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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.

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.


Benefit fraudster tagged after claiming £23,000 by pretending to be single parent

March 21 2015

A benefit cheat who fraudulently claimed £23,000 in handouts by lying to Jobcentre bosses that she was a single parent dodged a jail term. Alison Dempsey claimed partner Daniel McGouldrick had moved out of their home and that she was raising her son alone. She kept up the fraud for more than two-and-a-half years raking in £14,000 in Tax Credits, £4,500 in housing and income tax benefits and £4,500 in income support. However, a sheriff declined to send Dempsey to prison, because the law relating to the bulk of the money she fraudulently claimed meant a maximum jail term of six months for that offence. Sheriff George Way told Dempsey: “Given the discounts required, early release and that you’d almost certainly be released early on home detention curfew it seems to me that custody would be the lesser punishment.” He said it was likely Dempsey would spend just a matter of weeks behind bars if he jailed her. Depute fiscal Vicki Bell told the Court that Dempsey has no previous convictions. Dempsey, 29, of Dundee, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Tax Credits Act and two under the Social Security Administration Act. Andy Lyall, defending, said: “These sums have been repaid in full.” Sheriff George Way imposed a community payback order with 210 hours unpaid work and 18 months supervision. He also placed Demspey on an electronic tag restricting her to her home address from 7pm to 7am for four months.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus benefits fraudster jailed for nine months

February 6 2013

An Angus fraudster who falsely claimed more than £11,000 in benefits has been jailed for nine months. Jon Robertson (31), of Dalgarno Park, Hillside, appeared at Arbroath Sheriff Court. He previously admitted that. between August 16 2010 and February 12, he made false representations to Angus Council and the Department for Work and Pensions by failing to declare his wife was living with him. Robertson was paid £11,674.42 to which he was not entitled, in housing benefit, council tax benefit, jobseeker’s allowance and income support, by knowingly filling in forms fraudulently at Montrose Jobcentre. The court heard he has previous convictions for fraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Defence agent Lynn Sturrock said he has accepted responsibility for his actions. She added: “He has been in custody previously and, if he were to receive a custodial sentence, it is likely his wife would have to give up employment to look after their two children. “He recognises the position he is in and the seriousness of the offence he has committed.” Sheriff Peter Paterson said: “The simple fact of the matter is that you do have previous for fraud, and under the circumstances I have no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.”


SNP’s Mhairi Black demands end to “postcode lottery” on benefit decisions

December 2 2016

Benefits claimants face a “postcode lottery” in which the mood of jobcentre staff can decide whether sanctions are imposed, MPs have heard. SNP MP Mhairi Black wants a law change to ensure the process for deciding if sanctions should be applied is governed by “clear cut rules”. The Work and Pensions Committee member said jobcentre staff do a “tremendous job given the system they have to work with”. But she said her proposals recognise everyone has “bad” or “grumpy” days and would seek to prevent the mood of staff, or other factors, from “ruining someone else’s day”. A consultation with more than 9,000 responses has taken place as part of work behind Ms Black’s Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill. Among the proposals is a “code of conduct” to set out the procedure for assessments, including how a claimant’s caring responsibilities, mental and physical health plus housing situation are considered. It also seeks to make changes to the Universal Credit system. Ms Black said “formal written advice” which people can “fully understand” is still needed to help people understand their “claimant commitment” – which outlines what they will be required to do in return for receiving Universal Credit. Moving the Bill’s second reading, Ms Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) said: “As many people will know, it’s quite hard to get a private member’s bill to pass. “While I, and I imagine my colleagues, would want to get rid of the sanctions regime altogether because we disagree with it, I’m trying to use this private member’s bill to make a genuine small change that the Government can hopefully get on board with. “I’m not trying to be controversial. It’s trying to make a genuine small change.” Ms Black said there is a “dramatic variation” throughout the UK as to how many sanctions are applied and why, with pressure on jobcentre staff and a lack of clear instructions available to them. She quoted a person who replied to the consultation, telling MPs: “They went on to say ‘staff are human, staff can make mistakes, they can like or dislike clients, and their individual views can affect how they deal with the individuals on their case load – if they don’t like or trust someone they are much more likely to sanction than if they like or have sympathy for the individual’. “Again, I must emphasise this is not a criticism of jobcentre staff. I think they do a tremendous job given the system they have to work with. “But it is a recognition that we’re all human. We all have bad days. We all have grumpy days. “But unless there are clear cut rules and regulations of conduct in place, that bad day can translate in to ruining someone else’s day and that simply cannot happen when you have someone else’s livelihood and survival in your hands. “This creates a postcode lottery of sorts. It creates a situation whereby how you’re treated is completely dependent on where your assigned jobcentre happens to be in, who you happen to get as your work coach, and what mood they happen to be in.” Tory Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent) questioned this claim by Ms Black, telling the SNP MP: “A little earlier you did make the point on how the process works, having a decision-maker who is separate and not the individual’s normal work coach to avoid that personal dynamic. “So it doesn’t make sense what you’re saying on this point.” Ms Black said she believed Ms Whately was “confusing” two separate issues. Ms Black earlier said she visited a jobcentre in South Thanet as part of her duties on the Work and Pensions Committee. She told MPs she would refer to the Kent constituency as a “leafy, prosperous, Conservative, happy suburb where there doesn’t seem to be that many real hard issues”. Tory former cabinet minister Michael Gove, intervening, said: “South Thanet is not a leafy suburb. It is one of the most deprived parts of the south east of England.” He added: “Members of the Scottish National Party should not be selective in their championing of those suffering poverty.” The Bill is unlikely to become law without Government support.

UK & World

Jury still out on man accused of planning machete attack at gay pride event

February 5 2018

A jury has resumed its deliberations in the trial of a “Nazi” accused of plotting a machete attack at an LGBT event. Ethan Stables, 20, is alleged to have planned to kill people attending a gay pride event at the New Empire pub in Barrow, Cumbria. Armed police stopped him on the way to the pub after a tip-off from a member of a far-right Facebook group where he had posted a message saying he was “going to war”. Stables had written that he planned to “slaughter every single one of the gay bastards”. He was unarmed when he was arrested on June 23, but police found an axe and a machete at his home, Leeds Crown Court heard. The jury was shown a video of a burning rainbow flag and Stablessaying “gays look nicer on fire”. Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said Stables had previously espoused homophobic, racist and Nazi views online, and the defendant was pictured with a swastika flag hanging on his bedroom wall. Stables said in his defence that he did not intend to carry out the attack and he was simply venting his anger online. The defendant, who has told the court he is bisexual and has an autism spectrum condition, denies one count of preparing terrorist acts and one of making threats to kill. He denied he was doing a “recce” of the venue when he was arrested and said he was heading out to sit outside the jobcentre to use the free public WiFi. Stables, of Egerton Court, Barrow, claimed he was a liberal and adopted a right-wing persona to fit in with people he chatted to online. Patrick Upward QC, defending, told the jury Stables was not a white supremacist but a “white fantasist”. His barrister said Stables would sit at night on a wall outside the jobcentre for six hours at a time as he had no WiFi at his home. In his closing speech to the jury Mr Upward said: “How can that be regarded as normal?” Judge Peter Collier QC told the jurors they must decide whether Stables was preparing to carry out the attack or, as the defence said, he was a fantasist who got carried away. “It is a stark contrast,” he said. “The lines are clearly drawn and it is you who have that responsibility to make that decision.” Jurors started considering their verdicts on Friday.

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.