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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

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

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.


Games jam played out well in Dundee

September 25 2016

Dundee  developers have come up with new virtual reality games in just 24 hours as part of a competition. A games jam took place from 4pm on Thursday until 4pm on Friday at Tag Games, resulting in games prototypes with names like Spider Spider, Mouse of Horrors and Terminal Station. The developers also created their own answer to the famous Boaty McBoatface, with a game titled Vanny McVanFace. Virtual reality, a form of technology that simulates a player's presence in a replica of a real environment, is said to be the future of games with some VR versions already present in many living rooms. Tag's marketing executive Gavin Moffat said: "At the games jam, staff split into four teams of four people - a designer, an artist and programmers. "They then had 24 hours to design a game prototype. "You would struggle to design a full game in that time, although it could be done if you're extremely good and the game is simple. "But with a prototype, you could then spend months perfecting and polishing it into a full game. "Some really great ideas can come out of these jam - you have to be creative and work fast. It was a great event. "This time the theme was virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets are already being used but it's difficult to say whether they'll become the default in gaming. "It could be the case that it's popular for a few years and then people get bored of it, or it could remain popular. "However, it certainly has great potential." Over the past 20 years Dundee has become an international hub for games developers with the world's biggest-selling video game - Grand Theft Auto - starting life in the city. Games jam are popular events where games developers get together to brainstorm ideas and create new prototypes within a short space of time.

Angus & The Mearns

AC/DC collector aiming to mark 10 years of BonFest

June 9 2015

The UK’s biggest collector of AC/DC memorabilia will be returning to mark 10 years of BonFest in Kirriemuir. Neil McDonald has been exhibiting at the Gateway to the Glens Museum since 2005. Mr McDonald’s collection helped break the museum’s daily attendance record during this year’s BonFest which has been held annually since 2006. He regularly loans the museum a host of objects for its exhibitions, many of which have never been viewed by the general public. Fans of the rock band travel from around the world to Kirriemuir each year to celebrate the life of their late lead singer Bon Scott, who was brought up in the town. Mr McDonald said: “The BonFest weekend was fabulous and, as you know, the museum broke its daily attendance figure which was fantastic. “It was great meeting and chatting to all the fans and visitors about the memorabilia on display. “One of the items which created a lot of interest this year was the AC/DC promotional ‘Swag Bag’ from the USA for the single Money Talks as well as the many early Australian and European singles on display. “I will be coming up to Kirriemuir imminently and will be having early discussions with the staff at the museum regarding next year. “Interestingly, although BonFest will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, I first exhibited at the Gateway to the Glens Museum a year earlier in 2005.” The first time Neil met Bon Scott was when he was standing outside the Glasgow Apollo in 1978 before a concert. He was carrying the last tour programme and Bon Scott drew up in a car and Neil asked him to sign it. Bon Scott took him inside to meet the band and they all signed his programme.

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


Law forbids Council Tax band ‘tweaking’

October 29 2010

Ministers have told Dundee Labour MSP Marlyn Glen that councils cannot raise the level of council tax in higher bands while freezing it in others. Councils have no such power and the proportions between the bands A to H are set out in legislation. Ms Glen asked if council tax could be raised in higher bands, having obtained figures showing people in the most expensive housing had done best from the council tax freeze in recent years. The figures show what the city's council tax would have been across all eight bands had it risen in line with inflation since 2007-8. Those in the top band H are better off to the tune of almost £380 but people living in band A houses only benefited by £125. For three years the SNP Government has provided an extra £70 million a year to local authorities with the proviso they did not increase council tax. Dundee's share has been just under £1.8 million a year. This month the SNP said cash would be found to keep the freeze for two more years, although the second year will depend on the party retaining power at the Holyrood elections in 2011. Ms Glen said the Government must fully fund a council tax freeze in Dundee. "So far the SNP's endless council tax freeze has benefited those in the top bands most," she said. "The unfairness of the council being forced by the Scottish Government to slash both its spending and its services in return for a small, inadequate sum to impose a council tax freeze must end." However, Councillor Willie Sawers, finance spokesman for the city council's SNP administration, said they were "very confident" of achieving a council tax freeze in Dundee again next year. He said it was right, at a time of great economic hardship for many people, which they should try to alleviate the financial burden by avoiding a tax rise. Mr Sawers said Ms Glen's comments underlined that Labour wanted to abandon the freeze and hike up the council tax. He added that any rise in the council tax was likely to hit those in lower banded houses hardest in proportion to their income.

Readers' letters

November 3: Limit handouts to irresponsibly large families

November 3 2010

Today's letters to The Courier discuss child benefits, energy subsidies, council tax banding, armed forces pensions, the Dundee aid effort for Gaza, and the Conservatives. Limit handouts to irresponsibly large familiesSir, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt received hysterical abuse for daring to suggest that before producing vast broods, people might consider whether they can afford them. Yet to those not living on benefits, he was merely stating the obvious and most of us confine ourselves to two or three children because we cannot decently rear more. The fact that the entire welfare system is run on the basis that unlimited assistance is provided in accordance with the size of a recipient's family is clearly a moral hazard. The poor must be protected from the worst consequences of failure but that does not absolve them from accepting some responsibility for their lifestyle choices. The dependency culture will persist and worsen unless limits are set to the rewards for irresponsibility. (Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews.Subsidies push bills upSir, Your front-page article by Stefan Morkis on fuel poverty and rising energy prices (October 30) certainly hit a chord. The timing of the increases by Scottish and Southern Energy of 9.4% from December 1, is bordering on the criminal. But the real criminality lies with the politicians who voted for the 2008 Climate Change Act, committing the UK to cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. In turn, energy bills have been increased to subsidise the builders of useless windmills and hideous giant pylons despoiling Scotland's only remaining natural resource its landscape. Patrick Healy.4 Waterside View,Carnoustie.Double tax standardsSir, It is a bit rich for Labour MSP Marlyn Glen to complain about the basic unfairness of the council tax (October 29) when it was the Labour Party who increased everyone's bill by 60% when they were last in power in Scotland. Band D households in Westminster Council area in London, pay council tax of £690. By contrast, in Dundee, similar households are now forced to fork out double this figure. Ms Glen may think that is fair but I suspect many hard-working Dundonians would disagree. It is the SNP who have frozen the council tax in Scotland in every year they have been in Government and it is Labour who now threaten to end it and to hike it up, as if council tax was a personal fund for Labour politicians. If Ms Glenn is seriously concerned about the inherent unfairness of the council tax, she should be promising the people of Dundee and Scotland that she and her party will scrap it. Kevin Donnelly.36 Winnipeg Quay,Manchester.Troops do fund pensionsSir, I feel I must correct your correspondent Stuart Allan who stated that members of HM forces do not contribute towards their pensions. The Ministry of Defence was forced to admit in the 1980s that salaries of service personnel were abated by 30% to fund pensions. This is a substantial deduction from an employee base that were not allowed to complain publicly, even if they had known about the practice. I doubt if many civilian employers, even in the current climate, would dare to adopt such a secretive procedure against such a loyal workforce. C. R. Garland.102 Califer Road,Forres.Back to days of Tory cutsSir, Recently, while walking in the Perthshire hills, I viewed a formation of Tornados GR4s from RAF Lossiemouth skimming across the hilltops. But I have this sinking feeling that the decision to close that base and move its Tornados to RAF Marham has already been taken on political grounds. The Tories have so little support in Scotland but, by moving facilities down south, they can please voters in Middle England. It has not taken David Cameron long. Just a few months after becoming Prime Minister, he is starting to rip the heart out of Morayshire. Thomas Brown.6 Tulliebelton Road,Bankfoot.Aid reaches Gaza 'terrorists'Sir, I've read The Courier for more years than I care to remember. Your political viewpoint has not always agreed with mine and I took this to be normal in a free society, more a cause for contentment than complaint. But then you used the term "vital aid" more than once in your reports to describe the extraordinary supply of goods to Gaza which not only ignored the confrontational approach of the self-styled humanitarians and the fundamentals of the Arab/Israeli conflict but also ignored reports that gave the lie to the need for any such "vital aid". Indeed, in this context, the term "vital aid" promotes support for the terrorists of Hamas, who control Gaza. Andrew Lawson.9 MacLaren Gardens,Dundee.David Cameron snatches defeatSir, Only a politician could present abject failure as achievement. David Cameron would have us believe that limiting the EU budget increase to 2.9% is reason for congratulations. He seems not to realise that the EU is the sum of its parts, all of which are currently enduring severe cuts in public expenditure. Incredibly, part of the proposed larger increase is for doubling entertainment expenses, including champagne supplies. If Cameron had any backbone, he would not only refuse any increase in our contribution but directly implement a reduction by cutting our present level of payment. Robert Dow.Ormiston Road,Tranent. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.