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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

Scottish equestrian centre will re-open in June

May 26 2015

One of Scotland’s former top livery and competition centres will re-open its doors to equestrianism on June 1. Renamed and rebranded as ‘Blue Ridge Equestrian Centre’ the site at Sheildhill, Falkirk previously known as Kingsbarn has been purchased by Slamannan farmer and businessman Alasdair Beaton and his family. The Beaton’s move to re-establish the centre comes just three months after selling agents Baird Lumsden set a closing date on the sale of Kingsbarns on behalf of liquidators Grainger Corporate Rescue. “We only received the keys to the centre during the last fortnight, so it has been very hectic to get the centre up and running again,” confirmed Mr Beaton’s wife Linda, on Tuesday. She said the family is excited for the future of Blue Ridge and they hope the news they are re-opening the centre will be well received by the Scottish equestrian community. According to Mrs Beaton, the centre will be managed on a day-to-day basis for the family by Lisa Mcilreavy. Blue Ridge EC will open its doors to horses on full livery only, from June 1, but Mrs Beaton confirmed they certainly plan to host competitions including British Showjumping further down the line. An open day will take place at Blue Ridge EC on Sunday, June 14, 2015, for anyone wishing to look around. “The day will include free pony rides and demonstrations and will give everyone the opportunity to see the facilities,” explained Mrs Beaton. The Beatons are well-known amidst the farming community in Central Scotland, breeding and showing pedigree Texel sheep from their farm at Wester Crosshill. Indeed, Mr Beaton previously set a world record, in 2011, with the purchase of a £33,600 record priced Texel ewe called Elle at Carlisle. The Beatons, who have always had horses on their family farm, have also forged an association with British Showjumping in Scotland over recent years. Under the banner of the family’s building firm Chemcem Scotland’s premier Bridge Care Company Mr Beaton sponsors top showjumper Ron Brady and also supports BS competition across the country. Showjumpers at the annual Royal Highland Show vie for top honours in the Chemcem Accumulator competition, a feature top score class that includes a ‘Joker’ fence. This contest will take place for 2015 at Ingliston on the newly developed all-weather Ring 6, on the Sunday of the four-day agricultural showcase. equestrian@thecourier.co.uk

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.


Cecil Beaton exhibition marks the start of Dundee’s V&A experience

September 30 2011

The cultural benefits of the £45 million V&A at Dundee project are already being felt four years before the venue is due to open. An exhibition of portraits of the Queen by photographer Cecil Beaton has opened at the McManus. It marks the first time the V&A has opened one of its exhibitions outside London and is part of the pre-opening programme for the V&A at Dundee. There are over 60 images depicting landmark points in the Queen's life including wartime photographs, the Coronation as well as official portraits. Leisure and culture convener Councillor Bob Duncan said: "I am delighted this exhibition is being staged in Dundee. It will act as an additional attraction to the McManus, which is a hugely popular destination in the city. "People of Dundee and further afield are excited at the prospect of the V&A at Dundee, and this exhibition shows how the partnership is already delivering benefits." Philip Long, director of the V&A at Dundee, was quick to recognise the importance of such a high-profile exhibition. "It is great to see the first of the V&A exhibitions now in place and it is a real coup for Dundee, and for Scotland, that we are seeing this particular exhibition first, before it goes on show at the V&A in London," he said.See Saturday's Courier for a full feature on the exhibitionMcManus curator Anna Robertson said visitors can expect similar high-profile exhibitions in future. "There will be a series of exhibitions one a year held in Dundee until the new V&A opens in 2015," she said. "We hope that the current exhibition will have a wide appeal and I think it will because you see a side of the Queen not often on display." Cecil Beaton was a celebrated photographer, designer and avid diarist who launched his career as a 'society' photographer in 1926 with an exhibition in London which won him an immediate contract with Vogue, where he worked for 30 years. His royal portraits were among the most widely published photographs of last century. The exhibition explores Beaton's long relationship with the Queen, who was a teenage princess when she first sat for him in 1942. The exhibition is arranged in five sections which span the 1930s to the 1960s, charting the shift in Beaton's photographic style. It runs until January 8 before moving to the V&A in London.For more information visit www.themcmanus-dundee.gov.uk


Cecil Beaton’s royal portraits will be city’s first V&A exhibition

June 9 2011

A unique collection of royal portraits will become Dundee's first V&A exhibition later this year. The McManus art gallery and museum is to be the first place in the UK to host the display of portraits of the Queen by Cecil Beaton to celebrate her diamond jubilee. The exhibition will run from September 30 to January 8 and is the first in a series of partnership projects between the McManus and the V&A as part of the run-up to construction and eventual opening of the V&A in Dundee. Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, said, "Part of the £5 million of government funding that I announced in January included support for the pre-opening programme of exhibitions that will begin with this outstanding selection of Cecil Beaton's royal photography. "The V&A will be a stunning landmark building on Dundee's waterfront, and the funding is a reflection of the significance we attach to this project as a showcase for our creative industries and as a magnet for visitors, enhancing Scotland's reputation as a creative nation. "I am delighted the programme is starting with such an appealing free exhibition that provides just a foretaste of the unparalleled shows that Scotland will enjoy in future from the V&A." Dundee City Council leisure, arts and communities convener Bob Duncan said, "I am delighted that this exhibition is coming to Dundee. It will act as an additional attraction to the McManus, which is a hugely popular destination in the city. "People of Dundee and further afield are excited at the prospect of the V&A at Dundee, and this exhibition shows how the partnership is already delivering benefits." Lesley Knox, the chairwoman of Design Dundee, the company delivering the V&A at Dundee, said, "We are looking forward to an exciting and varied range of exhibitions from the V&A over the next four years as we work towards opening our new building." The images in the exhibition depict the Queen and royal family, contrasting highly staged state occasions with intimate family moments. It charts how the representation of the royals has changed and also examines Beaton's working methods, styles and approaches, revealing him as one of the 20th century's masters of photography. Beaton's royal portraits were among the most widely published photographs of the 20th century. The exhibition explores his long relationship with the Queen, who was a teenage princess when she first sat for him in 1942. Over the next three decades, he photographed her on many significant occasions, including her coronation day. The exhibition in Dundee will feature over 60 items, from wartime photographs of Princess Elizabeth with her family, to tender images of the Queen with her own young children and official portraits that convey the magnitude of her role as Britain's monarch. An expanded exhibition will be hosted at the V&A in London from February 8 to April 22 next year. The display will then visit Leeds City Museum, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, and Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.

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.


Film star Brian Cox moved by the still image at Cecil Beaton exhibition

October 6 2011

He may be used to the world of moving images but Dundee actor Brian Cox has been back in town to witness the work of one of photography's biggest names. Mr Cox, rector of Dundee University and star of films including Troy and the Bourne Supremacy, was at the McManus Gallery on Wednesday to take in an exhibition by acclaimed photographer Cecil Beaton. The collection of royal portraits is taking place as part of the pre-opening programme for the V&A at Dundee, a project in which the university is a major partner. The photos have been sourced from the V&A's own collection and include shots of the Queen, which were taken from sittings in the 1960s. As he viewed the exhibtion, Mr Cox revealed he is a keen collector of photographs and spoke of his high hopes for the V&A at Dundee. ''I love photography and collect photographs taken by one person in particular, a jazz photographer named Herman Leonard. ''I think that the V&A will be wonderful, not only for Dundee, but for the whole coastline.''


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.