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...
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
Panama Papers: Ruth Davidson ‘more than happy’ to publish tax returns as pressure intensifies on politicians
The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said she is “more than happy” to publish her tax returns in the wake of the Panama Papers leak. Ruth Davidson made the statement as Jeremy Corbyn called on government ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron, to make the data public and said he would be happy to do so himself. UK Tory leader Mr Cameron declared he has “no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds”, after his late father Ian’s tax affairs were highlighted in the document disclosure. “I’m more than happy to publish that (tax return data),” Ms Davidson told The Courier. “I don’t have any income outside of what I earn as an MSP.” The Prime Minister himself has sought to distance himself from the data leak row, with Downing Street insisting his family “do not benefit from any offshore funds”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed suggestions by Downing Street that the family’s tax arrangements were a “private” matter and called for an independent investigation into those implicated by the records. But Mr Cameron sidestepped calls for a probe and declined to say if his family had reaped the rewards of an offshore arrangement in the past or were likely to in the future. The Prime Minister was asked to confirm that “you and your family have not derived any benefit in the past and will not in the future” from the offshore fund set up by Ian Cameron referred to in the papers leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. During a visit to Birmingham, Mr Cameron said: “In terms of my own financial affairs, I own no shares. I have a salary as Prime Minister and I have some savings, which I get some interest from, and I have a house, which we used to live in, which we now let out while we are living in Downing Street, and that’s all I have. “I own no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And so that, I think, is a very clear description.” He insisted that “no prime minister has done more” to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. And Ms Davidson defended the UK Government’s record on cracking down on tax dodging, despite Mr Cameron’s father being named in the tranche of documents. “It’s worth pointing out that some of the stuff in this particular example goes back decades,” she said. “These are things which have been in train for a long, long time and it is exactly this government that is trying to stop stuff happening and I believe they deserve our support.” The focus on Mr Cameron’s personal finances came as Iceland’s prime minister became the first political casualty of the Panama Papers leak. Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit in the face of mass protests over reported offshore financial dealings by him and his wife. Mr Cameron’s father ran an offshore fund that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents - including a part-time bishop - to sign its paperwork, according to the Guardian. Ian Cameron, who died in 2010, was a director of Blairmore Holdings Inc, which, until 2006, used unregistered “bearer shares” to protect its clients’ privacy. His use of the firm to help shield investments from UK tax helped build up a significant legacy, part of which was inherited by the Prime Minister. There is no suggestion that this avoidance arrangement or others exposed by the leak were anything but entirely legal or that Mr Cameron’s family did not pay the UK tax due on any repatriated assets. Mr Corbyn said he wanted an investigation conducted by HM Revenue and Customs “about the amount of money of all people that have invested in these shell companies or put money into tax havens and to calculate what tax they should have paid over the years”. The Labour leader said: “It’s a private matter in so far as it’s a privately held interest, but it’s not a private matter if tax has not been paid. “So an investigation must take place, an independent investigation.” Mr Corbyn also suggested the Government could intervene to take direct control of the UK’s offshore tax havens. “If it’s necessary for ministers to intervene because the governments of the Overseas Territories won’t act, they can use an order in council to take control of them immediately,” he said. The Prime Minister has championed the transparency agenda at a series of international summits, and legislation forcing British companies to disclose who owns and benefits from their activities comes into force in June. But despite several years of pressure, the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have proved reluctant to fully open up their business registers to UK law enforcement agencies. Mr Cameron hopes for more action ahead of a major international anti-corruption summit he is hosting in May. A Number 10 source said the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories must deliver “full and effective transparency” for the UK authorities on the beneficial ownership of companies in their jurisdictions. The UK believes it is close to agreement with the Crown Dependencies, Bermuda and Gibraltar but “we need to get Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands over the line” by the May summit.
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.
Differences between David Cameron and a major Conservative donor have burst into the open with the serialisation of a book containing allegations about the Prime Minister's time as a student. The claims relating to his alleged youthful excesses are in a book entitled Call Me Dave by billionaire peer Lord Ashcroft and journalist Isabel Oakeshott, serialised in the Daily Mail. The book also alleges that Mr Cameron was aware Lord Ashcroft had not given up his controversial "non dom" tax status when he joined the House of Lords earlier than was previously admitted. Downing Street has declined to comment on its contents, which are likely to cast a shadow over the Conservatives' upcoming annual conference in Manchester. "I am not intending to dignify this book by offering any comment," the Prime Minister's official spokeswoman said. "He (Lord Ashcroft) has set out his reasons for writing it. The Prime Minister is focused on getting on with the job of running the country." Sources close to the Prime Minister said they "did not recognise" the accusations, which include claims Mr Cameron was present at events where drugs were taken and was part of a decadent Oxford University dining society. It is claimed that as a member of the Piers Gaveston society - named after the lover of Edward II - Mr Cameron took part in a bizarre initiation ceremony which involved him inserting "a private part of his anatomy" in the mouth of a dead pig. Lord Ashcroft said that he was told about the incident by an Oxford contemporary of Mr Cameron who is now an MP and who claimed to have seen a photograph of the event. The authors said that they attempted to contact the owner of the alleged photograph but received no response. In the book, due to be published next month, Lord Ashcroft acknowledges he has a personal "beef" with the Prime Minister after his failure to offer him a significant job in his administration following the formation of the coalition government in 2010. He claimed the PM initially blamed Liberal Democrat coalition partners for blocking his appointment, before offering him a junior role at the Foreign Office which he described as "declinable", adding: "It would have been better had Cameron offered me nothing at all." Made a life peer by William Hague in 2000 after saving the party financially as treasurer in the wake of its disastrous 1997 election defeat, Lord Ashcroft has given around £8 million to the Tories and was deputy chairman during Mr Cameron's period as leader in opposition. In his book, Lord Ashcroft claims that as early as 2009 he spoke with Mr Cameron about how to delay revealing his "non-dom" tax status - which allowed him to avoid tax on overseas earnings - until after the following year's general election. This contradicts a Conservative assertion at the time when the controversial status became known in 2010 that Mr Cameron had been told only a month before. Lord Ashcroft - who had given a commitment to become resident in the UK for tax purposes when he was made a peer - subsequently gave up his non-dom status in order to retain his place on the Conservative benches in the Lords. The book also describes how the Tories' Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby described Mr Cameron as a "posh c***" while he was working in the Conservative Campaign HQ during the 2005 general election. Asked about Lord Ashcroft's allegations at a press conference during his visit to China, Chancellor George Osborne said only: "I haven't seen that book." Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Sky News the allegations were "extraordinary" but "a bit of a sideshow". He said: "The reality is we respect people's right to a private life and a past. The critical thing in all of this is that those of us who are in politics mustn't be hypocrites."
Sir, I refer to your article, Glenrothes man ready for fresh “bedroom tax” battle, December 24. I fully support Mr Nelson in this and the other people who have been put in this position. I hope he does go to the European Court and embarrasses the Government into rescinding this ignominious regulation. I find it incomprehensible that this Government of the “we’re all in it together” philosophy is penalising poor people for having an extra bedroom while giving a council tax rebate to owner-occupiers for under occupation. This council tax rebate is paid for by us all. It allows an individual to buy a three-bedroom house and offset his council tax because he is a sole occupier. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone? But this Tory Government makes its own subversive agenda. They crack down on people abusing the welfare system, which is fair enough, but seem to think it is perfectly OK for a member of the House of Lords to walk away with £3,000 a month to support his mouldering pile. In what way is this man different to anyone else on welfare? Well, for one thing, he has a well-paid job that he appears to be too damned idle to do. Unlike the lower paid workers who don’t earn enough to support themselves and their families. However, what do you expect, he is a lord. You don’t really expect him to work, do you? It would be interesting to hear the Scottish Tories’ view on this. Lindsay Johnston. The Gauldry. What is point of obstruction? Sir, Heading south by car out of Cupar has always needed careful driving. Traffic coming out of Tesco’s car park has to be watched carefully as have vehicles heading into Cupar from the Ceres road junction. Those hazards negotiated, the next hurdle is residents’ parked cars taking up one third of the road and leaving space in and out for two lanes of cars only. One bus, lorry or even large van heading either way and one lane has to stop. Once all this is safely passed the road is clear sorry was clear. Out of the blue for many motorists comes a traffic island stretching across half the road. While there are sunken drains and holes in the road all over the place this sturdy, well-built obstruction appeared as an obvious priority for the authorities. Why? If it is designed to slow down traffic on what was a formerly clear road it is a failure. What now happens is that traffic heading south either stops and then, when their route is clear, accelerates in a rush to get on with their journey or, if there is no oncoming traffic, rush to get past the obstruction before oncoming traffic builds up. Between repairing the road and building an unnecessary obstruction the sensible option is obvious . . . to everyone except the road authorities, it would seem. Ian Wheeler. Springfield, Fife. Extortionate short-haul fare Sir, Over the years a variety of reasons have been put forward to explain the gradual decline in passenger numbers using Dundee Airport. In fact, for a while there was almost a “head in the sand” attitude as to what has always been a root cause viz the absolutely extortionate fares being charged for the short-haul domestic routes on offer. This was recently highlighted in your article, Service ‘is preposterously expensive’, (December 24), which drew attention to the experience of Mr David McGovern who was recently quoted a fare of £650 for a return flight from Dundee to London City. I had a similar experience some time ago when required to rejoin my ship which was berthed at the Excel Centre in London. A flight from Dundee to London City was logistical perfection. I put this to the owners who were responsible for my travelling expenses and they concurred that this sounded ideal but requested that I obtain a fare quotation before booking. The fare quoted bore no resemblance to reality and I was promptly instructed to abandon the idea and book the shuttle from Edinburgh to Heathrow at a fraction of the cost. To put things into proper perspective here, the £650 fare quoted to Mr McGovern for his flight to London City actually buys you a return flight from Glasgow to Bangkok via Dubai with Emirates Airlines and includes some 15 hrs of free in-flight food and drink. Until Dundee Airport can come up with services offering competitive fares it is going nowhere. Roy R Russell. 1c Smithy Road, Balmullo. Seasonal sanctimony Sir, Few can have been surprised when a sanctimonious Vince Cable compared David Cameron to Enoch Powell because he voiced concern over the new immigrant flood. Mr Cable was supported by his posturing party leader Nick Clegg who grandly declared he would not tolerate any further curbs on EU immigration. The Lib Dem leader made the absurd claim that Tories want a “no-entry sign” on the cliffs of Dover and “German lawyers, Dutch accountantsand Finnish engineers expelled”. In fact, Mr Cameron’s real sin has been to reflect the views of Joe Public who, in the eyes of the metropolitan elite, is too stupid to have an opinion worthy of consideration. The tsunami will not trouble Mr Cable’s leafy Thameside constituency, but others already struggle with the immigrant impact on their schools, transport and health care. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Prime Minister David Cameron will enter the Holyrood election battle with a swipe at the two men vying to be First Minister. The Scottish Parliament election campaign has become increasingly focused on the strengths and weaknesses of the SNP and Labour leaders. But writing exclusively in Wednesday's Courier, Mr Cameron insists the election is not about personality but policy. He says, "This election isn't about Alex Salmond and Iain Gray, no matter what they think. It's far more important than that. "It's about the future of Scotland and its place in the Union, it's about jobs, prosperity and who's got the right ideas to make Scotland a richer, fairer and safer place." Mr Cameron, who will visit Inverness on Wednesday, goes on to outline how he believes the first year of the Conservative-led Westminster Government has benefited Scotland. He highlights the Tory record during the last four years at Holyrood, including their part in securing more police on the streets, regeneration of town centres, a council tax freeze and new national drugs strategy. Mr Cameron says his party is "getting things done" north of the border. He writes, "When you're in that polling booth thinking about who's up to the job, remember that it's the Conservatives who really get things done. "Whether we're in government at Westminster or in a minority parliament at Holyrood, we have shown we deliver for Scotland."Read Mr Cameron's full article in today's Courier.
Celebrated Dunfermline wildlife cameraman Doug Allan will take Scots for a talk on the wild side this week. Doug, described by David Attenborough as “the toughest in the business”, will give the latest illustrated talks in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s Inspiring People series from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) will kick off the new year in Dundee and Dunfermline. Anyone who has enjoyed BBC series Ocean Giants and Human Planet will have seen the quality of Doug’s work. From scenes shot on the dizzying heights of Mount Everest, to close-ups of killer whales, he has provided TV watchers with some of the most memorable wildlife images ever captured. Now, Doug will tell the stories behind these images. His illustrated talk comes in the middle of a series of talks, Inspiring People, hosted by RSGS from last September to this April. The series showcases talks from explorers, adventurers, extreme sports people, geologists, entomologists and TV personalities who have journeyed across the earth in search of exciting experiences. Gemma McDonald, RSGS spokeswoman, said: “We are thrilled to have Doug speak for us. “It is unusual for a person whose work takes place behind the camera to be so well known by the public. “However, it is a testament to Doug’s ground-breaking work that his name is immediately associated with some of the most awesome wildlife footage that we have seen this decade. “We look forward to Doug’s talk as a chance to hear some of the stories behind his most famous images, as well as to hear his opinions on how the natural world is changing around us.” She added Doug perfectly embodied the Inspiring People series; as a graduate from a Scottish university himself, it was hoped his achievements can inspire the latest generation of graduates to use their passion and new-found knowledge of the natural world to raise awareness of geographical and environmental issues. His talks will be held at 7.30pm on Tuesday in the tower extension building at Dundee University and on Wednesday in St Andrews-Erskine Church in Dunfermline. More information can be found at www.rsgs.org.
Jimmy Nicholl is confident it will only be a matter of time before Cowdenbeath predecessor Colin Cameron is back in management. Nicholl took up the reins at Central Park at the weekend following Cameron’s departure with the team stuck in second-bottom place in the Championship. Cameron joined the Blue Brazil in 2010 as Nicholl’s assistant and succeeded his old Raith Rovers boss as manager a year later following relegation to the Second Division. The 41-year-old won the title and promotion back to the second-tier in his first season in charge and kept the Fife outfit in the league last term, but left last week having won just three of 14 league matches this season. However, Nicholl, who consulted his former number two before agreeing to take over at Cowdenbeath, believes ‘Mickey’ will not be out of work for long. He said: “As far as I’m concerned, once another opportunity comes up, Mickey will be back in there straight away. “He’s got the appetite and the enthusiasm and knowledge to become a very good manager and I’m sure that will happen for him. “He was just having a bad time of it recently. They were starting off well in matches and creating chances but were then slipping away when they lost a goal and accepting defeat. “If things change under me then people will always question why players haven’t been doing it for the previous manager. But sometimes these things happen in football and it doesn’t mean Mickey is a bad manager.” Cameron’s successful 20-year playing career took him to 10 clubs, including Raith Rovers, Hearts, Wolves and Dundee and saw him gain 28 international caps. Cowdenbeath chairman Donald Findlay QC last week paid tribute to Cameron’s contribution during his three and a half years at Central Park, saying he was sad to see him leave.