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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...

Perth & Kinross

Huge “red deer” will greet visitors to Highland Perthshire

October 15 2017

A massive red deer will help to point tourists towards the rich wildlife of Highland Perthshire. The three metre high installation was created to celebrate 25 years of one of the area’s most successful tourism business. Highland Safaris, which operates from a base in the village of Dull, commissioned social enterprise The Workshop Aberfeldy to produce the stag, helping local youngsters to gain skills and boost their chances of finding work. The sculpture, based on Highland Safaris distinctive red deer logo, was unveiled by Bailey Pearce from Aberfeldy, one of the local youngsters who took part in the project. Bailey was joined by other invited guests from bodies such as VisitScotland, along with local accommodation partners and suppliers. Highland Safaris has grown its business from one Land Rover taking small groups up into the hills into a five star rated visitor attraction. The company now offers Land Rover, walking and cycle safaris, as well as team building events, a red deer centre, gold panning and a mountain bike skills loop. It recently diversified from land onto water with the launch of Loch Tay Safaris, a guided tour of Perthshire’s largest loch. Donald Riddell, who founded the firm with wife Julie in 1992, said: “We’re hugely excited about unveiling this impressive stag installation to celebrate our silver anniversary.” He thanked The Workshop Aberfeldy for taking on the commission and JGB Steelcraft of Hillington, Glasgow, who carried out the cutting and fabrication. “The Workshop is an amazing local initiative, and a registered charity, which is really changing lives and enabling many more young people to stay in the area and find gainful employment,” said Mrs Riddell. Paul Parmenter, manager of The Workshop Aberfeldy, said: “People of all ages come to us to learn wood working, metal working and laser cutting, in addition to business management, although we particularly focus on helping young people who face barriers to employment.”

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

New boat takes to the waters of Loch Tay

March 10 2017

For the first time in 70 years visitors to Perthshire’s largest loch will be able to enjoy the rich wildlife and heritage of the area while cruising on the water. A brand new, custom-built 12-seater boat which will allow visitors to discover and explore the loch has been launched by Loch Tay Safaris. The enterprise is the first time a commercial vessel has sailed the 15-mile long loch, which lies between Killin and Kenmore, since the Queen of the Lake ceased operations at the outbreak of the Second World War. The boat has been named Iolaire, which means eagle in Gaelic and was also the name of Donald Riddell’s great grandfather’s steam yacht, which served as an anti-submarine vessel in the First World War. Along with his wife Julie, Mr Riddell  operates Highland Safaris which has established itself as a popular visitor attraction. Based next to the village of Dull, it started with a Land Rover Safari experience in the local mountains to explore wildlife, landscape and history. “Both of our families have connections with the loch and its surrounding areas stretching back, to be able to bring it back to life with Loch Tay Safaris is incredibly exciting,” said Mr Riddell. Long and narrow with steep sides, Loch Tay is one of the deepest in Scotland. Less famous than lochs Lomond and Ness, it is rich in history, heritage and mythology which made Loch Tay the perfect location for the new venture. During the 90-minute cruise the skipper will point out the loch’s nature and wildlife while passengers can sit back and absorb the history and folklore that dates back to the Iron Age. They will be able to listen to tales of the ancient settlers who lived on Loch Tay almost 2,500 years ago, and hear of the Victorian pleasure steamers that once cruised the waters with crowds of day trippers enjoying the views.


Strictly Come Dancing star Matt Baker’s Highland Perthshire trip

October 15 2010

A star of Strictly Come Dancing has fox-trotted his way to Highland Perthshire to sample some of its wildlife spectacles. Matt Baker (32) swapped his dancing shoes for a sturdy pair of walking boots for a visit to Highland Safaris in Aberfeldy. The Countryfile presenter was filming for an episode of the show to be screened later in the month, but didn't expect to witness a deer rut at first hand. Baker, who made his name on Blue Peter, went on an Autumn Watch Mountain Safari in a 4x4. "It was fabulous to have Matt visit us with his crew," said Highland Safaris director Julie Riddell. "It's a great time of year to visit Highland Perthshire and I'm sure viewers will be impressed by the scenery and the wildlife." Autumn safaris run until November 17. Included are tea, coffee, shortbread and a dram in the mountain bothy. Julie said, "Matt certainly enjoyed it and we are delighted to have been selected for filming. "We have had TV coverage before and it is a great way of raising profile."

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.

Other sports

Marin Cilic suspended after testing positive for nikethamide stimulant

September 17 2013

Marin Cilic has been suspended for nine months after testing positive for a banned stimulant, ruling him out until February 1, the International Tennis Federation has announced. The Croatian’s doping violation came when he tested positive for nikethamide a stimulant at the BMW Open in Munich in May. The 24-year-old’s ban was backdated to May 1, the date on which he provided the sample, to end at midnight on January 31. The sample was sent to a laboratory in Montreal for analysis, where it was found to contain nikethamide, a prohibited substance. Cilic was subsequently charged over the doping violation under Article 2.1 although he argued the banned substance was in his system after taking Coramine glucose tablets that had been purchased for him from a pharmacy. A statement from the ITF read: “The independent tribunal found that Mr Cilic ingested the nikethamide inadvertently as a result of taking the Coramine glucose tablets, and did not intend to enhance his performance in doing so, and that he, therefore, met the preconditions of article 10.4 of the programme, which entitles him to a reduction of the period of ineligibility for specified substance based on an assessment of his fault.” As well as the ban “it was also determined that Mr Cilic’s results at the 2013 BMW Open event should be disqualified, with resulting forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that he won at those events. “Mr Cilic’s results subsequent to the BMW Open, up to the time that he accepted a voluntary provisional suspension, are also disqualified and the ranking points and prize money forfeited.” Following the BMW Open, Cilic was knocked out of the French Open in the third round by Viktor Troicki, who coincidentally was banned in July for 18 months for failing to provide a blood sample. He then reached the final at Queen’s where he lost to Andy Murray before withdrawing from Wimbledon, where he was seeded 10th, prior to his second-round match.


Bland visitors travel from Australia for Dull visit

July 29 2013

A delegation from the Australian district of Bland has visited Dull, a tiny Perthshire village already twinned with the US town Boring. Dot McCaskie and Gail Platz travelled to Scotland from New South Wales after hearing about the Dull and Boring partnership. Highland Safaris in Dull, near Aberfeldy, welcomed the two women to Perthshire last week. Julie Riddell, who runs the Land Rover Safari company with her husband, Donald, said: “Their slogan goes ‘Bland by name, but not by nature’, and if their friendly personalities are a taste of how things are back in their home town, then I would say they are totally right. “Dot said Bland was just a bit tired of being made fun of and when someone spotted the Dull and Boring twinning they thought they’d make it a threesome.” The Australian region is named after William Bland, who was transported as a convict after killing a sailor in a duel in Bombay. He was later pardoned and became a pillar of colonial life, going on to found the Australian Medical Association. Dot McCaskie, who works for the local council, said: “We’re hoping it will basically make people aware of Blandshire, and also make people aware that there are unusual names around the world.” Her travelling companion, Gail Platz, who is a community ambassador for Blandshire, said: “We’ve loved our visit to Dull. “There is beautiful scenery and friendly people at Highland Safaris. We are very excited about teaming up with Dull and Boring.” Dull made world headlines when, in a move to attract visitors, Perth and Kinross Council agreed to a sign declaring Dull’s relationship with the northwest American logging town of Boring. The idea was suggested by Elizabeth Leighton, from Grandtully in Perthshire, who came across Boring while on holiday. Boring in Oregon has now designated August 9 as Boring and Dull Day to commemorate the day the places were twinned. Julie Riddell said: “We very much enjoyed our visitors from Bland. The sun was shining and the whole valley was looking as beautiful as ever and their day here was just not long enough. “We hope that their visit marks the beginning of a long and happy association.”