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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...


Comment: Scots end season and tour on a limp note

June 24 2017

Just in case we forgot, it’s still Scotland. A week after the best away win this century, the Scots were deservedly beaten by Fiji in Suva. One step forward, two back as normal? Well, maybe; at least if this game can be treated as an outlier, a tired squad at the end of the long season in humid conditions against a Fiji side that has mixed their natural and traditional flair with physical defence and some structure in setpiece. Only this is the second game in this long season – played eleven, won seven, lost four – that we’re having to treat as an exception to the trend. The first was the Calcutta Cup debacle, and with 30 missed tackles, Suva was almost as bad defensively. The strength in depth we were all extolling last week in Sydney turned out to be a bit misleading; without the pace generated by Finn Russell and Ali Price at half-back they looked punchless. Alex Dunbar was badly missed, John Barclay and Jonny Gray looked exhausted. The aerial game, especially at the contestable restarts, was dreadful; Scotland conceded 10 points directly after they had scored due to failing to secure Fiji’s short kick-offs. At least Gregor Townsend – who played in the 51-26 disaster in Fiji in 1998 – learned plenty about some players. The tour has been a success despite this, only now the new head coach faces his toughest task. Having had the squad together like a club for two months, he now doesn’t see them for four months. It starts again fresh in November, and maintaining Scotland’s upward curve then will be much more testing.

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


Cooking up support – Leuchars army community rallies to help Fijian soldiers’ families blighted by Cyclone Winston

March 11 2016

Army personnel and members of the civilian community were united at Leuchars Station on Thursday March 10 as a fundraising lunch was held for families of serving soldiers impacted by Cyclone Winston in Fiji. The charity lunch, with food cooked in a traditional Fijian Earth Oven by the Fijian community, was supported by military chefs. Local farmer Harry Black was hugely supportive, donating vegetables for the event, and children from Leuchars Primary School were also invited. The Leuchars-based Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (SCOTS DG) has 25 Fijian soldiers attached to the regiment, many of whom have families that have been severely affected by Cyclone Winston. Another Leuchars-based regiment, 2 CS Bn Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) also have a strong Fijian presence. SCOTS DG regimental signals officer Captain Chris Pyman told The Courier: “It has been decided to host a fundraising lunch to raise funds which can be distributed equitably amongst the Station Fijian community to have a direct impact back at home. “A lot of our Fijian guys have families who have been affected. Some of their villages have been completely washed away. “Whilst it’s an emotional time for them, our Fijian soldiers tend to keep things to themselves. They tend to take the stiff upper lip approach and would never ask for help. “But when help was offered by the Station, it has been gratefully received, and we are delighted to pull together. Many of these guys have served with us in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you can’t put a price on that.” As reported by The Courier last week, Fijian soldiers from SCOTS DG held a special prayer service whilst on exercise in Warcop, Cumbria, last week. Severe tropical Cyclone Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall over Fiji on record, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and killing 43 people. The system was first noted as a tropical disturbance on February 7, when it was located to the northwest of Port Vila, Vanuatu. Over the next few days, the system gradually developed as it moved southeast, acquiring gale-force winds by February 11. The following day it underwent rapid intensification with winds of 175 km/h (110 mph) reached. It struck Fiji’s archipelago of 300 islands as a Category 5 storm on February 20. Total damage was estimated at FJ$1 billion (US $460 million).

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.


Fijian troops say prayers for family and friends after cyclone hits their homeland

March 4 2016

A group of Fijian soldiers attached to the Leuchars-based Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (SCOTS DG) have held a special prayer service to remember the lives lost and the terrible destruction caused in their homeland by Cyclone Winston. Corporal Timoci Tuitubou led the service with a reading from Habakuk 03:1-4. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Defence’s Warcop live firing training ranges in Cumbria, where the SCOTS DG are on exercise. Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Dom Coombes told The Courier: “Hurricane Winston hit Fiji eight or nine days ago. “Some of our guys have family who have been badly affected by it. But, of course, for the guys here, they are a long way from home and clearly it’s an emotional time for them. “We are one big family so we all get together. They are quite religious so getting together and saying their hymns is their way of coming together. “Next week we are trying fundraising events in Leuchars, to try to raise funds for some of the families of their guys. “Some of our guys have seen overhead imagery of where their villages used to be and they are gone. “So the need is there to rebuild houses. “Equally, if it was any of our other Foreign and Commonwealth guys or, really, anyone, that’s what we do. We come together and look after each other.” Tens of thousands of people in Fiji are living in evacuation centres after Cyclone Winston tore across the South Pacific country last week, the United Nations Children’s Fund has said. The total number of people forced from their homes in the archipelago nation of more than 300 islands is expected to be much higher, as many fled to relatives and are not included in the data. Cyclone Winston, the worst storm recorded in the southern hemisphere, left 42 people dead, according Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office. The category-five storm has also deprived many of water and it could be weeks before electricity is restored. Australia has sent a military vessel, HMAS Canberra. It is carrying three helicopters and 60 tonnes of supplies, including water purification equipment and medicine. The severe tropical cyclone hit Fiji this month with winds gusts up to 325km/h and waves up to 12 metres high.

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.


Dundee named alongside Los Angeles, Singapore, Florence and Patagonia in Bloomberg ‘top 22’ world destinations

January 5 2018

A leading US business magazine has named Dundee next to Los Angeles, Singapore and Florence as one of the top destinations in the world. The City of Discovery is sixth on Bloomberg Businessweek's "top 22" destinations to visit in 2018. It takes its places on the "where to go" list next to entire countries including Singapore, South Korea, Jordan, Namibia and Fiji. Chilean Patagonia and Borneo also feature next to Dundee on the list. Bloomberg claims that May is the best time of year to visit Tayside, citing the forthcoming V&A Museum, the RRS Discovery and the city's proximity to Edinburgh. It adds that November to February is the worst time to visit Dundee as "the area’s notoriously rainy weather is at its worst and the days are painfully short". It comes after the city was named "Scotland's coolest city" by the Wall Street Journal. The Bloomberg article states that "few international travellers have heard of this port town 60 miles north of Edinburgh", adding: "It’s best known as the 19th-century centre of the jute trade and the (supposed) birthplace of orange marmalade. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/532740/scotlands-coolest-city-wall-street-journal-names-dundee-worlds-top-ten-travel-destinations/ "But later this year, Scotland’s first design museum, the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, will open on the city’s waterfront in a gleaming building that evokes a ship’s prow jutting over the water; it will showcase Scotland’s wide-ranging design legacy, including Hunter boots and Dennis the Menace cartoons. "It’s just one piece of a $1.3 billion revitalization project on the River Tay that will also include a new train station, art installations, and an urban beach—cementing Dundee’s status as an up-and-coming cultural hub. "Travellers can come on day trips from Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, or arrive directly by ship: Azamara Club Cruisesand Crystal Cruises make their first calls here in July."


‘Dundee’s revolution is now visible to a global audience’: Bloomberg recognition shows Dundee’s ‘star is on the rise’

January 6 2018

Local figureheads say Dundee's inclusion in a list of the world's top destinations is a sign that the city's resurgence is being "recognised" globally. Leading US weekly magazine Bloomberg Businessweek named the City of Discovery sixth on its "top 22" places to visit in 2018 alongside the likes of Los Angeles, New Orleans, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Florence. It also takes pride of place on the "where to go" list next to South Korea, Jordan, Chilean Patagonia, Borneo, Namibia, Cambodia and Fiji. Bloomberg claim that May is the best time of year to visit Tayside, citing the forthcoming V&A Dundee as a building that will "showcase Scotland’s wide-ranging design legacy". The Bloomberg article adds: "It’s just one piece of a $1.3 billion revitalization project on the River Tay that will also include a new train station, art installations, and an urban beach—cementing Dundee’s status as an up-and-coming cultural hub." And last night Dundee gaming pioneer Chris van der Kuyl said the inclusion on the list is a sign of how far the city has come in recent years. He added: "I am not surprised any more. I think our confidence in the city is being recognised by others. Whereas a decade ago people would have really raised their eyebrows at something like this, now it is pretty normal. "The fact that we are right up with some pretty incredible 21st-century destinations is amazing. Dundee is all about the future. I think Dundee's revolution is now visible to a global audience. "2018 is going to be one of the most significant years in Dundee's history, not least because of the V&A and the new waterfront being unveiled to the world. More people realise Dundee is the place to come. "I think the more people start recognising Dundee as the exciting place it is, the more people will visit." Leader of Dundee City Council John Alexander said it was "absolutely fantastic" to see "further international recognition of the journey that our city is on". He added: "As Dundonians, we are often our hardest critic and it's always illuminating to hear from an outside perspective. It's clear to see that the reputation and confidence of the city is on the up. "We know that there is much to do in the city, things don't happen over night and there remains big challenges. "However, there is a realisation filtering through that Dundee is on to something special, something which will create real opportunities, investment and jobs and ultimately will ensure that it is a success long after my retirement." Director of Leisure and Culture Dundee Stewart Murdoch said: "While being denied the opportunity to deliver the European Capital of Culture was a huge disappointment, the city has a well-developed cultural offer and a vibrant cultural sector. "We are delighted that Bloomberg has recognised this and shone a light on the city." VisitScotland's regional partnerships director Jim Clarkson said: "Dundee’s star is most definitely on the rise and it is fantastic to see the city getting the global recognition it deserves, this time from Bloomberg."   "Scotland's coolest city": Wall Street Journal also praised Dundee Bloomberg isn't the first major US publication to shine a light on Dundee as a global travel destination in recent times. In October last year the Wall Street Journal called it "Scotland's coolest city", placing it at number five on a top ten list of "where to travel in 2018". The New York City newspaper had Dundee ahead of the likes of Shanghai, Madagascar, Montenegro, La Rioja and Grenada; and even made mention of Dundee's famous Reading Rooms. The article read: "A coastal college town, Dundee has emerged as Scotland’s coolest city (see the old public library turned underground club). "In 2018, the V&A Museum of Design will debut as the centerpiece of a $1.5 billion transformation of the faded riverfront. "Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the new V&A will celebrate the country’s unsung design heritage—from jute to Minecraft (vandadundee.org)." And in December last year writer Danny Wallace, who was born in Dundee, flew the flag for the city in an article in Condé Nast Traveler. In his love letter to the city, he said Dundee was "not a punchline any more" and hailed his hometown as a revitalised city of "fashion, food, music, bars, art, design, research, science, creativity".   All the destinations listed on Bloomberg's "where to go in 2018" article Salvador, Brazil Saint Kitts, Caribbean Chilean Patagonia Borneo Jordan Dundee Georgia Cambodia Abu Dhabi Namibia Singapore Slovenia Los Angeles Florence Fiji South Korea Washington Los Cabos, Mexico New Orleans Southern Tanzania Copenhagen Tunisia