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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.

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.

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.

Business news

Graham’s buy Fife dairy in expansion move

November 26 2015

Bridge of Allan-based Graham’s The Family Dairy have bought Glenfield Dairy in Fife from First Milk for an undisclosed sum. The deal for the Cowdenbeath plant is part of Graham’s wider growth strategy. First Milk said it would help their profitability and deliver a more sustainable business for their farmers. The takeover allows Graham’s to expand their product range, explore new developments and support the dairy industry across Scotland. The Glenfield site produces cottage cheese, quark and sour cream, which will continue to be produced when Graham’s take charge of the business with all employees next week. Graham’s produces milk, block and spreadable butter, cream, cheddar cheese, and has recently launched low-fat yogurt and luxury ice-creams. Robert Graham, managing director, said: “This is an exciting acquisition as it allows us to extend our product range for customers and consumers. “In addition, this deal presents great potential to explore further new product development going forward.” He added: “We plan to bring these principles to Glenfield as they become part of the Graham’s family. We’re delighted to be expanding the business on home turf and will continue to be mindful of future growth opportunities.” Mike Gallacher, chief executive of the previously loss-making First Milk, said: “The sale of Glenfield Dairy follows a full strategic review by the board over the summer. It will allow us to focus even more closely on our core businesses in hard cheese and liquid brokering. “This is already starting to drive improvement with the business moving into a positive operating profit at mid-year, consistent with the phasing of our turnaround plan. “We are confident that this focus will deliver improved milk prices and a more sustainable business model for our farmer shareholders.” He said the deal is good for Glenfield employees, customers and consumers. Glenfield fitted well with Graham’s other dairy operations and the sale would protect employment at the site. Graham’s has grown through three generations of dairy farmers to become one of Scotland’s most notable food and drink successes, since setting up in Bridge of Allan in 1939.

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

Readers' letters

They can afford to extend phone coverage

September 21 2013

Sir, I read your recent article saying that 4G is on the way to 90% of the UK’s population. So 10% that is six million people will not get it. Guess where they will live? Why are we allowing these big companies to cherry-pick our country? It is not that they can’t afford to extend the coverage. Vodafone, for example, with the worst network coverage, has UK earnings before their now infamous accounting, of more than £1billion in a year. It spent £4 billion buying back its own shares in a year. Is it really asking too much for them to spend some of that money in Scotland’s rural areas? How can they say that it is not commercially viable? I was in Skye recently where mobile reception is a rare and fleeting thing. Nine thousand people live there and they get thousands of visitors every year. You can drive right through Europe with rarely less that full bar coverage until you reach Carlisle. With similar attitudes to the likes of the supply of gas and broadband we are creating a second or under class designation to rural areas which none of our leaders seems prepared to do anything about. I hope your article will spur some of them into action but I won’t hold my breath. Robert Buchan. Sunflowers, Donavourd, Pitlochry. We’ve earned the right Sir, I find the letter from Grahame Miller somewhat pompous and insulting. Those who use their titles in correspondence are acting perfectly correctly. I and many others worked hard to earn the right, and I am proud to be able use mine. It has nothing to do with “self-perceived importance” as he so crudely puts it. Captain T R Willis. 61 Craigmill Gardens, Carnoustie. Exactly the same thing Sir, I read with mild and ordinary interest the letter written by Grahame Miller (Thursday’s Courier) in which he gave his views about people who preface their signature with Prof, or Dr, or army rank etc. Having no strong opinion myself either way I was about to read on to the next letter when I noticed, to my astonishment, that he put after his name (qualifications withheld). Surely by doing this he is just making it equally obvious that he, just like the people he was referring to, wants us all to know he also has qualifications? Betty Bowman. Newport-on-Tay. Straight swap would fix it Sir, Parents are naturally concerned at the delay over Madras College’s relocation (Letters, September 16). But if the Pipeland scheme follows correct planning procedures and is not “Trumped” like a certain golf/housing development it is far more likely to incur delays than is the North Haugh, as it conflicts with other planning issues and is on green belt (designated only last October, such is our joined-up policy-making). The council refuses to provide a like-for-like cost comparison of the two sites, and its so-called educational consultation is discredited as virtually all of its points would apply to any site. If any proposal is flawed, partial, incomplete, one-sided, unprofessional and misleading, it is the council’s. The problem of the North Haugh land being owned by the university could be overcome if it were to announce, as part of its 600th anniversary celebrations, that it would donate the land now to the council in a straight exchange for the South Street site. Maybe Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC, in his capacity as both our MP and the university chancellor (which should not involve any major conflict of interest) could initiate such a solution? John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews. Not confident of success? Sir, I was somewhat surprised to read the recent article in which Keith Brown MSP called on the UK Government to accelerate work to bring high-speed rail to Scotland. He is a member of the SNP and the Scottish Minister for Transport. Doesn’t he realise that if Scotland votes “yes” next September it will be his and his party’s responsibility to act on this matter? It would appear that by calling on the UK Government at this time he is of the opinion that the Scottish people will vote “no”. Obviously a sign of no confidence of SNP success, or not thinking things through! Harry Ritchie. Beechwood, Barry. Won’t build in “foreign” land Sir, According to The Courier, Keith Brown (Scottish Transport Minister) has called on the UK Government to bring high speed rail to Scotland. Surely Mr Brown is of the same belief as the First Minister and the rest of his Cabinet that the result of the referendum next year is a foregone conclusion and will be a “yes”? How, then, can he expect a foreign country to build any sort of railway in Scotland. Alan Provan. 19 Park Place, Elie.

Business news

Healthy goal in sight as Scottish Women’s Hockey Team gets right behind new sponsor

June 16 2017

Award-winning Graham’s The Family Dairy has swung into action with sponsorship of Scottish Hockey and the Scottish Women’s Hockey Team - as the latter continues training at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre for the upcoming World League semi-finals. As part of the partnership, the Graham’s logo will feature on the Scotland Women’s Hockey team’s shorts, and the dairy will gift the players a selection of its products throughout the year. The new sponsorship is in addition to Graham’s backing of Scottish Ballet, currently in its second year. Marketing director Carol Graham said: “Being healthy and active is hugely important to the Grahams family and, as hockey fans ourselves, we’re delighted to support the Scottish Women’s Hockey team. “As a family business, we’re always looking for ways to support local talent and partner with organisations that embody the values of our business, so this is an exciting partnership for us. "We wish the team the best of luck in Brussels and look forward to an exciting year ahead.” David Sweetman, Chief Executive Officer at Scottish Hockey, said: “Hockey is such a physically demanding sport, so the health and well-being of our players is so imperative. Dairy forms an important part of the nutritious and balanced diet of the Scotland Women’s Hockey team and we’re excited to work together with Graham’s the Family Dairy to help keep the team in peak condition in 2017.” The Scotland Women’s Hockey team took a break from training to top up their energy with pots of Graham’s Protein 22, the award-winning protein packed product from the Graham’s range. Graham’s The Family Dairy, based at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, produces an award-winning, home-grown range of quality food and drink, including milk, cheese, cream, butter, ice-cream, cottage cheese, quark, sour cream and yogurt. Established for more than 76 years, Graham’s remains a family-run company with a focus on farming, provenance, high quality produce and a quest to promote the best of Scotland’s larder throughout the country. The company was named number one Scottish food brand, and number two Scottish brand overall in the 2016 Kantar WorldView Panel Research. The brand also retained its 2015 title of number one dairy brand in Scotland. In May Graham’s Gold Smooth won the Dairy category at the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards. Feedback from the judges noted Graham’s excellent marketing activity and understanding of the marketplace, with the milk being described as a ‘luxury product’ and ‘milk like it should be’. In February last year, Graham’s was the only UK company to be honoured at the global Gulfood Innovation Awards, taking home the ‘Dairy Innovation Award’ for their new Protein 22 product. They also won the innovation award for Protein 22 at Wabel Paris in April 2017.

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.

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