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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

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

Angus & The Mearns

Scotland’s Tea Festival brews up interest in Mearns adventurer

August 23 2014

The life of an adventurous Scot who saved another country’s economy in the 19th Century is being celebrated at an inaugural festival in his name. Mearns man James Taylor brought commercial tea production to Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, in the mid-1800s. Despite being known as the “father of tea” in that country, his contribution to global drinking habits has been merely a footnote in British history. Hoping to rectify this, organisers of the three-day Scotland’s Tea Festival has welcomed an array of guests. These included East India Company “tea master” Lalith Lenadora, New Zealand professor of Scottish and Irish history Angela McCarthy from Otago University, Japanese tea essayist Takeshi Isibushi and one of Taylor’s descendants, Fife woman Frances Humphreys. Guests at the opening ceremony saw a plaque unveiled at Taylor’s home of Mossbank outside Auchenblae. Ms Humphreys had until recently kept a silver tea set given to Taylor by an appreciative Planters’ Association of Ceylon in 1890. Mrs Humphreys, great granddaughter of his sister Margaret, said: “The tea set has been in my family since Margaret. “It had been in the attic along with a journal and I thought I had to do something with it, so I offered it to the National Museum Scotland. “They were just about to have an exhibition about pioneering Scots and they used that as one of their central exhibits.” Prof McCarthy said Taylor may have had many reasons for leaving the Mearns for the other side of the world and that he has the peculiar honour of featuring as an extra in the Barbara Cartland novel Moon over Eden. She said: “He certainly had family connections in the coffee economy there. “Apparently he had a turbulent relationship with his stepmother and also his letters reveal he may have been trying to avoid a possible planned marriage.” Today, Professor McCarthy gives a talk on Taylor’s life at the Auchenblae Hall from 10am and historian Sir Tom Devine will discuss “why Scots did so well in the Eastern Empire” at Laurencekirk Church of Scotland from noon to 12.30pm. Visit www.scotlandteasfest.co.ukfor more information or call 01561 376 896 or 377501.

Dundee

Plea to save DP&L maritime heritage for the city

March 20 2015

A plea has been made for Dundee’s great and good to stop the city from losing part of its maritime heritage. Tens of thousands of people passed through the doors of the former DP&L building on East Dock Street, with children marvelling at models of the SS Dundee, MV Arbroath and SS Perth. And part of that legacy of DP&L is to go under the hammer in Angus on May 30, with six fine model vessels and an array of maritime artwork charting almost two centuries of world travel up for sale. But Jack Reilly, 72, who wrote a well-received book about the Caledon Shipyard, has pleaded for councillors to intervene before the sale at Taylor’s Auction Rooms in Montrose. Mr Reilly wants to see more focus on this integral part of Dundee’s past and said DP&L’s shipping and commercial businesses gave a “lifeline to many Dundee families”. “My surprise then turned to shock to read that the models and other historical articles are to be put up to auction and likely to be lost to the city,” he added. “I appeal to Lord Provost Bob Duncan and other city councillors to press a case to consider a long-term loan of the ship models for displaying in our local museums.” Mr Duncan said he too would be very keen to see the items retained in Dundee in some way.

Dundee

Dundee businessman jailed for four years after drink-drive death smash

January 6 2016

A drink-driver who caused a fatal accident which destroyed the lives of a newly-wed couple has been jailed for four years. Dundee businessman Russell McKeever lost control of his powerful Audi A6 on the A933 near Arbroath and ploughed head-on into Colin Taylor’s Citroen Picasso, killing him and the family’s pet terrier Kola who was beside him. Mr Taylor’s wife Julie who was travelling in the back seat because she was a “nervous passenger” was trapped in the wreckage beside her dead husband. Although she survived the crash she suffered terrible physical and mental injuries, the High Court at Livingston was told. As she was comforted by members of her family outside court, Mrs Taylor said she was ”very upset” by the outcome. She added: “We’re all disappointed that it wasn’t enough of a sentence.” In addition to the prison term, McKeever, 42, was disqualified from driving for six years and eight months and ordered to pass the extended driving test. Judge Lord Armstrong said a victim impact statement provided by Mrs Taylor had been “eloquent in its terms”. He said the couple had married just a short time before the crash after spending 30 years together as life partners. Mr Taylor, 59, had died instantly from “massive, unsurvivable injuries”. His wife suffered multiple broken bones and needed more than 12 hours of surgery. Lord Armstrong told McKeever he recognised from testimonial letters that he was a respected member of the local community and was assessed as at low risk of re-offending. However, he added: “Having regard to the criminal culpability in this case I have come to the conclusion that there is no alternative to a custodial disposal.” At an earlier hearing, the court had heard that McKeever had been at a pub in Broughty Ferry for lunch with his ex-wife and her friend. He had one glass of wine but went back to the friend’s home after stopping at a supermarket to buy more alcohol. By the time he left the friend’s house abruptly and without any explanation McKeever was drunk. Four hours after the crash McKeever gave an alcohol reading of 226mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, the limit at the time being 80mg. McKeever was allowed to remain free on bail until his case came to court in December. His prison sentence was backdated to December 7.

Dundee

Newspaper archive contains answer to Dundee tank mystery

January 8 2015

The mystery surrounding a tank gifted to Dundee at the end of the First World War has been solved, thanks to a chance find in a newspaper archive. Perthshire historian Mike Taylor had been trying for years to find out the history of the Mk IV fighting machine, without success. The vehicle was one of dozens gifted to communities across the country at the end of the conflict to thank them for raising money for the National War Savings Appeals. Many were scrapped several years later, and today only one remains at Ashford, Kent. The Dundee tank arrived in the city in August 1919 and was towed to Dudhope Park, where it remained until it was scrapped in 1930. Its battlefield past was lost until Mr Taylor found a key piece of evidence in a contemporary article in the Evening Telegraph. Mr Taylor said: “Nothing was known of the tank’s wartime history, but I found an old article about the tank’s arrival that mentions its serial number the key to unlocking its history. “With the serial number it was possible for tank historian Gwyn Evans to trace its history in the records. The tank was one of only 50 built in Scotland by the Glasgow firm of Mirrlees Watson. “In 1917, as part of D battalion of the Tank Corps, it was commanded by a Second Lieutenant J McNiven and was knocked out by a direct hit at the battle of Cambrai on November 20 during the attack by the 51st (Highland) Division on the village of Flesquieres.” Anyone with more photographs of the tank can contact Mr Taylor via The Courier on 01382 575862.

Angus & The Mearns

Forgotten artist’s ‘Mad Men’ works go on sale in Angus

April 5 2013

An Angusauction house will be taking a leap in the dark tomorrow when it seeks buyers for works by an enigmatic and near-forgotten Scottish artist. Only a small collection of paintings and a cardboard box of personal belongings remain of the life of Frances Watt, whose work hung in galleries and private collections across the globe as recently as the early 1980s. After spending 30 years in storage in Aberdeen, some of her painting and sketches will be sold at Taylor’s Auction Rooms in Montrose. However, sale room manager Jonathan Taylor has said he has no idea what prices they will fetch. He explained that searches on a website which gathers sales data from auction houses across the world turned up no information on Watt. “It’s like she never existed,” he said. The lots, which have no reserve price and will go to the highest bidder, include a series of oil paintings and sketches commissioned by the Council of the Stock Exchange to record the daily life in the Square Mile. Mr Taylor said: “The City paintings she did were very highly thought of at the time but because of how art moves, the style fell out of favour. “The paintings were featured in a set of postcards in the 1960s. Some of them are very stylish they have a sort of Mad Men 1950s and 1960s feel that’s quite popular at the moment. “It could be an interesting sale to see.” Watt was born in Falkirk in 1923 and attended schools in Geneva and Aberdeen. After attending art colleges including the Byan Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London, Watt began exhibiting her work in the 1950s. During the 1960s her paintings and illustrations of the “old” Stock Exchange were included in the Stock Exchange Journal, the Times newspaper and the Lord Mayor’s Art Awards exhibition. Other works represented in the Taylor’s collection include landscapes of her native Scotland and religious subjects, a radical stylistic departure from the London paintings. “These include paintings of Jesus accompanied by a black collie. Mr Taylor added: “In the past 30 years Watt has become one of Scotland’s forgotten artists but her work, which captures a style and period that is shrugging off its unfashionable tag, will soon be on public display again.”

Readers' letters

So many near misses approaching bridge

April 15 2013

Sir, I sincerely hope that when the roadworks are complete at Dundee’s waterfront there is a totally separate lane leading on to the Tay Road Bridge. Last Monday I was heading home to Tayport along Riverside Drive only to be stopped at the Tesco entrance at exactly 5pm. I was in the correct lane unlike so many who chanced their luck in the left-hand lane, only to later indicate and push their car into the right-hand lane. So many near misses. Because of this it took me and everyone else in the correct lane 28 minutes to reach the Tay Road Bridge access. No mention was made of this on the Radio Tay jambuster line. When I eventually got home I searched my phone book and checked online for their number to alert them to the congestion. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Why not display it on the billboards? Goodness knows there are plenty of them en route! So, come on, traffic controllers and pushy drivers get your act together! Anne H F Lowe. 13 Nelson Street, Tayport. Biomass makes no sense Sir, Recent Courier reports relating to the proposed biomass plant in Dundee have focused on the health impact associated with emissions of nitrogen dioxide but what is never mentioned is the increase in local carbon dioxide emissions. No new coal-fired generation facility would be allowed in Scotland without carbon emission mitigation and yet people seem to be sleep walking into supporting a so-called biomass (wood burning) facility which also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide. Both coal and wood-burning involve the oxidation of carbon to form carbon dioxide. In fact, a wood-burning generator emits almost 25% more carbon dioxide per kWh of electricity generated than a coal-fired generator would. In effect, Dundee would be importing carbon emissions from the countries from which the wood will be sourced. This makes no sense when we are ravaging our countryside with ever more wind turbines in an effort to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions. Dr G M Lindsay. Whinfield Gardens, Kinross. Figures are dwarfed Sir, I wish to congratulate Steve Flynn on his excellent letter (Courier, April 11) on the inequalities of present government legislation. While most people do not wish to see illegal benefit claims made, these are dwarfed by tax dodging from the well-off and by reduced taxes, again, to people who are much more than comfortably off. Another group of people Mr Flynn does not mention are the directors of banks who, through inefficiency and cavalier decisions have cost the taxpayer billions of pounds yet, many are still being paid large bonuses and pensions. I am sure that the amounts of illegal benefit claims pale into insignificance when compared to these latter items. John Baston. 9a Seabourne Gardens, Broughty Ferry. It is a time to show respect Sir, Why should anyone want to organise a street party to celebrate the demise of a former prime minister? The only appropriate time to organise such a gathering was surely when that person left office(in the case of Mrs Thatcher, over 22 years ago). But dancing on the grave, so to speak, of the former leader is not just distasteful it is perverse. It doesn’t matter whether it is in the Durham coalfields, the republican streets of Belfast and Londonderry, or the centre of Glasgow or Brixton. Events like these don’t just diminish our reputation for tolerance, they undermine the whole texture of political debate and democracy. Respect for your opponents in time of personal difficulty and death is simple good manners and humanity. Nobody contests that Mrs Thatcher was a controversial figure. But the plain fact is that her attitudes and beliefs (honestly held and worthy of respect at a time of her passing), were subject to the test of the ballot box. For good or ill she was successful on three occasions. In the end it was her own MPs and Cabinet who prompted her resignation in November 1990. Bob Taylor.24 Shiel Court,Glenrothes.Remarks show a lack of classSir, I write with reference to your article featuring Labour councillor Tom Adams and entitled, A dram to toast the lady’s demise.I found the tone of the article to be in incredibly poor taste and I am very uncomfortable with the pleasure Mr Adams appears to derive from the death of an 87-year-old frail lady with Alzheimer’s. Mr Adams, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Harold Wilson closed three times as many coal mines as Margaret Thatcher ever did. Nor does he appear to apportion any responsibility for his plight as a young man to the militant NUM leader Arthur Scargill. Most of those in his party seem to accept that Mr Scargill and his fellow militants played a major role in the failure of the mining industry. That aside, his comments, coming from an elected member of Fife Council regarding Mrs Thatcher’s death are disgraceful and show a distinct lack of class. Allan D S Smith. 10 Balgonie Place, Markinch.

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