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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


In photos: Ronnie and Reggie latest meerkats to join Blair Drummond ‘mob’

September 1 2016

Two baby meerkats have been born at a Scottish wildlife park. The pups named Ronnie and Reggie are thought to have arrived at the beginning of August, delivered in an enclosure at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling. Since a group of meerkats is called a mob, keepers at the park decided to name the new additions after London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Please enable Javascript to view this gallery© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA© Andrew Milligan/PA Head keeper Lisa Smith said: “Our visitors are overwhelmed at how cute the pups are. “They are definitely more adorable than gangsters, however, because meerkats are so good at looking out for their siblings it’s a fitting name for the brothers.” The two slender-tailed meerkats join a family of 11 at the park, which is experiencing a “baby boom” after the births of alpacas, lemurs and lions this year. Meerkats are native to the Kalahari Desert and have an average life span of 12 to 14 in captivity and about half of that in the wild. Ronnie and Reggie were spotted exploring their enclosure this week at the park, which is open until October 30 before closing for the winter. • Read more: ‘Simples’ pleasures as multiple meerkat births celebrated

Aardvark dies and meerkats missing after ZSL London Zoo fire

December 23 2017

Four meerkats missing after a fire at ZSL London Zoo are presumed dead. Nine-year-old Misha the aardvark, who shared an enclosure with the meerkats, was earlier confirmed dead. The fire broke out at approximately 6am on Saturday in the Animal Adventure section of the zoo, and spread to an adjacent shop. Dominic Jermey, director general for ZSL, told the Press Association: “We are absolutely devastated that Misha has passed away. “We had our vet team on site immediately but sadly there was nothing that they could do for Misha.” Ten fire engines and around 70 firefighters and officers are tackling a fire in a cafe and shop at London Zoo. More info to follow pic.twitter.com/LCS22hsHUr— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) December 23, 2017 A zoo spokeswoman said the four meerkats, who are unaccounted for as a result of limited access to the site, were presumed dead. She said the zoo, which was closed on Saturday, would reopen on Christmas Eve. (Dominic Lipinski/PA) Keepers who live on site were on the scene immediately after the fire broke out and started moving animals to safety. Some of the staff were treated for smoke inhalation and shock at the scene. Mr Jermey said: “Given the circumstances they are fine but they, like all of us, are absolutely devastated by this incident today.” Misha, an aardvark who died in a fire (ZSL/PA) More than 70 firefighters attended the incident, which was brought under control by 9.16am. All other animals in the vicinity of the blaze are being monitored by vets, and early signs suggest they have not been affected. (Dominic Lipinski/PA) London Fire Brigade station manager David George said it is not currently known what caused the fire. He told the Press Association: “Over the next few hours our specialist fire investigation teams will be searching through the debris and looking and seeing if they can establish a likely cause for the fire.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '4d92b36b-eea8-4b8d-984a-3ffbba3c583f'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Aardvark dies and meerkats missing after ZSL London Zoo fire'});

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

London Zoo fire delays annual stocktake

January 2 2018

The annual stocktake at ZSL London Zoo has been postponed after a fire that killed one aardvark and four meerkats. All creatures great and small were due to be accounted for when the attraction’s annual count kicked off on Tuesday. But the stocktake at the capital’s tourist hot spot was put on hold until February as a result of the blaze on December 23. Awful- Misha (aardvark) died, 4 meerkats unaccounted for in fire at London Zoo. Am humbled by so many messages of support. London Fire Brigade superb – liaising closely with us to ensure all safe for animals, staff & visitors. We will re-open tomorrow. @zsllondonzoo @OfficialZSL— Dominic Jermey (@DomJermey) December 23, 2017 The fire broke out in the animal adventure section of the zoo, destroying the cafe, shop and around half of the adjacent petting zoo, London Fire Brigade said. The world-famous attraction reopened to visitors on Christmas Eve. The annual count at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has also been postponed until next month. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', 'cf4d15e2-524a-498c-97fe-c0e627262ae1'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'London Zoo fire delays annual stocktake'});


Animal magic: exercise with penguins and meerkats in St Andrews

July 1 2014

Anyone for pilates with penguins? Or muscle stretching with meerkats? Gayle Ritchie tries out a new fitness craze that’s set to take Courier Country by storm. As I balance precariously on one foot, a crowd gathers round to watch. The look on each face is a mix of confusion and curiosity. But this is no ordinary audience the members consist of a waddle of penguins. I’ve come to St Andrews Aquarium for a session of pilates under the watchful eye of instructor Sam Leyton. It’s pilates with a difference. Pilates with penguins, to be precise. Sam, 35, opened a boutique fitness studio at the aquarium in May offering pilates, ballet fit, yoga and Nordic walking classes. With breathtaking sea views, it’s the most magical setting for a workout. Taking inspiration from a studio in Vancouver that offers yoga classes next to a tank of Beluga whales, Sam thought long and hard about whether she could pioneer something similar with animals in Scotland. Her partner John Mace is the aquarium’s general manager and the two teamed up to offer a unique experience to clients. Sam is giving me a taster session a combination of pilates and ballet-fit with penguins and muscle-stretching with meerkats. Before I enter the penguin enclosure, the keeper advises me to heed some warnings. These include trying not to look the seabirds directly in the eye (this would be deemed confrontational) and to move away quickly if they aim their rears towards me (which could result in being sprayed with guano). He also warns me I could have my eyes gouged out if I get too close, although it’s highly unlikely. Whatever the case, I tell myself he’s just winding me up. Despite the warnings, it’s a fantastic albeit unusual experience. While Sam teaches me some tricky ballet moves, the Humboldt penguins waddle, slide and jump about, their beady eyes watching me in amazement. When we squeeze gym balls between our thighs and squat, one penguin comes right up to me, boldly gazes into my face and then grabs a fish from between my feet. Another appears to be imitating my feeble attempt at the Arabesque move. Our next stop is the meerkat enclosure. Again, the warnings come thick and fast and all thoughts of fluffy baby Oleg meerkat toys are banished. Apparently these creatures could scratch at our legs in their excitement, run up on to our shoulders and possibly even bite if they feel threatened so we need to stay calm. They scarper as we enter, hiding under a tree trunk and peering out surreptitiously. It’s only when the keeper throws them a heady feast of live maggots and melons that their confidence grows and soon enough, a group has gathered to scratch and claw at my feet. Again, Sam takes me through a host of complex stretches, which look simple but involve a great deal of focus, strength and flexibility. I can feel my core muscles shaking almost uncontrollably and my heart rate rising as I hold what’s known as the “plie” a ballet move in which your knees are bent while your back is held poker straight. We leave the meerkats to enjoy their wriggling lunch and try some “barre work”, ballet exercises with weights against the glass outside the corral. It’s worth saying that you don’t need to enter the enclosures to become fully immersed in the experience; it’s just as much fun exercising next to the animals but Sam is offering the more intimate experience to anyone who requests it. It’s a fascinating experience and one I’d recommend for animal lovers and anyone needing a bit of an incentive to get off their backside and do a workout with a difference. I went the whole hog and got as close as I could to the animals but there’s no pressure to do so. Those who go along for a session with Sam can rest assured they’re in capable hands. She was the studio manager at Realistic Pilates in Edinburgh before setting up her own studio in St Andrews in January. She also has an extensive background in dance and other sports such as skiing, sailing and tennis and practices pilates, yoga and ballet to keep her posture at its best and to support her performance in other activities. “The potential for developing a space at the aquarium in St Andrews was fantastic,” she says. “It’s a magical setting. I thought it would be a nice idea to offer pilates and ballet-fit in front of meerkats and penguins. It’s another attraction, a unique experience. “Classes can be on a one-to-one basis, depending on where they’re taking place, but it’s most likely that people would be outside the enclosures with the animals looking on as they stretch. For those wanting to work out next to penguins, they could do this on the decking right next to them, or from the gallery above. But for anyone who wants to go inside the enclosures with the animals, we can make that happen, probably on a one-to-one basis.” Group classes will be kept quite small, with no more than 10 per session although, of course, that’s not including the animals who will be watching your every move. But don’t worry, they’re not judging you . . . or are they?

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.


St Andrews Aquarium’s meerkats to provide extra Christmas cheer

October 29 2011

The Christmas story at a Fife tourist attraction will have an added ”ooh and ahh” factor this year following the arrival of several new actors. Little Frank, Goldie and Myrrh will be among those taking starring roles at the ”meerkat nativity” at St Andrews Aquarium. The latest trio are part of a rapidly expanding meerkat clan at the attraction. The young meerkats will be joined by parents Kate and Wills and no fewer than five brothers and sisters in their very own nativity. John Mace, manager of the aquarium, said: ”The latest meerkats are the third litter born to Kate and Wills this year. ”They are in for a bit of a surprise as we transform their enclosure, which is currently decorated in a desert setting, to incorporate a nativity theme.” The show will launch on Saturday November 12.