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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...


Dundee water tests go swimmingly

September 2 2013

There were only two failures out of almost 3,500 tests of the quality of the public water supply in Dundee last year, the industry watchdog has revealed. The Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR), which is responsible for overseeing Scottish Water’s work in sourcing, treating and distributing supplies to consumers, has published data for 2012 showing 3,491 water samples were taken in the city. These were often from household taps to check for the presence of potentially harmful bacteria such as E coli and metals such as iron, lead and manganese. Only one of the 144 samples checked for coliform bacteria failed. The DWQR said: “They are common in the environment and do not necessarily indicate faecal contamination, but should not be present in the water supply as they are readily deactivated by chlorine, which is added in controlled amounts to all of Scottish Water’s supplies. “The greatest risk to public health is associated with the consumption of drinking water that is contaminated with faecal material. “Many raw water sources contain significant levels of bacteria, which serves to demonstrate the importance of adequate treatment, especially disinfection, in order to ensure our water is safe to drink.” The failed Dundee sample was among 61 found across Scotland during 2012. “Scottish Water has increased its efforts in investigating failures at consumers’ taps during the past year and this improved understanding of the root causes of microbiological failures needs to result in proactive action to reduce the number of samples containing coliforms,” the regulator said. There were 152 samples from the city’s water supply tested for iron, with a single failure that exceeded the limit of 200 microgrammes per litre. There are no health risks from such a failure. The DWQR said: “The most common cause of failures of the iron standard at consumer taps is corroding cast iron water mains.” The tests had no failures for aluminium, manganese or lead, or for E coli or chemicals called trihalomethanes. The colour, cloudiness and acidity of the test samples also met the required standards. The overall pass rate for the water samples from the city’s public supply was 99.94%.

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

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.


Council to investigate sites for possible contamination

April 27 2018

Dundee City Council is set to spend £100,000 this year investigating land which could have been contaminated by former petrol stations. In addition former quarries, industrial estates, infilled lands and sites close to where large fuel containers sit will all be periodically inspected over the coming 12 months. Community safety and public protection committee convener Alan Ross said it was important these tests are conducted periodically and will give confidence not just to construction firms looking to build on vacated land, but to residents living in the investigated areas too. The site of the former petrol station on Queen Street in Broughty Ferry is to be studied, with experts set to take soil samples from the land between where the garage used to be located and the railway line. Loftus petrol station was demolished in 2006 and and the site was converted into seven flats, planning permission for which was granted in 2005. It had existed in some form as a fuelling site on Queen Street for at least forty years prior to its demolition. Alongside the petrol station site, the former Downfield quarry is to undergo gas and groundwater inspection. Mr Ross said: "These works will be undertaken as a matter of national policy and are required by law to be carried out. "If we look at cases like the former petrol station site, these premises had underground pipes which were full of fuel so it is important for public protection regular investigations are done. "Bringing this work before the committee helps us keep up to date on the work being carried out to investigate possible contaminated land and allows us to keep tabs on how much it is costing. "There is no need for public concern regarding these investigations, they are regularly carried out." Last year, soil sampling conducted by contaminated land experts discovered there were no risks to public health at the former gravel pits in Happy Hillock and Rowantree Crescent. Similar investigations on the site of the former Ashton works in Hawkhill have certified it safe as an available public open space.

UK & World

Latest horse meat scandal ‘likely to be criminal’

February 8 2013

Food companies will be ordered to test their beef products after some Findus beef lasagnes were found to contain up to 100% horse meat, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said. It was "highly likely" that criminal activity was to blame for the contamination, the agency added, as consumers were warned not to eat the meals. Findus UK tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 contained in the range of 60% to 100% horse meat, the FSA said. The frozen food company has now apologised to customers and said refunds would be offered to anyone who bought the affected lasagne products, which were made by French food supplier Comigel. Retail giant Tesco and discount chain Aldi have withdrawn a range of ready meals produced by Comigel over fears that they contained contaminated meat. Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA, told BBC News: "This is an appalling situation. I have to say that that the two cases of gross contamination that we see here indicates that it is highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved." She added: "We are demanding that food businesses conduct authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne, and provide the results to the FSA. The tests will be for the presence of significant levels of horse meat." There is no evidence to suggest the horse meat found is a food safety risk, the FSA said. But the agency confirmed tests have been ordered on the lasagne for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone or "bute", which is banned from entering the food chain. The FSA added: "People who have bought any Findus beef lasagne products are advised not to eat them and return them to the shop they bought them from." A Findus UK spokesman said: "We understand this it is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue.” The latest development in the contamination crisis comes days after supermarket chain Asda withdrew products supplied by a Northern Ireland company which was storing meat found to contain a high proportion of horse DNA. Newry-based Freeza Meats had been storing the consignment of meat, which was labelled as beef, on behalf of a supplier in the Irish Republic Co Monaghan-based meat trader McAdam Foods. Two tested samples were found to contain 80% horse meat. McAdam Foods has insisted it had no knowledge that any of its meat contained horse DNA. It claimed the contaminated produce originated in Poland.

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

Other sports

Marin Cilic suspended after testing positive for nikethamide stimulant

September 17 2013

Marin Cilic has been suspended for nine months after testing positive for a banned stimulant, ruling him out until February 1, the International Tennis Federation has announced. The Croatian’s doping violation came when he tested positive for nikethamide a stimulant at the BMW Open in Munich in May. The 24-year-old’s ban was backdated to May 1, the date on which he provided the sample, to end at midnight on January 31. The sample was sent to a laboratory in Montreal for analysis, where it was found to contain nikethamide, a prohibited substance. Cilic was subsequently charged over the doping violation under Article 2.1 although he argued the banned substance was in his system after taking Coramine glucose tablets that had been purchased for him from a pharmacy. A statement from the ITF read: “The independent tribunal found that Mr Cilic ingested the nikethamide inadvertently as a result of taking the Coramine glucose tablets, and did not intend to enhance his performance in doing so, and that he, therefore, met the preconditions of article 10.4 of the programme, which entitles him to a reduction of the period of ineligibility for specified substance based on an assessment of his fault.” As well as the ban “it was also determined that Mr Cilic’s results at the 2013 BMW Open event should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that he won at those events. “Mr Cilic’s results subsequent to the BMW Open, up to the time that he accepted a voluntary provisional suspension, are also disqualified and the ranking points and prize money forfeited.” Following the BMW Open, Cilic was knocked out of the French Open in the third round by Viktor Troicki, who coincidentally was banned in July for 18 months for failing to provide a blood sample. He then reached the final at Queen’s where he lost to Andy Murray before withdrawing from Wimbledon, where he was seeded 10th, prior to his second-round match.


SEPA starts work to find source of radioactive particles on Dalgety Beach

September 7 2011

Work to identify the source of radioactive particles on Dalgety Bay beach has started. Dalgety Bay has been identified as a priority for assessment by SEPA, as reports have shown there were continuing high activity radiological hazards present on the beach. And it has been working with the MoD to develop this plan to determine the source of the contamination together with further assessment of any particles that may be recovered this year. This will provide information on any changes in the number, activity and hazard posed by this contamination. SEPA plans to monitor the beach three times in the next 12 months and test the solubility of the particles greater solubility poses higher risks as it allows the contamination to be absorbed more easily by the body. Data from the monitoring is expected in early 2012. The MoD will support SEPA's headland project up to 2013, which will include conducting a survey and sample collection both before and after the investigative work, and will arrange the collection of any radioactive articles recovered by SEPA during the project. After 2013, the beach will be monitored annually. Pre-survey work on the headland at the coastal town is under way to lay the ground for Monday, when work to assess whether particles are originating from the headland will begin. At the beginning of this part of the long-running process the Scottish Environment Protection Agency was unsure whether particles were working their way up from sand layers lower in the beach, from the headland or from an offshore cache. Work done by the Ministry of Defence has indicated that they are not working their way up from lower layers, so this will allow SEPA to find out if the particles are contained within the headland itself. If this is the case then it may affect what work SEPA does to prevent further contamination. Radioactive particles were first found on the beach over 20 years ago and numerous surveys have since found traces of radioactive debris containing radium-226 on the beach, in gardens and at the sailing club. It is widely thought that the particles originally came from paint used on luminous dials on aircraft active during the Second World War Donibristle airfield was nearby. Numerous surveys have taken place over the years, with the removal of many particles found to be radioactive. However, the area continues to be repopulated by radioactive debris. The MoD has sought to assist SEPA despite not having been found to have caused or knowingly permitted the contamination in question, defence secretary Liam Fox said last February. Defence Estates has removed radioactive particles from the foreshore to try and reduce the potential hazard. Dr Fox said that it had been agreed that Defence Estates would continue to work closely with SEPA to resolve the matter. Earlier this year the MoD team committed to a further programme of monitoring and recovery work in 2011, while SEPA disclosed it was planning to undertake this work on the headland at Dalgety Bay, which may be one possible source of contamination.


Earlsferry Beach failed water quality test

August 12 2010

An East Neuk beach recommended in the 2008 good beach guide has failed a bathing water quality sample after traces of raw sewage were detected. The contaminated sample taken from Earlsferry Beach and recorded by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), was in breach of safety levels for fecal coliforms. However, the grim discovery has been contained to just a single incident over the summer months, with four subsequent tests passing with "excellent" marks. The Fife beauty spot was formally identified as a bathing water in 2007 although it has been monitored by SEPA and its predecessors since the early 1980s and achieved consistent levels of excellence over a number of years. Calum McPhail, SEPA's environment quality manager for bathing waters, said, "Due to the unpredictable nature of Scotland's weather it is too early to predict what position we will be in at the end of the season ... but it has been a fairly encouraging start for the first half of the summer." On SEPA's website it highlights that of the 13 tests conducted at Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry since the end of May to the beginning of August, the site failed once and on another occasion passed to mandatory standards. Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user Stewart Lloyd-Jones.