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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...

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

UK & World

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

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.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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.


“Oil is sexy”: Drama strikes at heart of troubled oil industry

October 6 2016

A huge warehouse at the Port of Dundee is the setting for a new play about the oil industry. Gayle Ritchie investigates A plastic bag does a merry dance in the breeze, coming to rest against the wall of a weed-infested derelict building. As dusk turns to darkness, the lights of the three jackup rigs which have come to dominate Dundee’s docks shine out across the Tay Estuary like beacons. Emblematic of the downturn in the oil industry, they’re the perfect backdrop for a new play which investigates what's arguably the most controversial industry in Scotland. It’s here, inside a giant, empty warehouse that Crude: An Exploration of Oil, is being staged by Grid Iron Theatre Company. As writer and director Ben Harrison says, the site – Shed 36 to be precise – is a fitting embodiment of our proximity and paradoxically our distance from the world of offshore. “It’s so mysterious, so central to the life of Scotland, and so critical for so many communities around the world,” he says. His point is this – that the oil industry affects not only offshore workers and high-earning executives, but each and every one of us. “Oil is everywhere. It’s addictive,” he says. “I’m wearing contact lenses which are comprised of plastic and hence, I’m looking at the world through oil. “Modern life is actually unthinkable without hydrocarbons but a lot of us don’t realise how oil is in almost everything, from the fuel we put in our cars, to the plastics used in our phones, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, clothing, food and lighting, to the chairs the audience will be sitting in. There’s very little that surrounds us and makes us comfortable that’s not connected with petrochemicals.” Focusing on the lives of offshore workers and the choices they make to work on the industrial islands of the North Sea, Crude travels to the Niger Delta and the Arctic Circle to look at the global impact of oil production and its human and ecological cost. Bringing together a cast of seven, Crude’s actors include Grid Iron Band of Brothers and Silent Witness’ Phil McKee, Neil John Gibson, Sarah Bebe Holmes, Brad Morrison (who worked in the oil industry before launching his acting career) and Tunji Lucas. At the time of the longest continuous downturn in the history of oil production in the North Sea, now, says Ben, is an appropriate moment to consider Scotland and the world’s connection with and reliance on hydrocarbons. “The presence of oil has been both a blessing and a curse since its discovery in the 19th century, and for Scotland it throws up huge and important issues about natural resource control and who benefits from the production of oil and gas in the North Sea,” he says. “Crude centres on the lives of offshore workers and their families and the huge pressure the two weeks on, two weeks off work pattern puts on family life. “An oil rig is a very sterile environment; there’s a prison-like quality to being out there. It’s one of the most unnatural environments, even though it’s in the middle of nature. But while it can be tough, the play uses a lot of gallows humour. “Many people have an idea of the stereotypical offshore worker on the train from Aberdeen with a couple of tins of lager. The story is much more complex than that. “With the downturn, there’s more pressure on people to look for work in countries that are more hostile, more risky, both environmentally and politically, and it’s often an ethical dilemma – do they carry on seeking financially attractive but risky opportunities or seek change?” Audience members will be bussed to atmospheric Shed 36, which was originally built for the ship-building sector and also used for rig production. The shed was used as a grain store for a few years until oil company Rigmar moved in. Edinburgh-based Grid Iron has staged previous plays in an airport, a swing park, a department store and a climbing centre. The company was offered the use of the warehouse by the port’s operator after abandoning attempts to stage it on a North Sea rig on grounds of cost – it would have been £9,000 one way for 12 audience members in a chopper. More than 50 oil workers and their partners were interviewed for the show – from offshore and onshore staff to executives. Producer Jude Doherty says she wants the audience to feel involved in the show. “The set, even though it’s in a vast, industrial shed, is quite intimate," she says. "It features as an oil rig, the house of a married oil worker, the waiting room for the heli pad and a bar in Dyce. There’s also an oil mermaid, whose image gives the idea of the mythical quality of oil. “The audience will feel they’re coming into the waiting room and while we don’t want them to feel uncomfortable, we want them to feel how uncomfortable this lifestyle is.” Inevitably, there will be a scenes featuring people in oil-streaked orange boiler suits, but the play also features activists, references to Piper Alpha, and story-telling from cowboy-hatted “Texas Jim” who’s determined to prove “oil is sexy”. Ultimately, Crude doesn't aim to lecture audience members but rather, to give a fascinating insight into an often misunderstood industry. "We're not telling anyone what they should think," says Ben. "But certainly, Crude should give people plenty to think about." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-eouLdquRs info Crude runs from October 8 to 23. Audience members will be picked up from Greenmarket carpark and bussed to Shed 36. Wrap up warm! www.dundeerep.co.uk For your chance to win two tickets to the performance of Crude on October 11, tweet @GridIronTheatre stating why you would like to see the show.

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.

Readers' letters

They can afford to extend phone coverage

September 21 2013

Sir, I read your recent article saying that 4G is on the way to 90% of the UK’s population. So 10% that is six million people will not get it. Guess where they will live? Why are we allowing these big companies to cherry-pick our country? It is not that they can’t afford to extend the coverage. Vodafone, for example, with the worst network coverage, has UK earnings before their now infamous accounting, of more than £1billion in a year. It spent £4 billion buying back its own shares in a year. Is it really asking too much for them to spend some of that money in Scotland’s rural areas? How can they say that it is not commercially viable? I was in Skye recently where mobile reception is a rare and fleeting thing. Nine thousand people live there and they get thousands of visitors every year. You can drive right through Europe with rarely less that full bar coverage until you reach Carlisle. With similar attitudes to the likes of the supply of gas and broadband we are creating a second or under class designation to rural areas which none of our leaders seems prepared to do anything about. I hope your article will spur some of them into action but I won’t hold my breath. Robert Buchan. Sunflowers, Donavourd, Pitlochry. We’ve earned the right Sir, I find the letter from Grahame Miller somewhat pompous and insulting. Those who use their titles in correspondence are acting perfectly correctly. I and many others worked hard to earn the right, and I am proud to be able use mine. It has nothing to do with “self-perceived importance” as he so crudely puts it. Captain T R Willis. 61 Craigmill Gardens, Carnoustie. Exactly the same thing Sir, I read with mild and ordinary interest the letter written by Grahame Miller (Thursday’s Courier) in which he gave his views about people who preface their signature with Prof, or Dr, or army rank etc. Having no strong opinion myself either way I was about to read on to the next letter when I noticed, to my astonishment, that he put after his name (qualifications withheld). Surely by doing this he is just making it equally obvious that he, just like the people he was referring to, wants us all to know he also has qualifications? Betty Bowman. Newport-on-Tay. Straight swap would fix it Sir, Parents are naturally concerned at the delay over Madras College’s relocation (Letters, September 16). But if the Pipeland scheme follows correct planning procedures and is not “Trumped” like a certain golf/housing development it is far more likely to incur delays than is the North Haugh, as it conflicts with other planning issues and is on green belt (designated only last October, such is our joined-up policy-making). The council refuses to provide a like-for-like cost comparison of the two sites, and its so-called educational consultation is discredited as virtually all of its points would apply to any site. If any proposal is flawed, partial, incomplete, one-sided, unprofessional and misleading, it is the council’s. The problem of the North Haugh land being owned by the university could be overcome if it were to announce, as part of its 600th anniversary celebrations, that it would donate the land now to the council in a straight exchange for the South Street site. Maybe Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC, in his capacity as both our MP and the university chancellor (which should not involve any major conflict of interest) could initiate such a solution? John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews. Not confident of success? Sir, I was somewhat surprised to read the recent article in which Keith Brown MSP called on the UK Government to accelerate work to bring high-speed rail to Scotland. He is a member of the SNP and the Scottish Minister for Transport. Doesn’t he realise that if Scotland votes “yes” next September it will be his and his party’s responsibility to act on this matter? It would appear that by calling on the UK Government at this time he is of the opinion that the Scottish people will vote “no”. Obviously a sign of no confidence of SNP success, or not thinking things through! Harry Ritchie. Beechwood, Barry. Won’t build in “foreign” land Sir, According to The Courier, Keith Brown (Scottish Transport Minister) has called on the UK Government to bring high speed rail to Scotland. Surely Mr Brown is of the same belief as the First Minister and the rest of his Cabinet that the result of the referendum next year is a foregone conclusion and will be a “yes”? How, then, can he expect a foreign country to build any sort of railway in Scotland. Alan Provan. 19 Park Place, Elie.