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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

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.

Readers' letters

October 11: We will still require back-up power stations

October 11 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. We will still require back-up power stationsSir, €” The letter (October 7) by the Friends of the Earth chief executive Stan Blackley does not agree with the proposed coal-fired power station at Hunterston. In his opinion, the increased wealth of renewable energy sources will be more than adequate to meet Scotland's future electricity requirements. I am sure that many of the public, not forgetting the benefit of employment, would be more assured to have a relevant back-up of energy if the "wealth of eventual renewable energy sources" fails to adequately meet requirements. Perhaps Mr Blackley could challenge policies in various countries in order to obtain their support against coal-fired power stations. The response would be interesting. Harry Lawrie. 35 Abbots Mill, Kirkcaldy.Public not asked to choose nameSir, €” Your headline writer has done your readers a disservice by failing to check the facts about the naming of the new sports and leisure centre in Glenrothes (October 6). Fife Council did not at any time "ask the public to choose the name" of the new facility. The Glenrothes Area Committee, including Councillor Kay Morrison, unanimously agreed in May that the purpose of the survey was "to help gauge the views of the public on potential names for the new facility". If Councillor Morrison had wanted the results to be binding on the council, regardless of how many or how few people took part, she should have asked for this in May. She didn't. Your report also failed to mention the important fact that although every household in Fife was invited to take part in the survey, and although it was also promoted for over two months in the current FIPRE centre, in local libraries and online, only 174 people actually took part. Compare this to the thousands who made their views known when the late Michael Woods blew the whistle on a suggestion that Fife Institute could be closed down and sold off for housing, and it's easy to "gauge the views of the public". They're relieved that the institute is not being lost, they're delighted that the current administration is replacing it with a brand new facility, and they don't really mind what it's called. We have a long tradition in Scotland of naming important public buildings in memory of individuals who played a major role in having them built. Councillor Michael Woods played a huge role in making sure the current FIPRE site becomes a new sports and leisure centre. (Cllr) Peter Grant.Glenrothes West and Kinglassie. More to it than paying off debtSir, €” It is more than a tad worrying that the Tory Prime Minister David Cameron's grasp of economics is no better than your average mug punter putting all his money on a three-legged nag. Any successful economy depends on the free flow of money and not simply paying off all our debts. It is equally worrying that David Cameron should publicly give support to the Home Secretary Theresa May for uttering untruths about the Human Rights Act whilst chastising the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. Malcolm McCandless.40 Muirfield Crescent,Dundee.Gas cloud risk not worth runningSir, €” It was with a sense of relief I read that the proposed carbon capture programme for Longannet may not go ahead. The prospect of 500 new jobs seems to have obscured the possible long term risks. The technology, as I understand it, involves storing liquid carbon dioxide at around 800psi in empty oil and gas caverns under the North Sea. Presumably we have to store this liquid forever in increasing quantities. Your report quotes a figure of 70 million tonnes by 2024. What happens if we get a leak? It is maybe unlikely, but the events I am thinking about are comparatively common: failure of a pipeline, an accident at a wellhead, an earth tremor or a volcanic eruption. Plus of course, an act of terrorism. Whilst carbon dioxide is harmless in very low concentrations, say 1-10 parts per million, it rapidly becomes highly toxic as concentrations increase. If 10% of these 70 million tonnes leaked out it would produce a cloud of carbon dioxide about the size of the UK. Of course it wouldn't be pure carbon dioxide it would be mixed with the atmosphere. However, even if it was considerably diluted it would still be an appalling danger. Bob Drysdale.Millfield Star,Glenrothes.Exploitation in sex industrySir, €” In your article about the lap dancing club bid (October 7) the Rev James Auld is reported to have said that he, "has no problem with the venture, providing workers do not feel exploited". It does not necessarily follow, however, that a person isn't being exploited just because they don't feel exploited. It is usually people who, for whatever reason, don't feel it who are exploited. If, as Dundee Women's Aid suggests, women in the sex industry are being exploited (and there is ample evidence) then it is worse, not better, that they don't feel that exploitation. So the Rev Auld ought to have a problem with this venture. Clare McGraw.12a Castle Terrace,Broughty Ferry. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Fife

Creativity lights up arts centre at former Dunfermline fire station

July 31 2015

For more than 70 years it rang with the blare of sirens as fire engines raced out on life-saving missions. Now it is the beating heart of Dunfermline’s artistic community and Scotland’s newest contemporary art centre. The former Dunfermline fire station has been given new life as Fire Station Creative, an art gallery, caf and studios which has burst on to the cultural scene with a launch exhibition called ReminiScience. Acclaimed painter Gordon Picken’s huge pieces make the most of the art deco station’s grand hall and have been seen by hundreds of visitors since the venue was opened three weeks ago by playwright and artist John Byrne. Curator Ian Moir, whose burning desire to bring art to the fore in west Fife led to the charity and social enterprise, is delighted with the result which he says is making art more accessible. He said: “If you had to design an art centre with a vibrant gallery space and room for a caf and studios you would design this building. “It was always our ambition that this building should be an art venue that can compete with venues in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee and I think we have achieved that.” Fire Station Creative has been five years in the making, with the vision formed by painter Ian, 37, and photo-grapher Eamonn McGoldrick, who were frustrated by a lack of studio and exhibition space. A feasibility study identified the B-listed Carnegie Road station, about to be vacated by Fife Fire and Rescue, as possible premises. Ian said: “When I viewed it back in 2010 it was a eureka moment. “It wasn’t a great leap of the imagination to see it as an art centre and that’s why it was so easy to get the public on board.” The building was put up for sale by Fife Council but when Labour returned to power in 2012 leader Alex Rowley loved the idea and it was withdrawn from the market and offered to Fire Station Creative at a peppercorn rent. Funding of £170,000 was provided by Fife Council, £30,000 by Creative Scotland and grants from other sources. The biggest single investment was the £35,000 glass doors on the front and rear of the building, which fill the gallery with light and allow people to see in. They were modelled on the original doors which were later replaced with PVC scrolling doors. Ian said: “We wanted to restore the iconic beauty of the building, which is a classic art deco architectural piece.” There is already a waiting list for the 21 studios for rent which are occupied by various artists, including a jeweller, photographer and storyboard artist. There is also a room for art therapy, funded by the Mary Leishman Foundation, and open space for classes and other events. The exhibitions diary is full until January, with the likes of photographer Brian Knight and painter Saul Robertson.

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

Dundee

Council to investigate sites for possible contamination

April 27 2018

Dundee City Council is set to spend £100,000 this year investigating land which could have been contaminated by former petrol stations. In addition former quarries, industrial estates, infilled lands and sites close to where large fuel containers sit will all be periodically inspected over the coming 12 months. Community safety and public protection committee convener Alan Ross said it was important these tests are conducted periodically and will give confidence not just to construction firms looking to build on vacated land, but to residents living in the investigated areas too. The site of the former petrol station on Queen Street in Broughty Ferry is to be studied, with experts set to take soil samples from the land between where the garage used to be located and the railway line. Loftus petrol station was demolished in 2006 and and the site was converted into seven flats, planning permission for which was granted in 2005. It had existed in some form as a fuelling site on Queen Street for at least forty years prior to its demolition. Alongside the petrol station site, the former Downfield quarry is to undergo gas and groundwater inspection. Mr Ross said: "These works will be undertaken as a matter of national policy and are required by law to be carried out. "If we look at cases like the former petrol station site, these premises had underground pipes which were full of fuel so it is important for public protection regular investigations are done. "Bringing this work before the committee helps us keep up to date on the work being carried out to investigate possible contaminated land and allows us to keep tabs on how much it is costing. "There is no need for public concern regarding these investigations, they are regularly carried out." Last year, soil sampling conducted by contaminated land experts discovered there were no risks to public health at the former gravel pits in Happy Hillock and Rowantree Crescent. Similar investigations on the site of the former Ashton works in Hawkhill have certified it safe as an available public open space.

Rocktalk

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.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

Readers' letters

April 12: Can’t compromise solve fire stations dispute?

April 12 2010

This morning's letters to the editor of The Courier discuss the Balmossie fire station campaign, Christianity, Forth Ports' turbines plan for Dundee and council advice on recycling. Can't compromise solve fire stations dispute? Sir,-Having written a letter of concern to your column during the early stages of the Balmossie Fire Station issue, I note with concern your front page article (April 9). The article indicated call-out figures for the stations involved but I have heard these figures do not include the number of call-outs Balmossie are involved in as back-up to other stations, which seems strange. It would also be interesting to be told who decides what criteria they use for selecting the station to initially attend major incidents, as I have again heard that the decision is no longer based on geographical area boundaries, which is also strange. As in all disputes everyone is looking to achieve their own aims; the Forfar community, understandably, seek full-time cover and those in Broughty Ferry wish to retain theirs. Could a solution not be found therefore to have full-time cover at both stations to allay everyone's fears by relocating resources from the larger stations and making savings elsewhere without risking safety? Denis G. W. Thornton.20 Colliston Drive,Broughty Ferry. No longer a Christian country Sir,-For Britain to have been a Christian country "for over 2000 years" as M. Clark asserts (April 9) is remarkable considering Christ's mission had not even begun 2000 years ago, when he was a boy. While the earliest hints of Christianity in Britain date to the Roman period, these islands remained largely pagan for centuries after the time of Christ. With the percentage of regular churchgoers in single digits, and the majority of those calling themselves Christian probably knowing little of Christian mythology and doctrine, it is an exaggeration to call Britain a Christian country now. I don't give a hoot if Christians have a parade, subject to the same bye-laws as any other group doing the same. But, as their faith continues its welcome decline, parading Christians will increasingly be looked on as irrelevant eccentrics. Finally, M. Clark, should not forget the origins of Easter - a pagan spring festival. Dr Stephen Moreton.33 Marina Avenue,Great Sankey,Warrington. Missing out on the joke? Sir,-Poor George K McMillan just can't win. When he tries to be serious his letters are a hoot. When he tries to be humorous, as in his letter about Easter, people like M. Clark take him seriously! Dr David Griffiths41 Haston CrescentPerth A religion under siege Sir,-Some of your recent correspondents have evinced a latent hostility to Christianity in the letters column. Atheists and sceptics there have always been, and I would defend their right to express their point of view. But today's atheists and sceptics such as Richard Dawkins et al, rather than supplying a cogent critique in opposition, tend to produce a diatribe. Recently the BBC televised a programme suggesting there is a subtle undermining of Christianity, evidenced by a nurse going to a tribunal to defend her right to wear a cross as an expression of her faith, and a London Registrar disciplined for refusing to conduct a service for same sex couples as it violated her beliefs. In a secular pluralistic society both the religious and non-religious with different lifestyles must be tolerated, I suppose it is a matter of political correctness. The downside is the increasing fragmentation of society to be seen in broken relationships, broken homes and broken lives, not to mention the recent fiasco of a number of our honourable members helping themselves to taxpayers' money. No doubt the relationship between the Kirk and the state has conferred certain privileges in the past and to some extent still does. Political correctness may hold this situation to account, but constructively the Church of Scotland is the largest caring agency, next to statutory bodies, for the care of the sick, the infirm, the afflicted and the addicted. Rev. J. Harrison Hudson.22 Hamilton Avenue,Tayport. No added value for Dundee citizens Sir,-I'm sitting at work in Edinburgh as I read the article 'Giant turbines plan for Dundee harbour' article with growing disbelief. The threat by Forth Energy to locate these on Dundee's unique waterfront has to be exposed as the unacceptable face of private enterprise that it is. Seeking maximum return for their shareholders at the expense of anyone or anything else may encourage an increase in the value of any imminent share bid but will hardly represent compelling value for the citizens of Dundee. Forth Ports have loads of land on Edinburgh's shoreline - can there be a compelling reason why there's been no similar application here, I wonder? Bill Potter.28 Howe Street,Edinburgh. Rubbish advice from council Sir,-The latest directive from Angus Council says we are no longer allowed to put tea bags, coffee grounds or fruit and vegetable peelings into our green bins, which, just in case you don't know, go to keep the world a greener place by composting the contents of the said bin. However, the leaflet also explains these same items make a useful compost for your garden. Aren't local councils wonderful things! J. R. Smith.44 Glamis Road,Kirriemuir.

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