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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Scotland

MEPs asked to back calorie counts on alcohol

April 29 2015

Alcoholic drinks are contributing to obesity and should come with mandatory calorie counts, the chairwoman of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has urged. Fiona Sim said she wanted to see labels on drinks set out calorific content in addition to alcohol content, while restaurant and bar menus should also carry the information. Writing in the BMJ, she said research had found the public support the move, which is due to be voted on by MEPs today. Alcoholic drinks that contain more than 1.2% alcohol by volume are exempt from EU regulations on nutritional labelling that came into force in 2011 covering all food and soft drinks. Research conducted last year by the RSPH found widespread public support for calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks, with more than two-thirds (67%) approving. "It is impossible to ignore our failure to deal with obesity," Dr Sim wrote. "Daily, in clinical and public health practice, we see its costs to individuals and society. "Drinking alcohol is common and, in excess, harmful. To what extent do the calories consumed in alcohol contribute to the obesity epidemic?" She said research by the RSPH last year found that 80% of 2,000 adults surveyed did not know the calorie content of common drinks, and most were completely unaware that alcohol contributed to the calories they consumed. Among adults who drink, an estimated 10% of their daily calorie intake comes from alcohol. Most women did not realise that two large glasses of wine, containing 370 calories, comprise almost a fifth of their daily recommended energy intake, as well as containing more than the recommended daily limit of alcohol units. Dr Sim said some alcoholic drink manufacturers had already begun to introduce nutritional labelling. She also suggested that clinicians, who regularly ask their patients about their weight, eating habits and levels of exercise, should ask them how many calories they are likely to consume through alcohol. "There is no reason why calories in alcohol should be treated any differently from those in food," she added. A spokesman for the Portman Group, which represents alcohol producers, said: "A number of drinks companies and retailers are already taking voluntary action when it comes to calorie labels, but we live in a digital age and should be thinking innovatively about how people access information, not just focusing on product labels which are limited in size and space. "The drinks industry fund Drinkaware - the alcohol education charity - who provide alcohol content and calorie information on their website and via your smartphone. "However, it must always be the alcohol content not the calorie content of a product that should primarily inform consumer choice. This is why the drinks industry have labelled 80% of products on shelf with unit content, lower risk guidelines and 90% with a warning about alcohol and pregnancy - priority information agreed with the Department of Health."

Snacks campaign could ‘increase risk of young people developing eating disorder’

January 25 2018

An eating disorder charity has expressed concern about a healthy eating campaign which encourages parents to calorie count their children’s snacks, due to worries it could increase the risk of young people developing an eating disorder.The Change4Life campaign encourages parents to “Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max”, to help them offer healthier snacks to tackle the obesity epidemic that is seeing a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese.Eating disorder charity Beat said it was important that messages aimed at reducing obesity considered the impact they may have on those at risk of developing an eating disorder.A spokesman said in a statement: “We have heard from parents and treatment providers who cite the promotion of anti-obesity messages to children as a factor in the onset and maintenance of eating disorders.“Public health professionals must consider the wider impact of their campaigns, including the potential impact on mental health.“We have heard from our service users who are concerned that this campaign may increase the risk of young people developing an eating disorder.”It added that while the Public Health England (PHE) campaign was aimed at parents, it was also likely to engage a younger audience and encouraging excessive focus on calorie counting could be harmful for young people susceptible to disordered eating.The charity pointed out that the number of calories in a snack was not a reliable indicator of its impact on health, as for instance, a 100 calorie drink or snack with high levels of processed sugar was very unhealthy and would not reduce hunger, whereas many healthy snacks were more than 100 calories and could play an important role in a healthy and balanced diet.“Focusing on calories rather than on healthy and balanced eating is unhelpful,” the statement added.“We encourage Public Health England to listen to concerns about the impact this campaign could have on those at risk of developing an eating disorder and change the campaign to focus more on healthy eating rather than calorie counting.”An online petition against the campaign has attracted more than 4,000 signatures.PHE’s chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said: “Our Change4Life campaign helps millions of families make healthier choices. Every campaign encourages families to eat more fruit and vegetables and use front of the pack labelling to choose healthier foods.“This campaign responds directly to parents’ concerns and our campaigns are rigorously tested with parents to ensure they provide helpful and practical advice. “It’s not about counting calories, it’s a simple tip for parents to help change their children’s snacking habits.”

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.

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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.

UK & World

Food industry ordered to cut calories to combat obesity

March 6 2018

Britain needs to go on a diet, a top health officials has said after it emerged that some of the nation’s children are eating the equivalent of an extra meal a day in calories.Public Health England (PHE) warned that obesity is becoming “the norm” as it challenged the food industry to cut a fifth of calories from popular family foods over the next six years.As part of PHE’s campaign to reduce the rising tide of childhood obesity, the health body has called on restaurants, retailers and manufacturers to slash the amount of calories in foods by 20% by 2024, PHE said.Duncan Selbie, chief executive at PHE, said: “Britain needs to go on a diet.“The simple truth is on average we need to eat less. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.“Industry can help families by finding innovative ways to lower the calories in the food we all enjoy.”But he added: “It is not an attack on overweight folk, it is about getting more options and extending knowledge and more choices.”The call comes after PHE found that some children are eating the equivalent of an extra meal a day in calories.It has estimated that some overweight or obese boys are consuming up to 500 additional calories a day compared to their normal weight peers.For girls this is almost 300 calories, experts found.PHE said that the food industry could cut calories by changing the ingredients of their products, reducing portion size or changing their marketing tactics.The challenge involves 13 popular foods that families eat including: pizzas, savoury snacks, ready meals – including read-made sandwiches, some meat products, cooking sauces, chips and crisps and “composite salads” such as hummus or coleslaw. PHE’s chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said that these food groups had the “lion’s share” of calories.She added: “To get traction on this, the big-selling things need to change. “A few healthy options on the end of a menu won’t help solve the nation’s obesity problem – we need the regular, every day products to change.”She added: “We have more obese children in England than ever before.“We have moved on from it [obesity] affecting a small section of society, it is the norm now.”She said: “When we look at overweight or obese children – basically a third of kids – we can see that they are consuming up to 500 calories a day more than they require.“This is a lot of calories – 500 calories is an extra meal a day, it is a lot, and that’s why we have an obesity problem in this country.”She added that obesity was a “burden” on the NHS – costing the health service around £6.1 billion spent on treating obesity-related illness – and also increasing social care costs.But PHE said that if the 20% target is met within five years, then over the next 25 years more than 35,000 premature deaths could be prevented and the NHS and social care sector could save around £9 billion.The health body pledged to hold the food industry to account and said that it will highlight calorie reduction progress among manufacturers or retailers.It has also launched a new tool to help people make healthier choices about their calorie intake.The One You campaign encourages people to only have 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner.Caroline Cerny, lead for the Obesity Health Alliance – a coalition of more than 40 health organisations and charities, said: “It’s a real worry that this new data shows some children who are already an unhealthy weight eat the equivalent of an extra meal a day in calories – resulting in extra weight gain and setting them up for future health problem. “Of course we all need to eat calories, but with many everyday products containing high levels of sugar and saturated fat, it’s all too easy to eat more calories than we actually need.“The food industry absolutely must play its part in tackling obesity, and through adapting recipes and reducing over-sized portions, can make it much easier for families to make healthier choices. It’s important that Government keeps a check on industry to ensure these targets are being met – and if not, takes tough measures to enforce action.”

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