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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.

Perth & Kinross

St Johnstone chief leads tributes after Bankfoot couple die in Tunisia terror attack

June 30 2015

The chairman of St Johnstone FC has paid tribute to a Perthshire man after it was confirmed he and his wife were killed in the terror shootings in Tunisia. Bankfoot couple Billy and Lisa Graham had not been heard of since Friday's atrocity, sparking a desperate appeal for information from their family back home in Scotland. Tragically, it has today been confirmed that they died. Billy worked on the turnstiles at McDiarmid Park, and Saints chairman Steve Brown said: “This is terrible news and our thoughts go out to the whole family at this time. Billy was part of the St Johnstone family and a great ambassador for the club who always did his job with a smile on his face. “The thoughts of everyone at the club are with the couple’s daughter Holly and the rest of the family at this very sad time.” A club spokesman added: “Everyone at McDiarmid Park is shocked and saddened to learn that one of our match day turnstile operators Billy Graham has now been confirmed as one of those killed in the Tunisian beach shooting on Friday along with his wife Lisa.” The Grahams were among the 38 people killed when Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on a beach in Sousse. https://play.buto.tv/xxhhK The couple had been at the resort celebrating Lisa’s 50th birthday. Mr Graham’s brother Lindsay confirmed the pair had died but said the family were “too distressed” to pay a full tribute at this stage. Billy spent 22 years in the army and completed tours in Northern Ireland, Kuwait and Iraq. Lindsay said his family had been "going through torture". "It's even worse because we've only just lost our mum on May 3," he said.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone v Kilmarnock: Wright happy with Graham’s start at Saints

October 17 2014

It may have not made the headlines as a consequence of St Johnstone’s poor recent run of results, but Brian Graham’s impressive start to his Perth career hasn’t gone unnoticed by his manager. Tommy Wright couldn’t have been more pleased with the impact Graham has made since arriving on a season-long loan deal from Dundee United. The McDiarmid Park boss revealed that, after working with him for a few weeks, the centre-forward has proved to be an even better player than he believed he was getting. “Brian has come in and will only get better,” Wright pointed out. “He hasn’t played many full games over the last year. He has more about him than even I thought. I didn’t see a lot of him last season but at Raith Rovers he impressed me. “Brian is quietly confident in his own ability and I like that about strikers. And he has proved that if we give him the service he will score goals. “He should have five already. “We lost the St Mirren game because we made two mistakes and were on the wrong end of two refereeing decisions which stopped Brian taking his tally to five for the season so far.” Wright explained that Graham’s success at Saints - which he expects James McFadden to emulate - comes off a familiar script. “Every year we have lost players who have done well for us in terms of scoring goals,” he said. “We lost Fran Sandaza and people wondered how we would replace his goals. The next season they were shared around and then the same question arose when we lost guys like Liam Craig, Gregory Tade and Rowan Vine. “We lost them and in came Stevie May and Steven MacLean. “We have good players, a good team and a good squad here. And in Brian Graham and James McFadden we have goalscorers.” Wright added: “Last season Kris Commons scored one or two more goals for Celtic than Stevie May did for us. “Take that sort of firepower out of any team and you face challenges. It is difficult to replace and it was compounded for us by the injury to Steven MacLean. “But there are goals in this team.” Saints are on a four-game losing streak in the league going into the clash with Kilmarnock, but Wright only needs to look at the turn around in his country’s fortunes to see that everything in the garden could be rosy again very soon. “We are in one of those wee runs like Michael O’Neill had with Northern Ireland,” he noted. “He couldn’t buy a win for a spell there but the Northern Ireland authorities kept faith with him and now they are sitting top of the group after three games. “All of a sudden that all changes and belief grows. We know things can change very quickly in football.” Scott Brown and Chris Millar were back in full training on Thursday and could be in a squad that is chomping at the bit to get going again after a fortnight without a match. “When you lose a game ideally you want one right away but you can analyse these things too much,” Wright observed. “Everyone said the previous break came at the wrong time for us because we had won. It really all boils down to the result you get on the back of an international break. If we beat Kilmarnock everyone will say it came at a good time for us. “We have tried to do something different this time with some of the older players getting more time off than others and we organised a bounce game as well. Speaking to other managers they have done much the same. ”I like the break and we have tried to make use of it. We had planned for it and the players know they have to look after themselves. There is a real edge and enthusiasm amongst the players. “This week it has been business as usual with our preparations. Now it is all about the performance. “It has given us time to work on James McFadden and to a lesser extent Simon Lappin. “Simon missed a big chunk of pre-season and we have seen him getting to the match fitness levels we would like and James scored against Dundee and scored. He has looked really good in training. “We have been going for two or three weeks more than the other clubs because of the build-up to the European games so the older players will benefit from some time off. “We have to come up with full 90-minute performances. That doesn’t mean being on top of teams from start to finish. It is about making sure you are doing the right things, including when the opposition has a good spell.”

Dundee United

Brian Graham signs for Ross County

May 7 2015

St Johnstone’s hopes of keeping Brian Graham have been blown out of the water, after a shock switch to Ross County was announced. Perth boss Tommy Wright was keen to turn Graham’s loan deal into a permanent one, and the McDiarmid Park club had opened contract talks with his agent. But Graham, who won’t be able to play against Dundee United this weekend, has agreed a two-year deal with the Highlanders. Staggies manager Jim McIntyre said: “I’m delighted Brian has agreed to join the club. “He is a player I’ve admired for a long time and I’m looking forward to working with him next season.”

Business news

Sales and profits up at Graham’s The Family Dairy

November 27 2014

More success is pouring into Graham’s The Family Dairy, Scotland’s largest independent milk products supplier, with sales up 25% and pre-tax profit up by more than 30%. Managing director Robert Graham said the last year has not been without challenges for the Bridge of Allan company started by his namesake grandfather 75 years ago. These included the continuing debate over low farm-gate prices. Mr Graham said: “As farmers ourselves, we understand the pressures farmers face. Farm-gate prices are always difficult discussions, but our direct relationships help us maintain good relations.” Graham’s is exploring a new balancing scheme where farmers would produce certain amounts for the liquid and manufacturing markets, to give them more financial security. The latest meeting with farmers was last night. Mr Graham said: “This is about tying production in farms into business needs, but at 27.5p a litre we are paying more for milk than our rivals in the industry.” Graham’s sales last year rose from £68 million to £85m, and pre-tax profit went up from just above £1m to £1.32m. From its origins at Airthrey Kerse Farm with 12 hand-milked cows and horse and cart deliveries, almost half of the households in Scotland now buy Graham’s products. The business works with more than 90 dairy farmers across Scotland and employs 500 staff, and has grown 20% annually for the last 15 years to now produce an extensive range of milk, butter, cream, cheese, ice-cream, organic and Jersey products. More than 1.1 million Scottish shoppers buy a Graham’s product at least once a year. Graham’s products are sold throughout the UK via more than 6,000 customers from independent retailers to hotels and restaurants and the major multiples of Waitrose, Tesco and Asda and Sainsbury’s. Graham’s is next year introducing additional spreadable butter varieties and a range of luxurious butters, and future plans also include a new £20m purpose-built dairy. They see that scheme as a boost to the Stirling economy and the long-term future of the dairy industry in Scotland. The dairy would accommodate a new product development research facility and create up to 450 jobs including 50 local apprenticeships. The project is subject to approval of their 600 home Airthrey Green development proposals currently sitting with Stirling Council.

St Johnstone

Steven Anderson praises Brian Graham work ethic

December 10 2014

St Johnstone striker Brian Graham may not be making any headlines for his goal-scoring at the moment. Michael O’Halloran and James McFadden have been hogging those. But Graham’s work-rate hasn’t gone unnoticed in the McDiarmid Park dressing room, with Steven Anderson praising the Perth frontman for providing the first line of Saints’ defence. “Our defending starts at the front,” the centre-back pointed out. “We’re back to being solid again, the confidence is there again, and we’re looking to build on that. “We’re better defensively as a team, not just the back four and the goalie. “It’s what we’ve built our team on over the years. Even as far back as under Owen Coyle. “Brian Graham puts himself about and gets us up the park. “He’s got a really high work-rate. He just need a goal just now. I know he’s scored a few already but at the moment he’s being unlucky. “Brian’s hit the post and the bar in the last couple of games, and maybe other players could have set him up more as well. “He’s a striker and he wants to score goals. He’s as moaney as me, to be fair. He could be my number two!” On the subject of moaning, Anderson admitted that quibbling with Saturday’s man of the match Alan Mannus about punching a St Mirren free-kick rather than catching it might have been a tad harsh. “It was the heat of the moment,” he said. “That’s football and that’s me always wanting better! “Alan made some great saves to keep us in front.” Anderson knows Saints are lucky to have Mannus, a keeper he rates up there with the best of them in the Premiership. “Everybody takes him for granted,” he commented. “We all know how good he is, and that’s basically why I moan at him. Because he’s that good. “He’s only 32, I think, so he’s still got plenty of years ahead of him and I think he can play at a higher level. “Because he’s such a good keeper you expect clubs to be interested in him, but I’m just delighted he’s still here. “I think he’s happy at the club. He plays every week and he gets into the Northern Ireland squad. “There are a lot of good keepers in this league, but Alan is one of the best.”

Dundee FC

Dundee 2 St Johnstone 1: Dark Blues secure narrow win over Saints

August 15 2015

Dundee secured bragging rights in the Tayside derby with St Johnstone thanks to this narrow victory. The Dark Blues opened the scoring in the 16th minute when James McPake who netted his side’s last-gasp equaliser in the derby on Tuesday night superbly volleyed home a Nicky Low corner. The home side continued to create chances but it was Saints who came close to equalising when Graham Cummins sent a looping shot goalward but Dark Blues keeper Scott Bain pulled off yet another stunning save, tipping the ball over his bar. Dundee then increased their advantage in the 39th minute when Low capitalised on a St Johnstone error and sent an inviting cross from the left towards Kane Hemmings who expertly headed back across goal past Saints keeper Alan Mannus. Saints pulled one back nine minutes into the second half, when danger man Michael O’Halloran burst into the Dundee box and crossed for Steven MacLean to shoot home at Bain’s far post. Dundee should have made it three in the 73rd minute when Hemmings played Nick Ross in on goal but his shot was blocked by Mannus. Ross had an even better chance seconds later when it looked like he would have a simple tap in from a Paul McGinn cross but the midfielder missed the ball completely. However, Dundee saw out the game to take all three points. For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.

Dundee FC

Wright ‘rollicking’ pushed St Johnstone to fight for point at Dundee

November 10 2014

St Johnstone striker Brian Graham has revealed that a “rollicking” was behind the team’s transformation at Dens Park. After a first half dominated by Dundee, who took the lead through David Clarkson four minutes before the break, it was all change for Saints in the second period. They were quick and imaginative in attack and could have earned more than the 1-1 draw secured by Graham’s 53rd-minute spot-kick, awarded after the on-loan Dundee United man had his jersey pulled by Dundee defender James Mcpake. Graham revealed it was some choice words from manager Tommy Wright at half-time that did the trick. He said: “In the first half we were never in it and Dundee had a number of chances. “We had to thank our keeper Alan Mannus because he kept us in the game. “Then we got a bit of a rollicking and rightly so. The manager wasn’t too happy. Let’s just say he put his point across and it worked. It was one of those days where we didn’t start particularly well and we came up against a team who had been flying high. “They put us to the sword in the first 45 but it was the proverbial game of two halves. We maybe should have won it in the end.” Graham was a picture of calm as he slotted home his penalty. He said: “I always put my name forward for penalty kicks. Centre-forwards should be scoring goals and luckily enough I tucked it away. If I am being honest I am just delighted to be out playing football. “Last year was very frustrating because I was in and out of the team at Dundee United because of the form of Nadir Ciftci. “There was nothing I could do but things are going well and long may that continue.” The big talking point wasn’t Graham’s goal, though it was referee Bobby Madden’s decision not to award a penalty to Dundee on six minutes when Clarkson went down after being challenged by Mannus. Graham said: “I spoke to Alan about it and he said he just stood his ground. “David probably should have scored but maybe it was a harsh booking. Perhaps the ref should have just played on.”