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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

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

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.


Saltire man: Scottish superhero creator to launch new project at Dunfermline Comic Con

February 23 2018

He is the creator of Scotland’s first comic book superhero. But now Fife-based best-selling comic book writer John Ferguson is taking on a new genre with his much-anticipated new release, Mean City which he is launching at Dunfermline Comic Con on March 3. Well known for his work on the Saltire superhero series of graphic novels, the 42-year-old former music journalist, who lives in Largoward, is changing direction with his upcoming crime thriller set in the world of gangsters and mob bosses. The father-of-three said: “So much of the comic book world is superheroes and science fiction that I wanted to shake it up and create something different that could still be popular. “I’ve loved gangster and crime novels and films for as long as I can remember but it’s not a genre you see very often in the comic book world. I’m excited to see how the public reacts to it.” While Mean City is not based on any particular city, John does envision the characters and geography of his home city of Glasgow when he’s writing it. But he’s also been influenced by his time living in Dundee. He added: “In my head it was Glasgow but I lived in Dundee when I was doing it so there were aspects of me thinking about Dundee and the Hilltown and the geography. “Glasgow and Dundee both revolve around a river. So I had this Scottish city mentality in my head -  yet the artist was creating a book with American sensibilities. It looks American but in my head it’s written as though it’s a very very Scottish city.” John is very much looking forward to Dunfermline Comic Con, which is attracting international names from the industry, including more than 30 comic book artists and writers from the USA, Russia, Finland, Ireland and the UK. His previous work – the critically acclaimed Saltire series - first emerged in 2014 and publisher Diamondsteel Comics has since received award nominations for art and culture, best British comic and what’s on book of the year among others. The series centres around Scotland’s first comic book superhero while the dark and gritty world of the main character is a pseudo-history of the country and its mythology. But sometimes John still struggles to believe how successful his work has been having not come from a comics background. “I’d done a bit of writing and always had an interest in Scottish mythology,” he said. “But from there it segwayed into comic books. “I’d always been interested in reading comics but not avidly. “But at no point as a kid did I think I want to write comic books. “Then someone wrote an article that said ‘Scotland as a country would be a terrible country to have its own superhero the way the other countries do because it’s so bland and so boring’. “I was like – ‘that seems a bit derogatory and I also don’t agree because Scotland has such exciting  mythology and is quite deep as well’.” The upshot was Saltire – a blue muscled immortal Hulk-styled “Scottish-looking” character with ginger hair and beard, Pictish tattoos down his arms and two diamond steel claymores attached to his back. His early “doodles” and writing were honed with the help of Comic book professor Chris Murray and artists at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. John added: “The book went from me being unknown to being the best-selling comic book outside of Batman in Scotland for the next two years.” He said the Fife Comic Con is great is particularly “great” as it focuses on the comic books rather than all the cultural stuff that goes on around it. He added: “The launch of Mean City is going to be great. The art on this book is stunning and Dunfermline Comic Con has grown into one of the best conventions in the UK for lovers of comic books and graphic novels so it’s a fantastic place for us to launch the series and find out what the fans think of Mean City.” *Dunfermline Comic Con, Pittencrieff Park, Dunfermline, March 3 www.facebook.com/dunfermlinecomiccon


Dundee comics alumni honoured at awards

July 5 2017

Comics students and alumni from Dundee University have won a host of awards at the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards, held as part of Glasgow Comic Con. The winner of the Up and Coming Talent award went to Catriona Laird for her comic Stinger. Catriona is a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and  Design and completed a comics module in 2015. She is now one of the studio members at Ink Pot Studios, which is part of Dundee Comics Creative Space, where she also volunteers as a facilitator on children’s comics classes. Letty Wilson, who studied on the MLitt in Comics Studies at the University, won the Best Graphic Novel award for A Stranger Came To Town. In the Best Single Issue award, the winner was an anthology, Video Games for Good which features a strip by current MDes Comics and Graphic Novels student Zu Dominiak. Zu’s work will be featured in Duncan of Jordanstone’s forthcoming Masters Show, which launches on August 18. Chris Murray, Professor of Comic Studies at the University, said “I am delighted that so many people from our courses and the Dundee Comics Creative Space were nominated for these awards, but even happier with the final results. “To take home awards from almost all the categories is a remarkable achievement, and testament to the talent we have here in Dundee. “A big congratulations to all of our winners and runners up.” Phillip Vaughan, Course Director for the MDes in Comics and Graphic Novels course, presented the Outstanding Contribution to Comics award to Ian Kennedy. Ian is from Dundee, and has been working in the comics industry for over 60 years. He is still going strong and contributes covers to Commando comic, as well as doing the occasional talk to comics students in Dundee. Phillip said: “This is a well-deserved award to one of comics’ most successful freelancers ever and I was truly honoured to be asked to present it to Ian. “He was an inspiration to me, but is now an inspiration to a whole new generation of comics creators. “I have been lucky enough to work with him over the last five years, and he has even produced a cover for a comic based on the life of Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, the first Professor of Biology at Dundee, which is coming out later this year.”


Oor Wullie gets cosmic makeover at Dundee University

June 23 2016

Oor Wullie has been given a cosmic makeover by comic artist Dave Gibbons. Dundee University is a sponsor of Oor Wullie’s Bucket Trail, a major public arts event that will bring the streets to life with colour as 50 giant Oor Wullie sculptures are installed in the city this summer. In recognition of the University’s position as one of the UK’s foremost centres of comics scholarship and creation, it was decided that its statue should be designed by comic artist Dave Gibbons.

UK & World

Huge demand for final print edition of The Dandy as Dandy.com takes the reins

December 5 2012

The final print edition of The Dandy flew off the shelves after hitting the stands. Children young and old snapped up tens of thousands of copies of the comic as soon as the last issue reached the shops yesterday, 75 years after Britain's oldest comic was first published. Dundee publishers DC Thomson and Co Ltd printed additional copies of the comic but said there had still been ''unexpected demand'' for its final issue, number 3610. The printed version of the comic bowed out on a high with Sir Paul McCartney appearing in a strip alongside Desperate Dan, 53 years after the former Beatle told an interviewer it was his ambition to appear in The Dandy. Newsagents across the country sold out of The Dandy almost as soon as the comic hit the shelves. However, some purchasers attempted to cash in by selling the comic on internet auction sites such as eBay. One seller had already received a bid of £23.50 for the comic, more than £20 above the cover price, within three hours of posting their listing. One optimistic seller had even fixed a £100 price tag on their copy. Others were equally quick to recognise the final edition of the Dandy as a business opportunity. Desmond Barr, who runs Sinclair Barr Newsagents in Paisley, set up a special stall in the Braehead shopping centre just to sell copies of The Dandy. He said: ''I have never known a demand for a comic like it ever before.'' A spokesman for DC Thomson said: ''The final printed edition of The Dandy has now been delivered to newsagents and retailers across the UK. ''Initial demand has been considerable, in some cases higher than anyone expected.'' The Dandy's first issue was printed in 1937 and yesterday's final issue contained a reprint of the very first issue. While fans were soaking up the history of the printed comic's valedictory final issue yesterday, they were also logging on to http://dandy.com to check out its future. The new website features animated strips as well as games and puzzles. smorkis@thecourier.co.uk

Gadgets & Games

Digital Dan and Dennis Dandy and Beano comics hit the App Store

November 19 2011

Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace have entered the digital age more than three years after celebrating their 70th birthdays. The much-loved Dandy and Beano characters can now be seen on iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch after DC Thomson launched iOS apps. The Dundee-based publisher which also publishes The Courier has announced a digital subscription service for the UK's best-loved comics through Apple's Newsstand. First published in 1937 and 1938 respectively, the two comic institutions join another of DC Thomson's comic legends, Commando, in the App Store. Even though the comics are for children of all ages, DC Thomson says the move into digital publishing underlines its commitment to children's literacy, ensuring the famous comics can be read by kids as widely as possible on all kinds of formats. Teachers, parents and educational experts all acknowledge the role comics have in providing the bridge between picture books and chapter books and with the increasing use of apps by children, the company hopes even more of them can now access their weekly, original and hilarious content. Mike Stirling, editor-in-chief of The Beano, said: "The great thing about the new app on Newsstand is that it guarantees our fans can enjoy The Beano 24/7." Editor-in-chief of The Dandy Craig Graham added: "We're incredibly excited about being available as a digital download. Now people can have the unique school of mock that is The Dandy at their fingertips, wherever they are and whatever they're doing." The Beano and Dandy apps are free to download and come with free issues to try out. The digital comics are enhanced with interactive advertising, video and links to the existing Beano and Dandy websites beano.com and dandy.com. DC Thomson is planning to bring a range of titles to Apple's Newsstand in the coming months.You can find the Beano app by clicking here and the Dandy app by clicking here


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.