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...
The disgraced former boss of Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) is sitting on a pension pot worth up to £25 million despite his central role the mortgage giant’s collapse, according to a report. Sir James Crosby’s annual retirement income from the failed lender is estimated to be worth around £700,000 a year, according to a Sunday newspaper. The former actuary was chief executive of HBOS from 1999 to mid-2006, when he left with a pension entitlement of £572,000 a year, which was tied to inflation. This has risen to £700,000 a year, the newspaper reported. Financial adviser Hargreaves Lansdown told the newspaper it would cost £25 million to buy a pension fund of this size. Sir James last year admitted to a committee of MPs he cashed in about two thirds of his shares in the bank before it was forced into a rescue takeover by Lloyds in 2009. He also told MPs he has not handed back any money, nor offered to waive part of his pension as former RBS boss Fred Goodwin did, because he “lost money” in the bank’s collapse. Last week’s report into HBOS’s failure labelled Sir James the “architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster”. The Government-brokered takeover of HBOS by Lloyds required a £20 billion taxpayer bailout.
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
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.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Up to 10 senior managers at HBOS in the run-up to its collapse could be banned from working in the City after the much-delayed publication of two damning reports into the bank’s demise. City watchdogs will look at taking potential further action against former HBOS senior management - including ex-chief executives Andy Hornby and James Crosby, as well as past chairman Lord Stevenson - after a report by Andrew Green QC blasted former regulators for their failure to investigate a raft of executives. They could face being struck off from working in the financial services industry, while the Insolvency Service also has the power to ban them from being directors of any company. In their long-awaited review of the HBOS saga (PDF link), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) put the blame firmly on the bank’s executives, saying they were “ultimately responsible” for the demise of HBOS, which had to be rescued by Lloyds and bailed out with £20.5 billion of taxpayer cash in 2008. Only one former HBOS executive, Peter Cummings, has so far been formally investigated and fined. But it is the separate report by Mr Green published alongside the main review that is the most revelatory, providing a scathing assessment of the now disbanded Financial Services Authority (FSA) and its handling of the original inquiries into HBOS. Mr Green said the regulator should have investigated Mr Hornby, Mr Crosby and Lord Stevenson, as well as a number of other key executives. He also named other former senior managers at the bank that the FSA should have looked into investigating, including Mike Ellis, former finance director, Colin Matthew, ex-head of the international division and Lindsay Mackay, former boss of the treasury division. The FCA and PRA will now review whether to take any enforcement action against the bankers. But any decision will not come until next year and it could be another 18 months to two years before regulators can enforce bans. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said the Insolvency Service decided two years ago not to ban HBOS executives from working as company directors, but could review this if the FCA and PRA inquiry throws up new evidence. The Green report said the FSA’s failure not to investigate senior management more broadly was “not reasonable”. Regulators are now left powerless to levy fines against any managers deemed responsible due to the length of time that has passed. But the potential for bans would have implications for many of the senior managers who still work in the City. Mr Hornby is chief operating officer of Gala Coral, while Mr Ellis is currently chairman of Skipton Building Society and Mr Mackay is a director of Alpha Bank. Gala came out once more in support of Mr Hornby, saying he has “been a key member” of its management team and has “earned the continuing support of our colleagues, management and shareholders”. Lord Stevenson has a number of positions, but not in the financial services industry, while James Crosby is also largely retired. Mr Crosby was stripped of his knighthood at his own request following a report by MPs and peers into HBOS in 2013, which said he was the “architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster”. Eight of the former HBOS directors, including Lord Stevenson and Sir Charles Dunstone, who was a non-executive director at the lender, issued a statement through law firm Ashurst saying they believe there is no reason to take further action. It said: “The report does not contain evidence that would justify any further enforcement action against executives.” They also add that the report “downplays the unforeseen and unforeseeable effect of the financial crisis on HBOS”. So far Mr Cummings - who ran the commercial arm at HBOS - is the only former director at the bank to have been penalised by the FSA, after being fined £500,000 and banned for life from working in the City. Mr Green’s report reveals the FSA held a crunch meeting to discuss Mr Cummings and enforcement action, but found no minutes or record of the discussions. “None of the people who attended that meeting could remember anything about (the meeting) in their report interviews,” according to the Green report. It also revealed from interviews with former FCA enforcement boss Clive Adamson that he believed “the people most culpable were let off”. The FCA and PRA’s report sheds further light on the mismanagement of HBOS before it had to be rescued. It found the managers of HBOS “failed to set an appropriate strategy for the firm’s business” and “failed to challenge a flawed business model”. It also found that auditor KPMG was effectively leant on by HBOS directors to sign off lower bad loan write-offs in 2008 to ease concerns about its finances. But KPMG is not set to face enforcement action, as its role in the HBOS crisis is not in the scope of the reviews. Chancellor George Osborne claimed the failings highlighted in the reports demonstrated that “the system of regulation created by the last Labour government failed”. He added: “In the end, this led to a £20 billion bailout of Lloyds Banking Group, funded by the taxpayer.” Publication of the 400-page report and separate 100-page document by Mr Green was delayed by more than a year due to lengthy legal wrangling. HBOS, which was formed from the merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland in 2001, expanded too rapidly and lent recklessly before the credit crunch and financial crisis struck. It agreed to a rescue takeover by Lloyds in September 2008, but the enlarged bank needed a £20.5 billion taxpayer bailout just weeks later.
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.
Bankers who ran HBOS in the run-up to its dramatic collapse are ultimately to blame for “catastrophic failures of management”, a damning report has found. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards launched a devastating attack on the bailed-out lender’s former chairman Lord Stevenson and past chief executives Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby. Their “toxic” misjudgments led to the bank’s downfall and £20.5 billion taxpayer bail-out at the height of the financial crisis and they should never be allowed to work in the financial sector again, according to the influential commission of MPs and peers. Peter Cummings is the only former HBOS director to have been penalised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), after being fined £500,000 and banned for life from working in the City last September. But the commission said it was wrong that he should shoulder the blame alone and called on the new City regulator to consider barring Sir James, Mr Hornby and Lord Stevenson from taking up any role in the financial sector. The commission said in the report: “The primary responsibility for the downfall of HBOS should rest with Sir James Crosby, architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster, with Andy Hornby, who proved unable or unwilling to change course, and Lord Stevenson, who presided over the bank’s board from its birth to its death.” Lord Stevenson in particular came under heavy fire, having infuriated the commission by claiming reckless lending at HBOS was not his fault because he was “only there part time”. The commission found the former HBOS bosses also failed to admit their mistakes and should apologise for their “incompetent and reckless board strategy”. Sir James, who was chief executive of HBOS from 2001 to 2006 and also former deputy chairman of the FSA, is a member of the European Advisory Board at private equity firm Bridgepoint. Mr Hornby is chief executive of gaming group Gala Coral and Lord Stevenson has gone on to hold a number of non-executive board positions since leaving HBOS.
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.
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.