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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

Perth & Kinross

Councillor holds first meeting in bid to find Perth jet ski ‘commonality’

September 19 2012

The controversial issue of jet skiers using the River Tay between the bridges in Perth was discussed this week at a meeting co-ordinated by Councillor Heather Stewart. Attending the meeting were representatives of local services, including Tayside Police, and now Ms Stewart is to seek a meeting with the jet skiers. She said:''The meeting was very positive and full and frank discussions took place. ''It is now my intention to call a meeting with the representatives of the jet skiers for them to put their case forward, and for us to see if there is any commonality that can be achieved. ''I appreciate that both sides have rights and responsibilities.''


Seal death brings another plea to River Tay jet-skiers

September 5 2011

Irresponsible jet-skiers are still causing problems for wildlife in the Tay. Gareth Norman, manager of coastal safety organisation Coastwatch, was speaking after a local businessman blamed jet-skiers for the death of a seal found on Broughty Ferry beach last week. Pedro Bisquert (45), owner of the Tapas Bar on Gray Street, said the seal was still alive when he found it. "You could tell it had a bang to the head and that it was probably caused by a propeller. This isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened and I'm sure it won't be the last. There are always boats and jet skis there going very fast. "I have a boat and I like to race it fast but I go further out to sea so that this sort of thing doesn't happen." He added: "This isn't a very nice thing to happen, and I'm not very happy about it. Lots of kids and families walk up and down this area and they are bound to have seen it and been distressed by it." The find was reported to police, who contacted Dundee City Council to arrange for the seal to be disposed of and it was later buried on the foreshore. Such a fate is not unusual for larger sea mammals that wash up dead on the beach and mimics what happens in nature, said Mr Norman. "This particular seal was reported to us and to the SSCPCA but it was six foot long and weighed around 250 kilograms so it was just too large for us to be able to help," he said. He comes across quite a number of injured seals and dolphins but it is almost impossible to say what inflicted the damage. Even so: "We have obviously still got a problem with some jet-skiers who fail to comply with the local river by-laws," he said. Mr Norman said pilots of jet-skis and other craft can harm dolphins simply by getting too close and forcing them into shallow waters. That can lead to them becoming stranded something he has had to deal with three times in the Tay area this year already and the outcome is not always a happy one. Mr Norman said there is still a lot of dolphin activity in the Tay and appealed for jet-skiers and those on other craft to be aware of their presence and act accordingly. Pointing out that not all jet-skiers caused a problem, he added: "There were about half-a-dozen jet-skiers out today and once they realised there were dolphins in the river they put room between them and the dolphins and moved away." In response to complaints earlier this year, Tayside Police met local groups including the Phibbies, Coastwatch and the RNLI to promote the safe use of high-powered watercraft in the hope that responsible jet-skiers would help to curb the wrong-doers. Police at Broughty Ferry also made available a booklet and CD outlining essential information for jet-skiers in the area. The burial of the seal found at Broughty Ferry last week was witnessed by one family, who sent a photograph to The Courier. "Quite by chance my family and I were enjoying an ice cream on Saturday afternoon and saw the seal being buried in a JCB excavated 'grave' on the foreshore," explained Paul Monteith.

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.

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


Jet-skiers rushed to hospital after spending three hours stranded in Tay

November 26 2012

Two jet-skiers were saved after spending three hours in the freezing waters of the Tay estuary on Sunday. Their machine broke down and they were left clinging to it as a companion sped back to Broughty Ferry harbour to raise the alarm. A major search and rescue operation got under way involving lifeboats, helicopters and coastguard teams. The pair, who have not been named but are thought to come from the Dundee area, were eventually found south-east of Tentsmuir Point. Their jet-ski had sunk and they had to be hauled aboard a lifeboat before being flown by helicopter to Ninewells Hospital. It is understood they had not suffered any physical injury but were cold and wet. The emergency services were alerted when the men's fellow jet-skier turned up at Broughty Ferry, reporting what had happened first to the volunteers of Coastwatch Tay. A spokesman said: ''They had broken down. They tried to get on the other jet-ski but they kept falling off. They were in the main shipping channel out over the bar where the estuary meets the North Sea.'' "It's very rough out there. They had no mobile phone or radio with them and one of the jet-skiers came back to Broughty Ferry harbour to raise the alarm. "He spoke to us and then went off to the lifeboat shed to tell them directly. He was quite panicked.'' A spokesman for Aberdeen Coastguard said they had initially told the all-weather and inshore lifeboats at Broughty Ferry and coastguard teams from Arbroath, Carnoustie and St Andrews to begin the hunt for the missing men. They were then joined by an RAF search and rescue helicopter from Boulmer in Northumberland and the Strathclyde Police helicopter. ''As we expanded the search area we tasked the Arbroath all-weather lifeboat as well and it was its crew that located them off Tentsmuir Point. Their jet-ski had sunk and they were in the water,'' the spokesman said. The lifeboat reached the pair at 4.40pm three hours after the incident started and just as the light was fading. The RAF helicopter then picked them up from the lifeboat to ensure they got to hospital as quickly as possible. No details of their condition were available. Montrose lifeboat and coastguard were involved in a sweep of the coast following a flare alert last night. Two 999 calls reporting red flares in the vicinity of Montrose beach were received around 6pm. A search of the coastline from St Cyrus to Lunan Bay did not uncover anything untoward and the operation was stood down after around three hours.


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.


Jet-skiers criticised for scaring Tay seals

August 10 2010

A Dundee man has criticised the "wilful disregard" shown by a pair of jet-skiers who got too close to seals at Tentsmuir. Derek Paton was visiting the popular nature reserve on Sunday afternoon when he spotted two people on bright yellow jet-skis coming from the north. He watched as they sped around close to the seals "causing obvious disturbance" for some time before heading off in the direction they had come. Upset by what he had witnessed, Mr Paton reported the sighting to a warden. He said, "There is a notice up that the seals will be pupping in October, so they are pregnant now. "The jet-skiers came very close to the shore on their way back. "They were certainly having a ball, but my concern is the reaction of the seals their heads were bobbing up in the water. "It reminded me of dogs in amongst sheep their presence and the noise they made must surely have disturbed the seals." Tentsmuir is one of the few places on the east coast of Scotland where both grey and common seals can be seen together. There have been complaints already this summer about jet-skiers getting too close to dolphins in the Tay estuary and the police and the SSPCA have urged people to act considerately and carefully. The Scottish marine wildlife watching code asks anyone coming upon animals while on the water to reduce their speed to the minimum consistent with safety, make sure their movements are steady and predictable and that animals are not approached directly.


‘We are not yobs on the water’ Tay jet-skiers fed up of boy racer reputation

September 6 2011

Jet-skiers in the Tay are being unfairly associated with "yobbish behaviour," according to Dundee electrician and jet-ski enthusiast Alistair Phillips. He is fed up with being branded as a "boy racer." He believes that because the high adrenaline sport involves travelling at speed, it makes it easy for critics to accuse them of being irresponsible and harmful to local wildlife. His comments come just days after a six-foot seal died after washing ashore at Broughty Ferry. It suffered head trauma which it was suggested could have been caused by a propeller blade. That led to Pedro Bisquert, owner of the Tapas Bar on Gray Street, blaming jet-skiers for hitting the animal. Mr Phillips rejects that and said the high-powered craft do not have an external propellers. He said: "There has been a lot of bad press targeted towards jet-skiers that they are some sort of yobs on the water. This is not true, we are just going out and having fun.Propellers encased"There is no way that a propeller could hit a seal or dolphin because they do not stick out the back. They are encased within the jet-ski itself. "OK the body of the jet-ski could hit the animal but definitely not the propeller." He said it was far more likely a seal or dolphin would be hit by pleasure boat trips on the Tay run by maritime charity Taymara. Mr Phillips said: "I have jet-skied for almost five years and I can tell you no one I know has ever chased a seal or dolphin. Jet-skis vary in price but the people I go with have skis, that at the lowest end cost £2,500 and range up to £15,000. "There is no way anyone would ever purposely hit an animal. It would cost so much money to repair, the ski would just crumple. If we see a seal or dolphin we go in the opposite direction and so do they."Problems for wildlifeDespite Mr Phillips's strongly held view, Gareth Norman, manager of safety organisation Coastwatch, believes irresponsible jet-skiers are still causing problems for wildlife in the Tay. He said dolphins can be harmed by jet-skis and other craft which get too close and force them into shallow waters. However Mr Phillips said that he was not aware of anyone who had ever hit a seal or dolphin. He said: "We don't annoy anybody. There is more chance of a jet-ski being destroyed by a wave or running aground than hitting a seal or dolphin. It is just we are getting blamed because we are an easy target." Police met with local groups, including the Phibbies, the coastwatch and the RNLI, to promote the safe use of jet-skis in response to complaints earlier this year. According to Mr Phillips no one from the jet-ski community was invited to attend. "I have absolutely no idea why they did not invite us to that," he said.