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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...


Munro crossed off bagging list after being reclassified

August 13 2011

Scotland's tally of Munros could drop by one to 282, following the release of new satellite data. The Munro Society of Scotland met in Perth on Tuesay and revealed that Beinn a'Chlaidheimh in Fisherfield Forest, near Ullapool, misses the cut-off by just 44 centimetres the height of an Ordnance Survey map. Members of the society, who have each climbed every Munro, used the latest satellite equipment to accurately measure the mountain and two other summits in the remote forest. Beinn a'Chlaidheimh, previously mapped at 916 metres, was recorded at 913.96 metres. Scotland's Munros must exceed 914.4 metres (3000 feet). Beinn Dearg Mor, a Corbett, was recorded at 906.28m while the previous Ordnance Survey map height was 910m. The third mountain, Ruadh Stac Mor, was measured by the society at 918.67m. The OS map measurement was a slightly smaller 918.65m. The society set about re-recording the heights of mountains just below and just above the Munro threshold back in 2007, resulting in Sgurr nan Ceannaichean in Wester Ross being re-classified as a Corbett in 2009. The official decision must be taken by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, after the results are verified by Ordnance Survey. Iain Robertson (75) from Perth led the recent survey expedition. Mr Robertson, who "bagged" all the country's Munros between 1953 and 1963, encouraged aspiring mountaineers to try and complete the feat saying it was his proudest achievement.Will not diminish experienceThere are 250 members of the exclusive climbing club, reaching from the far Highlands to Bristol and the Netherlands. Mr Robertson said, "In measuring the heights of mountains just below and just above 3000ft, 914.4m, we believe we are following in the tradition of accurate measurement established by Sir Hugh Munro who first produced the Munro's Tables in 1891. "Munro and his friends relied on aneroid barometers, the technology of the time. "In 2011 we use satellite technology to achieve yet greater accuracy, but we seek the same objective. "Munro never set down complete criteria for Munro status before his death in 1919, but it has always been accepted that 3000ft was the primary requirement." He added, "It seems unlikely that the thousands who enjoy the Scottish mountains every year will stop climbing them if and when their status in the tables changes. "All remain fine mountains in their own right and the experience enjoyed in ascending their slopes is in no way diminished." It is believed that any changes recorded are a result of better equipment rather than geographic alterations. Mr Robertson said, "Perthshire is surrounded by a number of impressive Munros and from an early age I was always eager to summit them. "After climbing a few I got the bug and decided I wanted to complete them all, which took me just under 10 years."

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


Archie’s Mountain Challenge begins with six of the best

June 1 2015

Toes were dipped into the freezing North Sea, cyclists covered dozens of miles and six Archies were bagged all in just one day. Archie’s Mountain Challenge a record-breaking attempt to scale every peak in Scotland that measures more than 1,000m, all 130 of them kicked off on Saturday in the form of a relay. An intrepid team of athletes, consisting of staff from Ninewells Hospital, their friends and family, are running up the mountains in a bid to raise vital funds for Tayside Children’s Hospital’s twin operating theatres. As each peak is conquered, the team will (unofficially) name the mountains Archies.Starting with a ceremonial toe-dip in the North Sea, near Dingwall marked by a rousing bagpipe recital by Alison Geddes, a staff nurse on the children’s surgical ward at Ninewells the relay team then cycled to the foot of Ben Wyvis, where they were greeted by a crowd of cheering supporters. They passed the relay baton Archie’s rabbit mascot to a group of hill runners who sprinted up the peak. These mega-fit athletes were followed by groups of walkers, who climbed the 1,046m mountain at a more sedate pace.Among those who reached the top was nine-year-old Isaac McCabe, who was born at 29 weeks. Isaac’s mum, Amanda, consultant paediatric surgeon at Ninewells, told me: “Today was a big day. Lots of people who have premature babies don’t know what the future holds they can be very sick. We’re building facilities for kids like Isaac in Dundee.” Having conquered Ben Wyvis, the team cycled to and ran up Beinn Dearg, two peaks on An Teallach and two Fannichs a total of six ARCHIEs. The challenge will finish around June 20 at the Rest and Be Thankful at Arrochar.The full challenge is expected to last between two and three weeks. See more and support the challenge by visiting www.archiesmountainchallenge.org.uk.

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


ARCHIE Mountain Challenge gets underway

May 30 2015

Running shoes on, rabbit mascot at the ready the ARCHIE’s Mountain Challenge kicks off today. The challenge, the brainchild of Ninewells consultant paediatric anaesthetist Dr Paul Fettes, is a record-breaking attempt to scale every Scottish mountain above 1km all 130 of them in the form of a human-powered relay. Around 50 athletes will walk and run over the peaks and cycle and, in one instance, kayak between them. Why are they doing this? To raise vital funds to help sick children across Courier Country to access the best possible facilities and equipment, and to support their families. As each peak is conquered, the team will (unofficially) name the mountains ARCHIEs. The team are carrying a relay baton in the form of a cuddly toy ARCHIE’s rabbit with a GPS locator on its back so you can follow their progress live at www.archiesmountainchallenge.org.ukThe first peak on the list is Ben Wyvis, an isolated and bulky Munro (1,046m) some 35 miles north of Inverness, rising like an elephant from the moors of Easter Ross. Before they begin climbing, the team are planning a toe dip at sea level in the chilly Cromarty Firth near Dingwall. They’ll then cycle to the base of Ben Wyvis and run to the top with ARCHIE’s rabbit, named Rabbie. While the main relay part of the challenge is the domain of experienced fell runners and cyclists, three community walks including today’s jaunt up Ben Wyvis take place over the next three weeks. There are still spaces available for the walks up Lochnagar on June 6 and Schiehallion on June 13. Once Ben Wyvis has been bagged, the relay team will cycle north where the runners will take the baton up Beinn Dearg (1,084m) in Inverlael. They’re also hoping to conquer An Teallach (1,062m) and two of the Fannichs. And all in one day! The challenge finishes around June 20 at the Rest and Be Thankful at Arrochar. Readers can sponsor ARCHIE’s rabbit to climb the mountains or they can make a donation. The charity is aiming to raise £2 million and stresses every penny raised in Tayside stays in Tayside.


ARCHIE’s Mountain Challenge not being held back by the elements

June 2 2015

It’s day four of ARCHIE’S Mountain Challenge a record-breaking attempt to scale every peak in Scotland measuring more than 1,000m. A team of intrepid athletes, made up of staff from Ninewells Hospital, ran up 10 of the 130 peaks at the weekend and the aim was to conquer seven of them on Monday. Having climbed Ben Wyvis first thing on Saturday, the team ran up Beinn Dearg, two peaks on An Teallach and two Fannichs in the dark! On Sunday, they took on mighty Mullach Coire, Beinn Eighe and two peaks on Liathach, before cycling 11 miles over the Cuillin Pass. Dr Paul Fettes, the man behind the challenge, said: “Cloud and strong winds caused a wrong turn on Liathach but we soon got back on track and managed the rocky ridge to the second summit.” Within sight of the end, he sprinted downhill with glory of a strong finish in his mind... and ran into a large bog! “In between squalls, there were some clear periods and it was spectacularly beautiful,” said Paul. “We’re conscious of the fact that we are not conquering these mountains, merely enjoying the privilege of spending time in them.” As the team adventure into Scottish wilderness we’ll do our best to update you on their progress every day. ARCHIE’s Mountain Challenge is raising funds for Tayside Children’s Hospital’s twin operating theatres. To make a donation and follow the team, see www.archiesmountainchallenge.org.uk.

Perth & Kinross

Two climbers “very, very lucky” to have survived overnight mountain ordeal

January 29 2018

Two climbers who were missing for almost 24 hours in Highland Perthshire would not have survived a second night in the hills, experts have said. Around 30 rescuers battled “atrocious” weather conditions on Friday night in the hunt for the pair in the mountains north of Blair Atholl. The men, who are both in their 40s, were described as “lightly equipped” for the season and had become trapped at 3,000ft on Beinn Dearg in blizzard conditions. The alarm was raised when they failed to return home at 5pm on Friday. Following an 18-hour search they were found north west of the summit of the Munro by a Coastguard search and rescue helicopter. They were airlifted to Pitlochry at around 1.45pm suffering from hypothermia. Stuart Johnston, team leader of Tayside Mountain Rescue, said the conditions on the mountain made for a challenging search. He said: “The weather conditions on Friday evening were atrocious – high winds, blizzard conditions on the high ground and very, very, challenging for the rescuers. “Where we found them is an extremely remote area of Scotland – they were approximately 14 miles from the nearest road. “They had a very, very lucky escape from the mountain. “They did a very good job surviving the night but they were extremely fortunate to have survived, no question about it. They were mildly hypothermic when they were found but recovered quickly. “If we hadn’t found them by late afternoon the prediction was they were unlikely to have survived. They would not have survived a second night – they didn’t have enough equipment.” Stuart also warned of the dangers of relying on mobile phones to navigate in the mountains. He said: “They planned a route but hit serious weather in the late afternoon and managed to get into navigation difficulties. They became disorientated and headed further north off the mountain than they had intended and got stuck overnight. “They were lightly equipped for the mountains and a winter journey. A big issue is people using mobile phone mapping software to navigate in the mountains. “The problem they have is their batteries run down and they have no conventional mapping or navigation skills to get themselves back out again. “With conventional maps you don’t need batteries.”

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.