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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...

Scottish politics

Scottish Labour deputy leader backs Dugdale after Corbyn ally calls for her sacking

October 18 2016

Alex Rowley has backed Kezia Dugdale after a key Jeremy Corbyn ally called for Scottish Labour to dump her and take on his independence strategy. The deputy leader’s angling for home rule was praised this week by one of Mr Corbyn’s unofficial advisors, Paul Mason, who suggested getting rid of Ms Dugdale to help fix Labour’s woes in Scotland. Mr Rowley, who said he had not read the New Statesman article, told The Courier that all Labour MSPs were behind Ms Dugdale. But the Fife MSP, who has previously said he would not oppose a second independence referendum, will host a series of public meetings championing a federal solution that has not been advocated by the Scottish Labour leadership. Ms Dugdale says her party will oppose a second independence referendum until at least 2021, with secession only compounding austerity. In the article for the New Statesman, Mr Mason said Labour must “get real” about the crisis in Scotland. “The interim solution is for Scottish Labour to adopt the position argued by their deputy leader, Alex Rowley, ‘Embrace home rule’, and support a second independence referendum,” he said. “Then throw open the doors to radical left-wing supporters of independence. "If, for that to happen, there has to be a change of leadership (replacing Kezia Dugdale), then it’s better to do it before losing your last bastion in local government.” Mr Rowley has called for a “new settlement more akin to home rule within the UK, more like a federal union that is part of a revised UK constitutional settlement”. “That is the approach I’m continuing to argue for. What I’m keen to do is promote discussion and debate because this is one of the biggest issues of our generation,” he told The Courier. Mr Rowley added: “What I’m absolutely clear on is that Kezia Dugdale is the Labour leader in Scotland and will continue to lead the Labour party in Scotland with the full confidence of all MSPs.” In the immediate aftermath of Brexit he said he would “not oppose” indyref2 given the SNP manifesto for Holyrood 2016 had pointed to a Leave vote as a material change of circumstances. Mr Rowley will kick off a series of public meetings on Brexit on Thursday night at the Fire Station Creative arts centre in Dunfermline. Responding to Mr Mason’s comments, a source close to Ms Dugdale said: “Independence would lead to further austerity, as even some senior SNP figures have finally admitted,” the source added. “That is why there will be no support for a second independence referendum from Scottish Labour.”

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

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.

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


Fife nurse who ‘panicked’ after drug error cleared to carry on working

March 26 2016

A hard-pushed Fife duty charge nurse who “panicked” and tried to cover up an error has been cleared to continue practising by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Shyvonne Mason admitted incorrectly administering a patient with phenobarbitone instead of morphine sulphate at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital on October 25 2014, before incorrectly filling out drugs records in a bid to hide what she had done. However, an NMC panel has ruled that Ms Mason’s fitness to practise has not been impaired despite what was described as a “serious departure of the standards expected of a registered nurse”. Evidence presented to the panel showed that Ms Mason was a “good and caring nurse” who had been experiencing some health issues at the time of the incident. Ms Mason “panicked” after learning of her mistake, the panel heard, resulting in her “impulsively” amending records and destroying two vials of morphine sulphate. The panel also heard how Ms Mason was responsible for the whole hospital site, which included 40 wards and more than 300 staff. Many wards were short-staffed and the hospital had exceeded full capacity, while Ms Mason had also been constantly interrupted when administering the drugs. The panel concluded that, in light of Ms Mason’s full cooperation and “multiple positive testimonials”, a finding of impairment was not necessary. “Indeed, the panel finds that the public interest is best served by returning a capable, competent and caring nurse to unrestricted practise,” the NMC concluded.

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.


Nurse accused of attempt to cover up drug error

March 19 2016

A Fife nurse is to face allegations of dishonesty and covering up a mistake later. Shyvonne Jessica Mason is due to appear before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) charged with failing to properly check drugs transferred between two wards, and incorrectly administering Phenobarbitone instead of Morphine Sulphate to a patient on October 25 2014. She is also accused of trying to conceal her error by incorrectly destroying two vials of Morphine Sulphate, incorrectly amending records and incorrectly entering a colleague’s signature in the controlled drugs book. Ms Mason’s case is due to be heard before the end of March.

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.

Perth & Kinross

Benefit fraudster tried to pass-off live-in partner as son

April 3 2017

A Perthshire woman who claimed to be single to scam thousands of pounds in benefits attempted to convince investigators her live-in partner was actually her son. Irene Mason’s desperate gambit was doomed to failure, however, as “an anonymous tip-off” had given a detailed description of the man who had shared her home for eight years. The man, in his fifties, was sitting on the 62-year-old’s sofa at her home in Forgandenny when council officers made an unannounced visit last year. By the time they were on her trail, she had obtained more than £6,400 in benefits she would not have been entitled to had she informed the authorities she was sharing her life with Michael Devlin. Inquiries with banks, insurance companies and others inextricably linked Mason to Mr Devlin, who was in full time employment. Perth Sheriff Court heard the paper trail included a joint motor insurance policy registered to her address, with him as the first named driver. There were also credit agreements on various items and goods in her partner’s name. Depute Fiscal Bill Kermode told the court: “The department of work and pensions received anonymous information that the accused was living with a partner who was in full time employment. “After extensive inquiries were undertaken, Perth and Kinross Council officers made an unannounced visit to her home. “They received a written and signed claim from Ms Mason that she lived alone. “There was a gentleman present who she claimed was her son. However, he matched the description given of the accused’s partner. He was around 50 years’ old.” Mason later stated that the pair were just friends, though she accepted they had previously been in a relationship and subsequently admitted all his mail came to her address. She continued to claim that he did not live with her – and instead stayed with his brother – though she accepted he did visit to put her bins out and occasionally to stay overnight. The accused told investigators he stayed on the couch during those visits. She subsequently admitted obtaining housing benefit and council tax benefit to the value of £6,423.98 to which she was not entitled between August 17, 2008 and May 8, 2016 by stating that she was single when in fact she was living with her partner, who was in receipt of earnings. The court heard that as of August last year she had failed to pay back any of the money. Mason, of County Place in Forgandenny, was sentenced to 180 hours of unpaid work as part of a community payback order as a direct alternative to a prison sentence.