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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...

Perth & Kinross

Perth reveals star-studded Christmas lights line-up

November 3 2016

Glam rockers Slade and hip hop star Professor Green will headline Perth's biggest ever Christmas party - alongside Basil Brush. An eclectic line-up of music acts has been revealed for the highly anticipated seasonal switch-on ceremony on Saturday, November 19. The city centre event is a key part of the annual Winter Festival, but its success could also be crucial to Perth's bid for City of Culture status. Wolverhampton icons Slade - whose music is synonymous with the festive season - are tipped to be the biggest draw on the night. Professor Green, who topped the charts with his INXS-sampling single I Need You Tonight, will also play the main stage. X Factor runner-up Fleur East, fresh from signing to Simon Cowell's Syco Music record label, will also be performing. The performances will follow a full day of entertainment in the city centre, with more live music, reindeer, huskies and ice skating. The council also promises a silent disco in an igloo. Provost Liz Grant will join Father Christmas on a festive parade through city centre streets, starting at 5.30pm. She will then taken to stage to perform the switch-on, followed immediately by a fireworks display over the River Tay. She said: "This year's City of Perth Winter Festival promises to be the biggest the Fair City has ever seen, with entertainment, shopping, music and fun for all the family spread across the city centre. "Christmas in Scotland really does start here." Last year, Billy Ocean and pop stars Lawson helped bring tens of thousands of people into the city centre. A study revealed that the event had helped pump around £1.6 million into the local economy. This year's live entertainment runs from 4pm to 8pm with compere Charlie Healy, best known as a member of X Factor finalists The Risk. There will also be live music from Lorraine Cosby and boy band Half Eight. Top designer Wayne Hemingway, who was recently appointed to a group tasked with driving Perth's future growth, will keep the crowds warmed up with a Northern Soul DJ set. A children's stage, which opens at 12pm, will star quick-witted fox Basil Brush. He will be joined by tribute acts to Mini Mixx and Justin Bieber. There will also be a community stage in King Edward Street for local, up and coming musicians and artists. The event also coincides with the two-day Outdoor Festival of Chocolate. The switch-on ceremony - plus city centre events the following day - has been paid for with £50,000 of council common good cash. However, the local authority has not revealed the amount spent on each performer. Slade The Wolverhampton-band pretty much owned the music charts in the 1970s, with 17 consecutive top 20 hits and six number ones. Their best-selling single Merry Xmas Everyone has sold over a million copies since it was first released in 1973. Original members Dave Hill and Don Powell remain in the line-up, with former frontman Noddy Holder going separate ways in 1992. The band has been hailed as a major influence by the likes of Oasis, Nirvana and the Sex Pistols.   Professor Green Professor Green, aka Stephen Manderson, shot to fame after success on the record label run by British rap pioneers The Streets. The infectious first single on his debut album Need You Tonight went straight in at number one. It was followed up by Just Be Good to Green, featuring Lilly Allen, which was also a top five hit. He published his autobiography Lucky last year and has presented hard-hitting TV documentaries for the BBC.   Fleur East Walthamstow rapper Fleur East first appeared on the X Factor back in 2005. At the time, she was part of girl group Addictiv Ladies. She launched a solo career in 2012 and returned to X Factor two years later. Fleur was the first contestant to have a number one hit - with her version of Uptown Funk - during the series run. She is now signed to Simon Cowell's label, Syco Music.


Simon Cowell to be a father

August 1 2013

Simon Cowell's mother is reported to be "delighted" after news emerged the music mogul is to become a father for the first time. The talent show boss is said to be having a baby with New York socialite Laura Silverman, according to reports. Cowell's mother Julie told The Sun: "I'm delighted. It's wonderful!" According to the newspaper, Cowell, 53, fell for the 36-year-old after her marriage to New York property mogul Andrew Silverman hit the rocks. Meanwhile, Mail Online has published photographs of Cowell and Mrs Silverman on a Caribbean holiday in January last year. Mr Silverman was also on the holiday and the trio are pictured relaxing on a luxury yacht. Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams tweeted about the news, saying: "Oh yeah, and @SimonCowell is doing a baby with a lady." Adding: "For the record @SimonCowell and I tried to have a baby together for many years. But I just couldn't get pregnant." Cowell has not spoken about the matter on his Twitter account. The office for Cowell's Los Angeles lawyer said: "We have no comment."

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

Britain’s Got Talent dream dashed for Angus Highland dancers

March 4 2013

The Britain’s Got Talent dream is over for a group of Angus Highland dancers. Despite lavish praise led by show judge Simon Cowell, and a standing ovation from a 3,000-strong Clyde Auditorium audience, the girls of Strictly Alba learned at the weekend that they will not be in the final stages of the ITV hit show. Naturally disappointed not to have been given the chance to shine in the live rounds of the competition after making such a big impression on the BGT judging panel in Glasgow, the dancers from Forfar and Kirriemuir are now looking forward in the hope that their choreography will make it to the nation’s TV screens when the show is broadcast later this year. They are hopeful Highland dancing will get a lift if the comments of chief judge Cowell are aired. https://www.youtube.com/embed/t84vbZ86dQc?rel=0 After watching the Strictly Alba team shown above in rehearsals he said: “I don’t normally like that sort of thing, but that was very, very good.” Fellow judges Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and David Walliams were similarly enthusiastic as the Angus group Linzi Elms, Leanne Wood, Robyn Hart-Winks, Emma Stewart, Holly Milne, Kirstin Stewart, Airlie McIntyre and Sophie Brown easily grabbed four yes votes. The girls’ teachers, Delma Wilson from Forfar and Nicola Grant from Kirriemuir, said they were hugely proud of what the group had achieved. Nicola said: “The girls had a blast on their BGT journey and we’re delighted they were able to show a really different side of Highland Dancing to a huge audience who absolutely loved what they did.” Delma added: “The audition day was a whirlwind of filming so hopefully Strictly Alba will make it on to the programme and we’ll be able to relive some of the excitement of that day.”


Win premier tickets and a once in a lifetime chance to meet Olly Murs

June 1 2017

When Olly Murs auditioned for the sixth series of The X Factor back in 2009, performing Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, Simon Cowell said it was “the easiest yes I’ve ever given”. Although the Essex cheeky chappy was pipped to the winner’s crown by Joe McElderry, the last eight years have seen him transform from call centre boy to one of the country’s most successful solo artists, with favourites like Heart Skips a Beat, Troublemaker, Dear Diary, You Don’t Know Love and Wrapped Up, Olly will be performing at Slessor Gardens in Dundee on Thursday July 20 as part of his UK tour and although tickets are selling out fast, you could bag yourself a pair of premier seats at the concert and an exclusive chance to meet Olly in person. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, make sure you buy The Courier every day next week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAU7zsnH3Go https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3EG4olrFjY

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.

TV & Film

X Factor judging panel return for Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh

June 1 2016

Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh will return to The X Factor to join Simon Cowell on the judging panel. They will be accompanied by host Dermot O'Leary, who is returning to the series after a brief absence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaCns8olYPs Osbourne, who recently announced her split from rock star husband Ozzy, was one of the original judges on the series and appeared on the panel between 2004 and 2007 before returning in 2013. Scherzinger has also been a judge on the show before in 2012, when her contestant James Arthur won, and again in 2013. Walsh sat on the judging panel for 12 series before a break last year and said he cannot wait to return. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bizMACcTzoI He said: "He'd say otherwise but I knew Simon missed me last year! I'm delighted to be back on the panel, especially beside my two favourite female judges Sharon and Nicole, and I'm looking forward to taking them all back to Dublin this year when we head there for auditions." Osbourne said the thing she is most looking forward to is meeting Cowell's baby son Eric. She said:" I'm overjoyed about going back to The X Factor, sitting with Lou, gorgeous Nicole and naughty Simon. But most of all, I can't wait to meet baby Eric." Former Pussycat Doll Scherzinger said: "I can't wait to be back in the UK and on the show with the best judges sitting alongside me on the panel. I'm excited about discovering, mentoring and winning with an exciting new act this year. And having had winning contestants in the past, Simon knows I will do it." The show, which has propelled acts like One Direction, Little Mix and Olly Murs to fame, suffered in the ratings last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnldNZuMb-A Murs and Caroline Flack, who previously presented The X Factor's sister show The Xtra Factor, attempted to step into O'Leary's shoes, but their tenure was marked by falling audience figures - with BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing frequently triumphing in the ratings - and a number of gaffes. This year the judges' auditions will begin on Friday June 10 at Leicester City's King Power Stadium, but the series will also mark the return of the smaller audition rooms. Talking about the new series, Cowell warned: "Be careful what you wish for!" Kevin Lygo, director of television at ITV, said: "Simon, Sharon, Louis and Nicole - they're a formidable judging panel by anyone's standards. With Dermot hosting and the return of the audition rooms, there's a lot to look forward to this series, as we welcome back one of our biggest entertainment brands." The X Factor will return to ITV later this year alongside The Xtra Factor on ITV2.