ms McAlpine pointed to the resignation of board members, who raised concerns over the funding decisions.“The issues that have hit the public realm, about for example the equalities agenda and the fact that you have taken money away from world class theatre in the disabled sector – that was raised (at a board meeting),” she said.“The issue of the fact that you were cutting childrens’ theatre in the year of young people was raised by your board members.“So there was really no excuses but you went ahead anyway.”Ms Archer said: “I completely appreciate and recognise that the regular funding process has been more challenging this time round than it needed to be, both for those applying and for our staff, she added.“We understand that this final stage of the process has created real difficulties.“None of us want to relive that experience in three years time, and that is why…we are committed to a root-and-branch review of how we fund.“We will importantly do this in collaboration with the people and organisations that we fund.”

Scottish politics

SNP fear Scotland faces extra dose of austerity due to Brexit vote

November 14 2016

The SNP has warned the UK Government against "doubling-down" on austerity as a report revealed Scotland could face further cuts of up to £1.3 billion in a Brexit "growth shock". Economic think-tank IPPR Scotland found if Chancellor Phillip Hammond uses public spending cuts to plug the whole of the £25 billion UK budget gap per year by 2019/20 projected by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), it would cause a further £1.3 billion cut to Scottish funds. The scenario was one of three modelled by the think-tank, which also examined the impact of Westminster using public spending to deal with half or quarter of the budget gap - found to cause £670 million and £330 million further cuts to the Scottish settlement. Analysts said Scotland and the wider UK were in line for a "growth shock" as the impact of the European Union referendum vote hits. SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: "This is the latest sign that the impact of Brexit is being felt even before Article 50 is triggered - which is why the total lack of clarity from the UK Government is a complete dereliction of responsibility. "The Tory Brexiteers have blown a hole in their own budget, with the IFS warning that slower growth and higher inflation will cost the UK Government £25 billion by the end of this parliament. "But the Chancellor has a choice over how he responds - and it would be a huge mistake to double-down on failing austerity. "The most important thing the UK Government could do for our economy would be to commit to single-market membership but Theresa May seems more interested in pleasing her braying hard-right backbenchers than in reassuring the businesses and workers who depend on trade with Europe. "These latest warnings should be a reality check for the Tories - it's time to ditch plans for a hard Brexit and protect our membership of the single market." IPPR Scotland director Russell Gunson said: "There is no doubt that Brexit will have a significant impact on Scotland - both in terms of our economy and the subsequent impact on public services. "Scotland, like the UK, is facing a 'growth shock' pretty much in line with expectations prior to June's EU referendum vote, which will likely leave a black hole in the UK's finances. "In his Autumn Statement next week, the UK Chancellor must spell out exactly what the impact of his policies on Scotland's budget will be, in what were already hugely challenging circumstances. "Any further cuts to day-to-day spending in the rest of the UK could mean cuts for Scotland's budgets too, on top of very significant cuts already planned over the coming years."

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