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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.

Politics

Jeremy Corbyn’s absence from Scottish Labour conference played down

March 18 2016

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has insisted it is a "new age" for the party as she was quizzed on Jeremy Corbyn not addressing its spring conference this weekend. Ms Dugdale's comments come as it emerged neither the UK party leader would be speaking nor shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who is in Glasgow at a business conference on Friday. She said she leads the party in Scotland and was in charge of what happens. "He (Mr Corbyn) didn't need an invite and he didn't decline to come," Ms Dugdale told BBC Radio Scotland. "This is the last Scottish Labour Party conference before the elections. I'm the leader of the party, I lead an autonomous Scottish Labour Party, I'm in charge. "I work very closely with Jeremy Corbyn - we are good friends. He doesn't need to be there to offer support to me, or indeed to the Scottish Labour campaign." Last week, the party confirmed Mr Corbyn will be campaigning in Scotland ahead of May's Holyrood election but would not be attending the conference. She was also asked about Mr McDonnell's attendance at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) conference and whether he had declined to go to the party's Glasgow conference which gets under way on Saturday. Ms Dugdale replied: "No, John McDonnell will be speaking at the FSB conference today and he will also be launching a couple of different MSPs' campaigns over the weekend. "This is a new age in the Scottish Labour Party, where the Scottish Labour leader is in charge of what happens in Scotland. "I'm incredibly supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and very loyal to him. "We are a good team and part of being a good team is knowing when to take your place and this weekend I'm going to lead the Scottish Labour Party towards the Scottish Parliament elections. It's really that simple." Mr Corbyn did address the Scottish Labour conference in Perth in October. Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Dugdale also discussed the party's proposal for a 1p rise in the basic rate of income tax which she said would generate around £475 million. Four times during First Minister's Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon condemned Chancellor George Osborne's Budget decision to raise the threshold for the top rate to £45,000 as the "wrong choice". Ms Dugdale added: "We have also argued, like the SNP, that we would oppose that increase in the threshold for middle income earners." The First Minister was pressed on how she would use new powers over the charge, which are coming to Scotland from 2017 and she said the party will outline its tax plans early next week, Ms Dugdale added: "All of these tax powers have one common theme and that is about using the powers of our parliament to stop Tory cuts. "That's the whole point of the Scottish Parliament - to take different choices, different decisions than the Tories in Westminster and it is high time we did that."

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

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

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.

Rocktalk

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.

UK & World

Salisbury probe: Labour MP calls for ‘fundamental’ debate on party’s worldview

March 16 2018

A prominent Labour backbencher has called for a “fundamental debate” within the party about its worldview, amid continuing controversy over Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Salisbury poisoning.Mr Corbyn used an article in The Guardian to warn against a rush to judgment over the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, urging the Government to take a “calm, measured” approach and avoid a drift towards a “new Cold War” with Russia.The Labour leader made clear he condemned the “horrific” March 4 poisoning and backed Theresa May’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, but suggested that Moscow’s culpability had not been proved, insisting that the involvement of Russian mafia gangs could not be excluded.Mr Corbyn, who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, added: “In my years in Parliament I have seen clear thinking in an international crisis overwhelmed by emotion and hasty judgments too many times.“Flawed intelligence and dodgy dossiers led to the calamity of the Iraq invasion.”Mr Corbyn came under fire on Wednesday after failing to offer explicit support for the Prime Minister’s approach in the House of Commons.Later statements from shadow cabinet members Emily Thornberry, Sir Keir Starmer and Nia Griffith pointed the finger of blame more firmly at the regime of President Vladimir Putin.Backbench MP Stephen Kinnock – a long-time Corbyn critic – said that the leader’s Guardian article “hasn’t helped to clarify the situation”.“This has to be a time where we stand together with the Government, shoulder to shoulder, and with our Nato allies, sending a very clear message to Russia,” Mr Kinnock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.He rejected Mr Corbyn’s comparison with the run-up to the Iraq War, saying “that sort of drift to conflict is not on the agenda at all”.“I think we have got a fundamental need for a debate in our party about about our worldview,” said Mr Kinnock.“There are those of us who clearly feel that Nato and the EU and standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies… are fundamentally a force for good and those alliances are the fundamental piece of architecture that we have to be a part of, and there are others in our party who take another view.“I think Jeremy has never made any secret of his views on the role of Nato in the world and on the EU, to a large extent, as well.”In his Guardian article, Mr Corbyn warned against a “McCarthyite intolerance of dissent” over relations with Russia.Confirming Labour’s support for Mrs May’s actions, Mr Corbyn said: “We agree with the Government’s action in relation to Russian diplomats.”But he added: “Measures to tackle the oligarchs and their loot would have a far greater impact on Russia’s elite than limited tit-for-tat expulsions.”Mr Corbyn said that Mrs May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the nerve agent – either Russia authorised the attack or had lost control of the Novichok substance.“If the latter, a connection to Russian mafia-like groups that have been allowed to gain a toehold in Britain cannot be excluded,” he said.Despite Mrs May’s statement on Wednesday that “there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable”, Mr Corbyn insisted that the PM had still “ruled out neither option”.His comments appeared to contradict shadow defence secretary Ms Griffith’s assertion on Thursday that Labour “very much accepts” Mrs May’s assessment that Russia is “responsible for this attack”.Shadow foreign secretary Ms Thornberry has insisted Russia has a “prima facie case” to answer, to which it had offered no defence.And Sir Keir Starmer gave his unqualified support to Mrs May’s approach, telling BBC1’s Question Time: “I think it is very important that we support the action the Prime Minister laid out on Wednesday as a response to this unprovoked attack.“This is not the first time, it needs to be called out – no ifs and no buts – and we need strong action as set out by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.”Labour backbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle backed Mr Corbyn’s stance, telling the Today programme: “It’s very clear in Jeremy’s article that this substance has come from Russia and Russia needs to take a role in this.“The people who’ve been identified to send back are intelligence agents and spies, so it’s quite right to send them back, and Jeremy was clear about that in his article.”The Brighton Kemptown MP said the Russian state was “clearly involved” in the incident, but added: “At what level? We have to remember the Russian mafia is very inter-linked with the state. We need to be forensic in identifying who ordered this, where it came from, was it organised via the embassy, was it organised via other cells or mafia-linked groups?“We need to identify that and then we need to punish them.”Mr Russell-Moyle apologised for using his Twitter feed to accuse Labour critics of Mr Corbyn’s approach as “right-wing sods who want to beat the drum of war”, saying the message was sent “in a fit of rage” directed at an individual councillor.

Scottish politics

Labour rebellion as Holyrood rejects Article 50 triggering

February 7 2017

Labour MSPs rebelled against their leader as Holyrood voted to reject the UK Government’s plans to start the Brexit process. Three members defied Kezia Dugdale - Neil Findlay, Brexit backer Elaine Smith, and Richard Leonard - with Jeremy Corbyn loyalist Mr Findlay accusing his leader of silencing those who did not agree. Sources close to the Labour leader said the party only had a small number of speaking slots it could allocate to its MSP and pointed out that both Mr Findlay and Ms Smith contributed to the debate. Holyrood voted by 90 to 34 for a motion from the Scottish Government saying the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill should not proceed following a heated debate. The Supreme Court has already ruled the UK Government does not need to consult the devolved administrations before it starts the formal process of leaving the EU, but Mike Russell, the Scottish Brexit minister, insisted the debate was "more than symbolic". SNP leaders have made clear that without a deal to keep Scotland in the single market, they could seek to hold a second independence referendum. Mr Russell said: "Time is running out. Voting today to reject the triggering of Article 50 is a good way - in fact it is now the only way - to remind the Prime Minister of that and of the disastrous consequences of the path she seems determined to tread." Tory MSP John Lamont accused SNP ministers of "grievance politics" and making "weekly threats" about another vote on independence. He said: "Despite the rhetoric from the Scottish Government, the reality is there is plenty of opportunity to engage in the process of the UK leaving the EU." He pointed to meetings of the Joint Ministerial Committee - which brings together the UK Government and the devolved assemblies - and to the fact that Mrs May's first visit after entering Downing Street was to see Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh. Scottish Labour's decision to vote against triggering Article 50 puts it at odds with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has ordered Labour MPs to back the Brexit Bill in its final House of Commons stage on Wednesday. Lewis Macdonald, the party's Europe spokesman, said: "We in this place have no veto on Article 50 but we do have a right and a duty to speak on behalf of those we seek to represent." But his party colleague Ms Smith said: "Who is speaking for the 40% of Scots who voted leave and undoubtedly expected that the result eight months ago should now proceed?" Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said: "Day by day it becomes clearer that this Brexit plan is being made up on the go by hard-right Tory ideologues.” Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie attacked Labour for "total and utter confusion" over its position.

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.

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