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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

Stanley Mills provides the inspiration for new art exhibition

April 27 2015

Stanley Mills one of the best-preserved relics of the 18th Century industrial revolution has been the inspiration for a new art exhibition. Situated on the banks of the River Tay and built in 1786, the mill processed cotton at the height of the industrial revolution and produced textiles for 200 years, before closing in 1989. Run by students and staff at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), in partnership with Historic Scotland, the project is the first of its kind at Stanley Mills. The exhibition included a performance by a local school choir and a costumed procession though the village of Stanley. It also includes weaving, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and stories that responded to the building, its setting and its history. Fiona Davidson, learning development officer at Historic Scotland, said: “This project has provided students at ECA with the opportunity to engage with the rich history and heritage of Stanley Mills in an innovative, new way. “The unique exhibition will also provide members of the public with an insight into the mill’s industrial past.”


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Approval given for Guild Homes housing extension in Kirriemuir

April 4 2012

An extension has been approved for an Angus development that is bucking the trend in the local housing market. Guild Homes' application to build 33 houses in Kirriemuir was given the backing of councillors at a meeting in Forfar yesterday. The council's development standards committee was given a slideshow of work intended for an industrial site on Cortachy Road. The development will border the recent construction of Hillhead housing by the same firm to the south and east. Road access will be through the Hillhead development and an extra footpath will link the new housing to Cortachy Road. The housing comprises a mix of single- and one-and-a-half-storey houses. Five of the houses will be offered as affordable housing for six months, after which the firm will offer a commuted payment for provision elsewhere, if there are any unsold properties.Largest for two decadesGuild Homes managing director Mark Guild said: ''The success of the previous development has allowed us to continue on with this next phase. ''We have customers already waiting, should this be approved, which is very unusual in the current market. "We would hope to get on with these affordable units and we are in the fortunate position where we can offer them without damaging the company.'' One letter of representation was made, with a soon-to-be occupant of adjacent Lord Lyell Drive being concerned about the height of one of the proposed one-and-a-half-storey houses. Mr Guild said he was unaware of any problem during consultation and would discuss the matter with the objector, who wrote that the neighbouring properties are all bungalows and the new building would be out of keeping with that. Work got under way last month on a £40 million Forfar housing development the town's largest for two decades. Guild Homes cut the first sod on the Wester Restenneth project to the east of the town on March 12. The Restenneth Fields project was the subject of a lengthy planning history, but finally received appeal approval under a different applicant in 2008.

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


Listed Tay Rope Works building the subject of new planning application

March 14 2011

A historic Dundee building is again at the centre of a planning application that if approved will result in the demolition of its C-listed facade. Applicant Rowarth Ventures plans to build five homes and two flats with associated car parking at the former Tay Rope Works on 51 Magdalen Yard Road. It is the latest in a long line of applications to build homes on the site which overlooks Magdalen Green, the River Tay and Fife. The plan has yet to go before the city council's planning committee but could run into stiff opposition if previous applications are anything to go by. Failed attempts to develop the site have been rejected by the council to the relief of many residents who were concerned, among other issues, that additional homes would exacerbate the area's traffic flow and parking problems. West End Community Council, which has objected to previous plans to develop the works, says it will not set out its position this time until the full drawings have been viewed. "The developers have sent plans to the community council but they are not the full plans," said Andrew McBride, community council chairman. "We will get this from the council and until we see this we will not be in a position to comment." The building dates back to 1837 and evidence of its rich ropemaking history remains evident with words inscribed over the entrance. In 1987 its facade was listed by Historic Scotland, which confirmed it had not yet been consulted over the plans. A spokeswoman for the body said, "Applications for demolition of a category C(s) listed buildings are dealt with by the local authority. If consent for demolition is granted, the application is then referred to Historic Scotland for final consideration." Previous plans to develop the site have been thrown out by the council as well as split opinion among locals. In 2008 former developer Duncarse saw its plans for 11 flats and three houses rejected by councillors. Duncarse folded in 2008 with all assets and land owned by the firm, including the former Tay rope works, sold off by administrators to pay its creditors.

Perth & Kinross

Historic Binn Hill Tower has new owners

June 18 2015

A historic tower which boasts a prime location on a wooded hill near Perth has been sold. Enjoying views out over the Carse of Gowrie and the river Tay, Binn Hill Tower presents a major restoration project for the new owners. Built for the 14th Lord Gray of Kinfauns in 1815 as an observatory and romantic feature to enhance the dramatic landscape, it is now neglected and decaying. The B-listed tower was put up for sale by Sally Carracher from Edinburgh whose late father Gavin Alston had an architect draw up plans to convert it into a home. She took the unusual step of offering the tower for sale on Gumtree and after it featured in The Courier she received a flurry of interest in the building, which had a £28,000 price tag. Although not drawn on the price paid, she described it as a “sensible offer.”

Angus & The Mearns

Meffan exhibition tells the story of Angus and the Great War

September 10 2014

The outbreak of the First World War and its effect in Angus is being marked in a new exhibition in Forfar. The exhibition uses iconic objects, artworks, poetry and slideshows to tell the history of life in the trenches, The Black Watch and of local recipients of the Victoria Cross. Visitors to the Meffan Museum and Art Gallery can also view a selection of war drawings by Sir Muirhead Bone, who was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in 1916. Photos by Kim Cessford.