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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...


News feature: a tale of two cities

June 26 2010

As The Courier continues its series of Energising Scotland articles looking at the prospects of a renewable energy jobs boom, another area where Dundee could be about to undergo a revolution is with plans to bring an outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum to the waterfront. Maura Bowman explores the theme of reinvention. Picture a city built on a river a city whose wealth was built on shipbuilding and heavy industries, but which has fallen on hard times with their decline. Unemployment is high and the perception of outsiders is not flattering. They don't see a vibrant city bristling with potential just an area of grey, depressing urban decay. Now look ahead less than 20 years. A major water improvement project has cleaned up the river, and the city, which boasts two universities, has reinvented itself as a high-tech hotspot. A new technology park has been built and the old dockland area is being redeveloped, winning architectural plaudits. More importantly, the city has had the vision to kickstart its economy by reinventing itself as a cultural hub. In doing so, it has attracted some of the world's leading architects and much of the regeneration has focused on a major project the building of an iconic waterside museum that draws around a million visitors every year, 80% drawn from outside the local area. And the city has scored something of a coup by becoming one of the few locations on earth to boast a building designed by internationally-renowned architect Frank Gehry. With Gehry's Maggie's Centre sitting in the grounds of Ninewells Hospital and plans to bring an outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum to Dundee, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an optimistic glimpse of the city on the Tay a few years down the line. You would be wrong, though. Welcome to Bilbao, Spain's fourth largest city and home of the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. From a standing start, Bilbao has become a must-see for cultural tourists. Tourism was virtually non-existent in the city before the Guggenheim opened in 1997. By the museum's 10th anniversary it made up five percent of the local economy. Over the same period, the number of visitors leapt from 169,000 each year to 623,000. No surprise, then, that eight new hotels had to open to cope with the demand. Last year alone, the Guggenheim is credited with attracting around 205 million to the region and supporting more than 3600 jobs. And what Bilbao has done, Dundee can do, albeit on a smaller scale. Indeed, according to Juan Alayo, director of urban regeneration company Bilbao Ria 2000, the city on the Tay has even more going for it. "With institutions such as Dundee Contemporary Arts well established, there's already a strong precedent," he is on record as saying. "It will be easier to make a successful enterprise, because it builds on an enormous education and design background." He has backed Dundee's desire for a building that "makes a statement of people's ambition and confidence." She goes on: "in the end, we are talking about highly costly public investments that must generate either a clear social or economic return on investment. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was a very risky project, but it is on the right track to being worth the huge risk and investment." In a recent visit to Dundee, she also pointed out that Dundee has something that Bilbao doesn't a naturally beautiful setting. One further point to remember: in Bilbao, they had to fight every step of the way to push the Guggenheim plans through, with many considering it madness to throw money at a museum when times were hard. While the people of Dundee may have been initially sceptical about the likelihood of the V&A plans coming to fruition, their doubts have largely been overcome and the project now prompts a new air of excitement and optimism. If goodwill and enthusiasm can win the day, Dundee is already streets ahead.

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.


VIDEO: The Courier visits Bilbao to discover how the V&A can give Dundee its own ‘Guggenheim Effect’

February 11 2015

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is often held up as the example Dundee should aspire to with its V&A project. The Courier's Graeme Ogston visited to find out how Dundee can gain its own "Guggenheim Effect". “The speed of the construction is very important, so people can see the change,” says Guggenheim Bilbao’s Begona Martinez-Goyenga. “Politicians and citizens who said it was crazy and really expensive and that we were wasting people’s money now are very proud and think it is the best thing in the city. “It has put Bilbao on the international map. Most of us couldn’t see that before.” Their new-found appreciation is understandable. Visited by over one million people last year, demand generated by the museum’s activities in 2014 was around 336m euros, with additional tax revenue to the Basque treasuries of 45.7 million euros. Work began at the rundown industrial waterfront area in 1993 and the museum opened to the public in October 1997, an incredible achievement given the scale and complexity of the Frank Gehry-designed building. One factor was the use of skilled former shipbuilders who were familiar working with large, complex curved metal structures. Ms Martinez-Goyenga, associate director of communications and marketing at the museum, said: “The construction time was not too long, four years from nothing to everything. "It was quite easy to begin seeing the benefits of the building and why we chose Frank Gehry, the best in the world, and were not more modest. Now people love the museum.” The building also came in under its $100 million budget, which was watched like a hawk by those involved. “We worked with a cost model,” Ms Martinez-Goyenaga said. “We had an amount and we could not go over." There was a close collaboration between the architect and the executive architect. “So, if (the budget) grew in one part we had to come down in another one.The budget was quite ambitious, but it was not a small one which needed to grow to be possible.” Public opinion remained divided during the early stages of the building’s construction. Ms Martinez-Goyenaga said: “There were two views. The biggest was people who didn’t think it was a good idea because it was a very large and expensive project and people always think there are other priorities. “It’s difficult to visualise something like that, because there was nothing there (at the site). “It was like an idea that some people could imagine at the end of it, but most of us couldn’t. Ms Martinez-Goyenaga said the pre-Guggenheim waterfront area was not one she visited as a child. “Bilbao is an industrial city,” she said. “There were factories by the river that were closed. It was quite dirty and ugly there and people couldn’t go walking by the river. “The Guggenheim project allowed us to recover this side of the river and now it is the most popular area for the locals and visitors. It is the most beautiful place in the city. “It was a place you couldn’t stay before. It was not ready for people and families and tourists at all.” Only €28m of the income generated last year was actually spent in the museum with the area seeing the wider benefits. “The other amount was spent in hospitality, retail sales, cultural activity and transportation,” Ms Martinez-Goyenaga said. “The economic impact is very big. There was a perception we should change our model of city if we wanted to have more visitors. “Now four or five times a year you can see big exhibitions of the biggest artists in the world. “That has changed the interest of the normal people who were not used to this. “Now we feel very proud and we feel more cosmopolitan as well.”'It represents the regeneration of a city'Local feeling once ran so high against the Guggenheim Bilbao that protests were even held outside the construction site. Iaki Esteban, author of TheGuggenheim Effect, and a journalist forBilbao newspaper El Correo, said mostpeople were against the museum becausethe Basque country was in a “really badsituation” at the time. He said: “At that time it wasimpossible to see a museumregenerate the city.During the constructionthere were demonstrationsin front of the building byartists and unions. "Therewas a very strong opposition,not just from those people butalso from the Nationalistparty, which is quitetraditional in thecultural sense. “They asked whyweshould havean American museum.The mainpoint wasdo we need a museum or should we investthe money in other things like industry?” Mr Esteban said the turning point onlycame when the museum opened. He said: “In the first three monthsthere were a lot of people coming from allover the world and that was a sign for thepeople to change their minds. “The public opinion here is usuallyquite emotional. If you askedthem twenty years ago and said it wouldregenerate the city and bring jobs,people didn’t believe you. It was quiteimpossible to imagine theGuggenheim would have that effect. “When you have something like amuseum and people come from allover the world, you reflect and lookat the Guggenheim and say wow,it’s beautiful and I ambeautiful also. So the pride comes out of thepeople. "It representsthe regeneration of acity reborn out ofnothing.”'Trust and reliability are very important'A leading Bilbao academic says honestyover the budget of major developments likethe Guggenheim and V&A at Dundee is vitalto win public trust. Last week the Courier revealed that theScottish Government knew months beforethe public that the cost of the V&A would farexceed the initial £45 million budget. Professor of cultural economics at theUniversity of the Basque Country, BeatrizPlaza said: “In the case of Bilbao, everythingwas planned beforehand. The deviation inbudget was close to zero. “Trust and reliability are very important inthese cases.I’m surprised they (Dundee) didn’t revealthe real budget in the very beginning. In thecase of the Guggenheim, it was more expensive than the V&A Dundee, but even sothey set the real figure from the start.” Ms Plaza said that the Guggenheim wasone of the only publicly-funded parts ofBilbao’s 2,000 million euros transformation,which included a new airport, subway andsewage system. She said: “During a large regenerationproject, you need a quick win. Something thatpeople can see the benefits of straight away. The Guggenheim was a quick win. "But it’s not enough to just have a nicebuilding. The official discourse is investing to attract tourism, it doesn’t work that way. "Citizens of the city have to feel their quality oflife improves. They use the city moreintensively in the public spaces so whentourists come they feel comfortable, becausethey mix with local people. "Tourists are notlike monkeys in cages - they like to mix withlocals and have a taste of the city.”

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.


Villarreal slump to home defeat to Athletic Bilbao

April 9 2018

Inigo Cordoba, Inaki Williams and Iker Muniain scored to seal Athletic Bilbao’s 3-1 LaLiga win at Villarreal.Twenty-one-year-old forward Cordoba bagged his first ever top-flight goal, while Williams tucked away his sixth strike of the league campaign.And Muniain toasted his return from a knee injury by climbing off the bench to notch the travelling outfit’s third.The visitors ended a run of three games without a win in all competitions, moving up one place to 12th in the table in the process.Cordoba put them ahead in the fourth minute, tucking home neatly after being teed up by Williams.Bilbao took the slender advantage into the break and then quickly doubled that lead when Williams drilled home.Carlos Bacca, the Colombian on loan at Villarreal from AC Milan, hit his 10th league goal this term to make it 2-1, but they could not mount a comeback and Muniain made the points safe late on.Villarreal’s miserable night was complete when centre-back Alvaro was sent off at the death.


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.

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.