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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

Alcoholic liver disease affecting under-30s

December 18 2013

People as young as 24 are being diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease in Scotland. Across Tayside, Fife and the Forth Valley more than 60 people under the age of 30 have been diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease since 2008. The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show Scotland is still struggling to shake off its “sick man of Europe” tag. Only Hungary has a higher rate of deaths caused by alcoholic liver disease than Scotland. Vered Hopkins, lead officer with the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said: “The key issue is the culture towards alcohol. People forget it is a strong drug with serious consequences if overdone. “Drinking in moderation is a good thing and we would like to encourage that. However, there is a real issue in that people who drink tend not to do it in moderation.” Ms Hopkins said the Scottish Government’s planned minimum pricing for alcohol will reduce the toll it takes on the population but it is not a solution in itself. She also warned that people who drink at home rather than in pubs and clubs may be more likely to drink to excess as they will underestimate measures. “The statistics are very worrying but it’s not just younger people drinking too much, it’s everyone,” she said. A report by the Office for National Statistics, published on Tuesday, showed people aged 16 to 24 are most likely to drink to excess, with 27% admitting to consuming more than 12 units (men) and nine units (women) at least once a week. For men, binge drinking is consuming more than eight units while for women it is just six. In Scotland, mortality rates for chronic liver disease peaked in 2003 and have been declining since. However, they remain almost 60% higher than they were 30 years ago and 70% higher than the UK average. Scottish public health minister Michael Matheson said: “The death and suffering caused by chronic liver disease is far too high and much of the blame lies with our relationship to alcohol. “Cheap alcohol comes at a cost to our nation’s health and we need to reduce the toll alcohol is taking on our society. “It is unacceptable to see that Scotland ranks amongst the worst countries in Europe for chronic liver disease. “Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion per year. That’s £900 per adult that could be put to better use.”

Perth & Kinross

Crieff teenager’s case seen as providing more evidence of need for minimum alcohol pricing

May 26 2011

Health minister Nicola Sturgeon has reiterated the Scottish Government's determination to introduce alcohol price controls after a Crieff teenager was convicted of his first offence after a booze binge. Scotland's "human tragedy" of alcohol abuse was lamented as Aaron Hales blamed a remarkable drinking session for his actions. The 19-year-old had downed 13 cans of beer and three litres of cider before losing control and hammering at a door with an iron bar during a late-night party in April 2010. The court heard on Wednesday that Hales, who was fined £500, only stopped his rampage after police were called. He had never committed a crime before and remained out of trouble in the 13 months since the offence. Sheriff Robert McCreadie said his actions were indicative of a wider malaise in Scottish society which has been brought sharply into focus in recent years. His comments resonated with the Scottish Government and Tayside Council on Alcohol and prompted renewed calls for a minimum alcohol unit price. Sheriff McCreadie said of Hales, "He has come to grief over something we see every day in court: vast amounts of alcohol which, if taken by people over a period of time, would literally destroy them physically and mentally. "It's a huge human tragedy which we have in this country and we need a massive change in social attitude. The general behaviour I see across the country is doing great damage." Hales, of Leadenflower Court, admitted breaching the peace in the common close of the street's Colville House on April 11, 2010. He pled guilty to conducting himself in a disorderly manner, shouting, swearing and striking a door with an iron weight. After considering background reports, Sheriff McCreadie accepted Hales' actions had been "out of character" but said his "utter, utter madness" was unsurprising after that volume of alcohol. He said, "It's the kind of brainless drinking I'm hugely concerned about in towns and villages all over this community." Eric Knox, director of Tayside Council on Alcohol, said such cases, in which the accused may never have come to the judiciary's attention were it not for the availability of vast quantities of cheap alcohol, are all too common. He said, "The scenario is one which will happen all too frequently. Young people having access to large volumes of cheap alcohol, to have a drink before they go out or in their houses, has the potential to cause real problems in the community and individuals themselves. "There will be people where it's a new experience for them and they have access to so much, it changes their personality for that night. "Every Friday and Saturday night young people who would not otherwise be involved with the police will engage in violent behaviour because it changes their personality. "It is endemic in Scotland and it is because of the country's relationship with alcohol." Continued... Mr Knox, a former Tayside Police chief inspector, said he hopes the return of the SNP government will see the successful resurrection of its plans to introduce minimum alcohol prices. He said, "We need to limit the availability of cheap alcohol and look at some sort of regulation round off-licence premises and tackle irresponsible drinks promotions. "Hopefully the new government will reintroduce minimum pricing of alcohol so we can start tackling the availability of alcohol on the streets because it is a huge issue we have got to face up to. "That alone won't change the culture but would be one of a package of measures which need to be taken on." Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish Government secretary for health and wellbeing, said, "There is a clear link between the price of alcohol and consumption levels. We believe that minimum pricing would be the most effective and efficient way to tackle alcohol misuse, as it would effectively target problem drinkers and help them reduce their consumption. "That is why we will introduce a Minimum Pricing Bill and we welcome the support for this measure." Meanwhile, Sheriff McCreadie also dealt with Robert Hay (19), of St John Street, Perth, on Wednesday. He pled guilty to committing a breach of the peace at his home address on October 28 by threatening to throw a television out of a window on to his partner, shouting, swearing and smashing a bottle. He also admitted violently resisting arrest by lashing out at four police officers with his arms and legs. The court heard he had had 10 cans of strong lager, the drug methadone and then more alcohol that night. Sheriff McCreadie said, "At the heart of this, again, is the inability to control alcohol intake I spoke about earlier. It's the utter and awful irresponsibility that alarms me." Hay had sentence deferred to August 23 for reports.

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

Perth & Kinross

Cosby’s given chance to cast off reputation for selling alcohol to under-agers

July 18 2014

A Perth alcohol retailer has been given a second chance after telling councillors it wanted to shed its previous reputation of selling to under-age drinkers. Cosby’s had its licence to deliver alcohol suspended last year after a 16-year-old was able to buy alcohol over the phone and gave it to a 14-year-old. Police representatives objected to the resumption of the delivery service but Sharanjut Bookher was able to convince Perth and Kinross Council’s licensing committee that strict new checks would be put in place to prevent a repeat of the incident. He said the firm wanted to move away from selling cheap alcohol in high volumes and focus on more niche markets such as micro-brewery beers and high-end spirits. Bruce Kerr, of Police Scotland, urged councillors to refuse the application. He said: “It was discovered that it was common knowledge and accepted in the area that alcohol could be acquired by telephoning Cosby’s and identification would never be asked for. “Since the implication of conditions, the premises has not come to the attention of police.” Mr Bookher, who took over the running of the Crieff Road business after the incident, said in future new customers would have to register with the company before being able to order over the phone. He said all bottles would be marked with ultraviolet pen to allow them to be traced and checked against a register of sales and that all deliveries would be made by himself. “We are trying to get rid of the reputation which the business has had for 20 years,” he said. “I have people coming in and saying that when they were 15 they would come to get cheap alcohol. “We are trying to move away from cheap, high volume alcohol.” Councillors voted three in favour of rejecting the application and three in favour of approving subject to conditions, leaving convener Henry Anderson to cast the deciding vote. He said that despite reservations he would approve the application.

Scotland

Minimum alcohol pricing challenge returns to court

June 7 2016

A legal challenge to the Scottish Government's plan for a minimum alcohol price is due to return to Scotland's highest civil court. Judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh will hear further evidence after seeking the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on legislation to introduce a minimum unit price of 50p in Scotland. MSPs backed the move at Holyrood in 2012 but implementation stalled after the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and other European wine and spirits producers took legal action, arguing minimum pricing would breach European law. Judge Lord Doherty initially rejected the challenge at the Court of Session in 2013 but it was referred to the ECJ the following year after an appeal hearing. Last December, an ECJ ruling said the plan would breach European Union law if alternative tax measures could be introduced. The court concluded a tax rise on alcoholic drinks "is liable to be less restrictive of trade" than minimum pricing. The ECJ said it would be for the Court of Session to make a final decision after determining whether any alternative measure could equal the stated public health benefit while being less restrictive of trade.   Speaking before the hearing, SWA spokesman Graeme Littlejohn said: "Everyone agrees more needs to be done to tackle alcohol misuse but minimum pricing is not the answer. "The European Court of Justice's recent ruling made it clear that minimum pricing is a significant barrier to trade in breach of EU law. "It will not tackle alcohol-related harm effectively, with the evidence being that it will not reduce the number of hazardous or harmful drinkers." Meanwhile, Alcohol Focus Scotland published figures showing shoppers can buy the weekly limit of 14 units of alcohol for just £2.52. Research at supermarket and off-licences in Edinburgh and Glasgow found cider on sale at 18p per unit, vodka at 36p per unit, lager at 26p per unit and wine at 32p per unit. Chief executive Alison Douglas said: "It is ridiculous that a toxic, carcinogenic product which causes so much harm can be sold so cheaply. "The more affordable alcohol is, the more we drink and this means more alcohol-related hospital admissions, crime and deaths. "A 50p minimum unit price is the most effective way to raise the price of the cheapest, strongest drinks which cause the most harm in Scotland." Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "These findings from Alcohol Focus Scotland further add to the evidence of the wide availability of cheap alcohol across Scotland. "We believe that affordability is a key factor in alcohol-related harm. That's why minimum-unit pricing is such an important part of our package of measures to tackle the availability of cheap, high-strength alcohol that causes so much damage in our communities. "We look forward to being able to continue making our case in the Scottish courts this week."

Politics

Bananas! Sturgeon accused of being on slippery ground with alcohol pricing claims

February 1 2012

Scotland's health secretary has been branded ''bananas'' after claiming fruit and vegetables will drop in price once minimum pricing of alcohol is introduced. Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that supermarkets increase the price of other products to subsidise the selling of cheap drink. And she predicted forcing retailers to set a minimum unit price on alcohol would keep other grocery bills down. She said the measure currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament would reduce ''loss leading'' whereby supermarkets reduce the cost of alcohol in a bid to attract customers and make up the money by increasing the price of other goods. ''Consumers will pay the cost of cheap alcohol through higher prices for other things that they buy because clearly supermarkets will loss-lead on things,'' she said. ''So, without being flippant about it, your bananas will cost you more if alcohol has been deep-discounted. ''So I think minimum pricing has also got that benefit, in that you don't see other goods basically becoming more expensive to subsidise cheap alcohol.'' Ms Sturgeon's analysis was dismissed by Labour's public health spokesman Richard Simpson. He pointed out that academic studies have shown retailers would be in line for a £100 million windfall if the policy was introduced. He added: ''Nicola Sturgeon's argument that this policy will make bananas cheaper is utterly bananas. If groceries become cheaper, then alcohol becomes more affordable Nicola Sturgeon has just undermined her own argument.'' The row erupted as revised research predicted setting a minimum price of 45p for a unit of alcohol would save 63 lives in the first year. Sheffield University academics found that the 45p price, coupled with an off-trade discount ban already in place, would save an estimated 327 lives by year 10. They also estimate hospital admissions would reduce by about 6,600 a year, while the NHS would save £22 million annually. The legislation failed to win support under the previous minority SNP administration but is expected to be passed this year thanks to the party's new-found majority. Photo by Clive Gee/PA Archive

Scotland

Buckfast outcry may have increased its popularity, MSPs told

October 6 2015

The public outcry over Buckfast may have increased its notoriety and turned a potentially short-lived craze into the staple drink of young offenders, an alcohol expert has warned. MSPs are considering limiting the volume of caffeine in alcoholic drinks in a Bill partly designed to break the link between tonic wine and offending. Holyrood's Health Committee has heard from a panel of experts who unanimously agreed tonic wine's alleged propensity to exacerbate alcohol-related offending is inconclusive and urged MSPs to focus on tackling cheap alcohol. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Peter Rice, chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said "the discussion around the tonic wines may in fact have made things worse". GP Dr Colette Maule, of BMA Scotland, and Alison Christie, policy officer of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, said they are less concerned about particular brands than the quantity of cheap alcohol consumed. Petrina Macnaughton, research and policy co-ordinator at Alcohol Focus Scotland, said the link between caffeinated alcohol and offending is "not conclusive", but urged MSPs to limit caffeine to see what happens. Dr Rice said: "My own view is the discussion around tonic wines may in fact have made things worse. "It may have established a reputation for a particular product which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. "What might have been a short-lived craze has become a more long-lived craze. "We have never drawn attention to caffeinated products because we think, actually, some of the public attention around it might be detrimental." Policy notes accompanying the Alcohol (Licensing, Public Health and Criminal Justice) (Scotland) Bill, lodged by Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson cite "a number of academic studies examining the effects of consuming alcohol in conjunction with caffeine" such as being "wired awake drunk" and taking more risks. The Scottish Prison Service found that 43.4% of inmates had consumed Buckfast before their last offence, despite accounting for less than 1% of total alcohol sales nationally. But Dr Rice said Buckfast is mostly a west coast problem which is not as prevalent elsewhere in Scotland and cited evidence which suggests it is the alcohol and not the caffeine that is the problem. "The alerting effect that is often attributed to caffeine may be an intrinsic effect of the interaction of alcohol and the still developing male brain," he said. Dr Maule said: "When I see patients in my surgery who are having problems with alcohol, it tends to be because it is lower-priced rather than because it particularly has caffeine in it. "I don't think there is a lot of discrimination at times between which alcohol people take, it's just the price that is really the problem." Ms Christie said: "We don't have any families that are concerned about particular brands or products, it's about the volume and how accessible it is to buy it cheaply." Ms Macnaughton said: "We would agree certainly that price and affordability are the key drivers in increased consumption and harm. "But in relation to caffeinated alcohol there is research that shows that amongst young offenders there is a high proportion that drink caffeinated drinks." She added: "I think the evidence is indicative. It's not conclusive, I agree, but the cost of implementing such a restriction on caffeine content I'm not sure would be that high. "Putting less caffeine into a drink, I don't know if that would be a costly measure to implement and you could evaluate the effects of that on alcohol-related offending."

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