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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


Murderers Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan lose compensation bid over ‘family life’ claim

October 28 2015

Two paedophiles convicted of murdering a woman who threatened to report them have lost a legal bid claiming compensation over not seeing each other in prison. Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan are serving life sentences for killing the woman in Largs, North Ayrshire, and dumping her body at sea in 1997. Her body was not found. They were locked up in different prisons after they were convicted in 2010. O’Neill, 52, was jailed for at least 30 years while Lauchlan, 39, was ordered to serve a minimum of 26 years. They are also serving concurrent sentences for a number of sex offences. After the pair were convicted, the sentencing judge Lord Pentland described them as “relentless and murderous” paedophiles, and said they were “highly ruthless and unrepentant individuals”. Last year, the pair had claimed their “right to respect for family life” under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) had been violated because inter-prison visits for them were refused, and they sought a judicial review. They said they were in a “long-standing relationship” before they were convicted. O’Neill and Lauchlan also complained they had been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and were seeking damages reportedly of £35,000 each. But the complaints were rejected by judge Lord Stewart today, who decided the Scottish Prison Service had not acted unlawfully towards them and had not discriminated against the pair. He said they were not entitled to damages as he refused the joint petition. In his judgment, Lord Stewart said: “If I may at this point repeat what Lord Pentland said about the petitioners when he sentenced them in 2010: ‘Their whole lives have, for many years, been focused on finding victims they can groom and then sexually abuse’. “The quality of the petitioners’ life together as described by Lord Pentland is, if I may respectfully say so, sufficiently evidenced by the offences of which they were convicted.” He added: “It is a dangerous thing, I accept, to pass judgement on the value of someone else’s family life. “Sometimes it has to be done … In this case I feel justified in saying that the life Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan have had together when at liberty since 1993, to the extent evidenced to me, is so negative that it cannot be ‘family life’ as that concept should be understood. “Their relationship and relations between each other do not engage, do not attract the support of, do not merit the protection of, the ‘family life’ provisions of article 8 ECHR.”

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

UK & World

Irish stew on the menu as Harry and Meghan visit Belfast’s Crown Liquor Saloon

March 23 2018

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry embraced the culture of Northern Ireland during a visit to one of Belfast’s most famous buildings – by sitting down to a traditional Irish pub lunch.The American actress and her fiance, on a whirlwind trip to the region, toured the Crown Liquor Saloon – a major tourist attraction in the city.Earlier, they received a rapturous welcome from thousands of young people when they visited the former Maze paramilitary prison outside Lisburn, where teenagers from both sides of the Irish border had gathered for a peace-building event.Ms Markle revealed that they had been anticipating their trip to the well-known Victorian gin palace, which is owned by the National Trust (NT) and famed for its ornate decorations.Harry joked with Heather McLachlan, the National Trust’s director for Northern Ireland, asking “Are you open?”, before declaring “We want food”.His fiancee added: “We saw the menu last week, and said ‘We’ll have this’.”The couple marvelled at the pub, which features period gas lighting, a red marble-topped bar, mosaic tiled floor and snugs – ornately carved wooden booths with stained glass where Victorian drinkers could sit in private.Looking up at the ornate ceiling, Harry said: “It’s amazing, it really is.”The antique bell system that drinkers used to call staff still exists and may have been used by the couple to order their lunch of Irish stew in a snug.Ms Markle looked stylish in a cream coat by Mackage, a dark green dress by Greta Constantine, a cream top by Victoria Beckham, tobacco heels by Jimmy Choo teamed with a tan-coloured Charlotte Elizabeth bag.

Angus & The Mearns

Angus man’s gift of a kidney saved stanger’s life

October 29 2013

An Angus man has saved a life just six months after signing up to the organ donor register after giving up one of his kidneys. Colin McLachlan, 66, from Montrose, got in touch with NHS Tayside’s transplant coordinator in March. He decided to sign up to give someone a second chance at life just a month after his wife Isobel, 56, died of breast cancer. He talked to his sons Ross, 31 and 33-year-old Craig before going ahead with the procedure. Although he may never know who received his kidney, Mr McLachlan believes more people should follow in his footsteps. Mr McLachlan, a retired property developer, said: “I talked it through with my two sons because I thought if they got kidney disease, I would have given away my only ‘spare’ one but there was only a slim chance of it happening in my lifetime. “We agreed as a family what to do. Anyone can do it and it is no big deal.” Through a series of meetings at Ninewells Hospital with NHS Tayside’s transplant coordinator, Colin had a number of health checks carried out before meeting with surgeons and even a psychiatrist. His operation took place in Edinburgh, lasting more than four hours, and he was back on his feet in just a few weeks. He continued: “I first became aware of doing it in the summer last year when I was watching a television programme and immediately thought ‘what a good idea’. I’ve got two kidneys and I only need one. “It would be relatively straightforward to save someone’s life. The surgeon asked me why I was doing it and I said to him week-in, week-out, he is saving lives and it must feel pretty good. “I just wanted a bit of that and I feel like I’ve done something with my life at no great cost. By going through a simple procedure you can save a life.” Donors and recipients are kept anonymous so donors may never find out who they gave a new lease of life to. However, Mr McLachlan has been told that, so far, everything has gone well with the woman who has received his kidney. He said: “As far as I’m concerned it is hers now. All I would say to them is carpe diem seize the day because they’ve got another chance. “When you meet people who have had a transplant you realise just how vitally important it is and the transformation it can make to someone’s life.”

Angus & The Mearns

Teens takeover Angus Cold War relic

July 31 2015

It was to house a frightened few in the event the Cold War boiled over, protecting inhabitants with concrete, steel – and regulation duffel coats. A cramped underground bunker in Aberlemno is a relic of the UK Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO) and its efforts to gauge the impact of nuclear attack from the 1960s to 1991. It is unlikely the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) designers of 1957 imagined that their legacy would be looked after 16-year-olds. But Lachlan MacLeod and his friends have taken a forgotten corner of international relations with the intention of restoring it. Lachlan said the village’s abandoned observer post, even in disrepair, kindled his interest in military history at a young age. “My brother took me down there for a look when I was pretty young,” he said. “He’s in the Army Reserves and a lot of his enthusiasm rubbed off on me then. “It’s just been left since 1968 and vandalised a little bit, but it’s all locked up and safe now.” Lachlan and his friend Ronnie O’Rourke set about finding out whether the post could be restored. The pair spent time reading up on the corps’ history, and began to source materials and repaint the interior in January. Ronnie is a pupil at Brechin High School and Lachlan recently left school with hopes of studying engineering systems at college. They keep in touch with the Royal Observer Corps Association, which maintains a forum for enthusiasts and the volunteers who maintain a small portion of the 1,600 posts. The pair have had advice from the caretakers of other maintained Angus bunkers in Eliot and Edzell, which are kept by Cheryl Stewart and Jim Sherrit respectively. “I spoke to Jim Sherrit who said we should try do it ourselves, and then spoke to the landlord who had wanted to restore it for years,” added Lachlan. “We are now looking for the harder to find items and we would love to speak to anyone who served in the corps in Aberlemno or posts nearby.” It reported to the regional headquarters in Craigiebarn Road, Dundee, which is maintained to this day. The UKWMO was set up to collate information received of any impending air attack from the ROC. In the worst case scenario, volunteers in three-man bunkers would pass data up the chain of command. However a new spirit of cooperation and disarmament, twinned with technological advances, led to the organisation’s dissolution in 1991. Photo by Angus Pictures

UK & World

Man admits unlawful killing of travel agent, court hears

February 19 2018

A man charged with murdering a travel agent at her workplace admits unlawful killing, a court has heard.Andrew Burke, 30, of Vincent Street, St Helens, did not enter pleas to the charges of murder and possessing an unlawful weapon in a public place when he appeared via videolink from prison at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday.Burke, who was holding a rosary throughout the hearing, is accused of the murder of Cassie Hayes, 28, who died in hospital from a wound to her throat inflicted at the Tui branch in Southport town centre on January 13.David McLachlan QC, defending, said there would be no issue that Ms Hayes was unlawfully killed by Burke but psychiatric reports on the defendant were still being prepared.Judge David Aubrey QC adjourned the hearing until April 9, when Burke is expected to enter pleas.In a tribute issued via Merseyside Police after her death, Ms Hayes’s partner Laura Williams said: “Cassie is my partner and words will not explain my sorrow and loss.“She is the most amazing, gorgeous, selfless and strong person I know. She is my future wife and my forever.”The family of Ms Hayes, who was originally from Alnwick, Northumberland, added: “Cassie was an amazing, kind human being who would do anything for anyone.“She doted on all her family and our loss is beyond calculation.”

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.