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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...

Readers' letters

So many near misses approaching bridge

April 15 2013

Sir, I sincerely hope that when the roadworks are complete at Dundee’s waterfront there is a totally separate lane leading on to the Tay Road Bridge. Last Monday I was heading home to Tayport along Riverside Drive only to be stopped at the Tesco entrance at exactly 5pm. I was in the correct lane unlike so many who chanced their luck in the left-hand lane, only to later indicate and push their car into the right-hand lane. So many near misses. Because of this it took me and everyone else in the correct lane 28 minutes to reach the Tay Road Bridge access. No mention was made of this on the Radio Tay jambuster line. When I eventually got home I searched my phone book and checked online for their number to alert them to the congestion. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Why not display it on the billboards? Goodness knows there are plenty of them en route! So, come on, traffic controllers and pushy drivers get your act together! Anne H F Lowe. 13 Nelson Street, Tayport. Biomass makes no sense Sir, Recent Courier reports relating to the proposed biomass plant in Dundee have focused on the health impact associated with emissions of nitrogen dioxide but what is never mentioned is the increase in local carbon dioxide emissions. No new coal-fired generation facility would be allowed in Scotland without carbon emission mitigation and yet people seem to be sleep walking into supporting a so-called biomass (wood burning) facility which also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide. Both coal and wood-burning involve the oxidation of carbon to form carbon dioxide. In fact, a wood-burning generator emits almost 25% more carbon dioxide per kWh of electricity generated than a coal-fired generator would. In effect, Dundee would be importing carbon emissions from the countries from which the wood will be sourced. This makes no sense when we are ravaging our countryside with ever more wind turbines in an effort to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions. Dr G M Lindsay. Whinfield Gardens, Kinross. Figures are dwarfed Sir, I wish to congratulate Steve Flynn on his excellent letter (Courier, April 11) on the inequalities of present government legislation. While most people do not wish to see illegal benefit claims made, these are dwarfed by tax dodging from the well-off and by reduced taxes, again, to people who are much more than comfortably off. Another group of people Mr Flynn does not mention are the directors of banks who, through inefficiency and cavalier decisions have cost the taxpayer billions of pounds yet, many are still being paid large bonuses and pensions. I am sure that the amounts of illegal benefit claims pale into insignificance when compared to these latter items. John Baston. 9a Seabourne Gardens, Broughty Ferry. It is a time to show respect Sir, Why should anyone want to organise a street party to celebrate the demise of a former prime minister? The only appropriate time to organise such a gathering was surely when that person left office(in the case of Mrs Thatcher, over 22 years ago). But dancing on the grave, so to speak, of the former leader is not just distasteful it is perverse. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the Durham coalfields, the republican streets of Belfast and Londonderry, or the centre of Glasgow or Brixton. Events like these don’t just diminish our reputation for tolerance, they undermine the whole texture of political debate and democracy. Respect for your opponents in time of personal difficulty and death is simple good manners and humanity. Nobody contests that Mrs Thatcher was a controversial figure. But the plain fact is that her attitudes and beliefs (honestly held and worthy of respect at a time of her passing), were subject to the test of the ballot box. For good or ill she was successful on three occasions. In the end it was her own MPs and Cabinet who prompted her resignation in November 1990. Bob Taylor.24 Shiel Court,Glenrothes.Remarks show a lack of classSir, I write with reference to your article featuring Labour councillor Tom Adams and entitled, A dram to toast the lady’s demise.I found the tone of the article to be in incredibly poor taste and I am very uncomfortable with the pleasure Mr Adams appears to derive from the death of an 87-year-old frail lady with Alzheimer’s. Mr Adams, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Harold Wilson closed three times as many coal mines as Margaret Thatcher ever did. Nor does he appear to apportion any responsibility for his plight as a young man to the militant NUM leader Arthur Scargill. Most of those in his party seem to accept that Mr Scargill and his fellow militants played a major role in the failure of the mining industry. That aside, his comments, coming from an elected member of Fife Council regarding Mrs Thatcher’s death are disgraceful and show a distinct lack of class. Allan D S Smith. 10 Balgonie Place, Markinch.

Angus & The Mearns

Mum of boy fighting cancer slams Angus school closure plan

January 26 2018

A Brechin mum whose son is battling brain cancer has hit out at proposals to close his primary school. Stracathro primary would shut under plans put forward in the Angus Schools for the Future programme which will be discussed by Angus Council on Tuesday. Elected members will decide on the recommendation to consult on the development of Edzell Primary as the rural school for the Brechin cluster which will sound the death knell for Lethnot, Tarfside and Stracathro primaries. Lynn Massie said increased class sizes at a new school could have devastating consequences for her severely-ill child, which means he would be unable to attend school. Her five-year-old son Carson Gallacher was diagnosed with a brain tumour in May, which surgeons removed in June. A biopsy then revealed the devastating news that Carson had brain cancer. Ms Massie said: “Carson is undergoing chemotherapy, and although he is responding well to the treatment, his immune system is severely impaired and his course of chemotherapy is scheduled to last until the summer. “Infections that a healthy child might shrug-off, can prove fatal for Carson. For example, he contracted shingles, which would ordinarily be treated at home, but for Carson it meant being admitted to an infection control room in Ninewells. “At the moment, the small class size at Stracathro means that infection control is much easier, and potential illnesses easier to spot, this is vital as even chicken pox could be fatal. Ms Massie heaped praise on the staff at Stracathro. She said “Without the care and support of the school, I do not believe the diagnosis would have happened so quickly. “Carson was suffering from severe headaches and other symptoms, which were of very short duration, so by the time we got to the GP, he was often feeling fine again, and this made getting to the source of the problem more difficult. “It was only when the school offered to confirm the severity and impact of his symptoms to the GP, that he was referred to a specialist. “On top of that, the school have ensured that Carson’s two sisters have not fallen behind with their own studies, which has been a massive help. “If Stracathro closes, then I have no doubt that class sizes will increase, and the chances of Carson contracting an illness that could be extremely severe are very high, and I simply could not take the chance of sending him into that environment. “On top of that, the level of care and supervision which resulted in Carson’s early diagnosis could well be lost.” Lethnot PS has already been mothballed and Tarfside PS has no pupils on its roll but Stracathro is running at 72% capacity but per pupil costs are £10,095.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Young charger Mitchell back in Black Bull McLaren for 2017 British GT championship

March 8 2017

Angus teenager Sandy Mitchell will return to the British GT Championship for the 2017 season piloting a 180mph McLaren 570S GT4. The record-breaking schoolboy, named British GT Rookie of the Year in 2016 after an impressive debut season which saw him win two races, will again partner fellow Scot, 20-year-old Ciaran Haggerty from Johnstone. Both drivers carry the prestigious Scottish Motor Racing Club Rising Star status and the talented duo will share the No100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 in all seven rounds of Europe’s most competitive sportscar series which gets underway at Oulton Park in Cheshire on April 15-17. The announcement came as 2014 British junior karting champ Mitchell celebrated being able to don the L-plates for the road following his 17th birthday this week. “I’m delighted to be back in the Black Bull Garage 59 car with Ciaran,” said Mitchell, who bagged two pole positions in 2016 and set fastest lap at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps F1 circuit in Belgium. “Last year was a fantastic debut season for both of us in sportscars, and we’re definitely looking to build on the success we delivered for the team. “Ciaran and I work well together both in and out of the car, and we’ll be doing everything we can this season to make a serious challenge for the British GT4 Championship.” The Dundee High teenager became the youngest-ever race winner in the championship aged just 16 years and 169 days. Local companies Thorntons, Close Brothers, Stirfresh and SGM continue their support from last season and Mitchell now has additional backing from Christie Digital and Stampede Global, both of which operate on a worldwide stage. “I’m really grateful for the support I have received from all the companies that are backing me,” he added. He will continue to juggle his extensive race and test programme with school studies, and is set to face a Courier Country rival in the same team on the packed GT4 grid. Young Fifer Dean Macdonald is to partner Indian racer Akhil Rabindra in the No59 Black Bull McLaren. “It’s going to be great having two McLaren GT4 cars working together in the same team,” Mitchell explained. “We’ll be able to maximise the time we spend on-track during testing to ensure we deliver the best performances we can.” Black Bull Garage 59 team boss Bas Leinders said: “We’re delighted to have Sandy and Ciaran back for 2017. “We’re looking to hit the ground running and build upon the successes they had last year. “With the experience of running with the McLaren 570S GT4 last year, we are in a strong position going into the new season, and hope to be challenging for podiums and race wins again in 2017.” Euan Shand, chairman of title sponsors, Huntly-based Black Bull Scotch Whisky said: “Last year proved to be an outstanding season for Sandy and Ciaran and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Garage 59 and these young drivers again. “Sandy, Ciaran, Dean and Akhil are the future, and we have high hopes for what 2017 will bring.”

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

Angus racer to become youngest ever driver in British GT Championship at age of 16

March 23 2016

Angus racer Sandy Mitchell has penned another piece of Scottish motorsport history with news of his move into the British GT championship. The Letham 16-year-old will race the McLaren 570S GT4 with the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse team, becoming the youngest driver ever to compete in British GT history when the season gets underway at Brands Hatch in April. In an exciting move for the legendary team most famous for back-to-back wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours in its heyday Mitchell has been paired with fellow Scot, 19-year-old Ciaran Haggerty for what promises to be a hotly-contested championship. Mitchell was British junior karting champion in 2014 before making his mark in the 2015 MSA Formula series with performances which included a winning double at the ultra-fast Thruxton circuit. Both teenagers have come through the Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Initiative, which was launched last year and with the Scottish squad running the McLaren 570S GT4 alongside its GT3 campaign they will work closely alongside factory driver Rob Bell and Ecurie Ecosse director and driver Alasdair McCaig. Dundee High School pupil Sandy said: “I am very excited to be racing with Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse in 2016 and to be driving the first ever McLaren 570S GT4 car in the British GT Championship is a real privilege, it is a fantastic car. “I am really looking forward to partnering alongside Ciaran and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made this incredible drive come together along with my sponsors Thorntons Law, Close Brothers Asset Management, Stirfresh, John Clark Motor Group, The Stag Inn, Tunnocks HBB Geo-Sales and SGM Distribution”. Fife-born Andrew Kirkaldy, a former British GT champ and now managing director of McLaren GT said: “The decision to run the two Ecurie Ecosse Young Drivers was a very easy one. “We conducted some pre-season testing and it was very clear from the outset that both Haggerty and Mitchell are stars of the future. “Their pace and feedback is very good and of a level that we are comfortable with, showing that they are ready for the challenge. “ Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse patron Hugh McCaig commented: “It is a fantastic feeling to see two of Scotland’s young superstars take the next step in to top-level GT racing. “I am sure the GT4 category will be an ideal platform for Ciaran and Sandy to demonstrate their talent with the support of the Ecurie Ecosse Young Drivers Initiative.”

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

Readers' letters

October 11: We will still require back-up power stations

October 11 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. We will still require back-up power stationsSir, €” The letter (October 7) by the Friends of the Earth chief executive Stan Blackley does not agree with the proposed coal-fired power station at Hunterston. In his opinion, the increased wealth of renewable energy sources will be more than adequate to meet Scotland's future electricity requirements. I am sure that many of the public, not forgetting the benefit of employment, would be more assured to have a relevant back-up of energy if the "wealth of eventual renewable energy sources" fails to adequately meet requirements. Perhaps Mr Blackley could challenge policies in various countries in order to obtain their support against coal-fired power stations. The response would be interesting. Harry Lawrie. 35 Abbots Mill, Kirkcaldy.Public not asked to choose nameSir, €” Your headline writer has done your readers a disservice by failing to check the facts about the naming of the new sports and leisure centre in Glenrothes (October 6). Fife Council did not at any time "ask the public to choose the name" of the new facility. The Glenrothes Area Committee, including Councillor Kay Morrison, unanimously agreed in May that the purpose of the survey was "to help gauge the views of the public on potential names for the new facility". If Councillor Morrison had wanted the results to be binding on the council, regardless of how many or how few people took part, she should have asked for this in May. She didn't. Your report also failed to mention the important fact that although every household in Fife was invited to take part in the survey, and although it was also promoted for over two months in the current FIPRE centre, in local libraries and online, only 174 people actually took part. Compare this to the thousands who made their views known when the late Michael Woods blew the whistle on a suggestion that Fife Institute could be closed down and sold off for housing, and it's easy to "gauge the views of the public". They're relieved that the institute is not being lost, they're delighted that the current administration is replacing it with a brand new facility, and they don't really mind what it's called. We have a long tradition in Scotland of naming important public buildings in memory of individuals who played a major role in having them built. Councillor Michael Woods played a huge role in making sure the current FIPRE site becomes a new sports and leisure centre. (Cllr) Peter Grant.Glenrothes West and Kinglassie. More to it than paying off debtSir, €” It is more than a tad worrying that the Tory Prime Minister David Cameron's grasp of economics is no better than your average mug punter putting all his money on a three-legged nag. Any successful economy depends on the free flow of money and not simply paying off all our debts. It is equally worrying that David Cameron should publicly give support to the Home Secretary Theresa May for uttering untruths about the Human Rights Act whilst chastising the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. Malcolm McCandless.40 Muirfield Crescent,Dundee.Gas cloud risk not worth runningSir, €” It was with a sense of relief I read that the proposed carbon capture programme for Longannet may not go ahead. The prospect of 500 new jobs seems to have obscured the possible long term risks. The technology, as I understand it, involves storing liquid carbon dioxide at around 800psi in empty oil and gas caverns under the North Sea. Presumably we have to store this liquid forever in increasing quantities. Your report quotes a figure of 70 million tonnes by 2024. What happens if we get a leak? It is maybe unlikely, but the events I am thinking about are comparatively common: failure of a pipeline, an accident at a wellhead, an earth tremor or a volcanic eruption. Plus of course, an act of terrorism. Whilst carbon dioxide is harmless in very low concentrations, say 1-10 parts per million, it rapidly becomes highly toxic as concentrations increase. If 10% of these 70 million tonnes leaked out it would produce a cloud of carbon dioxide about the size of the UK. Of course it wouldn't be pure carbon dioxide it would be mixed with the atmosphere. However, even if it was considerably diluted it would still be an appalling danger. Bob Drysdale.Millfield Star,Glenrothes.Exploitation in sex industrySir, €” In your article about the lap dancing club bid (October 7) the Rev James Auld is reported to have said that he, "has no problem with the venture, providing workers do not feel exploited". It does not necessarily follow, however, that a person isn't being exploited just because they don't feel exploited. It is usually people who, for whatever reason, don't feel it who are exploited. If, as Dundee Women's Aid suggests, women in the sex industry are being exploited (and there is ample evidence) then it is worse, not better, that they don't feel that exploitation. So the Rev Auld ought to have a problem with this venture. Clare McGraw.12a Castle Terrace,Broughty Ferry. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.


StAnza poetry festival begins

March 17 2011

Visitors across the world have gathered in St Andrews for Scotland's international poetry festival. StAnza began at the Byre Theatre on Wednesday night, and more than 90 writers, artists, film-makers and performers will entertain at 80 events over the five days of the extravaganza. Among those taking part are Douglas Dunn, Ciaran Carson, Selima Hill, Paul Farley, Julia Donaldson, Philip Gross, Marilyn Hacker and Bob Holman. International names on the bill include Yang Lian of China, Germany's Durs Grunbein, and poets from Italy, Georgia and Iraq, among other countries. Last night saw a concert of poetry-inspired music with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill.