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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

Motoring news

New Audi range is electrifying

June 7 2017

Audi has been relentless in its expansion over the past decade, scattering new models like confetti. It shows no sign of slowing down as we head towards the end of the decade. If anything, in fact, the company is increasing the pace of its model range expansion. The most recent news is the announcement of two new “Q” models – which will bring its SUV range to five – and three all-electric e-tron models. The German car maker intends that at least 30 per cent of its sales will be of electric or part-electric models by 2025, and aims to have the technology available for driverless city cars within four years. The plans were outlined to Audi shareholders during the brand’s AGM in Neckarsulm, Germany. Chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We are rejuvenating our model portfolio enormously and will renew five existing core model series by mid-2018. “In addition, we will expand our successful Q family by 2019 with two new concepts – the Audi Q8 and the Audi Q4 – and we will launch our battery-electric e-tron models.” The Q4 and Q8 will have coupe-like rooflines similar to BMW’s X4 and X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe. Three new electric Audis will appear by 2020, and the brand will then introduce electric versions across its core model ranges. Audi is also taking over the development of autonomous car technology across the Volkswagen Group and the first examples of driverless cars will be launched early in the next decade. Meanwhile the new ‘myAudi’ programme will establish a digital platform for online services across the range. The latter half of 2017 will see Audi update its luxury flagship models. A new A8 will be unveiled later this month and will be followed by a new A7. Audi haven’t confirmed yet but it seems likely we will soon see replacements for other older models in the range such as the A1, A6 and Q3. 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.

Hammond pledges further tax clampdown on digital firms

November 22 2017

Online giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon will pay a tax on their digital royalties to further clamp down on tax avoidance and raise £200 million a year, the Chancellor has announced. Philip Hammond moved to add to the so-called Google Tax by pledging to charge income tax on royalties relating to UK sales even when they are paid to a low-tax jurisdiction and would not normally be taxed in the UK under current rules, starting from April 2019. But he admitted it will only go some way towards evening out the tax treatment of digital firms and to tackling tax avoidance. Experts said the online VAT avoidance clampdown will come as a bombshell to the likes of eBay (eBay/PA) He said: “Multinational digital businesses pay billions of pounds in royalties to jurisdictions where they are not taxed and some of those relate to UK sales.” The Chancellor added: “This does not solve the problem, but it does send a signal of our determination and we will continue work in the international arena to find a sustainable and fair long-term solution that properly taxes the digital businesses that operate in our cyberspace.” Mr Hammond also announced that online marketplaces will be jointly liable with sellers for VAT in order to address online VAT fraud, which costs the taxpayer £1.2 billion a year. He said this would ensure “sellers operating through them pay the right amount of VAT, just as we would expect traditional retailers to do”. The Government is also looking at a split VAT payment model to reduce online VAT fraud and improve how VAT is collected. Digital platforms will likewise be asked to play a “wider role in ensuring their users are compliant with the tax rules”, according to this year’s Budget, with the Government set to publish a call for evidence in spring 2018 to explore what more can be done by digital platforms. Kate Ison, senior associate at Berwin Leighton Paisner, said the announcement is set to see a swathe of HM Revenue and Customs investigations over the next year. She said: “Tackling offshore tax avoidance remains high on the political agenda. “The Government has confirmed its intention to introduce new rules to tax royalties on UK sales where those royalties are paid to a low-tax jurisdiction. “In the short term, we can expect investigations by HMRC into digital businesses to increase.” The Budget statement showed while the increased income tax from multinationals is expected to bring in £200 million a year on average, it will rise to £285 million in 2019-20 before falling in each of the following years to £130 million in 2022-23. Under the online VAT crackdown, all businesses operating on platforms will have to show a valid VAT number. National accountancy group UHY Hacker Young said the online VAT announcement will come as a “bombshell” to the likes of Amazon and eBay. Michelle Dale, VAT Manager at UHY Hacker Young, said: “This is an enormous new power for HMRC, and the taxman is clearly targeting a sea change in attitudes among the online marketplaces.” “The cost to the major platforms if they fail to police their sellers properly is now potentially massive,” she added. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Holly Williams, Press Association Deputy City Editor'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'd9e0b68d-3370-419a-af69-a020e928016d'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:finance,paservice:finance:city,paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Hammond pledges further tax clampdown on digital firms'});

Dundee

Conde Nast provides international recognition for Dundee’s renaissance

December 15 2017

One of the world’s leading travel magazines has singled out Dundee as one of the main reaons to visit the UK in 2018. Condé Nast Travller magazine also includes an articled by Dundee-born comedian and writer Danny Wallace about the city’s recent renaissance. Including the UK in its 10 destinations to watch in 2018, the magazine cites Dundee as  one of the main reasons to visit the UK, along with London and Bristol. It states: “A surprise entry this year: Dundee. Its soon-to-be-launched V&A Museum of Design, large populations of galleries and art students, and plum spot on the Firth of Tay make a strong case for a highland fling.” * For more on this story — including why Dundee is no longer the butt of jokes for comedians — pick up Saturday’s culturally cognisant Courier, also available as a digital edition.  

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. Audi TT RS Coupé. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.

UK & World

PM and Irish Taoiseach to hold face-to-face meeting

March 22 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May is to hold a bilateral meeting with the Irish Taoiseach in Brussels later on Thursday.The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is one of the most vexing issues facing Brexit negotiators.Irish premier Leo Varadkar is hoping to agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and UK at this week’s European Council summit of leaders, with the focus on progress in the negotiations.On Monday the UK and EU agreed terms for a transition period.The draft text of a withdrawal treaty includes an agreement that there must be a backstop solution to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland if no other answers are found.The Irish Government has insisted the UK has provided a “cast-iron guarantee” that will ensure no physical infrastructure, checks or controls at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after withdrawal.Without any other broader trade solution, Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU regulations which affect the island.Most of the detail around how the border arrangements would operate have not been agreed.Mr Varadkar said: “On Friday we will meet in Article 50 format to discuss the Brexit negotiations.“This is an important moment in the Article 50 negotiations and it is hoped that we can agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.“I am pleased that the UK has now agreed that a backstop solution to avoid a hard border proposed in December, will form part of the legal text, and that all the issues identified by the EU side in the draft will be addressed, to deliver a legally sound solution to avoid a hard border on our island.“Prime Minister May confirmed this in a letter to (European Council) President (Donald) Tusk on Monday.”Discussions over Thursday and Friday will also focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness, external relations, the future of Europe and particularly digital taxation, and further and better economic and monetary union.On Thursday, European leaders will discuss and adopt conclusions on jobs, growth, competitiveness including the Single Market, social issues, and trade.They will also consider external relations including Turkey and the Western Balkans.Leaders’ discussions are intended to facilitate open exchanges of views on the future of Europe.Mr Varadkar added: “The main focus this evening will be on digital taxation.“We believe that global solutions are needed to ensure that tax is paid by companies where value is created and profits are generated, reflecting the highly international nature of the digital economy.“I will strongly argue that the EU should wait for the OECD to complete its work before deciding on how to act, and should only do so in the context of agreement on an international level.”

UK & World

Irish Taoiseach hopes to agree EU-UK guidelines

March 22 2018

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hopes to agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and UK at this week’s European Council summit.Discussions in Brussels between European leaders on Friday will focus on progress in the Brexit negotiations.On Monday the UK and EU agreed terms for a Brexit transition period.The draft text of a withdrawal treaty includes an agreement that there must be a backstop solution to ensure that there is no hard border on the island of Ireland if no other answers are found.The Irish Government has insisted the UK has provided a “cast-iron guarantee” that will ensure no physical infrastructure, checks, or controls at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after withdrawal,Without any other broader trade solution Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU regulations which affect the island.Most of the detail around how the border arrangements would operate have not been agreed.Mr Varadkar said: “On Friday we will meet in Article 50 format to discuss the Brexit negotiations.“This is an important moment in the Article 50 negotiations and it is hoped that we can agree guidelines on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.“I am pleased that the UK has now agreed that a backstop solution to avoid a hard border proposed in December, will form part of the legal text, and that all the issues identified by the EU side in the draft will be addressed, to deliver a legally sound solution to avoid a hard border on our island.“Prime Minister May confirmed this in a letter to President Tusk on Monday.”Discussions over Thursday and Friday will also focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness, external relations, the future of Europe and particularly digital taxation, and further and better economic and monetary union.On Thursday European leaders will discuss and adopt conclusions on jobs, growth, competitiveness including the Single Market, social issues, and trade.They will also consider external relations including Turkey and the Western Balkans.Leaders’ discussions are intended to facilitate open exchanges of views on the future of Europe.Mr Varadkar added: “The main focus this evening will be on digital taxation.“We believe that global solutions are needed to ensure that tax is paid by companies where value is created and profits are generated, reflecting the highly international nature of the digital economy.“I will strongly argue that the EU should wait for the OECD to complete its work before deciding on how to act, and should only do so in the context of agreement on an international level.”

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