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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…


Repair bill of £95 million for crumbling Fife roads

January 25 2016

A crumbling rural rat run in Fife has been tagged as Courier Country’s worst road. Inspectors found 95 potholes in need of repair on the Q7 which runs for 4.3 miles between Cupar and Kilmany. Those who live along the single-track road, commonly used as a short cut between Cupar and Dundee, are so fed-up with its condition that many avoid using it and take the long way round. Villagers in Kilmany and nearby Foodieash said cars had been damaged hitting holes in the road, which is also prone to flooding and mud, and fear that there will be a serious accident. Kilmany resident Paul Humphries’z said: “I’m concerned that someone is going to come a cropper.” Grant Jack, 50, Foodieash, said: “The potholes are really, really bad and when the road is muddy you can’t see them. I use it to go to Dundee two or three times a week, so it’s quite important to me that the road is kept at a reasonable standard. “They need to get the road fixed, that’s the simple truth.” The road’s state was lamented at a meeting of Fife Council’s north-east Fife area committee, when the council’s £95.6m maintenance backlog was flagged up. https://youtube.com/watch?v=hM27_r8-2vo%3Frel%3D0 It was also revealed that the budget for area transportation works, which include roads, pavements, street lighting, road safety and traffic management, is expected to fall from £16m this year to £9.5m in 2017/18. Committee member, Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett said: “The roads are in a pretty awful condition.” “I know from my own travels that there are potholes everywhere and clearly the transportation service is not keeping up. “We are in a very difficult situation. “The previous administration and this administration have put more funding into roads maintenance and any further cuts to roads maintenance should be avoided if possible.” The council has a 24-hour or five-day target for dealing with surface defects, depending on their severity, and service manager David Brown confirmed that the necessary repairs to the Q7 were made within the timescale. He also said inspectors and squads were out daily looking for potholes and filling in those recorded. Persistent and heavy rain over the winter, he said, had caused further deterioration to road surfaces. He said: “There is a league table and Fife is sitting about the middle.” It has been revealed it would cost £95.6 million to get the region’s carriageways up to scratch. Councillor Pat Callaghan, the council’s spokesperson for environment and transportation, said: “It would be great to have all our roads in first class condition but it’s estimated that this would cost around £95m. “This obviously isn’t something we can currently consider when we have to save £91.5m by 2018/19. “Any defects that are considered to pose an immediate risk are repaired within 24 hours with the rest repaired within five working days.” The council pledged an additional £50m over nine years for maintenance from this April but a report by transport and environment head of assets Ken Gourlay said it was unlikely this would be sufficient to prevent further deterioration in the long term.


Doctors warn Scottish Government against U-turn on trauma centre at Ninewells Hospital

March 24 2016

Top doctors have warned lives will be put at risk if the Scottish Government U-turns on plans to build a life-saving trauma centre in Dundee. The SNP administration announced to great fanfare plans to build the flagship centre at Ninewells but have since rowed-back on the proposal. Health Secretary Shona Robison claims the plans have been put on hold because senior clinicians have questioned whether centres in Dundee, as well as Aberdeen, would be viable. But now, 50 senior specialists in the north east have hit out at Ms Robison, claiming she risks leaving the region with a “second-class service” and putting life-saving treatment “in jeopardy”. In an open letter, Consultant Surgeon Simon Barker said doctors were “deeply worried” that building the trauma centres only in Edinburgh and Glasgow “will leave the rest of Scotland out in the cold”. Ms Robison said “no final decisions” on the number of trauma centres have been made. NHS Grampian’s Dr Barker said: “The plans for two centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow would appear to leave 25% of the Scottish population with a second-class service. “Our resources and ability to recruit staff to care properly for seriously injured patients will be in jeopardy. “We are deeply worried that a solution for the central belt of Scotland will leave the rest of Scotland out in the cold.” Last week it was revealed that ministers chose not to wait for the outcome of a study assessing the need for four trauma centres in Scotland before committing to building one in Dundee by the end of this year. Scottish Labour’s Lewis Macdonald, said: “As the consultants and surgeons from ARI point out in their letter, not only would this leave 25% of the country without the access they need to a major trauma centre, but it would seriously affect NHS Grampian’s ability to recruit and retain staff. This message from ARI doctors could not be any clearer.” The Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Alison McInnes said: “Scots living north of the central belt would clearly benefit greatly from the life-saving services major trauma centres provide but Dundee and Aberdeen are being left in the dark.” Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “These claims are simply not true. No final decisions about the number of trauma centres have been made. “All options remain on the table and I am today writing to the National Planning Forum to give reassurances to clinicians on this.”

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. Audi TT RS Coupé. 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.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

MSP encourages NHS Tayside to say G’day to Aussie nurses recruitment idea

January 27 2018

NHS Tayside has said it plans to work alongside a northern neighbour on innovative solutions to staff shortages which could include an injection of Australian nurses. Grampian Health Board sent a delegation to the country in an effort to shore up its nursing register last year. Almost 50 nurses are set to start across Grampian – and Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman believes Tayside could follow suit. Hundreds more are in line to make the 10,000-mile trip from Australia to take up roles in Grampian, following a recruitment drive that took health chiefs to job fairs in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. North East region MSP Mr Bowman said: “Apparently Western Australia has so many nurses that they can’t all get clinical experience. “It’s no longer the case that people make a one-way trip to Australia and remain there. “A generation of medical staff are looking for work and a place to employ their skills. “This may not be a permanent move but I’d like to think there’s a place in NHS Tayside for enthusiastic nurses who may value experience, instead of incredibly expensive agency staff. “If there is a pool of talent that can be tapped into, Tayside needs to act quickly. “Much of the work will already have been done.” Attending job fairs cost the struggling board well over £20,000 but the response has left it optimistic it will prove value for money. As well as 49 nurses and midwives, three of whom will go to other health boards, there are another 114 at various stages of training, which they need to complete before they can be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The delegation was made up of Caroline Hiscox, deputy director for nursing and midwifery, Elizabeth Wilson, senior nurse for workforce planning and development, Susan Coull, head of human resources and Jenny Gibb, associate nurse director. An NHS Tayside spokesperson said, “NHS Tayside has already commenced discussions with the other boards in the north region, including NHS Grampian, to progress our approach together to international nursing recruitment, so that we continue to attract the best talent to our services. “Additionally, NHS Tayside actively participates as an NHS Board in Scottish Government-led international recruitment initiatives.”


Investigation into golden eagle pesticide death in Strathdon

May 6 2011

Tayside Police have joined their Grampian counterparts and wildlife experts in probing the death of a golden eagle on an Aberdeenshire estate. Grampian and Tayside officers and the Scottish Government rural payments and inspections directorate carried out a probe at Glenbuchat Estate, Strathdon, over the alleged use of illegal pesticides. The inquiry began after a dead satellite-tagged golden eagle was found on that estate on March 29, and it tested positive for banned pesticide Carbofuran. The operation also involved the National Wildlife Crime Unit, RSPB and SSPCA. Wildlife crime officer Constable Dave MacKinnon said, “We are always very concerned when illegal pesticides are used in our countryside for the poisoning of birds of prey but I am particularly disappointed that this incident has resulted in the death of a young golden eagle. “Our efforts in Scotland and Grampian to eradicate this type of crime over a number of years have been challenging and clearly, with this most recent incident, we still have some way to go.” He added, “Articles have been removed from the estate and are being sent for analysis. “Nobody has been charged in connection with this incident or other offences but inquiries are continuing.” Bob Elliot, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland, said, “This highly toxic chemical, which it is illegal to possess, was found to have poisoned this golden eagle. “Poisoned baits lying out in the countryside are indiscriminate, and threaten both pets, domestic livestock and even humans.” He added, “That such potentially lethal activity continues in this day and age is an outrage, and threatens the international reputation of Scotland as a haven for wildlife and iconic species. “Despite all agencies and partners working together to eradicate these crimes, we do not seem to be witnessing any reduction in this type of offence being committed against our world-renowned wildlife and natural heritage.”


Two decades of dirty Fife streets, claims Glenrothes councillor

August 13 2016

Fife’s streets have been blighted by cleanliness issues for two decades, a Glenrothes councillor has claimed. Ross Vettraino described caretaking standards of the region’s avenues and open spaces as “woeful”, as he and other town councillors were presented with an update by council officers. That is despite official council figures claiming that 97.9% of the region’s roads meet statutory performance indicators. “If you were an uninformed person reading this report then you would think that the standards are fine,” he said. “They are not. “The standards of street cleanliness are woeful. “One of the reasons for that is the significant reduction in resources. “The staff are still being asked to do the same job as before but with fewer resources, but there are also a lot of other reasons.” A survey of 196 sites across the Glenrothes area were surveyed between April 2015 and the end of March 2016. During this time, just two streets were found to be below the required regional standard – Lothian Court and Dunbeath Drive, both of which have since been addressed. However, the survey also showed that 15 requests for litter bins had been made from residents, while 19 fallen trees had to be removed. More alarmingly was the number of discarded needles that needed attending to by local authority staff, with 19 discarded syringes requiring uplift over the 12 month period. However, just 20 complaints were made by Glenrothes area residents in the sample period. But while acknowledging the constraints under which council staff were operating, Mr Vettraino said that the report did not accurately represent the state of the region’s streets. “There is now a 5% sample of sites, when it used to be 2%,” “I don’t know where they are taken from but there are 7,500 streets in Fife. “I hope we can get to grips because this is a problem that has been there for 20 years.”

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