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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

Readers' letters

Schools’ charitable status petition misguided

January 19 2015

Sir, In your edition of January 14 you printed Ms Ashley Husband Powten’s argument in support of her petition for the removal of charitable status for private schools. Her argument cannot go unchallenged. It is sad to see a graduate student present such a misguided and misleading case. Misleading in that she equates the real tax paid by a private school into the bank account of a local council with the notional tax “paid” by a state school which is covered by the funding for that school and is thus simply an accounting entry in the books of the council. Misguided in her pursuit of the negative politics of envy. If her petition succeeds the comparatively minor amount of extra money received by the council is unlikely to make any noticeable difference to the state education in that area even if it were to be entirely allocated to the education budget, which is highly unlikely. Rather, if she really wishes to enhance state education she should direct her attention to the problem so clearly outlined in Jenny Hjul’s article in the same edition of your paper. Instead of her misguided petition she should be presenting one demanding real action to improve the educational prospects for the children of Scotland, particularly those from poorer backgrounds. John Campbell. (St Andrews graduate) 5 Seggieden Close, Inchture. Not the cause of social inequality Sir, Should private schools have their charitable status taken away from them (Courier, January 14)? I read Ashley Husband Powten’s comments that these bodies simply help to perpetuate a “Scotland divided by inherited wealth and privilege”. This is an argument that regularly comes up every time the charities regulator reviews the operation of the independent schools sector. It is by no means clear, though, that the costs to the taxpayer of the system outweigh the benefits. Equally, it’s by no means clear that the money saved by removing charitable status would operate to the advantage of the state school sector. It would depend on how wisely national and local government decided to spend the money. Most families on average incomes would find it difficult to meet the cost of school fees, but that doesn’t mean to say that those who can deserve to be dubbed elitist. There is the important question of choice for those who are prepared to find or borrow the money to finance their children’s education. There is also the question of opportunities given to people from less well-off families with help through fees, and the awarding of scholarships. The causes of social inequality go much deeper than simply the question of who runs and attends a particular school whether in the state or private sector. Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes. If you don’t like the price . . . Sir, I am a bit bemused by the accusations of profiteering against Stracathro Services, with which I have no connection. They are presumably in business to make money, so if you don’t like the price of what they offer you go elsewhere. I have bought fuel there only once, during my weekly Sunday night return to Lossiemouth, when, as was suggested, I had miscalculated the amount needed to get me to my usual filling point in Aberdeen and needed a gallon or so. I was very glad it was there and was happy to pay the price charged. Laurie Richards. 100 Crail Road, Cellardyke. Better off as part of the union? Sir, So much for Salmond and Sturgeon’s Scotland being independent rich based on the oil revenue which has now plummeted. Now the first minister is writing to the PM of the UK Government seeking tax relief for North Sea oil companies. Why? Does this not indicate that Scotland is better off as part of the union and not trying to go it alone? Where has this gone wrong in the SNP budget? Roy Moffat. Gilmerton, Crieff. A council initiative Sir, I refer to my letter which you published last week and am happy to report “business as usual” at Broughty Ferry Library in that I was eventually able to collect a supply of council dog bags. However, I feel compelled to respond to the reply to my letter in Thursday’s Courier from Mr Provan, a reader in Fife, whose interest in Dundee Council policy matters eludes me, who asks: “what gives me the right to expect council tax payers to pay me to clear up my dog’s mess”? An expectation that was not the issue in my letter, but which was written, in fact, to inform, assist and improve DCC in their initiative, in making bags readily available to dog owners to enable them to implement The Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003. The council even advertise the scheme on every bag. What gives me the right to expect this service to be provided and managed properly, together with all other services that the council deems we are entitled to receive, is that I am, like many thousands of other Dundee dog owners, a council tax payer of long standing who, unlike some, has always paid his council tax. The council also states it appreciates our support in improving Dundee’s environment, the point of my letter. DGW Thornton. 20 Colliston Drive, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

Angus & The Mearns

‘Why should anyone else have to do it?’ Local girl promotes dog fouling crackdown

September 8 2015

New disposal bags are on offer to help keep Angus clear of dog fouling. Junior rangers and a young environmental campaigner launched the bags at Forfar Loch, following concern over the amount of mess left in the Millennium woodland next to the Turfbeg area of town. Sophie Ann Robson is Keep Scotland Beautiful Hero of the Month, and earned plaudits for her determination in campaigning for the problem of dog fouling around her school to be tackled. The Whitehills Primary School pupil said: “I know I have responsibilities as a dog owner a very simple one being to pick up after my pet. Why should anybody else have to do it? “These bags make it very simple for people to clean up after their dogs, but don’t just bag it, make sure you bin it too.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/s9fI3kbVWAQ?rel=0 The bags were redesigned to help spread the Clean Up Angus message, linked to a video that Sophie Ann played a key role in. They were produced by Angus Council, and communities vice-convener Jeanette Gaul came to help the launch. She said: “We try to make it easy for people to pick up after their dogs and dispose of the bagged waste. “We have around 1,600 dual litter and dog waste bins across Angus, so there really is no excuse for not being a responsible dog owner.” Dog bags are now available for sale at Access offices, libraries, leisure centres and at Ranger’s Centres across Angus at a price of 20p for 25 bags.

UK & World

Dog poo DNA testing to be pioneered in Barking

April 28 2015

Dog poo DNA tests designed to catch "irresponsible" owners who fail to clear up their pet's mess are to be introduced by a council in a UK first. Barking and Dagenham council have said they are taking the step, which will see them encourage dog owners to register their pets on a DNA database, in order to target a "selfish few". The east London borough, which estimated it spends £2.3 million on street cleaning, said anyone falling foul of the measures could be fined up to £80 but a dog welfare charity said it had "concerns" over the plan. Council leader Darren Rodwell, said: "We are the first council in the country to get really tough on dog mess and pet owners who do not act in a socially responsible way. The vast majority of dog owners in Barking and Dagenham are socially responsible but unfortunately a selfish few think it's OK to not clean up after their pet. "Dog mess not only spoils our streets - it's also a health hazard and especially to young children. It's why we are using this innovative approach in making a cleaner, healthier and better Barking and Dagenham." The scheme will see dogs get a "painless" cheek swab before the sample is profiled and logged on a DNA registry held by PooPrintsUK. Council workers who find dog mess would then take a sample and send it for analysis, which can trace it to a dog with 99.9% accuracy, the council said. Gary Downie, managing director of Streetkleen, which is working with the council, said the measure would be cost effective and similar enforcement in the United States had resulted in 90% reduction in dog fouling. But Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "The Kennel Club does have some concerns about requiring dog owners to register their pets' DNA, namely that it would be difficult to make this compulsory and enforceable which would likely mean that only responsible owners, who already pick up after their dogs, would register - the irresponsible minority who do not pick up after their dogs would simply continue to flout the law. "Furthermore, local authorities are already extremely stretched in terms of resources, so the policing of new measures like this might be difficult. We would also be concerned if there was a cost involved for dog owners, which could effectively become a tax on responsible owners." The proposal, which is set to be introduced after compulsory micro-chipping becomes law in April 2016, could create "potential negative feeling" among law-abiding owners, she added. A pilot scheme could run ahead of a borough-wide roll-out in September 2016.

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

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

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

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.


Dog owner gets reunited with lost pet thanks to appeal in The Courier

March 13 2014

A devastated dog owner’s heartbreak turned to joy after she was reunited with her precious pooch thanks to an appeal in The Courier. Jack Russell cross Millie went missing during a walk with Perthshire woman Ray Brass, who was holidaying in Elie. Ms Brass searched for two days for Millie but could not find her. As a result, she was forced to return home to Abernethy without her beloved four-legged friend. Recalling how the two became separated, she said: “I was walking with Millie on Kincraig Cliffs at Elie when I lost her after she chased deer down the cliff. “I searched for two days for her and was broken-hearted having to come home without her.” Fortunately Millie was found almost six miles from where she went missing, wandering along the coastal road near Lower Largo, by local woman Karen Allan. Mrs Allan then contacted The Courier to appeal for her owner to come forward. An overjoyed Ms Brass was contacted by friends who saw the article and she was later reunited with Millie. “I cannot thank the Allan family enough for returning my wee dog,” she said. “I would also like to thank The Courier for their help in bringing us back together.”