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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

Confusion over architect choice as contractor is chosen to take forward winning Perth City Hall vision

June 2 2017

Confusion surrounded the £20 million transformation of Perth City Hall  after one of the project partners appeared to suggest a winning architect had been selected - months ahead of the decision date. On its website, Hub East Central Scotland declared that Hoskins Architects - one of five firms who have put forward designs - was already a "key appointment". Council chiefs were swift to claim there was nothing sinister at play and said there had been a simple misunderstanding. Hoskins have already been announced as architects for the £10 million regeneration of Perth Museum and Art Gallery. Hub East central Scotland was unavailable for comment but a Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman confirmed: "The tendering process is ongoing. No decision has been made." A spokesman for Richard Murphy Architects said he had "no concerns" with the process and accepted there had been "a simple error". Amidst the confusion, it was announced that BAM Construction will be responsible for delivering the chosen vision for the B-listed building. Five different proposals have been put forward by some of the UK’s top architects and all will go on public display later this month. Comments will be welcomed, but the final decision will be taken by Culture Perth and Kinross and the council. Work is expected to begin in 2019, with the project to be delivered by 2021 - when Perth hopes to be UK City of Culture. More than £30 million is being spent rejuvenating the city's cultural offering, with £10 million being spent on the museum project and £20 million on the hall. BAM Construction has specialist experience in working on heritage and cultural projects, including Glasgow’s Riverside Museum, and is currently building the new V&A Museum of Design in Dundee. Regional director Bruce Dickson said: “Having already been appointed on the refurbishment of Perth Museum and Art Gallery, we are absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to work with hub East Central Scotland and Perth and Kinross Council on the city hall. “It is fair to say that, once completed, these two buildings will transform the city’s arts and culture scene while at the same time retaining the links to the city’s rich heritage.” Five architects have been shortlisted for the project following an RIAS-led design competition: Austin-Smith Lord, Hoskins Architects, LDN, Mecanoo and Richard Murphy Architects. Each has been tasked with formulating a scheme to convert the 1914 Grade B-listed building into a world-class visual arts visitor experience capable of stimulating the local economy and attracting visitors from across Scotland, the UK and worldwide. The reimagined building will create a new 1,500m² flexible exhibition hall that can accommodate displays of differing content and scale. It will not only be a home to permanent collections of local archaeology and social history, but will also be able to host touring exhibitions. Perth and Kinross Council and Culture Perth and Kinross officials are pushing for a decision on whether the Stone of Destiny can be relocated to the rejuvenated hall from Edinburgh Castle. The wider plans include a large learning suite, collections handling area and substantial commercial visitor facilities including a café and retail area. Perth and Kinross Council’s depute chief executive Jim Valentine said: "We're delighted to be working with BAM on this prestigious project. “Having an experienced and knowledgeable contractor on board will help the transformation of Perth City Hall run smoothly over the coming years. “This is an exciting stage in the project as we look to finalise the architectural firm which will develop the final designs and the concept of a new cultural attraction really starts to take shape.”


Celebrating 150 years of McManus

December 20 2016

In 2017, The McManus celebrates its 150th anniversary. Opened in 1867 as the Albert Institute, it was designed by the renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who today is best known for London’s St Pancras hotel. Here in Dundee, Gilbert Scott created a monument to Science, Literature and the Arts – a statement building of towering height designed to impress. Generations of Dundonians have taken it to their hearts and in 2000 voted it Dundee’s best loved building. Sympathetically remodelled by Page\Park architects between 2005-10, their use of the simple ellipse shape vesica pisces to link the refurbished interiors with the streetscape of Albert Square, perfectly complements Gilbert Scott’s High Gothic gem. Launching our year-long programme of celebrations is a new display that marks Dundee’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design.  Selected from the City’s diverse permanent collection, each object highlights the myriad ways in which design contributes to our lives. As you’d expect, the display includes objects of stunning beauty, complexity and historic importance.  Not for nothing are Dundee’s fine art, applied art and whaling industry collections - recognised as nationally significant collections. The Doncaster Gold Cup, designed by John Flaxman, is a demonstration of silversmithing of the finest quality by Paul Storr. Hallmarked 1816, it was made when both were working at the height of their powers. Metalworking on a larger scale is celebrated in a model of the 1887 Tay Rail Bridge piers, constructed to replace the original bridge and a reminder that its collapse was blamed on poor design. There are some revealing juxtapositions - Colin Reid’s complex studio glass Untitled R1198 is shown alongside the striations and startling green of the malachite mineral that provided the inspiration for the piece. A basket star with its intricate branching arms sits alongside an ancient Egyptian terracotta Medusa Mask.  Her snake hair reveals the inspiration for the basket star’s more common ‘Gorgon’s head’ moniker. Dundee’s reputation was built on jute, jam and journalism and readers of The Courier will be well aware that DC Thomson remains the UK’s largest independent publisher.  Looking for related material in store we came across a simple tin of pencils.  Prior to computerisation, tins of coloured pencils sat on desks throughout the organisation, used to edit, mark up and most importantly to create… One of the more unusual inclusions is the sponge known as the Venus Flower Basket.  An amazingly visual creature, the sponge weaves its incredible skeleton from silica which it extracts from seawater.  The properties of this natural fibreglass have influenced the development of fibre optics and solar panels. Does it look vaguely familiar? Its lattice mesh structure inspired the steel exoskeleton of Sir Norman Foster’s iconic Gerkin building in London. We couldn’t complete our display without the inclusion of a Keiller’s marmalade jar – a design icon recognised by marmalade lovers the world over.  Also, closer to home was the fashionable Maison Soutar. With premises on the Nethergate, the firm offered Dundee ladies bespoke dressmaking services based on the latest London styles. The delicately embroidered fabric of the Maison Souter bodice displayed was even purchased from Henderson & Co, silk mercers on the High Street. Perhaps the fabric was bought with a Dundee bank note?  A pound note issued in 1833 by the Dundee New Bank combines a beautiful view of Dundee harbour with complex geometric patterns designed to fox forgers. One of the most striking pieces is a sack sample for poultry feed produced for A&S Henry & Co.  Donated in the early 1970s, little information came in with it and sadly we have no details of the designer of this arresting image. If this is your design – or you know who did it – do get in touch. At this festive time of year, make your new year’s resolution to come along and celebrate 150 years of The McManus and the City’s amazing collections.  Truly something to crow about! Anna Robertson is Fine and Applied Art Section Leader at McManus

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

Search for the lost buildings of the Carse of Gowrie

February 1 2017

A major drive to recover evidence of lost architectural heritage along the Carse of Gowrie has been launched. The Tay Landscape Partnership is to carry out a year-long study to hunt down and understand more about the region’s lost earth buildings. Over the last three years the project has worked with local people to celebrate the distinctive mudwall homes that survive in and around Errol and give grants for their repair, but now they have been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to begin a study of the whole area. The reconnaissance effort will be led by heritage expert Tom Morton who expects that the study will unearth many interesting finds. ‘We did a quick survey in 2012 which found 40 surviving and 60 lost earth buildings,” said Mr Morton of Arc Architects. “This was amazing as the records only showed four, but we know there’s still a lot more out there to learn a lot about how people built with local materials in the past. “Earth is also used in modern sustainable construction because it is natural, low-carbon, and recyclable. “Although the tradition died out in the 20th century, later this year people in Errol will build the first mudwall building in generations — a shelter in the local park." Sophie Nicol of the Tay Landscape Partnership added: “It’s a great opportunity for people to get involved in learning about their local heritage. “We are looking for volunteers to help comb through old records and check on the ground for remains of vanished buildings.” Anyone who is interested is invited to an evening with the project team at the Blend Coffee Lounge, 275 High Street, Perth, on Friday February 3 from 6pm to 8pm. There will be information about the project and how people can get involved. The team can also be contacted by phone on 01334 659800 or by email office@arc-architects.com.


McManus museum team on the trail of Royal Arch remnants

February 20 2015

The presence of huge chunks of Dundee’s once iconic Royal Arch within the grounds of D&A College is now being explored by some of the city’s leading local history experts. A team from The McManus Dundee’s art gallery and museum plan to visit to photograph and record the stones. They discovered an article in the museum’s archives, dating back to 1964, which shows the stones in situ at the newly-opened college’s Kingsway campus. Curator of early history Christina Donald believes the article verifies links between the college and the maligned structure, which was demolished that same year. “Back in 2010 when we were doing research for the redevelopment of the museum, I came across the People’s Journal article while looking for something else,” she said. “As we have the clock from the Royal Arch in the museum’s collections, I filed it away for future reference. “When I saw the photo of the stones at the college in The Courier, I forwarded on the article so that they could confirm that their finds were indeed the stones from the Royal Arch.” As well as contacting D&A College with her find, Christina is keen to get in touch with the city archivist to see if there is any more information about the Royal Arch stones. The curator is also eager to have museum staff visit the Kingsway Campus to photograph and record the carved stones. According to college legend, three pieces of Royal Arch stonework have been around the campus since the 1960s. One has now been moved to the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland’s Robin House, in Balloch, where college staff and students recreated an award-winning show garden. The most easily-identified piece is by the science block while a third piece is shrouded in mystery as only the top is visible the rest being buried in the ground in the former caretaker’s cottage at the campus entrance. Anyone who may be able to shed further light on the stones should contact Christina at the McManus. An online petition to have the Royal Arch replicated and reinstated was opened two weeks ago. Nearly 1,300 people have since signed the petition which as a target of 20,000.