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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...

Motoring news

Make rural driving part of learning process

September 16 2017

Rural driving lessons should be compulsory for all learner drivers, according to a road safety charity. Figures from the Department for Transport show that 120 young drivers lost their lives in 2015 - the last year for which statistics are available - with 80% of these deaths occurring on country roads. In comparison, 16% took place on urban roads and just 4% on motorways. Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: "High speeds, sharp bends, narrow lanes, risky overtaking and the presence of vulnerable road users like cyclists, make rural roads the most dangerous by far. The combination of rural roads and novice drivers is lethal - a staggering 80% of all young car driver fatalities occur in rural locations. "Brake is calling for a total overhaul of the learning to drive system to help cut fatalities and injuries. A graduated licensing system, including a minimum learning period, mandatory training on rural roads and restrictions for newly qualified drivers - such as a zero drink-drive limit - will allow new drivers to build up more skills and experience over a longer period." Wakeford said similar systems in Australia and New Zealand had "dramatically reduced road casualties" and could save as many as 400 lives per year if introduced in Britain. He added: "Brake is also calling for a review of rural speed limits and for voluntary intelligent speed adaptation systems, which help drivers keep within the limit, to be fitted as standard to new cars. There is also the need for better and more affordable public transport, so fewer young people see starting driving in their teens as a necessity." However, a spokesperson for the Department for Transport ruled out rural lessons being introduced. "We have some of the safest roads in the world and we are determined to do everything we can to make them even safer," the spokesperson said. "We encourage learner drivers to experience as many driving conditions and road types as possible before taking their test, however making lessons compulsory on rural roads would be impractical for people due to geographical distances and potential associated costs. "We are constantly taking action to help keep young drivers safe, including allowing learner drivers to take lessons on motorways with an approved instructor, tightening the laws on drug driving and using a mobile phone behind the wheel, and we are spending £175 million upgrading 50 of England's most dangerous local A-roads."

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Motoring news

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


Fife sees a rise in festive drink-drivers

January 6 2011

The number of drink-drivers in Fife over the festive period has increased compared to last year. Statistics released by Fife Constabulary revealed that 26 drivers were caught driving over the limit between December 6 and January 3 an increase on the 22 recorded in the same period in 2009/10. The drivers were caught during the force's festive safety campaign, which also saw one driver found to be unfit to drive through drink or drugs and six people refuse to provide a sample compared to two and none respectively a year ago. One driver, a 25-year-old man from Kirkcaldy, was also recorded as being approaching four times the legal drink-drive limit while supervising a learner driver. Chief Superintendent Alistair McKeen, of the force's specialist services division, expressed concern but promised there would be no let-up in efforts to crack down on those who flout the law. He said, "It is bitterly disappointing that so many people have continued to take risks on the roads in Fife over Christmas and New Year, but none will be more disappointed than the drivers themselves who all stand to lose their licences, and suffer the consequences of no longer being able to drive which may include the loss of their livelihoods. "I can also confirm that the police have applied to the procurator fiscal to have three vehicles seized where drivers have been caught for the second time. "As well as the risks posed to themselves and others, these thoughtless and selfish individuals will now realise, albeit too late in the day for them, the wider consequences of their actions." He added, "On behalf of the law-abiding public in Fife, I am particularly grateful to those who responded to our calls for information on individuals intent on driving after drinking as seven of those caught were as a direct result of such information. "I congratulate the public-spiritedness of those who called and thank them for playing their part in making Fife a safer place." A more in-depth look at the figures revealed nine drivers were found to have more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in their breath. Shockingly, the highest reading was of 125mgs of alcohol in 100ml of breath far exceeding the 35mgs limit and was provided by a fully-qualified driver supervising a learner. Four women were found to be over the limit and one refused to provide a sample. Two arrests were made between 6am and 10am.

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

Driving test modernised in biggest shake up for 20 years

July 16 2016

The driving test is to receive its biggest shake up since the introduction of a theory exam in 1996. Using satellite navigation and reversing into a parking space are to be among the changes made to the test. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency also plans to double the amount of independent driving in the test from 10 to 20 minutes. It will also replace traditional test manoeuvres such as reversing around a corner with “real-life” procedures, including driving into a parking bay and back out, and switching on lights or heated windows. The changes follow other reforms already announced, such as allowing learner drivers to gain experience on motorways and introducing a deposit that would be refunded to successful candidates. The changes are set to be introduced next year. Gareth Llewellyn, the chief executive of the DVSA, said that while Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world, there is scope to do more to keep road users safe, particularly newly qualified drivers. “Making sure the test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help every driver through a lifetime of save driving,” he said. Meanwhile, Top Gear star Chris Harris has landed his own show on BBC America, following the end of the first series of the revamped BBC Two programme. The show is based on Harris’ YouTube series Chris Harris On Cars, which has gained more than 250,000 subscribers and 20 million views since its launch in 2014. It will see him get behind the wheel of some of the world’s most exotic cars, including McLarens, Ferraris and Porsches. News of the show comes after it was revealed new Top Gear frontman Chris Evans is stepping down following criticism from viewers, and reported tension between his other co-hosts.


Dumped boyfriend forced an early end to girl’s driving test

January 14 2016

A Fife learner driver’s test was brought to a halt by a former boyfriend who followed her and swerved towards her car. Steven Drummond caused havoc as he narrowly avoided crashing into the vehicle driven by ex-girlfriend Erin McLean. Drummond, 19, tail-gated her car, overtook it and swerved towards it almost causing a collision. When she was instructed to pull over to perform a hill start, Drummond parked his car in front of her. Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard Ms McLean had ended the relationship after an argument the night before the test. Ms McLean was taking her test with other drivers travelling in a “convoy”, depute fiscal Katrine Craig told the court. When the dangerous driving of Drummond was noticed, instructors told all those taking part to stop their cars. The accused drove alongside his former partner’s car and almost swerved into it. He then overtook and drove away at excessive speed, which resulted in the police being contacted. Drummond, of Drylie Street, Cowdenbeath, admitted that on October 3 last year at Pitreavie Way, Grange Wynd and Queensferry Road, Dunfermline, he drove dangerously, failed to maintain a safe braking distance behind a car being driven by Erin McLean, followed her car, swerved towards it, overtook it when it was not safe to do, narrowly missing a collision with it and other vehicles and drove over the speed limit. Defence solicitor Roshni Joshi said her client had spoken with Ms McLean in advance of the test and had gone there as “moral support”. Ms McLean had failed a previous test and was nervous about going back to try again. “He was of the view they remained in a relationship,” she added. Her client’s position was that he only found out the relationship was over, because of an argument the night before the test, later from police. “When he was told the test would be terminated he became extremely concerned,” said Ms Joshi. This had resulted in him driving in front of Ms McLean “trying to get out of the way”. Sheriff Craig McSherry fined Drummond £540 and disqualified him from driving for a year. After his ban he will have to sit the extended driving test.

Motoring news

The driving test is changing

June 27 2017

The driving test is undergoing its most radical shake-up in a generation – yet instructors and the public don’t think the changes go far enough. Motoring editor Jack McKeown investigates. For many people it’s one of early adulthood’s biggest and most daunting events. Success unlocks hitherto undreamed of freedom, while failure means it’s back to bus timetables and shoe leather when it comes to organising a journey. The driving test is a rite of passage for most of us. Later this year it will be given its biggest set of revisions since the written theory test was introduced in 1996. From December 4 the test will include following instructions from a satnav, a period of independent driving doubled to 20 minutes and a refreshed selection of manoeuvres deemed more realistic, such as parallel parking. The three-point turn and reversing round a corner are being ditched. Instead, learners will be asked to perform manoeuvres including reversing out of a parking space and pulling over to the right hand side of the road before reversing two car lengths. The time spent independent driving will be doubled to 20 minutes and examinees will have to answer vehicle safety questions while driving. When the measures were announced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in April, the Government said they would help save lives by improving standards. But a survey of 2,000 UK drivers for insurance comparison firm Confused.com found that 33% do not think they will sufficiently increase road safety. Almost three out of four (73%) want a motorway section to be added to the test, while two-thirds (66%) are in favour of making learners drive at night. Some 80% of respondents believe driving etiquette should be taught in a bid to reduce middle lane hogging, tailgating and vehicles cutting in at the last moment. Confused.com motoring editor Amanda Stretton explains: "To make the roads safer, drivers believe more practical changes should have been included in the new updates set to be implemented in December. "To help improve the quality of driving on our roads, there is a valid argument that new drivers should be taught general road etiquette and how to treat fellow drivers. "This could help to minimise stress levels, road rage and the risk of accidents, providing all drivers an easy ride." John Giel runs UkADI driving school in Auchterhouse, just outside Dundee. The 65-year old has been a driving instructor for 17 years. He welcomes some aspects of the changes but agrees the driving test could be improved further. “I don’t think they should be dropping the three point turn,” he says. “It’s a basic exercise that should be in the compass of anyone who’s learning to drive. “I do welcome reversing out of a parking bay. It’s part of everyday driving – if you visit Tesco you need to do it. “I was at the test centre this morning. I chatted to some other instructors and to the centre manager. We were all in favour of increasing the length of the independent driving section but none of us are convinced about the need to follow satnav instructions. “The student won’t programme the satnav, it will be pre-programmed by the examiner and all they have to do is follow it.” John agrees motorway driving and night driving should be added to the test. “I think the driving test should be longer than it is. Forty-four minutes – which is the average length of a test – is not enough to establish if a person is a well-rounded and competent driver. “Where possible learners should be tested on motorway driving and I think they should be tested at night as well. I make sure all my pupils get experience driving after dark.” And would he like to see learners have to be tested on driving in a multi-storey car park? “Have you seen how much paint is on the pillars in the Wellgate Car Park?” he laughs. “I think we instructors value our cars too much for that.”   Analysis: Changes long overdue There is no doubt the driving test needed brought into the 21st Century. Placing emphasis on the kind of manoeuvres people perform every day – like reversing out of a supermarket parking bay – will help prevent lots of bumps and scrapes, as well as improving safety for pedestrians. Reversing round a corner is not an action drivers carry out very often, although it’s less easy to see why the three-point turn is being ditched. In any case there’s no doubt far greater improvements could be made. It seems ludicrous a driving licence can be obtained without ever driving on a motorway or at night. Nor is it sensible that a new driver should have to tackle a multi-storey car park for the first time without any help. These changes are a small but positive step – yet it is still largely true that you only really start learning to drive once you have passed your test.


Ruth Davidson insists the Conservative manifesto will be bursting with ideas

March 29 2016

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has pledged to unveil a manifesto "bursting with ideas" following internal party allegations that she has not presented any detailed policies. Jim Terras, chairman of the Selkirk Conservative and Unionist Club, has called for "policies or a detailed manifesto" and said Ms Davidson's performance in the first televised election debate was "very poor" in a steady stream of criticism on social media. Mr Terras has also pointed to several demands for detail on the ConservativeHome website, in response to Ms Davidson's article defending the UK Government's tax decisions and criticising those of her Scottish opponents. It follows a leak of an internal party document which claimed the manifesto will not present the Conservative plan for Scotland, but will outline how the party has changed and "what we will pressure the Scottish Government on in the next parliament". Ms Davidson rebuffed claims that her party has been silent on policy, insisting she has pledged to build 100,000 new homes, hand colleges £60 million, reform education from pre-school to post-secondary, reform Police Scotland and the courts, address the "target culture" in the NHS and invest in roads and digital infrastructure. She told the Press Association: "Maybe Jim doesn't read the papers but I can't say that we haven't been putting a lot of ideas out there. "We will have a full manifesto bursting with ideas. We have been the only people holding the Government to account on some of this stuff for months." Ms Davidson said she had not seen the leaked paper until it was published in the Daily Record, but said its central claim that "the manifesto will not be presented as Our Plan for Scotland" is "clearly false". She added: "A manifesto is all about policies and ideas, and that is exactly what ours is going to be as it has been at every other election." The Edinburgh Central candidate visited Little Learners Nursery in the south of the city to support Save the Children's Read On, Get On campaign and outline her education policies. "We have seen literacy and numeracy fall in Scotland," she said. "We also see a really big gap in young people from poorer communities and the better off and that gap grows as they progress through school, so it's something that you need to address. "We need to empower teachers more within our schools, so we want to have greater decision-making power for our headteachers and school leaders, such as hiring of staff, budgets and allocations. "Of the money that is designated to schools by the Scottish Government, 20% never reaches it to the school gates. It is spent and kept by councils. "Some of it is spent very well but we think some of it would be better spent by teachers." She called for a significant proportion of the £650 million coming to Scotland from the Chancellor's Budget to be spent on schools. Ms Davidson also highlighted the opposition of the education sector to the Scottish Government's plan to appoint a "named person" from health and social care to monitor the wellbeing of every child in Scotland. She said the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and the Association of Heads and Deputy Heads have raised concerns about the scheme, as have the Association of Scottish Social Workers, Police Scotland, the Law Society of Scotland and senior social workers. In her article for ConservativeHome, Ms Davidson said “middle earners in Scotland will be forced to pay £3,000 more in tax than people in England over the next five years” under the SNP’s income tax plans. “By the turn of the decade, the difference in take home pay for someone touching £50,000 will be £800 a year,” she said. “And, secondly, the additional rate may go up too.” She added: “Our message in this campaign will be that we will fight to keep people’s taxes as low as possible, not just because workers deserve to keep more of their own money - and they do - but also because it is good for Scotland. “I want to deliver the kind of balanced parliament that will make better decisions for all of us.” She said a Labour opposition will leave Scotland “on a high tax escalator” with “a high tax first minister being told by a high tax opposition leader that taxes aren’t high enough”. She added: “It is only the Scottish Conservatives which can stop that escalator in its tracks.”