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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

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.


Tee to Green: Golf’s 20-20? Not quite…

September 20 2016

The European Tour have fanfared the future of golf. The World Super 6 Perth fair slips off the tongue and will revolutionise the game, or so the Tour’s outstanding media crew are telling us. Next February the rather mundane Perth International event, which has been chugging along unnoticed as part of the early season European Tour schedule with a prizefund of just over £1 million, will suddenly turn into an ultra-modern hi-tech Futurama of golf. For 54 holes, it’s going to look much the same. But on Sunday it’s going to be like we’re watching Star Trek. 24 leading players will play six-hole matchplay challenges with a “knockout hole” of Postage Stamp size to break any ties, and then sudden-death nearest the hole. One assumes if that doesn’t split them there will be a phaser duel. Rather than just being Western Australia’s annual modest contribution to the world of elite golf, The European Tour and Keith Pelley, their colourful chief executive, believe that some day all the sport will be played this way. Transparently, this is another stab by golf’s bigwigs to create a version of the game for those with the attention span of a goldfish. Golf needs its version of cricket’s 20-20 or rugby’s 7s Series, an abridged version to make it sexier and above all quicker for the hyperactive post-millenial generation. It’s easy, as I hope I have just demonstrated, to make some fun of this. It’s also easy to decry it. Golf’s top end, the PGA Tour, makes oodles of cash every year. There’s a small event next week, the Ryder Cup, which is so successful that it effectively payrolls the European Tour and the PGA of America. What needs fixed, say some? Well, a whole lot, really. Golf’s much too slow, much too conservative, much too elitist, and what’s happening in the game now is only entrenching it deeper within its own comfortable cul-de-sac. If the game is to properly thrive beyond corporate and country club America, presently its only area of growth (yes a lucrative one but far too narrow to be healthy) then it’s got to diversify at least a little. I do think golf does have to find its version of 20-20, which would co-exist quite happily alongside the traditional version like cricket’s. Only I’m pretty sure the World Super 6 as it stands is not it. I’m not sure it’s even as good as PowerPlay Golf, the last attempt at a golfing 20-20 back in 2008 which pretty much died on the vine. For a start, the first 54 holes of play would appear to be for nearly nothing. 24 guys qualifying for the final day Super 6 out of a field of 156 is not much at all, and I’d imagine a lot of players won’t like the odds. It’s not as if it’s going to be a stellar field in Perth anyway. This year’s winner Louis Oosthuizen was far and away the top name in the field and the World Ranking rating for the event was just 86 - the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour the same week was 446 by comparison. I’d imagine the format will create some drama on the last day but the relevance is surely highly dependent on who is playing. A 24 dominated by Australasian Tour players with no profile even on the European Tour isn’t going to win over the uncommitted. But at least they’re trying. I like the attitude of the players, who seem to be agreeing “yes, this is not perfect, but it’s a work in progress”. I much prefer that attitude to those who stick their heads in the sand and arrogantly declare that golf doesn’t need to change. Webb Simpson: the truth revealed Last week’s US wildcard presser was hilarious. Davis Love III verbally contorted himself to somehow not once mention Bubba Watson’s name as he was repeatedly questioned about the double Masters champion’s absence from the first three picks. The inference was that Bubba, a difficult character, was not going to be the fourth pick if they could help it. Then again, he went to the practice at Hazeltine this weekend so maybe it’s a smokescreen. Bubba’s unpopularity with his peers explains one of the greatest recent Ryder Cup mysteries, just why Tom Watson took Webb Simpson as a wildcard for Gleneagles. Reputedly it was because Simpson begged him by text, but it’s crystal clear why Webb was picked now. After Medinah, he was the only half-decent player who would agree to be Bubba’s partner. Tiger preparing for retirement? You can get decent odds on Tiger’s comeback stalling and him retiring by the end of 2016. In the meantime, he’s a busy bee preparing for life after Tour. The design portfolio is growing. He’s now running three events on the PGA Tour. And last week comes the rumour that he’s the front man for a consortium to buy TaylorMade, the most successful golf equipment company there is. Adidas have been shopping TM and their entire golf portfolio, minus their own brand clothing, for a year. There’s no losers here as I can see. The technician in Tiger will love the research and development aspect. And we keep his profile in the forefront of the game, where it should be.

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

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Travellers move to East Links in Montrose

March 28 2016

Angus Council is “monitoring” an unauthorised Travellers camp which has attracted almost 20 vehicles in Montrose. The camp is located on council-owned ground at the East Links, near to the clubhouse of Royal Montrose Golf Club. There is 11 caravans at the site, as well as three cars, three vans and a flatbed truck. Outside the caravans were gas canisters and chairs as well as a pile of rubbish which appeared to consist of large items such as old kitchen cabinets and stepladders. The number of caravans at the location has slowly increased in the last few weeks. The site has frequently been used by Travellers in the past. Last year, more than 50 caravans arrived at the East Links in May for a Christian festival. A Montrose man who frequently walks past the site said: “Over the winter there was one caravan there, but the numbers are just going up and up. “This has been going on for years and I feel that Angus Council has not been living up to their responsibilities.” Last year Angus Council updated their strategy for dealing with unauthorised encampments of Travellers in the county. The new policy states that Angus Council will not actively seek to “immediately remove an unauthorised encampment” on its land unless it is a site of scientific or environmental interest or a site where pollution could damage water courses. It would also start eviction proceedings when the encampment is in an area with toxic waste or ground pollution, adjacent to the verge of a road or in proximity to a railway line. An Angus Council spokesman said: “We are aware of an unauthorised encampment in the area and are continuing to monitor it in accordance with policy and procedures.” Last month The Courier revealed that Angus Council had adopted a “live and let live” approach to more than 30 illegal Traveller camps in Angus between 2014 and 2015. The highest number (21) were located in Montrose, with the Montrose Golf Links cited as one of the most problematic areas. Just two eviction notices were served to the 33 illegal camps throughout the 12-month period.

Angus & The Mearns

Sky Sports exposure for Montrose Golf Links

March 26 2015

Montrose Golf Links has been included in a stellar line-up of courses for the PGA EuroPro Tour’s 2015 season. Players will compete for a £50,000 prize purse at the historic Angus course in front of the Sky Sports cameras for the third successive year. European golf’s third-tier tour’s regular season begins May 13-15 at Celtic Manor with 15 events, plus a season-ending Tour Championship. David May, chairman of the Montrose Golf Links marketing committee, said: “The classic links golf course at Montrose has again attracted high-profile, national events and this year is no exception. “For their third year, the EuroPro Tour comes to the historic links and this event is given widespread coverage on Sky TV and is shown across the world.” The HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour is Europe’s leading development tour and the European Tour’s satellite in the UK and Ireland. It offers direct access to the Challenge Tour through the final Order of Merit, with the top five golfers at the end of the season to be awarded a category. During 2015, players will compete for more than £800,000 in prize money. Tour chairman Barry Hearn said: “Of the European Tour satellites, we paid out the highest average prize fund per event in 2014 and that is set to increase with this huge boost for Europe’s best up-and-coming golfers. “As a development tour, one of our primary objectives is to support the best young players as they seek to become stars of the future on the European Tour. “The EuroPro Tour gives players a great chance to gain experience of life on tour, especially in front of the Sky Sports cameras, and we are delighted to be able to further support our members financially with this big boost to the prize fund.” Based on 50 players making the cut, the minimum prize fund for every tournament is £46,735. This will increase in line with the number of ties who also make the 36-hole cut. Any surplus from £50,000 will be added to the prize fund for the tour championship, which will begin at £60,000. Montrose Golf Links will also welcome a new event to its medal course, with the Ladies Tartan Tour on April 6 and 7.

Angus & The Mearns

PGA figure backs fight to save Montrose links from sea

August 14 2017

The chief executive of the PGA EuroPro Tour has given his backing to efforts to save Montrose Links from a watery grave. The Montrose Medal course, which has regularly hosted the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters, risks losing a chunk of its holes if it can’t hold back ravaging tides. For more than 450 years golf has been played on the links of Montrose but changing seas and coastal erosion is threatening to destroy part of the course which can boast features laid down by Old Tom Morris. The links management committee is now looking at funding options to install £5 million worth of rock armour along seaside holes one, two and three. Failure to find a solution would mean a “massive realignment exercise” inland — amalgamating the existing championship and Broomfield courses into one. Daniel Godding, Chief Executive of the PGA EuroPro Tour, said: “Montrose has a strong and long-standing partnership with the PGA EuroPro Tour and is one of the most popular courses on the tour. “It is a part of golf’s history and one of the best links golf courses not only on Scotland’s east coast but across the UK. “It provides a great but fair test for our players. “It would be devastating for the town of Montrose and the sport of golf if this historic course was to be lost to the elements and the EuroPro Tour is fully supportive of all the efforts to save the course from costal erosion.” The PGA EuroPro Tour is Europe’s leading development tour and the European Tour’s satellite in the UK and Ireland. PGA EuroPro Tour players will compete for over £1.2 million of prize money in 2017, with the top five golfers at the end of the season awarded a place on the 2018 Challenge Tour. There are few places where the damaging effect of coastal erosion is more evident than at Montrose Golf Links. The sixth tee was made unplayable by a storm 18 years ago, and greenkeepers have been fighting the elements ever since. It has been estimated up to 80 metres of Montrose coastline could be lost to erosion over the next half a century.

Angus & The Mearns

Unprecedented plans to rename Montrose Medal course to bring 1562 to the fore

August 8 2017

Montrose Golf Links has announced unprecedented plans to rename one of the oldest golf courses in the world. The bid to relaunch the renowned Medal Course at Montrose as the 1562 Course is part of a plan to recognise the significant role played by the ancient east coast course in the world of golf. The rebranding exercise will be the first time the course has gone through such a process and will be completed during the 2018 season when the world’s oldest major; the Open Championship, returns to the Angus region. The historic change will also be accompanied by a number of exciting initiatives designed to celebrate 450 years of golf at the two-times Open Championship Final Qualifying venue.` Jason Boyd, PGA Professional and Operations Manager at Montrose Golf Links, described the launch of the 1562 Course as an exciting and positive move. “We don’t make enough of the fact that golf was first recorded in Montrose in 1562,” said Mr Boyd who spearheaded the idea. “The name change will give even more credibility to our golf offering and by doing so will open up new doors. Bringing 1562 to the fore will make a huge difference. “It’s the most important aspect we have and it is our biggest marketing strength - we need to make as much of it as we can.” The renaissance of the Montrose course, which hosted the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters in June, will be unveiled through a series of events and announcements leading up to the formal relaunch at the start of the golfing season. “This is a fairly bold move, especially in the world of golf,” said Mr Boyd. “Courses that have been around for 450 years don’t often receive makeovers like this, but we feel assigning the date to the course name clearly illustrates the extraordinary golfing heritage that exists here as well as the significance of Montrose in terms of the development of the game.” The east coast course  has been shaped by some of the foremost names in golf including Willie Park Jr, Old Tom Morris and Harry Colt. “Changing the name gives us an opportunity to raise awareness of the course and reach out to a wider audience,” said Mr Boyd. “As soon as you mention 1562, you open doors that haven’t have been open to us until now. “Golfers realise the significance of dates in golf and they know how important they are. “The fact we are celebrating the fabulous golfing heritage that is synonymous with Montrose will only serve to attract more people to visit this unique place and play one of the oldest courses in the world for themselves.” Montrose Golf Links features two traditional links courses; The Medal and The Broomfield. Just last month the board of directors at Montrose warned part of the historic links could be lost forever as the course continues to fight a losing battle against the elements. The Medal course has been the subject of coastal erosion for more than 20 years with government grants and even the possibility of a crowdfunding campaign now being investigated to raise £5 million to install rock armour alongside the seaside holes.