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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...

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.


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.

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

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

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

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.


Fife Council defends calling in legal adviser during school closure row

January 21 2014

Fife Council education officials have defended a decision to call in an external legal adviser to ensure the local authority’s proposed school closure consultation programme is being followed in a “correct, fair and transparent” manner. It came as Fife Council’s opposition leader, SNP Group leader councillor Peter Grant, asked for an urgent investigation into claims an external QC was brought in during a disagreement about where and when councillors should be allowed to discuss the threatened closure of seven primary schools across Fife. Mr Grant, whose Glenrothes ward includes closure-marked Tanshall Primary, said the affair only became public when the chairman of the council’s education, social and communities scrutiny committee, Susan Leslie, made a statement at the end of last Tuesday’s meeting. Mr Grant said: “The crux of the matter seems to be that councillors want to have the chance to properly examine the final reports on proposed school closures before the executive committee comes to a decision. “This is a perfectly reasonable request and, as far as I can see, the committee chair has been trying to honour it. “It appears, however, that, unknown to councillors, the council went and got legal advice and then used that advice to argue that the scrutiny committee couldn’t scrutinise the proposals in the way they wanted to. “It then seems to have been left to the committee chair to explain to the committee what had happened. “Of course, there will be times when a local authority needs to get specialist legal advice if it’s involved in a dispute with a third party. “If there was any serious dispute here, it was entirely between different groups within the council. “I find it extraordinary that we should need to bring in a QC to advise on an internal disagreement and I’m at a loss to understand why it was done without telling councillors.” Mr Grant has written to the council’s chief executive, Steve Grimmond, asking for an urgent report into the affair. He has also called for an immediate halt to any further committee decisions on the school closure programme until councillors have had a chance to consider any report by Mr Grimmond. Mr Grant said he has submitted a Freedom of Information request to ask the council to publish the legal advice it received, as well as all other related correspondence. Ms Leslie said she fought for the scrutiny committee to be allowed to do its job, adding: “Until I intervened, the information that was given to the QC was incomplete and actually, initially did not offer the best advice to the council. “After my intervention to ensure the QC did have all the advice, then the advice certainly did support scrutiny committee looking at this on February 3. “I would add there was only one other councillor who was fully aware of the matters I was trying to clear up with education and that was councillor Alex Rowley, who was 100% supportive of me.” Shelagh McLean, Fife Council directorate resources manager, said: “The school estate review is a tremendously important exercise and we want to ensure everything is done correctly and in accordance with the legislation. “In light of that, council officers have consulted and taken advice from an external legal adviser throughout the consultation programme, to ensure the process which is being followed is correct, fair and transparent. External legal advice was also sought about the timing of committee reports to scrutiny committee.”

Readers' letters

Playing politics with our children’s future?

May 12 2014

Sir, I read with interest your article on May 8 regarding Dunfermline MSP Cara Hilton taking Fife Council’s closure of my beloved former primary school Pitcorthie for review to the Scottish Government. Her words seem plausible enough. However, as was the case during her election last year, questions need to be asked regarding the Labour Party and Ms Hilton’s roll in this whole affair. She takes “being all things to all men” to extremes. Having two jobs as an MSP and a councillor is good for her bank balance but is clearly damaging her influence. Through every phase of this school’s flawed consultation and during the by-election she has maintained a stance against the closure. Yet throughout she has been unable to get any Labour members of either the executive committee or the education scrutiny committee to agree with her, so they close the school anyway totally unabashed. Only SNP members have voted against closure from the start. Something’s fishy when no-one seems to have any complaints against the school, it seems to be in reasonable condition and is ideally located. The only “fault” seems to be that some bureaucrat says there are too many primary school places in the area. Well, pardon me, but is this not the area that has the largest new house build in Fife since Glenrothes was built? Also, Pitcorthie is full to overflowing? So what is going on here? Does new housing not mean more children? Shut this school, disrupt a school full of kids and a year later we’ll be short because they’ve built more houses. Bring on the wooden huts again? Great! It doesn’t need much imagination to see that the Labour Party want to close the school for reasons known only to themselves and then blame Mike Russell and the Scottish Government for the closure. Playing politics with our children’s future? Brian Macfarlane. 10 Beck Crescent, Dunfermline. Hope it goes well, but . . . Sir, I have read with interest the responses from people in the Courier Referendum Roadshow. As a Dundonian who left 26 years ago and an active member of the Parti Qubcois (Quebec equivalent of the SNP) for many years, it will be clear how I wish the referendum to go. Qubec and Scotland share a lot more in common than many people realise. One thing that I have noted in the debate from many people in the No camp is a lack of self-confidence. Fear, ignorance and negativity are powerful tools which Better Together have used to their advantage. I sadly believe, unfortunately, that this lack of self-confidence will lead to a threefold loss for Scots in the years to come. A “no” to independence which will almost guarantee a Tory majority government (with none or few extra powers for Scotland) which will subsequently lead to a UK vote to leave Europe. I would be more than happy to be wrong on all three counts. Ashley Watson. Directeur de Dveloppement des Affaires, Quebec. Can we trust his judgment? Sir, “Bluff and bluster” were the words used when Mr Salmond reacted to the unanimous decision by all of the UK’s political parties’ intention not to have a shared currency. “Oh yes they will!” he exclaimed when they reiterated that there would not be. An “unpardonable folly” was his description prior to the eventual and successful intervention by British armed forces in Kosovo, bringing the Serbs vile and inhuman campaign of genocide to an end. He described the pound sterling as a “millstone around the neck of Scotland” yet he now considers the pound as essential for a successful Scottish economy, and alluded to Scotland as a “nation of drunks” while praising President Putin. With this track record should we trust his judgment and assertions on independence or consider what he has to say on the subject as merely . . . “guff and fluster”? Iain G Richmond. Guildy House, Monikie. “The prize of a better country” Sir, As a Yes supporter I have to take issue with Angus Brown (letters, May 8), who seems to think independence is all about the past and settling old scores. Nothing could be further from the truth! Re-establishing Scotland as an independent nation is “project future” and how we can create a successful, confident, vibrant economy and a more sustainable and fairer society than the one we live in now. After “yes” I may not see all the benefits of being a self-respecting, ambitious, independent nation but this is the very legacy I want to leave to my children. Scottish writer Alasdair Gray put it succinctly when he said: “A ‘yes’ vote means we can have the prize of a better country. It really is as simple as that.” I couldn’t agree more. Douglas Chapman. 38 Pitbauchlie Bank, Dunfermline. A leaner Kirk will survive Sir, Thank you for the recent fair comment on the drop in membership in the Kirk. I am sad that good people have left because of the same-sex issue they have not been lost to the Christian Church as a whole. I joined the Kirk as an adult because of the good work of minsters, elders and members in the communities in which I lived and taught. I am confident a leaner, fitter Kirk will be resilient and continue to be a good influence. Terminal decline? I think not. Jim Gordon. 57A Keptie Road, Arbroath.


Environmentalists demand public say on future of Marchbanks Recycling Centre

March 26 2013

An environmental group has called on Dundee City Council to delay the planned closure of a recycling centre so that a full consultation can be carried out. Politicians decided to shut Marchbanks Recycling Centre to save £316,000, leaving the Baldovie and Riverside sites. Council figures obtained by Friends of the Earth Tayside under freedom of information legislation show that 7,118 tonnes of recyclables were processed at Marchbanks between 2007 and 2012, compared to Baldovie’s 6,590 tonnes and Riverside’s 4,385 tonnes. Marchbanks also handled 2,152 tonnes of compostable garden waste and 19,914 tonnes of non-recyclable general waste in the same five-year period. A report by director of environment Ken Laing said an average of 319 cars visit Marchbanks every day. Friends of the Earth Tayside say the closure will “displace” more than 110,000 car visits a year and increase CO2 emissions as a result. Doug McLaren of the group said: “Where will all the cars and the stuff go you might ask? Simple, says Dundee City Council there are two other sites, up to 10 and 15 miles away round trip, where the stuff can be dropped. But hold on: not all of it at the same site; to drop it all you may have to drive over 20 to 25 miles. “There’s a sound approach to governance and taxation which rewards good behaviour and penalises bad, but Dundee is turning that on its head by penalising those who take the trouble to recycle and dispose carefully, while rewarding the ‘dumb dumpers’ and fly-tippers who can chuck valuable materials in the waste bin at home or in a layby, to be collected free of charge or rather from a proportion of the council tax. “The council claims it will make big savings by running fewer of their own lorries but they are asking a gullible general public to pick up the price tag and emit over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 in the process.” Mr McLaren has called on those who use the centre to urge their councillors to delay the closure and carry out a consultation. He said: “There has been no open discussion about the effects of a closure no formal consultation has taken place, no soundly-based environmental assessment carried out.” He added: “They should put the closure plan on hold until all the implications have been looked at and seek a solution which saves money but doesn’t trash the planet.” Dundee City Council environment convener Councillor Craig Melville insisted the environmental group’s CO2 emissions claims are “purely speculative” and fail to take account of operational changes to the council’s other recycling centres “which will considerably reduce the amount of HGV journeys that the council has been making”. He said: “We are cutting the double transport by HGV of bulky and garden waste between sites. So, from April 1, bulky and mixed waste from the public will only be accepted at Baldovie, while people should take all garden waste to Riverside.”