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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...

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.


Businesses in Dunfermline vow to start their own economic recovery

April 4 2011

Businesses in Dunfermline have resolved to kick start their own economic recovery having been largely unimpressed with George Osborne's budget. Billed as a budget to boost economic growth, reductions in corporation tax and red tape were designed to help the private sector and boost enterprise. Michael Maloco of Maloco and Associates, who is also chairman of Dunfermline Delivers, the town's business improvement district company, said, "I don't expect to see any immediate impact from the budget on the local economy here in Dunfermline. "Indeed, while the banks are reluctant to lend it will remain tough for business. "However, here in Dunfermline we have many of the ingredients for an accelerated local recovery the arrival of Amazon, Shepherd Offshore and a major new Tesco store, plus the aircraft carriers and new Forth Crossing are all extremely positive. "Therefore, as a business community we can try and work together to get things moving at a local level." Pressure on the public purse puts a renewed emphasis on local trading initiatives, and Dunfermline views itself as one of the most proactive towns in Scotland. Events, training workshops and promotional campaigns are planned throughout the year to bring customers into the town and set firms working in partnership.DeliveringRecent seminars on customer service arranged by the local tourism partnership in association with Dunfermline Delivers have been well attended, and further sessions are planned on networking and digital marketing. Dunfermline's Safe Night scheme is one of the most successful programmes of its type and a major floral enhancement project will soon brighten the town centre. According to chartered occupational psychologist Robert Miller this response bodes well for Dunfermline. "When faced with challenging conditions, one of the best long-term strategies is to invest in strengthening your organisation and investing in your people and environment," said Mr Miller, who is director of business psychology at business consultants McAdam King. "It's often the quality of a business's staff, its focus on customer service and the ability to work with other partners that equips it to deal with a downturn and then positions it to take full advantage of recovery." Other local initiatives under way in Dunfermline include a busy calendar of events and a major new retail initiative designed to attract people back onto the High Street. Dunfermline Delivers chief executive Susan Hughes added, "We're doing everything we can to try and help businesses. Our events schedule is stronger than ever and we know that events like the Bruce Festival have a significant economic impact for local businesses. "We've also put in place new web-based services, welcome packs for new businesses and will be promoting Dunfermline for the first time at the forthcoming international travel trade Expo in Aberdeen. "Focusing on the opportunities for Dunfermline, achieving quick wins and working in partnership with our members and other organisations can make a big difference."


Positive signs in housing market, says estate agent

March 9 2013

DESPITE BEING “in the doldrums” for the last six years, the west Fife housing market is slowly but surely starting to recover, according to a leading Fife estate agent. Michael Maloco, who runs Maloco + Associates in Dunfermline, told The Courier he had witnessed various trends in the property market, in particular in the rental sector, since 2007. “It has quite literally soared, with rents rising by 20%,” he said. This, he believes, is because first-time buyers have struggled to secure adequate funding to step onto the property ladder. With regard to the housing sales market, Mr Maloco said: “We have witnessed a drop in buyers, especially first-time buyers and, as a consequence, prices are now between 15 and 20% below their peak in 2007. “Traditional properties in Dunfermline and Crossford, Limekilns and the like have seen the most modest falls at about 10% whilst former local authority stock in the west Fife former mining villages have fared worst. “First-time buyers are thin on the ground as mortgages have been restricted to this sector with most needing a 20% deposit to secure funding. “This has begun to ease a little, however, with a few 90% and 95% mortgages coming back into the market, but these are not available to all, having quite strict criteria attached.” Mr Maloco said the Government’s Funding For Lending policy had also helped lenders leading to his company noticing a slight upturn in housing sales recently. “In general terms, since late 2007, the housing market has been in the doldrums, but in terms of the sales market the worst is almost certainly behind us,” he said.


Landlords offered help in wake of Clear Lets collapse

February 27 2012

A Dunfermline property lawyer has stepped in to help landlords left high and dry by troubled letting firm Clear Lets. Michael Maloco, a senior partner at Maloco and Associates, is representing 36 landlords who have been left out of pocket after the Kirkcaldy firm shut up shop earlier this month with no forwarding address. Mr Maloco has pledged to do all he can to help landlords recover money owed to them. He said: "The reason I got involved is I didn't think it was right to take on new landlord clients without offering some advice and support for what Clear Lets had put them through." The Courier reported recently that one woman from Kirkcaldy had not received payment from Clear Lets for more than four months, while Dunfermline tenant Sharon Elliot paid the company £4,500 for six months' rent when she moved in to her home in November, but her landlord had not received any payments since December. Another landlord contacted The Courier to say he had received an email from a former Clear Lets employee telling him the company stopped trading because of "serious cash flow problems." The email said staff had been issued with their P45s in January and were informed the portfolio had been sold to an Edinburgh company. This website has also received numerous comments from tenants who say they have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket. Because of the huge volume of complaints, Fife Police has opened an inquiry into the matter and has taken statements from those affected. The Courier understands the Clear Lets office, based in Whytescauseway, was a franchise of the Clear Group owned by Tahar Ali. Mr Ali cannot be contacted, but the Companies House website states Clear Lets Ltd has "dissolved". Mr Maloco said: "We are keen to ensure no stone is left unturned so we can establish whether or not there is any prospect of success for the landlords affected. "As a businessman I appreciate that sometimes businesses can fail, and if there were genuine reasons given for this then I would offer my sympathies, but the way these landlords have been treated is unacceptable. "Not only have rental payments gone missing, but deposits too. The law requires letting agencies to keep deposits in separate accounts, but it appears this has not been done. "If Clear Lets were trading while knowing they were insolvent they have opened themselves up to personal claims as under the Insolvency Act you cannot do this. "At the very least their clients should have been paid the deposits, but they have not, which means they will have to find that deposit and pay it back to their tenants themselves." Mr Maloco urged any concerned landlords who have lost money to Clear Lets to get in touch with him. "Any aggrieved landlord is welcome to get in touch with me directly on 01383 629726 and we will do all we can to help. We would also urge landlords to ensure their tenants cancel all direct debits with Clear Lets if they have not already done so." Mr Maloco said he hopes to have concluded his investigations in the next few days.

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

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

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.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.