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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

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

Jaguar launches baby E-Pace SUV

July 19 2017

Hot on the heels of the remarkable F-Pace, Jaguar has launched its second SUV. The E-Pace is a smaller five-seater designed to take on the Audi Q3 and Q5, BMW X3, Volvo’s upcoming XC60, and its own stablemate the Range Rover Evoque. Jaguar held the most literal car launch I’ve ever witness, hiring stunt driver Terry Jones to put the car through a barrel roll at an event in London – and bagging a Guinness world record in the process. Not many owners are likely to require their E-Pace to be capable of such displays of aerial tomfoolery but it’s very impressive nonetheless. Of more practical value is the knowledge the car should, Jaguar hopes, be on sale before the end of this year with a starting price tag of £28,500. All but entry level models will come with four-wheel drive as standard and there’s a wealth of technology and driver features to tempt people away from their German marques and into buying British. Jaguar is positioning the E-Pace as a much more sports-orientated model than its larger sister with drivers able to set up their own personalised throttle, steering and transmission settings. The engine line-up will include a 300PS petrol unit producing a 0-60mph time of under six seconds. Five powertrains will be offered in the E-Pace, across three petrol and two diesel engines. All are Ingenium units built at Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in the West Midlands – the E-Pace will be the first Jaguar with a totally Ingenium engine line-up. The E-Pace itself, however, will be built not in Britain but in Austria. Such is the wave of popularity Jaguar Land Rover is riding now that its British manufacturing facilities are operating at close to full capacity. Its exterior design is bolder than that of the F-Pace and said to be evolved directly from the F-Type sports car. Jaguar is also promising the very latest connectivity for E-Pace owners. The car’s 4G wi-fi hotspot will provide content streaming through up to eight devices simultaneously, while a Touch Pro infotainment system will allow occupants to access their favourite smart device apps through the car. The E-Pace is built on the same platform as the Range Rover Evoque and so is a similar size. It’s 4,395mm long and 1,984mm wide, slightly larger than the 4,370mm x 1,900mm Evoque. Jaguar says it will seat five in comfort, with generous rear legroom. The E-Pace has exceptional boot space compared with the Evoque: 577 litres with the rear seats up, compared with just 420 litres for the Range Rover. Despite its name, there isn’t an electric model in the E-Pace line up. That honour is reserved for the I-Pace, which is due to go on sale next year, and looks so impressive it ought to have Tesla trembling.

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

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.

In Video: New SpaceX rocket roars into life

January 25 2018

SpaceX has fired up its newest, biggest rocket in a critical launch pad test, advancing towards a long-anticipated test flight possibly in just a week.The Falcon Heavy briefly roared into life for the first time at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.All three boosters – 27 engines in all – were tested. The thunderous booms could be heard at the press site three miles away, as huge white clouds of engine exhaust billowed into a clear blue sky.SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk was happy with the test, tweeting: “Generated quite a thunderhead of steam. Launching in a week or so.”

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a 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.

Property

A home with space to spare

March 30 2017

Steph and Douglas Mitchell looked at scores of houses before deciding they wanted a new build home. “We just liked the idea of a house no one had ever lived in before,” Steph explains. “We were able to choose all the decor, the kitchen and bathrooms. It could all be done to our taste.” She laughs, adding: “Five years on there are one or two wee bits I wish we’d done differently. The downside of choosing everything is if you end up not liking something you’ve no one to blame but yourself.” The handsome, five bedroom detached home is part of the Beechgrove Rise development by Richmond Homes in the Fife market town of Cupar. “We moved in five years ago,” Steph continues. “Ours was one of the last houses in the development to be completed, which was good because it meant we didn’t have long to wait for the road to be finished and streetlights to become operational. “The people who bought the very first houses had something like five years of building work going on around them.” Steph (28) and Douglas (40) share the house with their four-year old son Harris and year-old spaniel Sam. They chose Cupar because of its proximity to family. “Both of our families are spread between Newburgh and Cupar,” Steph says. “So we wanted to be somewhere that was close to them, especially when Harris is young.” Douglas works in the oil industry and stays in a flat in Aberdeen during the week, returning to the family home at weekends. The house lies near the end of the development, which is in a quiet cul-de-sac towards the western edge of Cupar. It’s south facing, and the entrance leads into a large hall with impressive wooden staircase. The main living area is an open plan kitchen/dining/living space with French doors out to the back garden. There’s also an impressive lounge with a wood burning stove, but Steph admits it’s used mostly for special occasions. “I thought we’d use that room more than we do but having this lovely open plan space means it’s where we spend virtually all our time.” What was intended as a dining room has become a playroom for Harris, with his toys scattered everywhere, and Douglas’s study is next door. There’s an integrated double garage, WC and utility room downstairs. On the first floor are five bedrooms, two en suite. At 19’7” by 18’ the master bedroom is enormous – and those dimensions exclude the en suite and dressing room, both of which are as big as the bedrooms in some new build homes. “The master bedroom was one of the things that really attracted us to the house,” Steph says. “Having such a big bedroom is fantastic. We’ll probably never get something that good again.” With Douglas working away much of the week, the five-bedroom house is simply too big for Steph and Harris, so the couple are planning to look for a smaller house. “We’d be happy to buy another newbuild,” Steph reckons. “We’ve had a positive experience with this one. “I think what would be ideal for both of us, though, would be an old house that had been modernised inside. “That would give us the best of both worlds.” jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk 22 Beechgrove Rise, Cupar, is on sale through CKD Galbraith for offers over £475,000.  

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