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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...

Scottish Premiership

Hearts goalkeeping legend hails Celtic stopper Fraser Forster as ‘flawless’

February 18 2014

Hearts legend Henry Smith will spare a thought for the club’s strikers against Fraser Forster this weekend as they bid to overcome a record-breaking run that he has hailed as flawless. Celtic goalkeeper Forster will break Aberdeen shot-stopper Bobby Clark’s Scottish league record of 1,155 minutes if he manages to avoid conceding a goal within the first 31 minutes of Saturday’s televised clash at Tynecastle. Former keeper Smith has been mightily impressed with the England internationalist’s form this season and knows the Hearts players will have to be ruthless if they are to find a way past the 25-year-old. In three meetings with Neil Lennon’s side this season, only midfielder Jason Holt has managed to score past Forster in three defeats, including the 7-0 Scottish Cup thrashing, to Celtic. Smith reckons Forster has got everything as a goalkeeper. Smith said: “If the strikers are doing their job, they will have been watching Fraser all season, so they should know all about him. “But there is not a flaw in his game that I can see just now. He’s playing at the top of his game and his defenders are doing the same. “Fraser has done exceptionally well and his concentration levels are top notch. He does not have a lot to do and it can be difficult for a keeper to pull off a save when you’re not involved a lot in a game. “I’ve been impressed with his concentration levels. If you get that wee half chance, you have to take them against a team like Celtic. “If you don’t, they’ll come back and bury you. The forwards know what they have to do. “If they get have a chance, they have to take it as they’re up against a really good keeper. It will be hard for us on Saturday they don’t give much away and Fraser does not make a lot of mistakes.” Forster’s 12 successive Premiership clean sheets have helped Celtic establish a seemingly unassailable lead at the summit but Smith reckons there is no chance of the keeper taking his eye off the ball with the World Cup around the corner. Smith added: “He has been in the last few squads with England. He is up against Ben Foster and John Ruddy down south to be back-up to Joe Hart because he is the undisputed number one down there. “He’ll be in their thoughts and he has something to play for, a trip to the World Cup is a footballer’s ultimate dream.”

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.


Burst colostomy bag no defence for drink-driver

February 15 2014

A bowel cancer sufferer got behind the wheel while almost three times the limit after his colostomy bag burst while in the pub. Thomas Foster was on a night out with friends in Dundee when the bag ruptured. Panicked Foster tried and failed to get a taxi and “in his anxiety” got behind the wheel. Police pulled him over on the Kingsway, and a blood sample revealed he had 229 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood almost three times the drink-driving limit. Foster, 29, of Helmsdale Avenue, Dundee, pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge. Jim Laverty, defending, said: “This is an unusual case. He had gone out without the intention of driving and was to leave his car where he was socialising. “He suffers from bowel cancer and his colostomy bag burst and he panicked. “He tried to get home in a taxi but failed and in his anxiety and concern he took the decision to drive, which he completely and utterly regrets. “He’s still receiving treatment for cancer now and another tumour has been discovered. There will be more invasive surgery in the coming months. “The loss of his licence will have a dramatic effect on his family.” Sheriff Tom Hughes banned Foster from driving for two years and fined him £400. He said: “The reading in this case was 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.


Nat Fraser loses latest court appeal

October 4 2013

Nat Fraser has lost an appeal against his second conviction for killing his wife. The 54-year-old former businessman has twice been found guilty of the murder of his estranged wife, Arlene Fraser. He was jailed for life and ordered to spend at least 17 years behind bars in May last year for organising the murder of the mother-of-two whose body has never been found. Fraser has consistently denied involvement in the disappearance of Ms Fraser who was 33 when she vanished from her home in New Elgin, Moray, on April 28 1998. At an appeal hearing last month, Fraser's legal team argued that he was denied a fair trial. A comment made by a witness, referring to time Fraser spent in custody, was prejudicial and may have led jurors to do their own research on the case, defence QC John Scott said. But judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh dismissed the appeal. Mr Scott argued that the comment made by Sandra Stewart in the witness box lastyear referred to a previous conviction Fraser had for assaulting his wife to thedanger of her life weeks before she disappeared. The “Google factor” increased the risk of jurors potentially finding prejudicial material on the internet if they searched for it, he said. Lord Justice Clerk Lord Carloway, who heard the appeal with Lady Paton and Lord Drummond Young, said the court was not persuaded that the remark pointed towards the previous conviction. “The court does not consider that there is any realistic possibility that the short answers which were given ... in isolated moments, in the course of a lengthy trial examining in detail the circumstances of Mrs Fraser’s disappearance, would have promoted any recollection of a previous conviction in the minds of the Edinburgh jurors. “Such recollection would presuppose a remarkable, and it might be reasonably surmised, implausible power of memory retention in the minds of persons with no obvious direct connection to the case, the locality or the criminal justice system.”

Scottish politics

Scottish Tories to split from UK party if Boris Johnson becomes leader

June 21 2016

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will declare independence from her UK party if Boris Johnson becomes its leader, The Courier can reveal. David Cameron has already said he will not fight a third election as Tory leader but some at Westminster are predicting a coup in the aftermath of Thursday’s EU referendum, particularly if there is a Leave vote. The prospect of Mr Johnson replacing him as Prime Minister is causing such concern in the Scottish top team that going solo, in a move which would mirror Murdo Fraser’s leadership campaign tactic, is seen as a viable option. The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP was defeated in the 2011 contest to take charge of the party after proposing the Scottish Conservatives must be replaced with a new right wing group. Ms Davidson, who saw off Mr Fraser’s challenge five years ago and guided the Tories to second place in May’s Holyrood election, is now considering such radical action ahead of her televised showdown on the EU referendum with the former London Mayor on Tuesday evening. A source close to Ms Davidson said: “If Boris becomes leader we’ll do a Murdo. We’ll have to break off.” Supporters of Mr Fraser’s plan last night argued that forming a new party would be the “next logical step” for her, whether Mr Johnson entering Downing Street or another factor was the catalyst. Party insiders said she had distanced the Scottish party from the UK Tories in several key policy areas and they campaigned in the recent Holyrood election under the banner “Ruth Davidson for a strong opposition” rather than the Conservative name. There is no love lost between the Ms Davidson and Mr Johnson, which is likely to make for a lively event at Wembley for both those in the stadium and the millions of TV viewers. She savaged her opponent in an article for a tabloid newspaper, arguing a Leave Vote would be “a conscious decision to make Britain poorer” which “would hurt the poorest the most”. She added: “Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage would be OK; the wealthy are always able to fall back on their pension pots and savings. It would be ordinary workers who would suffer: the easyJet air hostess who could lose her job because, after Brexit, the airline would be priced out from flying within Europe; the dad on the factory floor at one of our many car-makers whose job disappears because Europe has slapped a new tariff on British-made motors; the single mum on a zero-hours contract whose job is extinguished to cut costs.” She also compared Mr Johnson and Ukip leader Mr Farage’s Leave strategy to “brazen chauvinistic style of (Alex) Salmond.” Mr Johnson will lead a three-person team arguing for Brexit alongside Labour MP Gisela Stuart and Tory energy minister Andrea Leadsom. The event, on BBC One at 8pm, will pit them against Ms Davidson, Sadiq Khan, the Labour London Mayor, and Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress. The Scottish Conservatives have denied the story as Ms Davidson tried to back pedal.

Scottish politics

SNP ‘must call off the dogs’ after it emerges ministers have never challenged GERS figures

July 24 2017

SNP ministers have not once challenged controversial figures on Scotland’s finances despite party backbenchers questioning their accuracy. The Tories have accused the Nationalists of trying to undermine the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) stats, which show the country is running a £15bn deficit. But no-one at ministerial level in Edinburgh has contacted the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser (OCEA), which compiles the figures, about their accuracy or otherwise, a freedom of information request from The Courier has revealed. Murdo Fraser, for the Scottish Conservatives, said while Alex Salmond and his colleagues lauded the data when it showed a surplus amid a high oil price, there is now a “succession of SNP MPs and MSPs trying to undermine and discredit them”. “We now know that these concerns don’t extend to Scottish Government ministers, who have raised no issues with statisticians about the figures,” the Perthshire-based MSP said. “With the SNP hierarchy seemingly accepting the credibility of GERS, they now need to call off the dogs and order their MPs and MSPs to stop trying to undermine them.” The Courier asked the Scottish Government if ministers had contacted the body in charge of producing the statistics. The FOI response stated: “Following a trawl for information, no communications between Scottish Government ministers and the OCEA on this subject has been found.” The latest figures reveal that public spending in Scotland was £15bn higher in 2015/16 than the sum raised in revenue. At nearly 10% of GDP it was more than double the level of the UK's as whole. The data has been questioned as an accurate assessment of Scotland’s spending and tax take mainly because of the difficulties in attributing the source of revenues to different parts of the UK. In an article for the Record earlier this year, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine quoted a professor as she concluded the Treasury was “making up” estimates that the GERS figures rely on. Its proponents say all economic statistics are based on estimates and are carried out by non-political civil servants to European standards. A Scottish Government spokesman said GERS reflects Scotland’s public finances as part of the UK and includes spending on Tory policies like Trident. “As such the figures do not portray the starting point of finances of an independent Scotland, which would be subject to a whole range of factors,” he added. “Independence would provide the Scottish Government with both the opportunity to change its spending priorities and the levers to grow the Scottish economy and tackle inequality, thereby improving Scotland’s long-term fiscal position.” A spokesman for Derek Mackay said the UK’s deficit is £50bn but “nobody suggests the UK cannot be an independent country”. “Murdo Fraser’s arguments are nonsense, and are just part of a Tory smokescreen to try and hide the appalling damage which Brexit threatens to the Scottish economy, jobs and living standards,” he added.