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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

Rocktalk

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.

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.

Dundee

Mystery benefactor donates £500 after hearing of Mhairi’s plight

August 29 2013

An anonymous Courier reader has given a cash boost to a Dundee student left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after her curtain company employer collapsed. Mhairi Rutherford said she was still in “disbelief” after the kind-hearted donor gifted her £500 after reading her story last week. The 22-year-old fourth-year history student said the windfall had come as “a complete surprise”. She said: “I’m very, very happy and my feeling is still disbelief. It is really lovely for someone to decide to make my life better by doing that.” Mhairi, who was a part-time worker at the Montgomery Tomlinson concession in Dundee’s Debenhams store, lost her entire summer wages when the Flintshire-based curtain company went into administration last week. Mhairi and her colleagues were told over a conference call that the company had no money to pay their wages the following day. Mhairi, who lost out on almost £700 as a result, then had to call her manager, who was on holiday in France, and break the news that she had also lost her job. She said: “People saw the story and I got a lot more sympathy than I thought I probably deserved. I lost my job but I’m fortunate because I don’t have too many financial responsibilities and it was more of an inconvenience. “But a lot of people who lost their jobs were supporting their families.” Mhairi said that the anonynous benefactor’s gesture had made a big difference to her summer. She said: “I am going back to university so the money will be exactly what I need to pay off my student overdraft. That was the original plan for my wages. “I was looking forward to getting out of my student overdraft with the wages. I have updated my CV so I will go to other retail places and I’m lucky that I do have retail experience, so hopefully I can get another part-time job.” The anonymous benefactor contacted The Courier after reading Mhairi’s story saying she wanted to assist the student. She said: “Quite simply, the reason I am doing this is is because I know how distressing it can be when you are on a low income and the money does not come in when it’s expected.”

Alex Bell

Taxing times for Scotland

December 15 2016

Is 19 years fast in Scottish terms? It’s been that long since Scots voted to have a tax-raising parliament and Holyrood actually raising any tax. September 1997 we said yes to our new parliament being able to levy tax in order to make Scotland better. It was campaigned for by Labour and the SNP in the referendum of that time, both saying such power was necessary for a parliament that was to be more than a “parish council”. Today we expect Finance Minister Derek McKay to say Edinburgh will indeed up the top rate of income tax by a wee bit as part of his draft budget statement. If he does then it will be a historic day, almost as significant as the opening of the parliament in 1999, as it signals the first time within the mainland UK that rates on the same tax differed. Not a particularly exciting moment but important. Scotland is a top-dollar state run on a middle-income economy – we spend more than we earn. For any tax rise to begin to address this, it would need to be of an order many magnitudes larger than McKay is likely to suggest. He may hope to raise hundreds of millions when the gap stands at a cheek-slapping £15bn. The other way to close the gap between spending and earning would be to increase economic growth – that is, earn more by doing more. The SNP has a “Growth Commission’ in which many of the same people who have been advising it on economic matters for the last 20 years have one more shot at solving the puzzle of why Scotland lags behind the rest of the UK in economic expansion. As the gap has existed for decades, during which England’s economy has diversified faster than Scotland’s, it’s unlikely we can expect any quick fixes from the Nat economists. That is, fixes they are prepared to discuss in public. In the Growth Commission, as in party ranks, there are nationalists who believe the only way to balance Scotland’s books is to be brutal – a Thatcherite purge of the state is required. This is an article of faith for Nat right-wingers, an unspoken but understood goal of the independence movement. What stops it happening now or being discussed is that any such ideological small state/big growth model would horrify the voters and damage the party’s popularity. Yet the time has come for some honesty in this area of policy. We have a big problem. Until we discuss it openly, we can’t seriously claim to be worthy of self-government. What the spending gap means, beyond the dry numbers, is that for some reason, we require more support from the state than is normal. We have spent a lot of money (it’s all getting added to the debt our children must pay) but have made ourselves more dependent on the state. The political hope is that growth will close the gap and stop this being a problem but that may be a false way to think of the issue. A braver and more productive line of thought would be to question the fundamentals of Scotland. We stand out as a developed state for our unique ability to damage ourselves. We claim a freakishly high level of disability allowance, for example – way above the UK average. Nobody quite knows why but it adds to our national debt as well as being a miserable testament to the happiness of our society. Nominal tax changes of the kind we are likely to hear today are political milestones but essentially meaningless in addressing the rotten heart of the state of Scotland. My fear is that the political milestones will come quicker now that tax is being raised. It can’t be long before this new arrangement prompts a wider debate about spending levels across the UK and further cuts to the Scottish block. What’s more, McKay’s new tax will only raise what the economy allows – with low growth, we may get low income and that may reduce budgets further. It is time the Nationalist right-wingers came out and admitted their belief and it is long overdue of the left of the SNP and Labour to explain our unique social problems. Scottish politics runs slow because it is dishonest – time to pick up the pace.

Dundee

Petition to see higher safety barriers on Tay bridge

August 13 2013

Mhairi Bell-Moodie has turned the traumatic experience of seeing a man jump from the Tay road bridge into a campaign for higher safety barriers on the crossing. Fortunately the man was rescued from the water, but after a spate of incidents, Mhairi has put together an online petition. Within 24 hours, 200 people had pledged their support for the pedestrian walkway to have a higher fence. Mhairi said: “I was at a mate’s house who has a view over the Tay and we saw it happen. It brought the issue to my attention and I felt like I wanted to do something. “As a long-term sufferer of depression, I understand the utter helplessness and isolation this illness can inflict.” Mhairi, 27, has been receiving guidance from local MP Joe FitzPatrick and plans for her petition to be raised at the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board. She added: “Most of the response has been fantastic. People from all over have signed the petition and my friends have said it is a good way to handle the traumatic experience.”

Dundee

Student’s summer of work counts for nothing as Montgomery Tomlinson falls into administration

August 23 2013

A Dundee student has lost her entire summer wages after her curtain company employers collapsed just hours before she was due to be paid. Mhairi Rutherford, 22, said she is £700 out of pocket after Montgomery Tomlinson, who had a concession within Debenhams in the Overgate Centre, went into administration. Mhairi and her workmate were told they had lost their part-time jobs via a conference call on Tuesday and that the company had no money to pay wages the next day. She said: “After lunch there was an urgent email saying that we had to go on a conference call. “They said they had been trying to get investors for the business and that had failed, so we were told that the company had gone into administration and we wouldn’t be getting paid. “The administrator on the phone said to take our personal possessions and turn in our keys as we were now redundant. “That was it. We had no prior warning whatsoever.” Mhairi then had to call her manager, who is on holiday in France, and break the news that she had also lost her job. Mhairi and her colleagues are three of over 500 people made redundant when the Flintshire-based company went into administration this week. As well as Debenhams, the company had a concession at McEwens of Perth. Mhairi said: “The wage that I’m missing is the money for working all summer there. “Earlier this week I bought new work clothes for the first time in two years thinking I was getting paid. “They told us at a seminar a couple of months ago that they were reinvesting in the business and they recently refitted all of the stores. “The administrator said that we had to apply via the Government for redundancy money.” Will Wright, joint administrator and restructuring partner at administrators KPMG, said: “Given the cash position of the business, unfortunately there are insufficient funds to make payments for August salaries and we will be working as hard as possible to assist employees in their claims to the redundancy payments office.”

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

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

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