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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.

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

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.


Tayport solar farm connection delay threat to subsidy

February 3 2017

A solar farm near Tayport could lose government subsidy after councillors delayed giving the green light for its connection to the grid, it has been claimed. Around 5,000 panels are to be installed west of Kirkton Barns Farm but developer Sel PV 03 warned that unless the go-ahead was given on Wednesday to lay an underground cable connecting the site to a substation at Pickletillum it would lose the subsidy. Although it approved the laying of a cable for another solar farm at Cameron, members of Fife Council’s north-east Fife area committee deferred determination of the Kirkton Barns planning application due to a legal challenge to information in the firm’s land ownership certificate. There was also criticism from Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett of what he said was poor consultation over the scheme and a failure to offer a community benefit payment. He said: “This particular developer has not adequately consulted with the community. A whole series of questions were asked and no answers given. “The community does not understand why it is being treated differently to others.” Financial contributions such as those offered to nearby Wormit, where a solar farm has been built by another company, were usual for such developments, he said. He said: “We have not had an offer for this particular development. This has caused considerable concern to the residents who live along this particular route. “Some form of contribution would go some way to hopefully putting right the problems that might occur.” A joint letter of objection from several residents of Kirkton Barns said there was no demonstrated benefit to the community who would suffer the inconvenience of having cables laid along the Q3 road while the applicant would gain substantially. Planning permission was given for the solar farm itself in 2015 to Green Power Consultants. Planner Ewen Campbell said: “The proposal for an underground cable would not have a long term impact in the community or wider environment. “It would not be appropriate to insist on a contribution in this instance.” The five-megawatt solar farm south of Cameron Reservoir will be connected to a substation in St Andrews.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath will enjoy Round Table’s ToonFest in July

February 23 2012

A drinks and musical festival is set to appear on Arbroath's summer calendar. It follows the successful BarnFest events at Carmyllie Farm. Arbroath Round Table is now launching ToonFest on the weekend of Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, which it's hoped will become an annual event. Arbroath's first ever ToonFest will take place in the community centre with a host of live acts from Angus performing over the weekend. Music includes The Declaration Band headlining the Friday night and Smoke House playing two sets on the Saturday. ToonFest will also incorporate the Round Table club's first world lager festival with around 20 bottled lagers from around the globe on offer alongside the wines and spirits. Tickets will start at £5 and every penny raised will go to charities, groups and good causes in the Arbroath area.Sellout eventsJamie Buchan, event spokesman for Arbroath Round Table, said: ''This event has been in the planning for a couple of months now and we are putting the final key pieces into place with tickets going on sale soon. ''There has been a lot of advance interest in tickets as our BarnFests were always a sellout with a crowd of 450. ''There are just over 1,200 tickets available so if you want to register interest for a ticket simply go to our website www.arbroathtoonfest.co.uk and follow the instructions under the 'tickets' tab." He added: ''Those who pre-register will have access to purchase your tickets 48 hours before general public sale. ''Also, if you are a local singer, band or party DJ, please get in touch with us as we'd love to hear you and see about showcasing your talent at the event. ''You can contact us via our website.'' Barnfest 2010, at Mains of Carmyllie Farm, featured an evening of live local talent. Around £10,000 was raised on the night and distributed throughout the community to individuals and groups requiring help.

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

Perth & Kinross

Masked robber Brian Blair’s ‘spark of humanity’ earns him reduced jail term

February 8 2011

The "spark of humanity" shown by a thief as he robbed a couple in their Perthshire home helped him receive a reduced jail term. At Perth Sheriff Court, Brian Blair was told by Sheriff Michael Fletcher that by allowing one of his victims access to her medication, he ensured the offence was not dealt with at a higher level. The 50-year-old from Glasgow was jailed for five years for his part in a masked raid at the Dalcrue Auto Salvage yard near Pitcairngreen, with his sentence being cut by nine months. Brother Thomas Blair, who has a similarly lengthy criminal record, was ordered to carry out 120 hours' community service. He had initially stood accused of playing a central role in the robbery, but the Crown accepted a simple guilty plea from the 47-year-old to a charge of resetting a number of items stolen from the yard. Brian Blair was one of three robbers two unidentified by the Crown who burst into the home of Gordon Barnes (57) and Annabelle Hutchison (59) in November 2009. They had been led to believe large sums of money were kept at the premises, and acting under the mistaken impression the couple were the owners of the business subjected them to an hour of mental and physical torture.ThreatenedMr Barnes and Ms Hutchison were bound hand and foot and repeatedly threatened with violence by the men. A bag was placed over Mr Barnes' head so he could not see the treatment being given to his partner, while she was left believing he was about to be killed as the assailants dragged him from their home and threw him into the River Almond. Eventually they realised the truth of the couple's claims and fled the house with just an iPod and a couple of telephones. As Brian Blair pled guilty at an earlier court appearance, depute fiscal Charmaine Cole told the court three men had entered the couple's home through an insecure rear door at around 8.45pm and caught the couple by surprise. Ms Hutchison looked up from her book to find a masked man standing at the foot of her bed. She was led to the living room where her wrists and ankles were tied and she was placed on the floor alongside her partner, who was already bound. A plastic bag was placed over Mr Barnes' head, rendering him unable to see, as the assailants began to focus upon his terrified partner. She was pulled to the floor and dragged around the cabin as the demands continued. It was at this point Brian Blair momentarily pulled up his balaclava, enabling Ms Hutchison to catch a glimpse of his face.SearchFollowing a search of the house they were still without any of the money they had expected to find and so turned their attention to Mr Barnes, who they struck on the head with a blunt object before dragging him from the cabin into the river, where he was left for some minutes. Depute fiscal Charmaine Cole told the court it was becoming clear to the masked men the couple were telling the truth. Ms Hutchison then became unwell and Brian Blair is said to have fetched her angina medication, saving him from a trip to the High Court and a likely extended prison sentence. The couple sustained only minor injuries. Brian Blair, of Fingal Street, Glasgow, pled guilty to a single charge that in November 2009, he assaulted Annabelle Hutchison and Gordon Barnes and attempted to them. The items stolen were later passed to Thomas Blair at his home in Wyndford Road, Glasgow, with the Crown accepting he had no knowledge of the robbery and the fact it was to take place. Advocate Tony Lenehen appeared on behalf of Brian Blair and attempted to downplay his client's past indiscretions and criminal record, which runs to around 40 charges. His victims said they were relieved the guilty plea had spared them the trauma of facing him again in court. Charges against a former co-accused, Isaac McPhee, were dropped by the Crown.

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.