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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

Angus & The Mearns

Norwegian golf tourists make new plans following Letham Grange closure

February 8 2011

The fragile Angus economy has already lost £10,000 and other tourism bookings are "leaking away" following the closure of a golf and country estate in the county. Letham Grange has become popular with golfers from Stavanger in Norway, with a party of 20 visitors already forced to cancel their plans following the shock shutdown of the estate.It has now emerged the trip would have been worth £10,000 to the local economy.And in a further blow, we can reveal that more Norwegian golfers from the area are now cancelling their plans to return to Angus after reading about the closure on The Courier website.rjan Heradstveit, from a Norwegian golfer based in Stavanger, had been planning a return visit to Letham Grange in September with a couple of friends.He said, "I found out about their fate when I was going to book our golf tour for September."I looked up Letham"s email contact address via their homepages when I read the banner that said they had closed.Too bad"Too bad that such a golf resort has been closed."I"ve been there twice with both my wife and with my golf mates, and we really loved that place.""When they open, I"ll definitely go back to Letham Grange. Let"s really hope they re-open."Mr Heradstveit found The Courier article online, and through visitscotland.com he contacted Elma McMenemy, of Stonehaven, who is a Norwegian-speaking tourism consultant and Blue Badge tourist guide."He doesn"t really need my help to book, only suggestions for alternatives and in the circumstances I was happy to help himand of course promote the Angus alternatives, toofree of charge," she said."He was very grateful and emailed back. Sadly, however, he is planning to travel to Aberdeenshire."The previous group of 20 golfers from Stavanger also decided to go Aberdeenshire as an alternative.Elma was asked to help them out by the travel firm they booked with following the resort closure and she expressed regret that she could not accommodate their needs in Angus."When I got the request from Travel and Event to find alternative accommodation for their clients, my first thought was to try to keep the business in Angus if I possibly could," she said."As a locally-based tourism consultant with over 30 years" experience of tourism in the north east, I realise only too well just how damaging the current problems at Letham Grange could be for the Angus tourism industry and economy," she said."However, this group had very particular requirementsthe golf course (ideally more than one) had to be on-site so no travel was necessary between accommodation and courses, and they really wanted five rounds of golf over their weekend visita tight squeeze, even at Letham Grange.Carnoustie"My initial thoughts were of course Carnoustie Golf Hotel and Spa, or perhaps Forbes of Kingennie country resort or Piperdam."However, when I started to work out timings for coach transfers from Aberdeen airport, I realised that these were just too far away to be practical. for five rounds of golf between a Friday morning arrival and Sunday late afternoon departure."That was when I realised that one of the Aberdeenshire locations would be best for them and fortunately we have managed to book them into Inchmarlo Golf Resort on Royal Deeside."Based both on research published by VisitScotland on the golf visitor market and my own knowledge of Norwegian visitors and of this booking, I would say that in total, including all expenditure in addition to their package, particularly drink, this change of venue will have lost around £10,000 to the Angus economy."Not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things, but this is just one booking for one group for a two-night weekend.""What we cannot tell is how many other bookings are now leaking away to other areas as a result of the sudden closure of Letham Grange."The resort closed last month following a fresh legal battle over ownership.Taiwanese businessman Dong Guang (Peter) Liu has sought to take possession of the property, claiming it is his, and legal proceedings went through all levels of the Scottish courts system and to the House of Lords.Letham Grange Management Company Ltd was appointed to run the hotel following the outcome of the original liquidators" litigation with Mr Liu in February 2009, and invested £300,000 to modernise it after years of stagnation resulting from the long-running and highly complex legal tussle over ownership.Refurbishments include upgrading bedrooms, opening a new brasserie and bar, and improving drainage on the Old and Glens golf courses.There is now further litigation and the directors have failed to secure investment to keep trading.

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.

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

Angus & The Mearns

New hopes for “Scotland’s Augusta” after 15-year Letham Grange legal battle comes to an end

February 8 2018

A 15-year legal battle over the ownership of Angus golf resort Letham Grange has come to an end. The several legal cases and appeals over the Victorian mansion house and its two golf courses near Arbroath — once dubbed Scotland's Augusta — are believed to be among the longest running and complex in Scottish legal history. After years of litigation, golf club members have been informed a settlement has been reached between the liquidator of Letham Grange Development Company, which collapsed in 2002, the company’s former Taiwanese owner Peter Liu and current owners PI Ltd. The move will see Mr Liu regain control of the assets through another of his companies. Members of the club, who have been maintaining and operating the prestigious courses since 2011 under a Licence to Occupy issued by PI Ltd, hope the club will continue to operate as normal. Club honorary secretary Bruce Currie said: “We welcome this latest development that removes the uncertainty regarding ownership that has hung over the resort for the past 15 years. “At this early stage we have had no direct contact with Mr Liu, who is understood to be abroad, and so no indication of his intentions for the future direction of the resort. “Our current Licence to Occupy runs until February 28 2019 and so the golf club continues to operate as before, run by the members for the members. “Mr Liu’s representative in Scotland has assured us that he has no reason to believe that his plans involve anything other than the continued operation of the club. “He said that despite the protracted legal background – during which Mr Liu is quoted as claiming that the property was stolen from him by the liquidator – Mr Liu bears no ill will towards the golf club or its members.” He added that Hock Chan, of Isle of Man based PI Ltd, had also contacted the club to express his gratitude for the years of support from officials and members at the club. The hotel at the estate has been closed since January 2011. Its future is also unknown at this point. Mr Currie added: “We are exceedingly proud that we have managed for the last seven years to save these wonderful courses from being lost. “The rewards of our stewardship of the courses stand in marked contrast to the condition of the former hotel’s structure.” A spokesman for the liquidator confirmed that a settlement had been agreed and that “outstanding legal matters” had been concluded. He said: “As part of the settlement, title to the property at Letham Grange has passed to an entity associated with Nova Scotia 3052775 Limited, the Canadian company controlled by Mr Liu. “As there were no other assets in the liquidation the only prospect of a return to creditors lay with the recovery of the property. “Now this matter has been concluded, the liquidator will bring the liquidation to a close shortly.” PI Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.   Timeline of the Letham Grange ownership saga Letham Grange Development Company (LGDC) bought Letham Grange for around £2 million in 1994. It was sold to Canadian-based company Nova Scotia Ltd – also controlled by Mr Liu – in 2001 for £248,100. Another company under Mr Liu’s control, Foxworth, then placed a security charge over the resort. LGDC liquidated in 2003 and liquidator Matthew Henderson sought a legal ruling that the 2001 sale was fraudulent. Various court ruling and appeals came down both in favour of both the liquidator and Mr Liu’s companies. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court which, in 2014, ruled Foxworth, held a valid charge over the property. This meant that the liquidator had not been in a position to sell the resort to PI Ltd in 2011. Under the terms of the settlement, finalised last week, PI Ltd has agreed to transfer the legal title to the property at Letham Grange to another company controlled by Mr Liu.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

VisitScotland praises bid to reopen Letham Grange golf courses

February 23 2011

Scotland's national tourism organisation is extremely encouraged to see so much time and effort being placed on ensuring the fairways at Letham Grange are back in use as soon as possible. A rescue bid to save the courses is underway following last month's shock closure and the business plan will be put to the golf committee on Thursday. The shutters were brought down on the hotel when Letham Grange directors Neil Rimmer and Paul Rodgers posted a notice on the front door of the Victorian mansion indicating legal difficulties over the hotel's future operation. Speaking ahead of Thursday's meeting, James Lakie from VisitScotland told The Courier they hoped the club committee will gain acceptance for a plan which would see the two 18-hole courses back in action. "Letham Grange has acted as a hub for golf holidays over the years and it is clearly a loss for the local tourism industry," he said. "We would hope that the situation can be resolved quickly. "It is, however, extremely encouraging to see so much time and effort being placed on ensuring all is being done to get the courses up and running again. Those involved should be highly commended and we hope both the Old and the Glens are playable again very quickly. "Angus is in the fortunate position to have a wealth of quality golf courses and accommodation and it's important to continue this trend. Letham Grange and its golf courses clearly have a role to play going forward." A liquidator has now been appointed over the management company which was responsible for running the hotel and they have begun the quest for creditors and others affected by its sudden demise. Letham Grange was at the centre of a complicated ownership wrangle involving Taiwanese businessman Dong Guang (Peter) Liu, which is believed to have resurfaced. Letham Grange Management Company Ltd was appointed to run the hotel following the outcome of the original liquidation proceedings against Mr Liu in February 2009 and hundreds of thousands of pounds were invested in a modernisation scheme. Creditors have now approved the appointment of Melissa Jackson of The MacDonald Partnership plc (TMP) as liquidator over the management company. The golf club committee submitted a proposal to the previous operators of Letham Grange to enable the golf club to run the golf courses and provide some basic clubhouse facilities. The committee has decided to take the proposal to the next stage and consulted with Letham Grange management, Angus Council, the Scottish Golf Union and potential sub-contractors to develop a business plan. If the plan is viable and robust an EGM will be scheduled in early March to share details of the plan, fees and payment methods with members. Club captain Nick Jackson has said that a very strong show of support will be needed if the plans are to progress, so golf club members have been urged to ensure that all fellow members are receiving the details.

Angus & The Mearns

Letham Grange courses to open

March 16 2011

Letham Grange Golf Course in Angus could re-open in around two weeks. Following an extraordinary general meeting attended by over 200 members, Letham Grange Golf Club (LGGC) are pressing ahead with plans to open both the Old Course and the Glens Course by April 1. Since the resort ceased trading and staff were dismissed at the start of the year, a club committee has been working towards an arrangement to keep both courses ticking over. An ownership dispute between Odyssey Asset Management, which has been running the course since 2004, and Taiwanese businessman Dong Guang (Peter) Liu led to the business shutting down. Until a legal resolution is found, Odyssey has agreed to allow LGGC run the course and provide limited clubhouse facilities. Some of the greenkeeping staff who lost their jobs will be reinstated to look after the tees and greens while the club will pay Angus Council to cut the fairways and the first section of rough. Advice has been sought from the local authority, the Scottish Golf Union and Elmwood College in Cupar, along with several other operators with working knowledge of greenkeeping, accounting and legal matters. It has been proposed two annual adult membership options would be offered, with a £350 fee to play both courses and a £280 tariff to play just the less-challenging Glens. Efforts to promote junior golf will continue with a Glens membership available at £20 for under 13s or £40 for juniors over 13 and £60 for both courses. Club captain Nick Jackson said, "There were previously around 15 different membership options, and to play both the Old Course and the Glen for a year would cost something in the region of £550 so it is a considerable reduction. "Letham Grange is a stunning golf course, and the number of people who have an interest in the course is quite astounding. "Not only people who work here, but people who live in the Angus area and people from far and wide who come to play golf." Mr Jackson urged local people to take advantage of the chance to join such a prestigious club for a low fee and said the organisation would be relying on its members to assist the day-to-day running. "It is going to take some hands to the pump and we will be reliant on some of our members giving up their time. "We want to be able to marshall the course and we will be asking members to make sure they keep the clubhouse clean and tidy." The LGGC honorary secretary, Gardiner Arthur, said there had been an almost unanimous welcome for the plans unveiled by the club committee. He added, "A show of hands was requested, which identified the vast majority of those present were in support, so those members were asked to provide their contact details so they can be advised of further details. "In total including those who had indicated support by email ... almost 300 members have indicated their support, which is surely good news for everyone who has enjoyed playing golf at Letham Grange. "Now the management team, formed from a sub-section of the club committee, will start planning to open the golf courses as soon as possible and certainly in time for the start of the season." Any individual, or any company interested in a corporate membership should contact the club secretary at secretarylggc@aol.com for further details.

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.