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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...

Dundee

Tragic Mary McLaren’s sister admits knife charge

January 18 2011

The sister of tragic Dundee woman Mary McLaren appeared in court on a knife charge, amid claims she has become involved in criminal activity and problem drinking due to the appalling events surrounding Mary's death almost a year ago. On the same day the man accused of murdering Mary had a date for his trial fixed at a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh, Michelle Rodger (27), Cumnock Place, appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court to plead guilty to possessing a knife and uttering threats of violence. The court heard Rodger, who had no convictions before her sister's death, has appeared in court on several occasions since her sister's body was found in shrubbery on North Marketgait, Dundee, on March 10 last year. Solicitor John Boyle told the court whether it was due to "anger, grief or guilt," Rodger's behaviour had changed since the tragic events of February 25, when Mary disappeared after the pair had been out together in Dundee city centre. Rodger admitted that on January 14, at Longhaugh Police Station, she behaved in a threatening or abusive manner, shouted and swore and threatened violence to others, and possessed a knife, while on bail. Depute fiscal Kirsty Anderson told the court that Rodger had appeared at five to midnight at Longhaugh Police Station on Saturday, shouting and swearing. Ms Anderson said, when Rodger was interviewed by officers, she had dropped her bag at one point and, when an officer went to pick it up, Rodger pulled the bag away and a knife fell out. She said, "I'm going to kill that fat bitch up the road." However, when cautioned and charged she made no reply. Mr Boyle told the court there was a "significant history" to the case.Tragedy"Miss Rodger is the sister of Mary McLaren," he said, "who died in tragic circumstances last year. She was with her sister the night she died. "She has only two previous convictions, but these offences stem from the period after her sister's death. "Whether it is because of anger, grief or guilt, it has affected her behaviour. There was nothing before that." He said Rodger was drinking, perhaps, "as a coping mechanism." Asking Sheriff Davidson to defer sentence for reports, he added, "She is certainly someone who would benefit from some form of intervention." Sheriff Davidson asked why she had been carrying a knife, and Mr Boyle said there had been an earlier incident that day involving another woman. He said the woman was previously a friend of hers but they had fallen out and there had been "tit-for-tat" vandalism of each others' houses. In an incident at lunchtime between his client, the woman and others, the knife had been produced, "not by Miss Rodger." However, she had grabbed the knife and kept it. He said she had learning difficulties, although she had received any support for that since leaving school. Ordering social inquiry, community service and restriction of liberty reports, Sheriff Davidson deferred sentence until February 14 and granted her bail, on condition that she attend the Right Track programme.

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.

Perth & Kinross

Perth student Jamie has all the ingredients to be a Chef’s Protg

June 10 2013

Perth College erupted in delight as catering student Jamie MacKinnon was named the Chef’s Protg on Friday. The 17-year-old was finally able to break his silence after fellow students, friends, family and college staff watched the announcement on a giant screen. Jamie, from Perth, triumphed after four weeks of tough competition. Among the first to congratulate Jamie were the other Perth College students who started the process alongside him. In the 20-episode series, Tom Kitchin, one of the UK’s most renowned chefs and holder of a Michelin star for his restaurant, went on a quest for a protg from his old college in Perth. Fellow chefs Theo Randall and Michel Roux Jr did the same, but it was eventually Tom and Jamie who most impressed culinary greats Pierre Koffmann, Ruth Rodgers and Michel’s father Albert Roux during a tense final. Just after the programme ended, a delighted Ian Gibb, Perth College UHI hospitality subject leader, said: “This is a fantastic result for Jamie, for Tom and for Perth College UHI as well. All of our students managed the pressure really well and I’m extremely proud of them. “For Jamie, in particular, managing to do his best in front of some of the world’s most famous chefs was an incredible test of character, and I think he really showed what he’s made of in the final. “To be the youngest competitor at only 17 and to do so well tells me that Jamie has a great future in the industry.” Mr Gibb believes the Chef’s Protg will prove to be a huge boon for more than just Jamie, who will now start work at Tom’s celebrated Edinburgh restaurant the Kitchin when he completes college. “Thanks to Tom Kitchin’s consistent, supportive approach and constructive feedback, all of our students learned and matured as chefs,” said Mr Gibb. “The memories of the Chef’s Protg will stay with them for life and, hopefully, some will follow in our former student Tom’s very successful footsteps.” Jamie himself believes that Tom’s tutelage has already had a huge impact upon his cookery and he hopes to develop both his skills and his relationship with the chef in the years to come. “This has been one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “First of all, learning so much from a fantastic chef like Tom Kitchin, then seeing how he runs his restaurant, and finally, cooking for world-famous chefs like Pierre Koffmann, Ruth Rogers and Albert Roux. It’s been like a dream come true. “But I knew that if I listened to Tom and did my best I would have a chance of winning. The most important thing that I’ve learn from Tom is to respect what goes into the dishes. “His style of combining the best of Scottish ingredients and classic French cookery techniques is something I’d really like to master myself. “I’m really grateful to everyone at the college for giving me this opportunity and for setting me up with the skills I needed, but, now that the competition is over, I’m going to take up Tom’s offer of working in his own kitchen.” Proud of his achievements, but sad to see him move on, are colleagues at the Murrayshall House Hotel, where he has worked for two years as a comis chef. A spokesman said: “He is a very talented young man and, though he remains a comis chef, we have had to ‘promote’ him a few times as he really is a lot more than that, even at such a young age. We’ve been delighted to have him working here.”

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

Dundee

Mary McLaren murder trial starts today

May 3 2011

The trial of the man accused of killing Dundee mother-of-three Mary McLaren is due to start at the High Court in Edinburgh today. Patrick James Rae (41) has denied murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10 last year. Rae also denies hiding the 34-year-old's body in undergrowth on North Marketgait, removing and disposing of her coat, bag and contents, disposing of a knife or something similar, and disposing of and washing clothes in an attempt to defeat the ends of justice. His trial is expected to last up to six weeks. For almost a fortnight last spring, Dundee was the centre of one of the most intensive missing persons investigations ever carried out by Tayside Police, with more than 50 officers called in to help in the hunt for Mrs McLaren, of Rowantree Crescent, who was reported missing after a night out with her sister Michelle Rodger. The search came to a tragic end when the former Kingspark School pupil's body was found in undergrowth on an embankment above the Ladywell roundabout. There followed a painstaking forensic examination of the area, during which specialist Ministry of Defence police officers from the Faslane naval base on the Clyde were called in to help investigate the most inaccessible parts of the steep embankment. Floral tributes quickly piled up at the scene and Mrs McLaren's funeral at St Vincent's RC Church was attended by hundreds of mourners, including her husband Scott, sons Aaron and Dylan, and daughter Sarah-Jane, who gave birth to the dead woman's first grandchild, Cameron, just weeks later.See The Courier every day for extensive coverage throughout the trial.

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.

Scottish politics

EXCLUSIVE: SNP MP criticises party’s ‘unjust’ decision to ditch Michelle Thomson

April 27 2017

The SNP's Treasury spokesman has claimed Michelle Thomson was treated “unjustly” by his party after being ditched as a general election candidate. Roger Mullin, who is standing for re-election in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and arrived in the Commons at the same time as Ms Thomson in 2015, made the unprompted outburst during a podcast interview. The party’s National Executive Committee ruled at the weekend it would not endorse Ms Thomson as a candidate for her former seat of Edinburgh West amid a police probe into property deals. Speaking to the Political Yeti Politics Podcast, Mr Mullin said: “I would like to indulge before I ask a question and just say personally how much I regret that Michelle Thomson is not running as a candidate. “She has been a very good friend of mine and I think she has been treated unjustly. I just wanted to put that on the record.” Asked by The Courier who has treated Ms Thomson unjustly, Mr Mullin said: “Two bodies. One is the press and one is the SNP. "I think in the first case, you will probably know that four newspapers had to print apologies because they were claiming things that were completely untrue and if you had competent journalists they could have found that out by working the phones. “There was also stuff on the TV that was completely untrue about business practices and the likes. “In terms of the SNP, we did not have proper policies in place where people could properly have matters dealt with quickly.” SNP conference passed a rule two years ago forbidding MPs from publicly criticising “a group decision, policy or another member of the group”. All 54 of the SNP’s sitting MPs have been endorsed as candidates. Ms Thomson, 52, resigned the party whip when it emerged she was at the centre of inquiries into alleged irregularities relating to property transactions. She said at the weekend that she was "very disappointed with the decision" banning her from selection before confirming she would not to put herself forward for election as an independent candidate. Ms Thomson added: "I have always made it clear that I have done nothing wrong and it is a matter of public record that it was the solicitor who was under investigation and not myself, that no charges have ever been brought and that I assisted Police Scotland on a purely voluntary basis." James Kelly, Scottish Labour’s general election campaign manager, said; “Nicola Sturgeon’s MPs have been a continuous source of embarrassment to the SNP, so it is no surprise to see one of them now standing up to defend her. Tory North East MSP Liam Kerr said: “This is the latest in a long line of embarrassing revelations for the SNP in relation to the Michelle Thomson saga.” The SNP declined to comment.

Dundee

Mary McLaren’s sister jailed for six months despite prison attack warning

December 9 2011

The pregnant sister of murdered Dundee woman Mary McLaren has been assaulted twice in jail after being recognised by inmates, Dundee Sheriff Court has been told. Solicitor John Boyle told Sheriff O'Carroll that the prison authorities were concerned for the safety of Michelle Roger (28), Cumnock Place. She was appearing at the court on Thursday to admit a string of serious charges. However Sheriff O'Carroll told Roger he had no alternative to a custodial sentence and jailed her for six months. Roger's mother Margaret had to be led from the court in tears as the sheriff announced the sentence. Sheriff O'Carroll sentenced her to 26 weeks' imprisonment after she admitted that on May 26 2010, at Lloyds Bar, she assaulted a woman by pushing her and slapping her, causing her to fall to the ground and strike her head, repeatedly punching and kicking her on the body and grabbing her by the hair, all to her injury. She also admitted that on January 14 this year, at Longhaugh Police Station, she shouted and swore and threatened violence, while on bail; and possessed a knife, while on bail. Roger further admitted that on August 29 this year, at the junction of Raglan Street and Lyon Street she behaved in a threatening or abusive manner and shouted and threatened a woman, while on bail; and breached a condition of bail not to approach or contact or attempt to approach or contact the woman, while on bail. She also admitted that on October 9 this year in Cowgate, she assaulted a female police officer, threw a jacket at her, and repeatedly kicked her on the leg and struggled with her, while on bail. Roger had appeared from custody for trial but instead admitted the final charge. Depute fiscal Paul Miele told the court that on January 14 Roger had banged on the door of Longhaugh Police station at 1am. She was threatening to kill another woman. She dropped her bag and an officer attempted to pick it up. In the following struggle with her a knife fell out of the bag. Roger then told police she was going to kill a woman and was arrested and charged. The previous year, on May 26, at 11.10pm, Roger spoke to a woman in Lloyds Bar, Seagate, and asked her to go to the toilet with her. The woman agreed but Roger accused her of speaking about her recently deceased sister, Mary McLaren. Continued... Mr Miele said Roger then pushed her to the floor and punched and kicked her. The victim's mother was concerned and asked someone to check and when he opened the door of the toilets, he saw Roger pulling the complainer across the floor by her hair. The fiscal said police were called and she told them: ''She was on about Mary so I pushed her away. I pushed her and slapped her and she fell and hit her head.'' In relation to the assault on October 9, Mr Miele said at 2.30am outside Deja Vu nightclub Roger had been refused entry several times but made one further attempt and police intervened. After being told to leave the area she threw her jacket at the police officer and kicked her on the right leg twice before struggling with officers and had to be restrained by handcuffs. Solicitor John Boyle told the court Ms Rogers had been told the court had run out of options for any community-based disposal. He said she appreciated she was appearing on four complaints and has been in custody but she would appreciate anything Sheriff O'Carroll could do to allow her to stay out of prison. ''Due to the high-profile circumstances of her sister's murder she is recognised and has had some difficulties while in the prison system," he said. He said in addition to verbal abuse she had been ''physically attacked on two occasions and has now been locked in a cell on her own as the prison authorities are concerned about her safety.'' He added: ''She has not had a pleasant experience in the four weeks she has been in custody.'' Mr Boyle said she was 14 weeks' pregnant and she had stopped drinking. However he conceded that she had not kept appointments with Tayside Alcohol Problem Service as, due to the medication she was on, she often slept in. Sheriff O'Carroll said: ''You have pled guilty to a string of offences over a period of over a year and a half and it is very regrettable that you have not taken advantage of several opportunities given to you by the courts. ''In all the circumstances there is no alternative to imprisonment.'' The sentence was backdated to November 1 when she was detained in custody.

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