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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

Perth & Kinross

Call for flute band march in Perth marking Battle of the Boyne to be halted

May 12 2015

A call to ban a flute band from marching through Perth to mark the Battle of the Boyne has been made by a local councillor. Peter Barrett described the presence of a 30-strong band as “excessive” and claimed the procession, if allowed to go ahead, should be forced to march in silence. “The applicants have given no explanation as to why this event cannot be combined with any other similar event despite immediately departing for a similar event in Broxburn,” said Mr Barrett in a formal objection to the council’s licensing committee which will debate the plan on Thursday. “Given that the stated purpose of the procession is ‘the annual Boyne celebration’ it is clear the purpose can be achieved elsewhere by the same participants and permission should not be given.” The plan is for 40 people to march from Tulloch Park on Saturday June 27 to lay a wreath in Perth, accompanied by the Castlemilk Flute Band. The application for permission is on behalf of the St Andrew’s True Blues LOL (Loyal Orange Lodge) 209 Perth and the march would start at 8.30am and make its way down Crieff Road, Dunkeld Road, Barrack Street, Atholl Street, North Methven Street, High Street, Scott Street, South Street, Tay Street and through the dry arch to lay a wreath at the Cameronian monument. After the national anthem the group would disperse for a main rally in Broxburn. Organiser David Walters said in the application the date was particularly significant to the organisation and added that they had marched along the same route before. He said that trained stewards would accompany the march and said there had been no difficulties or tensions in the recent past associated with holding the procession. Mr Barrett said: “The presence of a 30-strong flute band from Castlemilk is excessive for a procession of 40 pedestrians and seems unnecessary for the purpose of a wreath laying.” The police have no objections as long as a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order is brought into force. Mr Walters was unable to be contacted by The Courier for his reaction to Mr Barratt’s comments.

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

Tayside Contracts rejects claims it is ‘freeloading on council premises’

December 6 2014

A row has broken out after a councillor claimed Tayside Contracts refused to pay rent to the local authority for depots in Perth and Kinross. Peter Barrett told The Courier that the result is a £250,000 “hole” in the council’s budget. The Liberal Democrat councillor described the situation as a “bourach” and demanded Tayside Contracts’ chief executive appear before the strategic policy and resources committee to explain the company’s reluctance to pay “fair” rents. He said: “There is no transparency or equity about the current arrangements with Tayside Contracts. “The existing agreement with Tayside Contracts is a bourach and the revised agreement has failed to resolve the problem.” Under the original minute of agreement from 1996, Tayside Contracts paid loans charges for the properties it occupied. Since the loans were paid back, however, no rent has been forthcoming. Mr Barrett said negotiations between the council and the company stalled when Tayside Contracts insisted the historic basis of charging was retained. He added: “Times have changed. The governance of the three councils’ (Perth and Kinross, Dundee and Angus) commercial trading arm needs to be something far better than a 20-year-old, back-of-a-fag-packet arrangement. “At the moment it looks awfully like Tayside Contracts are an organisation out of control the tail is wagging the dog. “Why should Tayside Contracts, with an annual turnover of £66 million, be freeloading on council premises? “The explanation we got about why Tayside Contracts are effectively enjoying state aid and a significant financial subsidy from Perth and Kinross Council is not satisfactory.” Angus Milne, the company’s head of finance, dismissed Mr Barrett’s allegations and stressed the main contractor with Perth and Kinross Council pays all capital charges and running costs at its depots across Tayside. “This is done in accordance with the original 1996 minute of agreement, which is currently under review,” he said. “All these costs and charges are included in our published annual accounts. “This is all in accordance with the minute of agreement under which Tayside Contracts was established by the three councils concerned.” A Perth and Kinross Council spokesman explained the background, saying: “The use of council property by Tayside Contracts without rental payment, principally for the supply of services to the constituent councils in their individual areas, was agreed in 1996 in terms of a minute of agreement signed by all the parties. “The terms of that minute of agreement have recently been reviewed and, in anticipation of a move to a situation where rentals were charged, a rental of £250,000 was suggested in respect of the Inveralmond depot, Perth. “However, agreement was not reached to impose rental charges in the reviewed minute of agreement so that rental payment has not been pursued. “Tayside Contracts is a successful shared service organisation and any profit it makes is returned to the constituent local authorities.”

Business news

JD Sports and Holland & Barrett in long-term Overgate centre move

November 27 2013

Dundee’s retailing landscape is set to change after the Overgate confirmed it had secured two major retailers on long-term leases. Retailer JD Sports will move into the centre’s largest unoccupied store the former Gap unit on the ground floor next spring after taking a 10-year option on the 7,175 sq ft outlet. The move will see the closure of the company’s other two stores in the city, one on Murraygate and the other already in the Overgate centre, as it brings together its twin operations on a single site. Warren Thompson, acquisitions managers at JD Sports, said: “Overgate Shopping Centre provides an opportunity for JD to invest in a large store in Dundee. “The store will open in spring 2014 and allows us to consolidate trade from two existing sites in a key market for the company.” Meanwhile, health food and supplements group Holland & Barrett has taken out a 10-year lease on a 1,900 sq ft store which will open next month. The retailer has more than 620 outlets across the UK and Ireland including two others in the city at the Wellgate Centre and at Brook Street in Broughty Ferry. Emma Hobbs, Holland & Barrett’s Group brand manager, said: “We look forward to welcoming new customers to our latest store.” Katherine Armstead, senior portfolio manager for Scotland for Overgate owner Land Securities, said it was pleased to have secured the new lettings. She said: “It’s great that we are able to announce the arrival of these two retailers to Overgate Shopping Centre. “JD Sports is a household name on the UK high street and it’s extremely encouraging that it has decided to open a flagship store in Dundee. I’m sure this will be a firm favourite with shoppers when it opens in the New Year. “Holland & Barrett is also an excellent addition to the centre and it will complement the wide variety of stores already trading in Overgate.”

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

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.

UK & World

Cardboard swastika found in soldier’s home, court told

March 15 2018

A cardboard swastika was found on a windowsill at the barracks home of a serving British soldier accused of being a member of a banned neo-Nazi group, a court has heard.Private Mark Barrett also had a photograph on his phone, taken at a different military base in the UK, showing a burning cross in a garden.The 25-year-old married father and Royal Anglian Regiment colleague Lance Corporal Mikko Vehvilainen, 33, are on trial accused of being members of National Action.A 23-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is also charged with membership of the group which was banned by the Government in December 2016.Barrett’s barrister told jurors, when the case opened, that they would have to decide whether the soldier was “a casual racist or a committed fanatic”.The jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday heard how military and civilian police searched his accommodation at Dhekalia station, Alexander Barracks, Cyprus, in 2017, and found the hand-sized makeshift swastika.Officers also found a spiral-bound notebook with another swastika on the front, and written in German on an inside page was the phrase “Do not mix the blood of a race horse with that of a cart horse”.Karen Robinson, prosecuting, said: “The page has been signed by Mark Barrett.”Inside a black diary, also found in Barrett’s house, was the handwritten phrase: “God almighty created man in the image of a blond-haired, blue-eyed man, with the capability to show rose of cheek (n****rs can’t blush).”Ms Robinson described an image which jurors heard was taken at Kendrew barracks, Rutland, on April 22 2017, and found on a mobile phone seized at Barrett’s work station.She said: “It shows a male pointing a bow and arrow towards a target at the end of the garden, with a burning cross, slightly ahead of him.”The court heard that despite being searched on arrest in Cyprus on September 5 2017, Barrett was given back his wallet after “nothing evidential” was – at that time – found inside, according to officers at the scene.Barrett then took a bank card from his wallet asked for it and car keys to be be passed to his wife, who was to remain on the base.RAF police officer Sergeant Christopher Moss, giving evidence on a video-link from the island, said: “He handed me a Santander debit card and car keys so they could be handed to his wife, via a welfare officer.”When the wallet was searched by police back in the UK, two National Action leaflets were discovered inside, the court heard.Colin Aylott, Barrett’s barrister, asked Sgt Moss: “Since you made your statement have you been made aware within the wallet there were, in fact, folded up within it, two National Action leaflets subsequently found in a search of his wallet that took place in the UK?”The RAF officer replied: “I was not aware at all, no.”Another military police officer, Corporal Thomas Dutton, said Barrett was escorted by himself and a colleague to RAF Akrotiri, and they stayed with him throughout the five-hour flight to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, and on to a police station in Coventry.Asked how many times Barrett, formerly of Kendrew Barracks, Rutland, had been out of his sight, Cpl Dutton replied: “Impossible to say exactly, but minimal.”Vehvilainen, an Army trainer from Sennybridge Camp, Powys, is also accused of possession of a terrorist manual – the manifesto of Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik – and two counts of stirring up racial hatred connected to forum posts.His barrister Pavlos Panayi QC told the jury on Wednesday it was “not in dispute that he is a racist”, but that did not make him a criminal.The other male is also charged with three counts of possession of documents likely to be useful to terrorists and distributing terrorism material.All three deny wrongdoing, and the trial continues.

Perth & Kinross

Delay to huge investment deal could see Tayside and Fife ‘left behind’

May 21 2018

Tayside and Fife risk being “left behind” because of the failure of ministers to agree an investment package worth up to £1.8 billion to the area. A wish-list of projects to create jobs and improve the transport system for the Tay Cities Deal was put forward by local authorities nearly 18 months ago. The delay to the final deal being signed off by the UK and Scottish governments is preventing councils from forging ahead with economy-boosting schemes, say the Liberal Democrats. More than 50 projects are included in the joint submission from Dundee, Fife, Angus and Perth and Kinross councils, which are hoped to create 15,000 jobs. Peter Barrett, a Scottish Liberal Democrat councillor in Perth, said the delay is “beginning to have a serious impact” on councils. “There are a number of projects that we are keen to pursue, but the delays from both the Scottish and UK Governments are holding us back,” said Mr Barrett, who sits on the umbrella body for Scottish councils COSLA. “It would be tragic for the Tay Cities region to be left behind while other parts of Scotland steam ahead.” Mr Barrett said Perth and Kinross Council has already had to delay setting its capital budget from February to June, with the prospect of it being pushed back further. That means vital projects like the Cross Tay Link Road are in limbo, with a knock-on effect for spending elsewhere in the budget. If the link road is not covered by the deal then other works like building new schools “could be in jeopardy”, Mr Barrett said. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has written to the Prime Minister and First Minister telling them to “get this deal out of the doldrums and deliver for the Tay Cities region”. “This delay is letting communities down,” Mr Rennie added. Councillors are asking for funding through the city deal to capitalise on the multi-billion pound oil decommissioning industry, as well as transport improvements and investment in businesses and the arts. Lord Duncan, the UK minister, told The Courier last summer that he hoped the deal would be place in early 2018. Sources have suggested the heads of terms agreement between the two administrations could be completed next month. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Positive discussions on the Tay Cities Region Deal continue to take place between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the regional partners. “We hope to be able to reach an agreement as soon as possible.” A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Negotiations are active on a deal with Tay Cities. “Just last week, officials engaged with Dundee University on biomedical proposals and Perth and Kinross council on plastics recycling. “We are working with all partners to ensure that the result delivers for people and businesses across the whole of the Tay Valley area.”

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