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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

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.

Dundee

PREVIEW: Simple Minds, at the Caird Hall, Dundee

May 17 2017

Simple Minds live on stage, anywhere in the world, is a phenomenal experience. The sheer power of their songs, the chest-thumping bass, ice-shard guitar licks and Jim Kerr’s unique voice can brighten any venue. Tonight (May 17) they’ll be doing just that as the band comes to the Caird Hall to open their latest tour – but it’s one that will be just that little bit different for all their Scottish and UK fans. There’s a clue in the title of their album Simple Minds Acoustic, which was released in November. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNmsR96VOAU To celebrate, the special six-piece live line-up of Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Dundonian Ged Grimes, backing vocalist Sarah Brown, acoustic guitarist Gordy Goudie and percussionist Cherisse Osei, will be performing a career-spanning collection of songs acoustically for the very first time. In an exclusive interview with The Courier, Ged explained the reasoning behind the acoustic shows. https://www.facebook.com/simpleminds/photos/a.102345883178690.4717.100317830048162/1346087708804495/?type=3 “We were asked to play an acoustic show in Switzerland last year and the success of the show led to the idea of recording some of the classic Simple Minds songs in an acoustic style,” he says. “I think the secret to any band’s longevity is to always be open to change and reinvention. The acoustic album and tour are a perfect example of this. Simple Minds will celebrate 40 years of making music this year and this acoustic show is likely to highlight a side to the band’s sound that fans may not have heard before. “We are well known for a huge sound but in the acoustic form we have created more space in the arrangements and a focus on the song lyrics. It allows the audience to emotionally connect with the band in a different way,” adds Ged. Always a champion for Dundee wherever he is in the world Ged is immensely proud to be able to come back to the city to kick off the UK leg of the tour. “We’re doing almost 50 shows and have already played Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and France so it will be very special for me to have the first UK show as Dundee,” he said. https://www.facebook.com/simpleminds/photos/a.102345883178690.4717.100317830048162/1346550195424913/?type=3 “The changes and development within the city since we last played in 2013 have been significant, so I’m really looking forward to the band witnessing first hand the city’s transformation.” Ged’s involvement with the band began in 2008 when he was a member of Deacon Blue, who opened for Simple Minds that year. This rekindled a friendship with Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill which dated back to the 80s. After a time spent working with Jim on a solo project Lostboy, he was then asked to join the band full time. Simple Minds Acoustic continues the band’s artistic quest with a one-off album release of stripped down and re-imagined songs, spanning their eclectic and illustrious career. Their usual “big sound” may be temporarily reduced but the overall experience won’t be diminished in any way, the band promise. A dozen Simple Minds songs loved by millions now sound more organic and even more likely to leave a lasting imprint. The synths are no more – but the Celtic soul remains. Jim Kerr says: “The concert stage is where Simple Minds do their best work – it is where we forged our distinctive live reputation. For that reason we look forward immensely to taking Simple Minds Acoustic out on tour. Don’t be fooled by the acoustic tag, however as these shows will be as energetic and passionate as ever.” With a great live line-up and a set list full of iconic Minds songs, it is bound to be a unique and memorable experience. Simple Minds will be joined by special guest The Anchoress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAVt9Y-4XRs

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

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.

Dundee

Dundee dancers to bring witchcraft trial to life

January 25 2013

Choreographer Thomas Small will team up with a group of young Dundee dancers this weekend to bring a witchcraft trial to life. The artistic director of dance company Smallpetitklein is working with Dundee Dance Partnership to create dance and movement for the piece The Confession of Isobel Goudie. Thomas is looking for around 30 children to explore the 1662 case of the young housewife tried for witchcraft. “It’s quite an ambitious project,” he said. “We are looking for boys and girls, regardless of whether they have danced before. “We will be exploring who Isobel Gourdie was, and the confessions drawn out of her about being a witch, through movement set to a piece of music by James MacMillan with an 80-piece orchestra from Edinburgh University.” Children of P7 age up to S2s from across Dundee will attend the Space on Sunday for a dance workshop from 3pm-5.15pm for the project. The Confessions of Isobel Goudie will also get children creating puppets and sculptures to make the final show on March 23 a visual spectacle. “We are trying to use the Caird Hall in a different way,” Thomas said. “Dundee audiences are used to watching action on the stage but we are hoping to take out the seats and have the action on the floor and the orchestra on the stage. “We are going to have animation, projections and puppets built on the scale of a Chinese dragon. “We are creating sculptures to sit among audience members.” The project signals the start of a very busy year for Thomas and Smallpetitklein. On Saturday night, the company is taking part in Breakin’ Rules at Dundee Rep. Smallpetitklein executive producer Emma Beatt said: “The piece we’re performing is Hippity Poppity Boo. It’s a mix of break dance and hiphop, which is different for us because normally we do contemporary dance but Thomas is trying to do more street dance.” The company is also rehearsing for a run in New York next month with its performance Within This Dust, based on 9/11. Emma said: “It’s based on 9/11 and it was inspired by the photographs by Richard Drew that capture a man falling from the World Trade Centre during the attacks. “We took it over to New York in April 2011 and they’ve asked us to go back with the full programme. In June we’re going with the same piece to Brazil to perform in Sao Paulo, Soro Caba and Santos.” Emma added: “We are also going on tour this spring all over Scotland and the UK and we’re performing at the Gardyn Theatre on March 19.”

Fife

Fife Council wages row prompts plea for restraint

March 10 2011

Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie has called for local authority leaders to show pay restraint. In an exclusive interview with The Courier, Ms Goldie urged council chiefs to remember they are funded by the tax payer. A furious spat erupted this week when figures obtained by The Courier using freedom of information legislation revealed that some local authority employees in Fife had seen their wages rise by almost 25% since the start of the global economic downturn. Those within Fife Council's chief executive department have seen their wages rise from an average of £58,498 per person in 2005-06 to £72,480 in 2009-10. Ms Goldie said rises such as that are seen as unacceptable by hard-pressed tax payers. "These are changing times and many households are struggling to make ends meet," she said. "Indeed, many families are being forced to cope with redundancy and it is extremely difficult. I think people in the public sector have to set an example." Ms Goldie believes civic leaders have a "crucial" role to play as Britain strives to emerge from a crippling economic downturn. However, she sees restraint as the only way to protect public-sector jobs in the long term. "The Conservatives are calling for a pay freeze for all public sector workers earning over £21,000," Ms Goldie continued. "That would run over the next two years and is actually all about preserving and protecting jobs."

Motoring

Review: Lexus IS 250C

April 23 2011

The IS 250C is definitively a car for grown-ups. Its handsome but understated styling, comfort-over-performance driving dynamic and elegant interior all seem designed specifically for the over-50s. The same goes for the price tag aside from the odd ultra-yah St Andrews student, few young or even youngish people will be able to afford £36,750 for the entry-level car, let alone £45,900 for the top-of-the-range SE-L Multimedia version I drove. But then the car's high price tag adds to its exclusivity, which will appeal to the kind of well-heeled buyers who frequent the more expensive side of the Lexus showroom. The IS 250C comes with a folding hard-top roof, which makes more sense in the UK as it allows the car to function as a coupe for most of the year. The three-piece roof whizzes up or down in 20 seconds, meaning the operation can be performed at traffic lights if a sudden rain shower spoils play. With the lid up there's a generous 583 litres of boot space although, in reality, the long, shallow space means it isn't as practical as that figure makes it sound. Drop the top and you reduce the boot space to a much more humble 235 litres enough for a couple of overnight bags, but not much more. But then you've got the back seats for extra stowage space. The IS 250C has more room in the rear than most convertibles enough to squeeze adults in for a short hop but they're clearly only meant for occasional use. There's just one power option for the IS 250C and that's a 2.5 litre V6. Its headline figure of 205bhp is impressive but where all those horses go, I do not know. What's certain is not all of them make their way to the driven rear wheels 0-62mph in nine seconds is not an impressive time for a car with 205bhp under the bonnet. But then, the IS 250C is made for cruising not racing: its V6 unit is as smooth as they come and is whisper quiet unless revved hard, when it emits a dignified purr. The brake and accelerator are fairly heavily weighted, requiring a good deal of pressure before they respond. This is something I like cars with feather-light controls cause my big clodhoppers problems but others may disagree. Top up or down, the suspension is excellent and it takes a particularly savage pothole to unsettle the car. With its weighty controls and absence of hot-hatch pace, it isn't the most agile car in the world but it has plenty of grip and will hustle through bends when required. The touchscreen buttons for stereo and heating controls look great and make the dashboard look neat and minimalist, but they're a bit of a pain to use and by the end of my week with the car I was hankering for old-fashioned buttons. All IS 250Cs come with parking sensors, which are essential as rear visibility is poor, and the range-topping model adds a reversing camera as well as an excellent Mark Levinson stereo, hard-disk satnav and Bluetooth connectivity. If you can live without some of those goodies I'm sure the basic stereo system still sounds pretty good you'd be better off going for the entry-level version. At £37,000, the IS 250C makes sense. At £46,000, it does not. Price: £45,900.0-62mph: 9.0sec.Top speed: 130mph. Economy: 30.7mpg. CO2 emissions: 213g/km.

Rocktalk

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.

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