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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...


HMRC job losses a ‘hammer blow’ for Dundee

November 13 2015

Dundee has been dealt an “absolute hammer blow” with hundreds of jobs at risk as part of an HMRC cost-cutting exercise, it was claimed last night. Around 130 jobs at Caledonian House are likely to be axed while bosses “can’t make any promises” about the future of 650 staff based at Sidlaw House who officials plan to redeploy to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Two new regional centres will be created in Glasgow and Edinburgh by 2019-20 under the controversial UK Government shake-up, which aims to save £100 million a year by 2025. Caledonian House is scheduled to shut by 2017-18, one of the earliest closures in the country. HMRC’s second Permanent Secretary told The Courier there was no guarantee the Sidlaw’s full workforce would be needed in the switch to the DWP. Edward Troup said: “This is a process which is going to take several years, although Dundee we are going to close early in 2018, we want to talk to them on a one-to-one basis, see what they want to do, see how we can help them and, yes, we do expect there to be exit packages for whom there is no future in the organisation. “Dundee has two sites. There are about 130 or so who work in tax and are clearly outside reasonable daily travel (to Edinburgh or Glasgow). “There are around 600 or so who are working on tax credits. That work will transfer across to DWP and the relevant staff will transfer, their work will transfer.” Asked if he could guarantee all of Sidlaw’s workers would keep their jobs, he replied: “That’s what we would hope but we can’t make any promises simply because this is partly in the hands of DWP and it’s partly at an uncertain date in the future.” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she was seeking urgent talks with UK ministers as the changes “put significant numbers of jobs in Scotland at risk”. Dundee City West SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick called the decision a “hammer blow for the city”. Jenny Marra, the Dundee-based Labour MSP, said it was “devastating for the workers and for our community”. Local MPs Chris Law and Stewart Hosie visited the building to offer support to staff following the news.

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.

UK & World

Pilot pleads not guilty over Shoreham Airshow manslaughter charges

May 15 2018

A pilot whose plane crashed during the 2015 Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.Andrew Hill, 54, faces trial on 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and one of recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft under air navigation laws.The defendant, who is on bail, pleaded not guilty to all the charges relating to the crash on August 22, 2015.He wore a grey suit and blue tie for his appearance at the Old Bailey before Judge Richard Marks QC.The judge set a trial for January 14 2019 and confirmed the case would be heard by a High Court judge.The trial is expected to go on for up to seven weeks.The victims were Maurice Rex Abrahams, Dylan Archer, Anthony David Brightwell, Matthew James Grimstone, Matthew Wesley Jones, James Graham Mallinson, Mark Alexander Reeves, Jacob Henry Schilt, Richard Jonathan Smith, Mark James Trussler and Daniele Gaetano Polito.Hill, of Sandon, Hertfordshire, is accused of “recklessly or negligently” endangering a Hawker Hunter G-BXFI or any person on that aircraft contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009.Judge Marks ordered a pre-trial review at the Old Bailey on a date to be arranged at the end of October.Hill remains on unconditional bail.

Angus & The Mearns

West Coast Energy targets Sidlaws for windfarm

February 16 2012

Plans have emerged for a five-turbine Sidlaws windfarm in a Welsh firm's second foray into Angus. Details of the Dodd Hill proposal for farmland between Tealing and Forfar have begun to come forward from West Coast Energy, the company behind a £21 million seven-turbine, scheme for a site near the A92 between Arbroath and Carnoustie. The new Sidlaws bid will be the subject of a stakeholder meeting in Forfar's Reid Hall next week at which the developer plans to introduce the latest proposal and meet locals who may be affected by the scheme. The company said it would be releasing full details of the Dodd Hill plan ahead of the meeting, but has described the scheme as another ''significant investment in the area.'' ''The event will provide an opportunity for West Coast Energy to introduce their proposals for Angus and answer any questions that individuals may have on the Dodd Hill project,'' says letter from the company. ''West Coast Energy is committed to working with the community, business and political stakeholders as they progress their proposals for the wind farm development at Dodd Hill. ''The launch event will act as the first stage in the wider consultation process with the communities in the area.'' Last summer the firm, which is based in Mold, North Wales, unveiled plans for a seven-turbines on Corse Hill, between Arbroath and Carnoustie.

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.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Blazing Saddles

Smile – you’re on camera

November 19 2016

“Dad, can we make a YouTube cycling video?” My son Tavish had spotted a helmet camera of mine among my pile of cycling kit and suddenly in a moment of inspiration had scribbled out a draft plan of how his “movie” would look. To be fair it wasn’t a spur of the moment request; he has been watching videos by others online for several years now and has harboured the desire to become an auteur for just as long. On the morning of his directorial debut we kitted out our packs, loaded the bikes on the roof of the car and drove over to the Sidlaws at the back of Dundee. I can’t remember why I had bought the camera in the first place, but this was going to be one of the few times I had actually used it. The first problem was I couldn’t remember how to set it up and switch it. Thankfully Tavish, obviously taking after his mum rather than me, had actually read the instruction manual and was able to show me how it was done. We then spent the next few hours riding around the trails of Balluderon, Balkello and Auchterhouse Hill. By the time we arrived back at the car we had only cycled just over five miles and taken nearly two hours to do so, but we were muddy, tired and buzzing after a great morning out together. On the drive home Tavish was already planning the next film we were going to make together. He was trying to figure out if he had enough money in his piggy-bank to buy a drone from his to get some aerial footage and he had decided we hadn’t got any footage of jumps and that was vital to the success of his next project. Quite whether his enthusiasm came from the process of filming, the result, or indeed the equipment that he had been allowed to use I wasn’t sure, but that wasn’t really the point of what we had done. He is immensely proud of the short film we made together and he told me that he was keen to show his friends how much fun cycling could be. Indeed the following week at school he had to plan a short presentation on a subject of his choice that he would then deliver to the rest of his class. He chose cycling and in his planning notes, among comments about Danny McAskill, wheelies and skidding, he wrote, “…unlike football and pitch sports cycling lets you explore your environment”. For a young person that sense of exploration can be a revelation and once the bug is caught it stays with you for life.   Where to Ride? Auchterhouse Hill - Sidlaws Suitable for? Mountain bikes on shared-use paths and trails Distance: 5 miles Start: OS Landranger 1:50000 Map 54 Balkello Car Park NO365384 Description Just east of the Kirkton of Auchterhouse there is a large car park that provides access to these eastern-most tops of the Sidlaws. There are a number of trails that lead up to Auchterhouse, but perhaps the most direct is to follow the paths north to the power lines and then follow a track steeply up towards the lower quarry on the slopes of Balluderon Hill. Follow this west until you reach a small gate that will lead you uphill to the hill fort and summit of Auchterhouse Hill. The views from the top are fantastic with a panorama to the north of the southern Cairngorms and of the River Tay and Dundee to the south. You can return the way you came, or there are more tracks to explore over towards Kinpurney Hill, or some mountain bike specific single tracks around the quarry back on Balluderon Hill