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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…

Lifestyle

Does a return to Victorian-style society beckon?

June 20 2016

The phrase “James Bond-style lair” was what caught my attention. Having occasionally pondered world domination, perhaps with help from “lasers” attached to the heads of sharks, I was fascinated by an online article describing the ultimate home, except of course for all the other ultimate homes described in similar online articles. Written by Grand Designs TV presenter Kevin McCloud, the piece described a 90ft water tower, surrounded by ultramodern additions transforming it into a headquarters that would make any megalomaniac proud, right up until the spectacular explosion that could be predicted during the entire third act. With a gym, sauna, rooftop garden and more bedrooms and bathrooms than anyone would want to clean, it had all the features that only a lottery win, gilded inheritance or career in the City could bring. I quivered with envy and ignored the £2.5 million price. It’s easy to be seduced by property porn, because we all dream of having an ideal place to lay our heads, like modern-day Eliza Doolittles. The first flat I owned was in Ballantine Place, Perth. Pretty much everyone in Perth has either lived in the street, or knows someone who has, or has been to a party there. I think I hosted many of those parties. I loved that wee flat, if I may be permitted a jumpers-for-goalposts moment. It had no heating, walls the texture of a cobbled street and visibly-flawed double-glazing, but it was a place I could call my own, as I mulled my conquest of the Earth. Now, housing prices makes it difficult enough to own a home at all. There’s a whole generation of young people who can only dream of affording what their parents had, unless their parents give it to them. But it doesn’t take much effort to find reports of the high cost of living and low pay rises, if any, in the UK. It’s a situation that can’t – and won’t – continue. Something’s got to give, before we end up in a Victorian-style society with a tiny minority of wealthy people owning everything. They’re the real villains, and their lair will be everywhere.

Music

Fat Sam’s date for Eliza Doolittle

October 21 2010

Indie-pop princess Eliza Doolittle is just a tad tired of comparisons to labelmate Lily Allen. And she has a point. Listen to her delightful debut album and the points of reference shining through are more akin to The Beach Boys, The Kinks, Stevie Wonder, Vampire Weekend and even Arctic Monkeys. Plus elements of jazz, blues and soul in that deliciously melodic collection of songs. Okay, there might be one wee bit of her that sounds a touch like Allen but, as we all know, one swallow does not a summer make… As Eliza told Rocktalk, “I think we’re completely different and I think I’m completely different to anything else. I do like a lot of different people and I write about whatever I like. I don’t think about genres I just get the song and go for it. “It’s old-fashioned pop music, a throwback to when there were no different genres it was all just popular music.” And the results have been astounding: her debut album went gold, hitting the top three in the album charts and two top 20 singles (Pack up went top five) followed. “It’s been amazing way better than I thought it would be,” she admitted. “I started writing from quite a young age and first recorded a song called Mr Mysterious. I recorded it at my friend’s brother’s house. I got a publishing deal at 16 and then signed a deal about two years ago. I spent all that time trying to find out my own sound. Obviously the songs I wrote when I was 14 or 15 are a lot different to the ones I wrote when I was 18 but then I started out wanting to be in Destiny’s Child!” Ultimately, Eliza wants people who listen to her music to have fun. “I want to write songs people can sing to. I can think of nothing more exciting than travelling the world and playing to audiences and having them sing your words.”IncredibleTo that end, she’s been developing her live act, now surrounding herself with “the most incredible musicians they’re offbeat, really cool, and they’re singing the songs with me too. “When I first played live I would shake with fear and my voice would tremble. But I do it for the love of it. There’s nothing I love more than playing live.” Eliza toured the UK around the July release of the self-titled album, which brought her up north to Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. “Belladrum was brilliant it was one of my favourite festivals of the year. I loved it and there was a great crowd, all singing along and leaping about but Scottish crowds are always great. I’ve got a soft spot for Scotland anyway because all the radio DJs have played my stuff right from the start. I don’t know why, but I’m very grateful for it. “My grandad is Scottish, too, although I don’t know where he was from. I’ll have to research my roots I think.”Eliza is back in Scotland on Thursday, October 21, for a slot at Fat Sam’s in Dundee. The bad news for anyone interested is that the gig is already a sell-out. Support comes from London-based pop singer Joe Worricker.

News

A doubly good fund-raiser for Maggie’s Centre

November 1 2010

More than 400 women got dressed up to attend this year’s Floor-length and Fabulous Maggie’s Lunch at Piperdam. Demand for fund-raising tickets in aid of the Dundee cancer care centre was so high that two separate events had to be held, attracting 440 ladies. Sheriff Lindsay Wood acted as MC and auctioneer for the lunches and entertainment was provided by special guests Britain’s Got Talent runners-up, the Chippendoubles. Auction prizes included a signed Colin Montgomerie golf shirt, a pearl necklace and bracelet set, tank driving, quad biking and a signed Eliza Doolittle guitar with tickets to Fat Sams Live. Community fund-raising co-ordinator for Maggie’s, Tracey Curry, said the |lunches had been a great success and it was hoped the total cash raised would top £28,000. “Maggie’s is really well known for entertainment, but people have been really taken aback by the quality of entertainment this year,” she said. “We are now looking to do another two days next year.”

Amber Lights

The comical side of too much alcohol

April 14 2018

Maybe I’m mistaken but we seem to have lost our ability to laugh about alcohol and its funny consequences. In bygone years, the village drunkard was a standard character in countless plays. Arguably, there are more jokes about drink than about sex. Music hall, radio and TV comedy sketches often portrayed the hazards of too much drink, especially whisky, but they made people laugh, they didn’t wag a censorious finger or make moral judgements. Older readers may recall the great radio show ITMA, whose most popular character was the forever inebriated Colonel Chinstrap, whose constant reply to any offer of a drink, “I don’t mind if I do,” became part of the language. Or think of Tintin’s boon companion, the hilarious Captain Haddock. When he first appeared he was a total alcoholic but, two books on, had reformed and almost become TT. In Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, later the musical My Fair Lady, Eliza’s father—the dustman Alfred Doolittle—spends every spare minute and bawbee he has in the pub. Yet he is an endearing character. Many public figures were renowned for their partiality to the dram. Churchill for one. Margaret Thatcher, and especially husband Denis, liked the odd “tincture”, or even three. And Russian President Boris Yeltsin was rarely known to be sober. Drink has always had a key role in drama, particularly Shakespeare. Falstaff is a near-total drunkard and Lady Macbeth plots to get the king’s guards drunk so Macbeth can murder Duncan and pin the blame on them. One can also say drinking songs are as much part of opera as love songs. Ask anyone what’s the best-known sea shanty and they’ll sing: “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” Audiences around the world sang along with Sir Harry Lauder when he warbled: “A Wee Doch ‘n’ Doris”.  And one cannot count the Scots, Irish and American folk songs that are about whisky and illicit distilling. So why have we gone so po-faced about drink in recent times? All right, alcohol has ended careers — we all lament George Best and Paul Gascoigne —and blighted many relationships and ruined many lives. However, I still feel laughter may be more therapeutic in certain circumstances than finger-wagging and threatening to set minimum unit prices.  

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

Slippery situation has Svitolina in knots

January 17 2018

Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina did not enjoy being introduced to a snake as part of an interview with a TV station at the Australian Open. The fourth seed was asked to pose with the snake by Channel 7 and was clearly not thrilled, even though she managed to joke in a tweet about it afterwards. Safe to say: @ElinaSvitolina is not a fan of snakes 🐍😱🤣#ausopen pic.twitter.com/Lobrg9lje9— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 17, 2018Just casual post match interview with @Channel7 ! #australia 🙈 pic.twitter.com/szGMl8bTE0— Elina Svitolina (@ElinaSvitolina) January 17, 2018 (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 Press Association Sport Staff'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '9769fb4d-81c6-4030-bd9d-11f15ae577ef'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:sport,paservice:sport:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', 'sport:tennis'); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Slippery situation has Svitolina in knots'});

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.

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

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

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