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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.

Readers' letters

Irony of the Typhoon display at Leuchars

September 13 2013

Sir, As the RAF Ensign was lowered at the sunset ceremony at the last RAF Leuchars Airshow, well- informed observers and commentators would have seen the irony in one of the displays during the flying programme, namely the Quick Reaction Alert scramble of two Typhoons. With the planned move of air assets some 150 miles north to Lossiemouth, it is in danger of being renamed Delayed Reaction Alert or Diminished Reaction Alert as even travelling at a supersonic 660mph at, say, 35,000 feet, it is going to take the aircraft approximately 14 minutes to fly from Lossiemouth to Leuchars. RAF Leuchars QRA aircraft have been protecting British airspace for over six decades, with no complaints as to their ability to do so, and as a 9/11 style attack is probably the most likely threat to our airspace these days, it is very strange that these same aircraft will be asked to patrol our skies from Lossiemouth to protect us from rogue civilian aircraft that will be flying in air corridors over Britain, 95% of which are south of the Glasgow/Edinburgh corridor. It would appear that the politicians know they have got it wrong, but none are prepared to reverse the decision. The army are destined to come in 2015, even though rumour has it they don’t want to, as it is completely unsuitable for their needs the runway and its services are being retained for emergency diversions. The £240 million price tag for this folly seems steep, but when compared to the £1.5 billion which has reportedly been wasted by the MoD over the last two years, it doesn’t seem so bad. The taxpayer also gets to see £10.2 million wasted every year in increased training costs for the Typhoons, as they fly all the way back to Fife to practise in well-established training grounds just east of Dundee. The prime directive of government is to protect its citizens. Good defence is not determined by luck but by strategy, something the Government decided to leave out of their SDSR. Mark Sharp. 41 Norman View, Leuchars. Jenny’s got it wrong Sir, Jenny Hjul’s article (yesterday’s Courier) takes up the cudgels on behalf of “female exploitation” in lads’ mags. Jenny has got this one wrong, however. In cases of exploitation it is usually the end user, or purchaser, who is being “exploited” and these magazines are no different. The ladies whose images make up the content are being handsomely paid for being photographed, with their full consent, and the magazines’ proprietors are raking in the cash. Nobody is being exploited at that end of the trade, but it is the blokes who part with their cash to buy the mags who are being exploited. No, Jenny, it’s not male exploitation of women, but quite the reverse. It’s female exploitation of men for profit. It’s being going on since the beginning of time and trying to sound trendy by reversing the roles ain’t going to stop it. Vive le difference! (Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. No Scottish jobs created Sir, The brief article re Seimens turbines arriving in Dundee docks should be of interest to readers. The SNP have consistently declared these monstrosities, which are destroying our beautiful landscape, create jobs. The reality is they are manufactured abroad, connected using foreign cables and do not create any Scottish jobs, courtesy of EU procurement rules. We all know the enthusiasm Mr Salmond has for the EU, so he is right in one respect. They do create jobs. For the Germans. However, they cost us all huge amounts in massive subsidies in our electricity bills. If, God forbid, we secure independence, we will have the euro thrust upon us, increasing cost even more. Iain Cathro. 31 Ferndale Drive, Dundee. Slipping into a ‘dark age’? Sir “Humans have stopped evolving” (The Courier Tuesday, September 10). This statement by Sir David Attenborough may be the most significant of his career and deserves to be taken very seriously by governments around the world. Should he be correct, and there is much evidence to indicate he is, then we are already in regression and slipping into a “Dark Age”. Perhaps it is now time for ad hoc “think tanks” to formulate strategic global plans for the way ahead . . . taking into account the objectives and aspirations of all good people before it is too late! Kenneth Miln. 22 Fothringham Drive, Monifieth. A great day all round Sir, Having been an outspoken critic of the traffic and parking management in the past, I must now congratulate all concerned with last Saturday’s air show. In light of the number of people attending, getting on site was, for us, a breeze. The show was excellent even though the Vulcan and red nine (only eight red arrows some shapes just didn’t work!) were sorely missed. Even the weather held up. a great day all round. Marcia Wright. 19 Trinity Road, Brechin.

Perth & Kinross

Bid to lure Hollywood to Tayside

April 20 2016

Urgent action is needed to help Scotland capitalise on Hollywood-style productions like Outlander, a seminar in Perth was told. Senior location scout David Taylor - the man responsible for transforming Glasgow’s George Square into downtown Philadelphia for Brad Pitt blockbuster World War Z - said that the Scottish Government must be more proactive to help boost the country’s screen industry. Mr Taylor was talking at the launch of a new tourism drive aimed at luring more big-name productions to the Perthshire area. He said that Outlander, which was partly filmed in Perthshire and Fife, had helped the industry grow by £12million to more than £42million last year. “I welcome this increase,” said Mr Taylor, whose credits also include Whisky Galore and Glasgow-based sci fi tale Under The Skin. “But I have to point out that the total value of UK production activity in 2014 was £1.47billion, meaning Scotland’s share of film and high-end TV production is little more than 3%.” He said the screen sector in Britain was booming because of UK tax incentives. “At the moment in Scotland, we are failing to take advantage of this.” Mr Taylor told the packed seminar in Perth’s Station Hotel that visiting productions were a major boost to local communities. Filming the remake Whisky Galore in the north-east of Scotland recently had brought about £1.5million to the area, he said. Delegates heard that proposals for a large-scale film studio complex at Edinburgh – complete with six sound stages – would have a “dramatic effect” on the country’s screen industry. Mr Taylor said: “It is not too late to up our game, but it needs for our government to be decisive and take action now.” Yesterday’s event was coordinated by FifeScreen and TayScreen Scotland and was part of a series of Perthshire tourism talks. Location manager Duncan Broadfoot, whose credits include Mission Impossible and James Bond film Spectre, gave a brief talk via video link. There were also talks from Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager for VisitScotland, TayScreen project manager Julie Craik and Suzanne Cumiskey, business development projects officer for Perth and Kinross Council. The venue was close to Perth train station, which was used in the 2013 film Railway Man starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. The station was turned into a 1950s version of Edinburgh Waverley for the film, based on the autobiography of Eric Lomax.

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


Barefoot walker inspires others to toe the line

June 10 2016

A campaigning mother has inspired dozens of volunteers to take off their shoes and cross the Tay Road Bridge barefoot. Jennifer Wilson, 33, felt compelled to raise awareness about the need for more centralised disabled changing places after encountering obstacles with her disabled three-year-old daughter Lacey. Lacey, who has suffered from a bowel and bladder condition since birth, regularly has to lie on the floor of a public toilet whilst being changed due to a lack of equipment on offer. Though Dundee has several specialist changing place facilities with appropriate equipment such as harnesses, the lack of a 24 hour facility in Dundee city centre has left Jennifer frustrated. Her efforts led to a petition which has so far gained more than 2,000 signatures and the recruitment of local councillor Lynne Short and volunteers from disability charity PAMIS. Despite forcing the issue into the public eye, Jennifer felt more still had to be done to promote her cause and organised for a group of volunteers to join her on a shoeless trek across the Tay Road Bridge. Speaking before she set off on her trek, Jennifer said: "I first wondered what the state of my feet would be like and thought about what would be on the ground. "And then I thought about what would be on a public toilet floor and the nasty things that might be there. "And that's the idea - would you want to stand on a public toilet floor in your bare feet? "This is something that is a necessity, not a luxury." PAMIS chief executive Jenny Miller said: "We work with a family who have been around for 24 years needing a toilet and actually we are a bit disgusted that there isn't one in the middle of Dundee. "I think people don't realise what has to happen, so it's doing events like this that help raise the profile. "There should be toilets that are accessible for everyone. It's a basic human right." Councillor Lynne Short added: "Speaking to service users who work within the caring industry I've found that they're restricted in what they can do because they need to get back in time to access changing facilities. "It opens your eyes when you start to dig a little and understand it more." To view Jennifer's petition visit www.change.org/p/dundee-city-council-changing-places-facility-dundee-city-centre. For more on PAMIS log on to www.pamis.org.uk.

Angus & The Mearns

Scotland’s Tea Festival brews up interest in Mearns adventurer

August 23 2014

The life of an adventurous Scot who saved another country’s economy in the 19th Century is being celebrated at an inaugural festival in his name. Mearns man James Taylor brought commercial tea production to Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, in the mid-1800s. Despite being known as the “father of tea” in that country, his contribution to global drinking habits has been merely a footnote in British history. Hoping to rectify this, organisers of the three-day Scotland’s Tea Festival has welcomed an array of guests. These included East India Company “tea master” Lalith Lenadora, New Zealand professor of Scottish and Irish history Angela McCarthy from Otago University, Japanese tea essayist Takeshi Isibushi and one of Taylor’s descendants, Fife woman Frances Humphreys. Guests at the opening ceremony saw a plaque unveiled at Taylor’s home of Mossbank outside Auchenblae. Ms Humphreys had until recently kept a silver tea set given to Taylor by an appreciative Planters’ Association of Ceylon in 1890. Mrs Humphreys, great granddaughter of his sister Margaret, said: “The tea set has been in my family since Margaret. “It had been in the attic along with a journal and I thought I had to do something with it, so I offered it to the National Museum Scotland. “They were just about to have an exhibition about pioneering Scots and they used that as one of their central exhibits.” Prof McCarthy said Taylor may have had many reasons for leaving the Mearns for the other side of the world and that he has the peculiar honour of featuring as an extra in the Barbara Cartland novel Moon over Eden. She said: “He certainly had family connections in the coffee economy there. “Apparently he had a turbulent relationship with his stepmother and also his letters reveal he may have been trying to avoid a possible planned marriage.” Today, Professor McCarthy gives a talk on Taylor’s life at the Auchenblae Hall from 10am and historian Sir Tom Devine will discuss “why Scots did so well in the Eastern Empire” at Laurencekirk Church of Scotland from noon to 12.30pm. Visit www.scotlandteasfest.co.ukfor more information or call 01561 376 896 or 377501.

Angus & The Mearns

Forgotten artist’s ‘Mad Men’ works go on sale in Angus

April 5 2013

An Angusauction house will be taking a leap in the dark tomorrow when it seeks buyers for works by an enigmatic and near-forgotten Scottish artist. Only a small collection of paintings and a cardboard box of personal belongings remain of the life of Frances Watt, whose work hung in galleries and private collections across the globe as recently as the early 1980s. After spending 30 years in storage in Aberdeen, some of her painting and sketches will be sold at Taylor’s Auction Rooms in Montrose. However, sale room manager Jonathan Taylor has said he has no idea what prices they will fetch. He explained that searches on a website which gathers sales data from auction houses across the world turned up no information on Watt. “It’s like she never existed,” he said. The lots, which have no reserve price and will go to the highest bidder, include a series of oil paintings and sketches commissioned by the Council of the Stock Exchange to record the daily life in the Square Mile. Mr Taylor said: “The City paintings she did were very highly thought of at the time but because of how art moves, the style fell out of favour. “The paintings were featured in a set of postcards in the 1960s. Some of them are very stylish they have a sort of Mad Men 1950s and 1960s feel that’s quite popular at the moment. “It could be an interesting sale to see.” Watt was born in Falkirk in 1923 and attended schools in Geneva and Aberdeen. After attending art colleges including the Byan Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London, Watt began exhibiting her work in the 1950s. During the 1960s her paintings and illustrations of the “old” Stock Exchange were included in the Stock Exchange Journal, the Times newspaper and the Lord Mayor’s Art Awards exhibition. Other works represented in the Taylor’s collection include landscapes of her native Scotland and religious subjects, a radical stylistic departure from the London paintings. “These include paintings of Jesus accompanied by a black collie. Mr Taylor added: “In the past 30 years Watt has become one of Scotland’s forgotten artists but her work, which captures a style and period that is shrugging off its unfashionable tag, will soon be on public display again.”

Readers' letters

It is right to pursue those who didn’t pay

October 13 2014

Sir, I must write again in full support of Jenny Hjul’s well-written, researched and concise article about poll tax dodgers and refute to a great, if not total, extent her critics such as Les Mackay (letters, October 10). Jenny and I are not related, incidentally, nor do we know each other. The poll tax was introduced and paid by responsible citizens long before any misguided and, in my opinion, dishonest banking executive nonsense. At that time banks in Britain were private business concerns. They were doing a great job helping Mrs Thatcher drag the country out of the socialist, bankrupting, poverty and deprivation creating, economic disasters of previous administrations. Those who refused to pay the poll tax claim to have done so, quite illegally, for political reasons. It is not only reasonable, but to be expected, that local authorities continue to seek payment from those who refused to pay. Those of us who did pay, whether Tories or Liberals (to refer to another of your correspondents) or not, should expect nothing less. On the other side, I actually wrote to Gordon Brown, on a banking matter, when he was Chancellor with some responsibility for such matters. I suggested that banks should be investigated for “the way they were doing business”. The great man sidestepped this request from a mere mortal on the grounds that he was not my MP and passed my letter over to the late John MacDougall who was. John did a great job for me a Conservative voter and got my particular problem sorted out. Unaware of how ill he was I am forever grateful. A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes. Use savings for work on A92 Sir, We should all have cause to celebrate that the Queensferry Crossing project will be completed well within budget (Courier, October 7). It may give cause for reflection too. What might these very considerable savings be used for? I note that Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is pleased that earlier savings allowed much needed work on the dualling of the A9 to continue. It may be time for some money to be used for improvements to the A92 through Fife, part of the link between the existing Forth and Tay road bridges. It is not necessary to get involved in pipe dreams about dualling the entire road. A good start could be made, however, at improving the Redhouse roundabout north of Kirkcaldy. This is an area where there are frequent delays at goodness knows what cost to businesses and to the patience of drivers and bus users. There are other important improvements called for further up the road at Balfarg and at various points between Freuchie and Dundee. Fife MPs, MSPs, councillors and officials should be pressing the Scottish government now for at least part of the Queensferry Crossing savings to be spent on the A92. Bob Taylor. 24 Shiel Court, Glenrothes. ‘Settled’ claim is absurd Sir, The absurd claim that climate science is “settled” has distorted public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse gas emissions and the environment. The climate is always changing and the crucial scientific problem is predicting the consequences of the very small human influence (around 1%) on such a highly variable system. This is complicated by our poor understanding of effect of the oceans and the feedback from water vapour and clouds that dramatically mute the response to human and natural influences. Finally the computer modelling of these systems is as much an art as a science and involves too much guesswork and wishful thinking especially in the IPCC’s “Summary for Policy Makers”. Sadly a public official reading the summary would gain little sense of these deficiencies and this has led to risible and hugely expensive government schemes such as Scotland’s “dash for wind”. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews. More fortunate than others Sir, Your article in Thursday’s paper stated that academics at some local universities may be “bottom of the table for staff pensions”. You fail to recognise that even after the proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme the benefits are still significantly greater than most other pension schemes, particularly those in the private sector where defined benefit schemes are now almost extinct. It’s about time the University and College Union realised how fortunate their members are compared to the majority of tax payers who pay for their salaries, benefits and holidays. Robert Kett. Blackness Road, Dundee. Remember the water strike . . . Sir, UNISON are calling a strike on October 21 despite (on their own figures) fewer than 10% of their members voting for one. Other unions involved with Cosla have accepted the pay offer so what is Unison’s plan? Could it be, as in the water worker’s strike of 1983, that they are warring with the other unions for members? Council staff should heed what happened in the water industry then. Manual workers such as trench diggers, etc., were very soon replaced by contractors which led to depots being closed and local jobs lost. Councils exist to provide services, not jobs, and councillors have a duty to obtain best value for our taxes which sustain them. John Dorward. 89 Brechin Road, Arbroath.