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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…

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

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

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

UK & World

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

February 21 2018

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

News

Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of “blatant double standards.” His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars’ future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been “less than straight” with voters in a new campaign leaflet. “The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition,” Mr Campbell said. “The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. “However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. “Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. “When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. “When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. “This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP,” he said. “Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. “I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. “The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. “Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base.”

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

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

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.

Fife

St Andrews rail line bid picking up speed

April 3 2013

Ambitious plans to reinstate the rail line to St Andrews have taken a massive leap forward. Councillors are to examine the case for returning trains to the university town, 44 years after the connection was axed by British Rail. A group which has fought for construction of a railway linking the popular destination and home of golf with the East Coast main line for almost a quarter of a century hopes that winning the support of the local councillors will propel the proposal to the next level. After StARLink St Andrews Rail Link outlined its bid to a committee of North-East Fife area councillors, it emerged that a formal report is to be presented to the committee this year. StARLink convener Jane Ann Liston said: “This is a significant step forward in the campaign to get St Andrews reconnected to the rail network. “I found the reaction from the members very encouraging. The news that the committee will be considering the matter further is most heartening.” Ms Liston has urged the councillors to request an appraisal of the proposal by transport partnership SESTRAN. She also wants Fife Council to ensure provision is made for the railway in the area’s strategic plan, the TayPlan, which is about to be revised. A study has been carried out by Tata Steel Projects, which identified an eight-kilometre route following the Eden Valley. An indicative timetable was produced, suggesting hourly services could be provided to Edinburgh and Dundee, taking one hour 19 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively. It is estimated it would cost at least £76 million to construct the railway and infrastructure. Ms Liston said: “Further analysis needs to be undertaken on the running costs to ensure that the service level accurately reflects the demand profile and costs are split with other, existing services in the peak hours. “This should be done as part of the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) process. Similarly, the environmental assessment should be undertaken, linked to the STAG process. “The next stage of development would be to seek funding from SESTRANS, Fife Council and Transport Scotland to conduct the STAG appraisal to define the business and environmental case.” The committee report will also consider the possibility of reopening the rail halt at Newburgh.

Dundee

Courier article to blame for Tay Bridge Disaster death toll confusion, says researcher

March 28 2014

A Fife man who is researching why early reports of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster listed 75 dead instead of the now recognised 59 known to have died has found new evidence which “explodes the myth”. Ian Nimmo White, secretary of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust, has discovered that on December 30 1879, two days after the disaster, an article was printed in the Courier and Argus headed The Numbers on the Train which he says included 16 “fictitious” deaths. Years later, he said, the article became an iconic artefact of the tragedy, unintentionally giving birth to the long-standing belief that 75 people had perished in the tragedy. He said: “It has a crucial clip which refers to the tickets which were taken from the ill-fated passengers at St Fort station 15 minutes before the tragedy.” One entry on the list is “6 Broughty Ferry” but, explained Mr Nimmo White, that was impossible as “none of the passengers on the Burntisland to Dundee train who handed over their tickets at St Fort in Fife could have previously joined the train at Broughty Ferry”. Another entry on the list is “5 Newport”. Again, this is impossible because Newport was not on the train’s route. An earlier entry on the list is “5 Newburgh”, so Mr Nimmo White has deduced that this is a repetition of the Newburgh entry. “A third curious entry is about three company servants’ tickets,” he said. “This was needless. Three off-duty employees are known to have been on the train, but they would have been included in passenger entries earlier on the list. “The above three entries combine to make 14 cases of duplication, and therefore 14 fictitious victims of the Tay Bridge Disaster. “A further two fictitious victims can be accounted for with the non ticket-carrying crew amounting to six on the list. “We now know there were only four crew on duty in the disaster train driver, fireman, railguard and mailguard. “And so, we have a total of 16 fictitious fatalities, the difference between the iconic myth of 75 and the finally proven death toll of 59 55 passengers plus four crew.”

Fife

Campaigners call for greater rail study urgency

September 15 2015

A study into the feasibility of a new Fife railway line must be completed as soon as possible to keep the bid on track. That was the claim by MSP David Torrance on Monday as concern was expressed that a campaign to reinstate the Levenmouth rail link could fail if the options appraisal is not published imminently. The strategic transport appraisal (STAG) report was due at the start of last month but so far only the first stage outlining a number of transport options for the area has been released. Mr Torrance said the transport minister would not take the rail campaign’s case seriously without the STAG report. “It is holding everything up,” he said. “Bids will be coming in from all over Scotland for new rail links and upgrades to existing lines so the quicker we can get our case to the minister, the better. “Without the report, members of the Levenmouth Rail Campaign (LMRC) can’t proceed to the next stage and I can’t take them to Parliament to put their case. “Everyone is waiting for it.” With a population of more than 24,000, Levenmouth remains the largest urban area in Scotland without a direct rail link and it is widely believed access to a train would transform its economic fortunes. “There are huge areas of deprivation in Levenmouth and a rail link would open the whole area up,” said Mr Torrance. “Key to that is the STAG and it is vital it is finished as soon as possible.” Allen Armstrong, secretary of LMRC, said he hoped the report would be ready by the end of this month or the start of October at the latest. “It seems to be slipping but hopefully we won’t have too much longer to wait,” he said. LMRC saw the first report, known as the pre-appraisal, last week and has already responded with a number of concerns. “One option was to increase the bus links to Levenmouth and included the possibility of a direct bus from Buckhaven and Methil to Markinch railway station,” said Dr Armstrong. “It seemed to us they were presenting the bus option rather rosily. “It would still leave us very dependent on the whims of Stagecoach who are the ones who discontinued the Glasgow express without any consultation.” He added: “The next report is the critical one though so we await that with interest.” The Levenmouth rail link was closed to passengers in 1969 but campaigners hope the line between Leven and Thornton will be re-established with a rail halt at Cameronbrig. As well as passengers, the route could also be used for freight with drinks firm Diageo and businesses at Methil docks considered key customers.

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