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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

Other sports

22 positive results in re-tests of London Olympics samples

May 27 2016

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has vowed to keep the dopers away from Rio after positive tests were returned on 23 athletes who competed at London 2012. The reanalysis of 265 selected doping samples follows work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and respective international federations since August 2015. It was mainly focused on athletes who could potentially participate in Rio and seems certain to lead to bans from this summer's Olympics. "These reanalyses show, once again, our determination in the fight against doping," said Bach. "We want to keep the dopers away from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. This is why we are acting swiftly now. "I have already appointed a disciplinary commission, which has the full power to take all the decisions on behalf of the IOC." The new findings cover five different sports and six international federations, and were all based on intelligence-gathering that began 10 months ago. The IOC says the reanalysis programme is ongoing, with the possibility of more results in the weeks to come. Last week the IOC announced that up to 31 athletes could be banned from competing at Rio 2016 after the reanalysis of 454 samples from the 2008 Games in Beijing. In the meantime, one more sample from Beijing has shown abnormal parameters, which the IOC and the respective international federation will follow up. The IOC says the reanalysis of samples from Beijing and London was performed using the latest scientific methods. The athletes, national Olympic committees and international federations concerned are already being informed, after which the proceedings against the athletes can begin. All athletes found to have infringed the anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at Rio. Doping scandals have plagued the build-up to this summer's Games with Russia under investigation following a report by WADA suggesting systematic doping in that country. Russia has confirmed that 14 of their athletes, including some medallists, figured in the positive Beijing Games reanalysis figures. Track and field athletes from Russia are currently suspended pending an investigation into the scandal. Athletics' world governing body the IAAF will decide on June 17 whether Russia has done enough to clean up its act in order to be readmitted to competition in time for the Rio Olympics, which start on August 5. There is also the prospect of a second major WADA investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. That inquiry is scheduled to publish its findings in mid-July, and last week Bach suggested it is potentially so damaging that the entire Russian delegation could be excluded from Rio.

UK & World

Plea postponed for man accused of PC Gordon Semple murder

June 29 2016

The plea has been postponed in the case of a man accused of strangling and dismembering a police officer he met on gay dating website Grindr. Italian Stefano Brizzi, 50, allegedly murdered 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple at his London flat some time between April 1 and April 7. Mr Semple was originally from Inverness in Scotland and had been with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years. He went missing on April 1 and his remains were discovered a week later after a neighbour alerted Scotland Yard to a "smell of death" coming from a property on the Peabody Estate in Southwark Street, south London. Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC has already set a provisional date for Brizzi to face trial on October 18. The defendant appeared before the Old Bailey judge by video link from top-security Belmarsh prison. Wearing sunglasses and a white and beige tracksuit, he spoke only to confirm his name. Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC asked for the plea hearing to be put back to September 9. Judge Hilliard agreed the new timetable and remanded Brizzi in custody until the next hearing.

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.


The charm and mystique of China

February 25 2016

China and the Far East are steeped in mystery and this allure has drawn its visitors from afar for many years. Asia is a real melting pot of ancient cultures and religions all inhabiting this exotic landscape and away from the bustling cities of China there is lush countryside and idyllic beaches to be enjoyed too. China offers a myriad of adventures for the holidaymaker; a real assault on the senses and an experience you’ll never forget. For adventurous holidaymakers, this enigmatic land offers a real taste of the Orient and a peek into the identity and culture of its inhabitants. Such is the diversity of China and its 5000 years of fascinating history; this vast country is becoming a popular choice for inquisitive and discerning travellers. Steeped in charm and mystique, The People’s Republic of China offers a whole host of delights on a long haul holiday. A destination incomparable to anywhere else on the planet, China’s key attractions are luring tourists from all over the globe and they’re sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who goes there. These landmarks will give visitors a greater understanding of the country’s history and traditions but simply spending time among its people on the city streets probably captures the essence and spirit of China at its best. China is huge and even the most experienced travellers could never pack everything it has to offer into a two week holiday. Don’t even try to. Why not plan a slower placed trip, taking in the highlights but do factor in some free time to explore the cities and landscapes. A simple stroll through one of the parks to breathe in the fragrance of plumb blossom or observe locals practicing Tai Chi is a great way of soaking up the atmosphere of this unique and vibrant country. Ancient treasures and rhythms happily co-exist with modern day commodities and is fast becoming a 21st century superpower. Go on; take a step into this fascinating land and create memories to last a lifetime. Top Attractions:Forbidden City, Beijing The Great Wall of China Tiananmen Square, Beijing The Summer Palace, Beijing The Ming Tombs, near Beijing International world-class nightlife of Shanghai Potala Palace, Lhasa Water Gardens and Grand Canal of Suzhou Beaches and water sports at Hainan Island Shopping for tea and silks in Hangzhou Kowloon Bay, Hong KongBeing in any new country can be tiring new sights and sounds, complex languages to process and decode and there’s also the strain of doing things differently to keep within the rules of local custom and etiquette. Here are a few handy tips to help you. Etiquette Dos and Don’ts:The Chinese are renowned for their reserved politeness and good manners. Do try to respect all local customs and traditions Do try to learn a few words and phrases in Mandarin. The locals will appreciate even the smallest of efforts Dress conservatively. Shorts are rarely worn except in beach resorts Women should avoid very short skirts and should cover shoulders, particularly when visiting sacred temples Do ask permission before taking anyone’s photograph Photography is often prohibited in airports, museums and all military areasWhat to take: What you pack will largely depend on what you are planning to do and where you plan to go. Overall, smart casual, conservative clothes and good, comfortable footwear for sightseeing days! For current Health and Entry Requirements click link Latest Deals : For the latest deals on packages to China have a look at what talkholiday have to offer: Be Adventurous & Discover The Enigmatic Land Of China, 7 Nights In Beijing From £516pp

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

UK & World

China vows ‘counterattack’ as US trade spat worsens

April 6 2018

China’s government has vowed to “counterattack with great strength” if Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to raise US tariffs on an additional 100 billion dollars of Chinese goods.The US president on Thursday instructed the US trade representative to consider the additional tariffs.The surprise move came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax 50 billion dollars in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a US move to slap tariffs on 50 billion dollars in Chinese imports. In Beijing, a Commerce Ministry spokesman said China does not want a trade war — but is not afraid to fight one.“If the US side announces the list of products for 100 billion dollars in tariffs, the Chinese side has fully prepared and will without hesitation counterattack with great strength,” spokesman Gao Feng said.He gave no details of what measures Beijing might take.Mr Trump’s proposal intensified what was already shaping up to be the biggest trade battle since the Second World War.Global financial markets had fallen sharply as the world’s two biggest economies squared off over Beijing’s aggressive trade tactics. They calmed down on Wednesday and Thursday on hopes the two would find a diplomatic solution but slid on Friday after Beijing said it would fight the Trump administration’s latest threats.The White House announced after the markets closed on Thursday that Mr Trump had instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether 100 billion dollars of additional tariffs would be appropriate and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to.He has also instructed his secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests”.“China’s illicit trade practices — ignored for years by Washington — have destroyed thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs,” Mr Trump said in a statement announcing the decision.The latest escalation comes after the US on Tuesday said it would impose 25% duties on 50 billion dollars of imports from China, and Beijing quickly retaliated by listing 50 billion dollars of products it could hit with its own 25% tariffs.The Chinese list included soybeans, the biggest US export to China, and aircraft up to 45 tons in weight. Also on the list were American beef, whiskey, passenger vehicles and industrial chemicals.Earlier in the week, Beijing announced separate import duties on 3 billion dollars of US goods in response to the Trump administration’s duties on all steel and aluminium imports, including from China.US officials have sought to downplay the threat of a broader trade dispute, saying a negotiated outcome is still possible, but economists warn that the tit-for-tat moves bear the hallmarks of a classic trade rift that could escalate. Already, the tensions have rattled global stock markets.US trade representative Robert Lighthizer called China’s move “unjustified” and said Mr Trump’s proposal was an “appropriate response to China’s recent threat of new tariffs”.“Such measures would undoubtedly cause further harm to American workers, farmers, and businesses,” he said in a statement.“Under these circumstances, the president is right to ask for additional appropriate action to obtain the elimination of the unfair acts, policies and practices identified in USTR’s report.”

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.

UK & World

US proposes 25% tariffs on Chinese imports

April 4 2018

The Trump administration has escalated its aggressive actions on trade by proposing 25% tariffs on 50 billion dollars-worth (£27 billion) of Chinese imports to protest Beijing’s policies that require foreign companies to hand over their technology.China immediately said it would retaliate against the new tariffs, which target high-tech industries that Beijing has been nurturing, from advanced manufacturing and aerospace to information technology and robotics.The Office of the US Trade Representative issued a list targeting 1,300 Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecommunications equipment. The suggested tariffs would not take effect right way: A public comment period will last until May 11, and a hearing on the tariffs is set for May 15.Companies and consumers will have the opportunity to lobby to have some products taken off the list or have others added.The latest US move risks heightening trade tensions with China, which on Monday had slapped taxes on three billion dollars-worth of US products in response to earlier US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.“China’s going to be compelled to lash back,” warned Philip Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an economic adviser to President George W Bush.Early on Wednesday in Beijing, China’s Commerce Ministry said it “strongly condemns and firmly opposes” the proposed US tariffs and warned of retaliatory action.“We will prepare equal measures for US products with the same scale” according to regulations in Chinese trade law, a ministry spokesman said in comments carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.The US sanctions are intended to punish China for using strong-arm tactics in its drive to become a global technology power. These include pressuring American companies to share technology to gain access to the Chinese market, forcing US firms to license their technology in China on unfavourable terms and even hacking into US companies’ computers to steal trade secrets.The administration sought to draw up the list of targeted Chinese goods in a way that might limit the impact of the tariffs – a tax on imports – on American consumers while hitting Chinese imports that benefit from Beijing’s sharp-elbowed tech policies. But some critics that American will end up being hurt.“If you’re hitting 50 billion dollars in trade, you’re inevitably going to hurt somebody, and somebody is going to complain,” said Rod Hunter, a former economic official at the National Security Council and now a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP.Even representatives of American business, which have complained for years that China has pilfered US technology and discriminated against US companies, were critical of the administration’s latest action.“Unilateral tariffs may do more harm than good and do little to address the problems in China’s (intellectual property) and tech transfer policies,” said John Frisbie, president of the US-China Business Council.Even some technology groups contending directly with Chinese competition expressed misgivings.“The Trump administration is right to push back against China’s abuse of economic and trade policy,” said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation think tank. “But imposing tariffs on producer goods will inadvertently hurt Americans through reduced capital investment and lower productivity growth.”