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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

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.


Review: An Evening with Peter Alliss, at Perth Concert Hall

October 20 2010

The inimitable voice of golf, Peter Alliss, charmed a packed Perth Concert Hall when his An Evening With tour stopped off in the Fair City. The veteran BBC commentator, sat on stage at Perth Concert Hall with just a table and a glass of water beside him, spent two hours reminiscing about the life of his golfing father, Percy Alliss, and his own formative years, before taking questions from the audience. Little known facts emerged about the famous golfing family. For example, who knew that in 1931 Peter was born the heaviest baby in Europe at the time at 14 pounds and 12 ounces? Or that one of Percy's early teaching professional jobs was in Germany, where Marlene Dietrich was among his students? A veteran of several Ryder Cups in his own playing days, Alliss offered his own thoughts on the recent event in Wales, as well as his worry that the contest could ultimately perish if the game's money men have their way. He had started the evening by suggesting, "I know very little about the game of golf nobody tells me anything." The insight he showed about the game today, as well as his unashamed love of the traditions of yesteryear, proved that to be a lie of course. He may be the last of a dying breed as far as sports commentary is concerned, but all those who hung on his every word in Perth this week, and the tens of thousands who do likewise when watching golf on the BBC, will hope the day when he hangs up his microphone is a long way off yet.

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

Scottish politics

Ruth Davidson suggests DUP opposition to equal marriage causes suicide attempts

June 30 2017

Ruth Davidson has criticised the Conservatives’ UK Government partners for failing to introduce equal marriage in Northern Ireland, suggesting the policy is causing gay people to attempt suicide. The Scottish Tory leader claimed she has been assured by Prime Minister Theresa May that the UK Government will seek to influence the Norther Irish executive to change the law. Ms Davidson, who is engaged to her partner, Jen, also said she has lobbied DUP boss Arlene Foster on the issue. In an article for The Times, she wrote: “I’ve campaigned passionately for this to change. Last year, at Amnesty International’s invitation, I travelled to Belfast to make the case in person. “I’ve raised the issue with Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, and have had assurances from the prime minister that the Conservative Party will use our influence in Northern Ireland to press for marriage equality. “To me it seems anachronistic to tell our young people: you’re good enough to serve in our armed forces; you’re good enough to care in hospitals; you’re good enough to teach in schools; but you’re not good enough to marry the person you love and who loves you. That idea of difference is at the root of all bullying. “Don’t get me wrong. Change has happened. I’m 38. When I was born, ‘homosexuality’ was still a crime in Scotland. "People could be prosecuted and punished for being in a loving same-sex relationship. Now, those same couples can be recognised in marriage. But, just because things are easier, it doesn’t make them easy. “In Northern Ireland more than 90% of young LGBT people say they face homophobic language in school; 70% of those bullied had death threats; at least 33% have attempted suicide.” Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by the UK Parliament in July 2013, while the same law was approved by Holyrood in February 2014. Ms Davidson has been openly critical of the DUP’s stance on a number of social issues since it emerged their 10 MPs would support the UK Conservative  Government on a confidence and supply basis. She too has come under fire, however, after terms of the deal included £1.5 billion for Stormont and nothing for Scotland’s budget. Christina McKelvie, convener of the Scottish parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, said: "Ruth Davidson loves to boast about her influence on the prime minister but it has now been exposed as empty bluster. “If Ruth Davidson was really unhappy about the government being propped up by the dinosaurs in the DUP, her MPs could have done something about it.” The DUP has been contacted for comment.

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.

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.

Readers' letters

August 19: Learning two languages good for business

August 19 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir,-Proposals by the Scottish Government to ensure all primary school pupils are to be taught at least two modern languages, in addition to their own, are welcome news. The European Council's Barcelona Agreement calls for the teaching of at least two foreign languages from an early age. Such a move is vital in order to ensure we enhance our ability as a nation to compete in international markets, and take full advantage of a global economy which relies heavily on having the right language skills. This ability not only serves to build and develop strong commercial relationships between businesses in this country and overseas, but also serves to open up previously untapped markets Scottish businesses can take full advantage of. Language skills can play as pivotal a role as any other skills in providing a workforce with the necessary skills to compete in an increasingly competitive global economy. No one owes Scotland a living. We wish the soon to be established working group well as it looks at the practicalities involved. Jacqui Hepburn.Director Alliance of Sector Skills Councils.28 Castle Street,Edinburgh. Pine martens go for the reds Sir,-If ever I feel my circulation getting sluggish, I read Jim Crumley's articles because, as someone who has been involved with forests and conservation in this country and overseas for more than 50 years, I recognise someone in the "don't confuse me with facts, I have made up my mind" category. At times it has almost driven me to be an ex-reader of The Courier. His comments about the pine marten being the scourge of the grey squirrel, however, force me to respond. Pine martens are a major predator of red squirrels, with the conservation of which I am actively involved. If Mr Crumley cares to talk to Speyside residents, he will also discover, coincidentally, that the rise in pine marten populations has coincided with declining numbers of capercaillie. It is all about making value judgments, something about which we, as humans, should think about more carefully. Len Yull.Glenfarg,Perth. Healthy lifestyle is what counts Sir,-People will have been interested at the intended payments for smokers from "deprived" areas to quit smoking. Deprived areas? Cigarettes are £6-plus a packet. Many would argue people should be responsible for their own health. What next? Payments for drinkers to stop drinking? Payments for the obese to cut down on their food? As a driver, may I suggest the powers-that-be make payments to drivers who cut down on their driving? This would benefit drivers' health. At the same time, omissions would be reduced thus helping the ozone layer. I am sure many drivers would sign up. Jim Strachan.Montrose. Charity bags are over the top Sir,-A. Buntin of Monifieth (August 16) is not alone in finding his letterbox clogged with charity bags. Here in St Andrews the flow of bags through the door is unceasing. Last summer a man attempted to push yet another bag through my letterbox despite there already being two, empty, on the doorstep awaiting removal. He must have imagined that I disapproved of the two other charities, but liked his one. With difficulty, I persuaded him not to leave yet another bag. Fife is proud of how much waste it recycles, but if these bags keep being delivered and are not collected, what else can we do but put them in the bin? If we have goods to give to charity it is not hard to find a shop in the town where we can hand them in. J. J. Wilson.2 Lindsay Gardens,St Andrews. Lower budget will not help exams Sir,-So Dundee's education director wants better exam results. Commendable. But how does this chime with the council deciding to axe £4 million from the education budget, trialling a controversial city campus, slashing the number of hugely supportive guidance teachers and axing several promoted posts? John McIntosh.354 Blackness Road,Dundee. Helping victims of meningitis Sir,-It isn't long until the streets of Edinburgh become alive with runners, as the Great Edinburgh Run is nearly upon us in October. We are asking for those people already lucky enough to have their own place and those who are yet to sign up, to join our team and run for us, in either the 10k or 5k race. We are the only organisation in the UK that is focused on supporting people after meningitis. With over 40,000 people in Scotland who have had meningitis, and nearly 750 cases each year, we really do need your help. We support thousands of people who have had to go through the trauma of this illness. As we do not receive any government funding, we can only support those people through donations. Sponsored runners will make a huge difference to the thousands who need us. The atmosphere around the course is amazing and all of our runners can look forward to encouragement from the Meningitis Trust cheering team. If you would like more information, or to sign up, please contact me on 0845 120 4885. Joanna Stevenson.Community Development Officer Scotland,Meningitis Trust. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.