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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


Glamis Castle provides birthday to remember

March 15 2010

As far as birthday presents for his fiancee go, Liverpudlian Derek Low raised a weekend standard that will be tough to top. The IT consultant was already in the good books for treating Swedish sweetheart Christel Dahl to an early Scottish spring break but the icing on the Angus cake came on Saturday morning when they were honoured with flag-hoisting duties at Glamis Castle as the landmark’s first visitors of the 2010 tourist season. Keen to make the most of a short stay in the area from their home in Stockholm, they had arrived early and were stunned to be personally welcomed by the Earl of Strathmore when the gates opened at 10am. He presented them with a Glamis Castle book before they climbed the 143 steps behind the castle’s world-famous facade to the castle roof and raised the family standard of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Staff member Libby Reynolds talked the guests through the stunning panoramic view and Derek said the whole experience had made it a trip to remember. “Christel’s birthday was in January so we booked to come over and stay at the Carnoustie golf hotel,” he said. “We had no plans and were talking to the receptionist at the hotel about what we might be able to do. “They suggested Glamis Castle so we thought we would come here before going to Dundee to settle down and watch the rugby, but we had no idea we would be the first visitors. It’s a great honour.” Christel added, “It is a beautiful castle. I’m amazed it has belonged to the same family for 600 years.” More foreign legions look set to visit the castle in the months ahead. “The bookings so far are very promising,” said Lord Strathmore.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Roald Dahl centenary to be marked with champion celebration at Glamis Castle

May 27 2016

One of Roald Dahl’s magical creations will grace the grounds of Glamis Castle in July. The story of Danny The Champion of the World is being brought to the Angus landmark by PDF Productions and Illyria on July 14 for an evening picnic event. Artistic director Oliver Gray said: “This year Illyria is celebrating the Dahl centenary and Illyria’s own 25th anniversary with everyone’s favourite tale from the master storyteller. “The show has vintage cars, lots of pheasants, an evil villain and a young hero who saves the day.” Tickets for the performance are available now from www.pdfproductions.co.uk.

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


George’s Marvellous Medicine

November 25 2016

How do you depict a giant chicken on stage, or contend with a grandma who grows eight metres tall? These are just two of the challenges to face Joe Douglas, the director of Dundee Rep’s Christmas show George’s Marvellous Medicine. Even though the Roald Dahl’s classic was first published more than 30 years ago it remains one of his most popular stories and that in itself puts pressure on Joe: “People of all ages have high expectations of any adaptation of a Roald Dahl story and you don’t want them to be disappointed,” he says. It’s the story of George’s nasty old grandma who needs teaching a lesson. George decides the best remedy for her grumpiness is a special home-made medicine. But Grandma gets more than she bargained for… “The show follows the story very closely and Stuart Paterson’s adaptation is brilliant. It’s a mixture of pantomime and a more traditional Christmas show and although the story isn’t Christmassy in an obvious way, it’s full of fun, and we get the audience to join in and be silly,” says Joe, who is also the Rep’s associate artistic director. The decision to feature another Roald Dahl classic was easy following the success of previous productions by the world’s number one storyteller, including The Witches, James and the Giant Peach and The BFG. The lead role of George will be played by two different actors, Rebekah Lumsden and Laurie Scott, while George’s Grandma will be played by Ann Louise Ross, who plays Granny Island in CBeebies’ Katie Morag. “As well as playing George, they will be darting all over the stage throwing dance moves and manipulating puppets – it’s a very energetic production. “All the departments are working hard to bring some theatrical magic to this technically ambitious show, including some striking visual ideas from designer Ana Inés Jabares-Pita and the script is packed with great gags for kids and grown-ups. Obviously Grandma and a few unlucky chickens will ‘grow’ during the performance – but don’t worry, no chickens will be harmed in the making of this show.” To tie in with the launch of the production, an online interactive game Transforming Trevor (playable here) has been created by Tayside web designer Ryan McLeod. “The brief from the theatre was to create something based loosely around the story of George’s Marvellous Medicine, while linking it to the Christmas theme,” Ryan explains. “Once you’ve created your potion, you can feed it to Trevor the turkey and watch him transform in a whole load of weird and wonderful ways.” Dundee Rep, November 24-December 31 www.dundeerep.co.uk

UK & World

Moobs and Oompa Loompas make it into Oxford English Dictionary

September 12 2016

Moobs, gender-fluid and YOLO are among more than 1,000 words and terms that have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Food-related terms including cheese eater, chefdom and cheeseball will appear in the new edition alongside Yogalates, the combination of yoga and Pilates, and Westminster bubble, an insular community of politicians. To celebrate the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth, the OED is also publishing new and revised Dahlesque entries that the author used in his writing, including Oompa Loompa, scrumdiddyumptious and human bean Michael Proffitt, chief editor of the OED, said: “The inclusion in OED of a number of words coined by or associated with Roald Dahl reflects both his influence as an author and his vivid and distinctive style. For many children Roald Dahl’s work is not only one of their first experiences of reading, but also their earliest exposure to the creative power of language.” “Moobs” first appeared in the young adult novel The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants in 2001. Gender-fluid was first recorded in 1987, and social media phrase YOLO is used as the rationale for impulsive behaviour and living in the moment. The OED describes itself as “an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over 829,000 words, senses, and compounds – past and present – from across the English-speaking world”. For a word to be included, it requires several independent examples of the word being used, as well as evidence it has been used for “a reasonable amount of time”. Other peculiar entries to the OED Moobs – “man boobs”, unusually prominent breasts on a man Gender-fluid – a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender YOLO – acronym for the phrase “you only live once” Cheese eater – a police informer Cheeseball – lacking taste, style, or originality Chefdom – the state or condition of being a chef Fuhgeddaboudit – New York pronunciation of the phrase “forget about it”.


Roald Dahl classic The Witches is Dundee Rep’s Christmas show

November 4 2015

One of Roald Dahl’s most beloved creations, The Witches, will be brought to life on the Dundee Rep stage this festive season. The theatre’s ensemble chose the production following the success of their adaptation of the author’s James and the Giant Peach. It opens on Thursday November 26 and runs until December 31, with a host of special performances arranged for those with additional needs. The special shows will include captioned performances on Sunday December 13 and Monday 21, audio described performances on Sunday December 13 and Thursday 17 and a “relaxed” performance on Saturday December 12. Tickets are available from the Dundee Rep box office on 01382 223530 or from its website.

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.