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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.

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

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.

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

Readers' letters

Hope he takes fight to European courts

January 2 2014

Sir, I refer to your article, Glenrothes man ready for fresh “bedroom tax” battle, December 24. I fully support Mr Nelson in this and the other people who have been put in this position. I hope he does go to the European Court and embarrasses the Government into rescinding this ignominious regulation. I find it incomprehensible that this Government of the “we’re all in it together” philosophy is penalising poor people for having an extra bedroom while giving a council tax rebate to owner-occupiers for under occupation. This council tax rebate is paid for by us all. It allows an individual to buy a three-bedroom house and offset his council tax because he is a sole occupier. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone? But this Tory Government makes its own subversive agenda. They crack down on people abusing the welfare system, which is fair enough, but seem to think it is perfectly OK for a member of the House of Lords to walk away with £3,000 a month to support his mouldering pile. In what way is this man different to anyone else on welfare? Well, for one thing, he has a well-paid job that he appears to be too damned idle to do. Unlike the lower paid workers who don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families. However, what do you expect, he is a lord. You don’t really expect him to work, do you? It would be interesting to hear the Scottish Tories’ view on this. Lindsay Johnston. The Gauldry. What is point of obstruction? Sir, Heading south by car out of Cupar has always needed careful driving. Traffic coming out of Tesco’s car park has to be watched carefully as have vehicles heading into Cupar from the Ceres road junction. Those hazards negotiated, the next hurdle is residents’ parked cars taking up one third of the road and leaving space in and out for two lanes of cars only. One bus, lorry or even large van heading either way and one lane has to stop. Once all this is safely passed the road is clear sorry was clear. Out of the blue for many motorists comes a traffic island stretching across half the road. While there are sunken drains and holes in the road all over the place this sturdy, well-built obstruction appeared as an obvious priority for the authorities. Why? If it is designed to slow down traffic on what was a formerly clear road it is a failure. What now happens is that traffic heading south either stops and then, when their route is clear, accelerates in a rush to get on with their journey or, if there is no oncoming traffic, rush to get past the obstruction before oncoming traffic builds up. Between repairing the road and building an unnecessary obstruction the sensible option is obvious . . . to everyone except the road authorities, it would seem. Ian Wheeler. Springfield, Fife. Extortionate short-haul fare Sir, Over the years a variety of reasons have been put forward to explain the gradual decline in passenger numbers using Dundee Airport. In fact, for a while there was almost a “head in the sand” attitude as to what has always been a root cause viz the absolutely extortionate fares being charged for the short-haul domestic routes on offer. This was recently highlighted in your article, Service ‘is preposterously expensive’, (December 24), which drew attention to the experience of Mr David McGovern who was recently quoted a fare of £650 for a return flight from Dundee to London City. I had a similar experience some time ago when required to rejoin my ship which was berthed at the Excel Centre in London. A flight from Dundee to London City was logistical perfection. I put this to the owners who were responsible for my travelling expenses and they concurred that this sounded ideal but requested that I obtain a fare quotation before booking. The fare quoted bore no resemblance to reality and I was promptly instructed to abandon the idea and book the shuttle from Edinburgh to Heathrow at a fraction of the cost. To put things into proper perspective here, the £650 fare quoted to Mr McGovern for his flight to London City actually buys you a return flight from Glasgow to Bangkok via Dubai with Emirates Airlines and includes some 15 hrs of free in-flight food and drink. Until Dundee Airport can come up with services offering competitive fares it is going nowhere. Roy R Russell. 1c Smithy Road, Balmullo. Seasonal sanctimony Sir, Few can have been surprised when a sanctimonious Vince Cable compared David Cameron to Enoch Powell because he voiced concern over the new immigrant flood. Mr Cable was supported by his posturing party leader Nick Clegg who grandly declared he would not tolerate any further curbs on EU immigration. The Lib Dem leader made the absurd claim that Tories want a “no-entry sign” on the cliffs of Dover and “German lawyers, Dutch accountantsand Finnish engineers expelled”. In fact, Mr Cameron’s real sin has been to reflect the views of Joe Public who, in the eyes of the metropolitan elite, is too stupid to have an opinion worthy of consideration. The tsunami will not trouble Mr Cable’s leafy Thameside constituency, but others already struggle with the immigrant impact on their schools, transport and health care. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

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.

Farming news

SNP handling of new beef scheme attacked

November 10 2016

The Scottish Government's own efficiency has been called into question over the handling of the new £45million Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES). An estimated 180,000 beef cows from 2000 Scottish farmers have been enrolled in the new five-year  scheme which aims to improve the efficiency and quality of the beef herd and help producers increase the genetic value of their stock. But months after signing up for the scheme, farmers are still waiting to be supplied with special tags to meet the rules which call for 'tissue tagging' of 20% of cattle. And now NFU Scotland's livestock chairman Charlie Adam says farmers' confidence in the scheme is being affected and has called for the rules to be adjusted. The union has also urged the Scottish Government to update all scheme applicants on progress with BES and let them know when the necessary tags will arrive. “If tag delays cannot be resolved in the immediate future, then the Scottish Government should recognise the problem and make the tissue tagging element voluntary for 2016. This will allow those who can take samples from the animals that they still own to do so,"  said Mr Adam. “Applicants to this important scheme, worth £45 million to the industry, have every right to know now, and in detail, what they are expected to do to fulfil their BES obligations and Scottish Government must get back on the front foot in delivering the scheme.” Mr Adam added that it was frustrating for the farmers who have already housed and handled their cattle for the winter as many of those animals were by now located in overwintering accommodation that can be some distance from home farms. Shadow Rural Economy secretary, Peter Chapman MSP claimed it was impossible for farmers to sell store cattle in the autumn sales until they were told which animals need tagged and were sent  the tags to do the job. He added: "This will create huge cash flow and logistic problems for farmers who normally sell calves at this time – this is the SNP letting farmers down yet again.” A Scottish Government spokesman said work was under way to rectify the problem and a timetable was expected by the end of the week. He added: "It is not necessary for farmers to hold off from selling their animals. "We will ensure that the sampling regime accommodates those farmers who have sold their calves and there will be no penalties for those whoo have. It may mean that some farmers will have a higher rate of sampling next year." nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk      

Dundee

Transport minister told ‘Tay Tax’ on train journeys could jeopardise Dundee’s plans

July 16 2012

Dundee railway commuters are the victims of a "Tay Tax" that sees train fares rocket once you cross the river, it has been claimed. Labour MSP Jenny Marra has written to Transport Minister Keith Brown to demand action on the "unfairness" of ticketing on connections between the city and Edinburgh and Glasgow. The North East list member says the cost of return train travel between Dundee and Glasgow which costs as much as £48.60 is unacceptable and potentially damaging to the city's economic future. She said that the success of prestige projects like the V&A Museum could be jeopardised if tourists face prohibitive travel costs to reach the new attractions. And she highlighted that areas around Glasgow and Edinburgh benefit from being part of a "regulated zone", in which fares are closely controlled by the government. Dundee is outwith the zone, meaning train operators are free to set their own ticket prices. This, Ms Marra claims, has led to higher fares and discrepancies in the pricing system, which means it is often cheaper to buy separate tickets for different legs of a journey. With public subsidy of the Scottish rail network expected to reach £738 million this financial year, she said a simpler and fairer fare structure must be introduced. The Scottish Government is preparing to renew the ScotRail franchise for 2014 onwards. "Everyone knows that train fares in and out of Dundee are far too high," said Ms Marra. "This is because Dundee has never been included in the subsidised zone. "The government needs to tell us why they are subsidising train fares round Glasgow and Edinburgh but there is a Tay Tax to get over the Tay rail bridge." Continued... "The zone's purpose is to encourage economic investment. Surely with the rates of unemployment in Dundee, we would then qualify by any standards to get a rail fare subsidy like other cities?" She pointed out that the level of subsidy being spent on the railways amounts to more than £2 million every day in Scotland. "It's high time that Dundee got its share of that subsidy, so we can bring more visitors and investment to our city," she said. "The government is investing money in the new V&A at the waterfront. They should look seriously at rail fares to Dundee as part of this overall strategy because we'll attract many more visitors and potential businesses to our city if we get fairer rail fares like the other cities in Scotland." There are also plans for a £14 million redevelopment of Dundee railway station, including a concourse, retails units cafe/restaurant and hotel, in time for the opening of the V&A museum in 2015. In a statement to parliament last month, the transport minister said £5 billion of investment between 2014 and 2019 would help boost services between Glasgow and Edinburgh and deliver the Borders Railway. Network Rail, which looks after rail infrastructure, will also be required to take forward several improvement projects, including works on the Highland main line and between Aberdeen and Inverness. After 2014, the next rail contract will be extended to run for 10 years, with a potential "break point" after five years. Mr Brown also said rail fares would be "attractive and affordable", while companies bidding to run services would need to link trains with other transport forms, such as buses and ferries. A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland confirmed Mr Brown had received Ms Marra's letter and would respond soon. "The government is committed to affordable fares for passengers, including those in Dundee, and will ensure that the next franchise encourages greater use of our railway," she added. "We are aware that there are a number of fares anomalies across the network, and are also looking at ways to address the situation under the terms of the existing franchise." There are approximately 78 million passenger journeys each year in Scotland while demand for services has increased by more than 25% in the past seven years.

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.

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