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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...


Tee to Green: Nice try, but Olympic golf has failed

July 5 2016

Sometimes, you’ve just got to suck it up - as our American friends indelicately put it - and admit defeat. This week is the cut-off point for qualification for the golf competition at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. I’m sure that the International Golf Federation (IGF), the prime movers behind restoring golf to the Games for the first time since 1904, imagined frenzied excitement as players strived for the final world ranking points which would allow them to be one of their nation’s two candidates for the prized gold medal. Instead, we’re braced this week for more withdrawls. Already Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, two of the world’s top four, have pulled out. Ireland’s top three players have declined the invitation to Rio, leaving Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power, who is 283rd in the world and hasn’t played an event on either of the top two tours for two years. Pressure is intense on the new World No 2, Dustin Johnson, and the No 3 Jordan Spieth, to go to the Games, but both are clearly wavering. The Zika virus, as we’ve detailed before in T2G, is the primary reason given for the spate of withdrawls by (almost exclusively) male golfers. Whether this is simply a convenient excuse or not is still a debate; the chances of contracting Zika by mosquito bite seem to be minimal. Yet the new Olympic course has been built on swampland which apparently is rife with the wee blighters specifically accenuating the risk for the golfers. Supposedly. You’ll probably detect my cynicism on this point; Zika is already found in Mexico and the Caribbean and I don’t see any players worried about the WGC event next year or their lads’ holiday in the Bahamas broadcast live on social media. But it’s almost besides the point. If Zika is the excuse it’s just to cover up a series of other reasons for missing Rio that are reasonable but more difficult to explain for golfers. The first is that the nationalistic, flag-waving element of the Games which is supposed to be a major attraction - `why wouldn’t you want to represent your country?’ - means little to these individual operators. The Ryder Cup is different; it’s been a fan-driven phenomenon which the players - Europeans mostly - have bought into. Plus, although they’re not directly paid to participate, most European players have large bonuses tied into their sponsor deals for making the team. Part of the issue with America’s recent failures in the Cup, surely, is that they don’t subscribe to the national team ethic. Tiger Woods’ clear antipathy towards the Ryder Cup throughout his career is a good example of this. Getting beaten so regularly of late has maybe lifted the patriotic fervour a tad for many, but there’s no such incentive to rally round the flag at the Olympics. Secondly, the Olympics is bloody awkward. There was a decent point made in Ireland after Rory’s withdrawl on the insistence of the Irish Olympic Committee that he’d have to wear their official gear, which of course is not Nike. It seems a small thing, but if you were getting paid $1 million a month to wear one manufacturer and were then ordered to wear a rival for nothing, you might be a little annoyed. But to me, the biggest reason to miss Rio is that it has been crow-barred into golf’s already crowded schedule. Looking down the calendar, it’s the obvious week to miss if a player is out of form or just seeking a break to avoid burn-out. This is where the IGF, in their understandable haste to get golf into the Games, have blundered. Golf is already full up; there’s simply no room for this competition and as it lies outside the comfort zone of top players, they’re more than tempted to ignore it. I was supportive of Olympic golf for one main reason; golf only promotes itself to the already converted and here was a rare chance to grow the game outside those narrow confines. Participation levels are low enough that we should really care very much about this, but golf is in a very comfortable bubble, and a lucrative one (for now). The game thinks it doesn’t have to care about worldwide markets it doesn’t presently penetrate. To me the Olympics is another example - along with distance control - which shows that elite players are driving golf’s direction. If they don’t care about the Games, even for selfish reasons, it’s just not going to be a success. The IGF bent over backwards to make it work for them. They - stupidly - let top stars like Tiger and Phil Mickelson insist it be a 72-hole strokeplay format, even though that duo won’t ever play in it. And having made that and other concessions, what happens? The players snub it anyway. The IOC are also complicit. Their first insistence in allowing golf back into the Games was that the superstars had to play; no compromise. The sad conclusion is that it was a good try, with the best intentions, but it’s failed. Golf is a sport that doesn’t sit well in the Olympics. Wrestling, squash and karate desperately want in. They’ll all appreciate it far more than our self-obsessed, insular game.

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

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.

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.


Tee to Green: Rio is for the good of the game

April 26 2016

I suppose you’ve got to admire a man for sticking to his word. About a year ago Adam Scott announced he had no interest in competing in golf’s return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August. Any cajoling, blandishments and more strident attempts to get the Australian to change his mind over the past 12 months have proved fruitless as he announced last week he was sticking to his guns. No sooner had we digested the cousin Adam’s statement confirming his absence from the Games than Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa also announced that he wouldn’t be going to Rio. Vijay Singh, another major champion, is also set to decline the opportunity to play for Fiji. I think Scott, Oosthuizen and Singh (actually strike Vijay, I don’t really care what he thinks about anything anymore) are dead wrong, as are any out there now wavering on the edge of pulling out, as no doubt a few are. This is not borne of any great desire to see golf in the Olympics at all, at least not in the format which is proposed for Rio. I’m not exactly agog with excitement of another restricted field 72-hole strokeplay event. The format proposed for Rio is profoundly unsatisfactory. The shoehorning of the Olympic event into golf’s already crunched schedule is a significant issue for the tours and the players. The International Golf Federation and the tours, with considerable input from the IOC, have had several years to put together a reasonable format and failed utterly, due to the usual blend of diplomatic compromise and the innate dodginess of the entire Olympic administrative process. But it is what it is. And the worth of the Olympic Golf tournament for the sport is perfectly plain; it’s a vehicle to promote golf to areas the game can’t currently reach. Golf’s attempts to promote itself beyond its own narrow confines - the moneyed middle classes, mostly - has utterly failed. Participation is down, and the game’s current demographic, as we harp on about in T2G almost every week, is downright frightening for the future. We’ve just had what many would regard as golf’s biggest annual vehicle for promoting itself globally, the Masters tournament. And what does it show golf as? An ultra-exclusive club for multi-millionaires, with fussy, antiquated standards of behaviour that sometimes border on primary school discipline. Furthermore, for three days of that tournament the organisers are arrogant enough to insist that millions around the world can’t see what’s happening by refusing to allow broadcasters the right to show play for hours on end. Golf people love the Masters. I love the Masters. But it does next to nothing to get new people involved in the sport. It’s a four-day long preach to the already converted. The Olympics, on the other hand, will go into living rooms across the world where golf doesn’t go. It’ll open up the purse strings of the many governments across the world who insist on Olympic status before they will support a sport. To me, it’s incumbent for all who qualify for the Olympics to participate. It’s one week out of the season to go and do some good for the sport instead of the individual, who still has all the other 51 weeks to make his or her money. Enhance the status next time There’s a simple solution to fitting the Olympics into golf’s packed schedule, while enhancing its status so we don’t get self-interested players pulling out. Simply give the Olympic competition WGC status. Once every four years, either Doral, the Bridgestone or Shanghai is replaced by the Olympic event, with full ranking points. Loch Lomond still has that aura This weekend Dundonald Links was confirmed as the venue for the 2017 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. The excellent Kyle Phillips designed neo-links near Irvine, which already hosts the Scottish Ladies’ Open, is being tweaked to take out a few idiosyncracies and a new modern clubhouse built. Dundonald is owned by Loch Lomond Golf Club, the former host of the Scottish until 2010. After the Scottish left, the big gates of the old Colquhoun estate clanged shut as the club sorted itself out from near receivership with a member buyout. The club’s future is now secure, and they are hinting at opening up those gates again, inviting some members of the media back last week, as if to say, undemonstratively,“we’re still here”. It hasn’t changed a bit. There’s no better inland setting for golf in Scotland, maybe in the UK. The course remains first class, some holes - the 10th for example - among the very best in this country. The club are taking tentative steps to ending their self-imposed isolation. It should have an event again; the Scottish got huge crowds there and has never quite recaptured them in its links venues of late. People loved to go to Loch Lomond, it was the closest anyone has got to that overused promotional claim “the Augusta of Scotland”. Here’s hoping.


Goggle into Scotland’s past with new list of old objects

July 21 2017

Snow goggles used by Captain Scott on his ill-fated voyage to Antarctica have been named as one of the objects which helped shape Scottish history. Scott's goggles, a simple design by today's standards which protected his eyes from snow glare and howling winds, have been named in the list of 25 objects which shaped Scotland by an expert panel. Other Courier Country antiquities made the list, with the Carpow Logboat and the Tom Morris Junior Medal also featuring. The Tom Morris medal sits in place at the British Golf Museum in St Andrews, and was awarded in place of the now-famous Claret Jug, which was still awaiting commission in 1872. The Carpow Logboat — which dates back to around 1000BC — was unearthed from the sand of the Tay Estuary in 2001 and now sits proudly in the Perth Museum and Art Gallery. The objects have been compiled into a new e-book, which details artefacts from across the country as part of Scotland's year of history, heritage and archaeology. Paul Jennings, RRS Discovery executive director, said: "It is brilliant that Captain Scott’s goggles have made this list. "The British National Geographical Antarctic Expedition in 1901-04 was ground-breaking and the equipment used during this epic adventure was designed to last. "RRS Discovery was built in Dundee, designed specifically for Antarctic research, the ship itself is of international significance, and a visit gives an insight into how these brave men coped in the harshest of conditions in one of the most inhospitable places on earth." Visit Scotland, who have curated the list, hopes museums and destinations where the objects are held will notice an increase in visitor numbers over the next 12 months, thanks to the e-book. Judy Chance, museum manager at the British Golf Museum in St Andrews, said they were delighted to have the Tom Morris Jr medal included. She said: "Tom Morris Jr was presented with this gold medal when he became Champion Golfer of the Year for the fourth time in 1872. "The Open is golf’s oldest championship. Played since 1860 on iconic links golf courses, it is the sport’s most international Major Championship. "The inclusion of the medal in the top 25 reflects the importance of golf in the fabric of Scotland’s rich culture. We are delighted to be able to present it for the public to view in the British Golf Museum." Other curiosities which made the list include Dolly the Sheep, the Robert the Bruce equestrian statue and Scotland's oldest football.

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.


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.