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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…

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

UK & World

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.

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

Scottish politics

FMQs: Sturgeon hits back over claims she is ‘squandering’ millions of pounds on independence

February 23 2017

Nicola Sturgeon defended her government’s £136,000 intervention in the Supreme Court case on Brexit as a Conservative MSP accused her of splurging millions on breaking up the UK. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); First Minister's Questions – 23rd February 2017 Earlier today First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took questions from party leaders and other MSPs in the Debating Chamber at Holyrood.Please take the time to read our online discussion rules before commenting: www.parliament.scot/discussion-rules. Personal insults will be removed.We're trialling Facebook Live over the next few weeks, so please be patient as we work things out!#FMQs Posted by The Scottish Parliament on Thursday, 23 February 2017 The SNP leader laid into Tory backbencher Maurice Golden at First Minster’s Questions after he lambasted her for wasting taxpayers’ cash on promoting independence. She struck back saying her administration would not have needed to take part in the court action over the triggering of Article 50 if the UK Government did not pursue a case they were not going to win. Mr Golden, a West Scotland MSP, asked the First Minister if she thought the £136,000 outlay was good value. He added: “This SNP Government will literally say and do anything that they think furthers their goal of tearing our Union apart. “And they don’t care how much Scottish taxpayers’ money they squander in the process. “This £136,000 is one example of the 10s of millions of pounds that this SNP Government spends on policy decisions that they believe will promote separation.” Ms Sturgeon mocked Mr Golden for raising the issue of cost when the Conservative Government had refused to reveal how much they have spent on the case. She added her government’s intervention was “necessary to force the UK Government to enact the legislation that is currently going through the Westminster parliament before the triggering of Article 50”. “The case also raised fundamental issues about the rights of people in Scotland and the role of this parliament,” she added. “So yes I do think it was absolutely right that this government, like the government in Wales, defended our interests in what was the most important constitutional law case for many, many years.” The Lord Advocate last month made representations before the UK’s most senior judges, who ruled that the triggering of Article 50 required parliamentary approval. It was also confirmed that Holyrood could not block the start of the Brexit process.

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.

Farming news

Farmers abandoning beef efficiency plan

June 3 2017

Hundreds of cattle farmers who committed to the Scottish Government’s Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES) have now opted out. The despised herd improvement scheme, which initially promised a budget of £45million when it was announced in 2014, struggled to attract producers to sign up in the first place, but a year down the line the talk around ringsides is that beef farmers have withdrawn or are about to withdraw their support on a large scale. The Government has confirmed that of the 2,114 farmers who agreed to take part, 335 have already formally dropped out. The disillusionment has come as a result of problems with administration, misinformation and frustration over the delivery of obligatory tissue tags for calves which has made complying with the rules almost impossible for farmers. NFU Scotland’s (NFUS) livestock committee chairman Charlie Adam says the full extend of the industry drop-out is still unknown. “We know it’s happening because we’re told people aren’t ticking the appropriate box on the Single Application Form,” he said. “And anecdotally we hear a lot of people have had enough and are getting out.” High profile farmers such as Douglas Stewart, the host of next week’s flagship Scottish Beef Event in the Borders, have condemned the scheme as a fluffy “load of rubbish” and Mr Adam revealed that if he did not hold his union position he too would be questioning whether he would continue to take part. “I probably would come out if I wasn’t doing this job,” he admitted. Farmers can drop out without penalty if they do so before the first payments of £96 per calf are made.  These were scheduled to be paid last month but the latest indication is that they will be delayed until the autumn. Mr Adam was keen to assure farmers still committed to the scheme that NFUS would continue to press for improvements and better communication from the Scottish Government. “There are still people signed up so we need to make it workable for them,” he added. “The scheme has been poorly administered, but future support may came in forms like this so we can’t just shove it in the bin. But if something like this is done in future it has to be done better. Government has to listen to the industry about practicalities.” The last straw for many farmers came when multiple batches of tissue tags arrived at different times of the year for different animals in the same batch of calves. The Scottish Government has now said in future it will only make one selection of animals for tissue sampling per-business per year. Mr Adam said that was a “positive change” which had taken industry concerns on board.  

Fife

Repair bill of £95 million for crumbling Fife roads

January 25 2016

A crumbling rural rat run in Fife has been tagged as Courier Country’s worst road. Inspectors found 95 potholes in need of repair on the Q7 which runs for 4.3 miles between Cupar and Kilmany. Those who live along the single-track road, commonly used as a short cut between Cupar and Dundee, are so fed-up with its condition that many avoid using it and take the long way round. Villagers in Kilmany and nearby Foodieash said cars had been damaged hitting holes in the road, which is also prone to flooding and mud, and fear that there will be a serious accident. Kilmany resident Paul Humphries’z said: “I’m concerned that someone is going to come a cropper.” Grant Jack, 50, Foodieash, said: “The potholes are really, really bad and when the road is muddy you can’t see them. I use it to go to Dundee two or three times a week, so it’s quite important to me that the road is kept at a reasonable standard. “They need to get the road fixed, that’s the simple truth.” The road’s state was lamented at a meeting of Fife Council’s north-east Fife area committee, when the council’s £95.6m maintenance backlog was flagged up. https://youtube.com/watch?v=hM27_r8-2vo%3Frel%3D0 It was also revealed that the budget for area transportation works, which include roads, pavements, street lighting, road safety and traffic management, is expected to fall from £16m this year to £9.5m in 2017/18. Committee member, Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett said: “The roads are in a pretty awful condition.” “I know from my own travels that there are potholes everywhere and clearly the transportation service is not keeping up. “We are in a very difficult situation. “The previous administration and this administration have put more funding into roads maintenance and any further cuts to roads maintenance should be avoided if possible.” The council has a 24-hour or five-day target for dealing with surface defects, depending on their severity, and service manager David Brown confirmed that the necessary repairs to the Q7 were made within the timescale. He also said inspectors and squads were out daily looking for potholes and filling in those recorded. Persistent and heavy rain over the winter, he said, had caused further deterioration to road surfaces. He said: “There is a league table and Fife is sitting about the middle.” It has been revealed it would cost £95.6 million to get the region’s carriageways up to scratch. Councillor Pat Callaghan, the council’s spokesperson for environment and transportation, said: “It would be great to have all our roads in first class condition but it’s estimated that this would cost around £95m. “This obviously isn’t something we can currently consider when we have to save £91.5m by 2018/19. “Any defects that are considered to pose an immediate risk are repaired within 24 hours with the rest repaired within five working days.” The council pledged an additional £50m over nine years for maintenance from this April but a report by transport and environment head of assets Ken Gourlay said it was unlikely this would be sufficient to prevent further deterioration in the long term.

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. Audi TT RS Coupé. 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.

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