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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

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.

UK & World

The internet is fascinated by this garlic which is just one solid clove all the way round

March 23 2018

It’s every vampire’s worst nightmare, a piece of garlic so monstrous it’s just one solid clove all the way round.Or does its solidity in fact mean this garlic is cloveless?The garlic in question was found by Reddit user vseznayka, who told the Press Association: “My first reaction was to doubt if it was really garlic. I had to cut it and smell it to make sure.And while thousands appeared enthralled by the images of this unique seasoning, apparently there’s a very simple explanation.“There is a type of garlic called monobulb and apparently it’s very common in some places,” said vseznayka.Thousands commented on the bulbous foodstuff, with GalacticCarpenter saying, “You’ve hit the motherclove” while GuyGoma said: “Years working in kitchens, never seen that before… Wow”.There you have it, no need to panic if you pull one of these out of the bag. Unless you’re a vampire, of course.


‘I was very scared’ cyclist tells of shock at Lochee bag theft

May 15 2013

A Dundee mother has told of her panic and shock as she chased a man who had robbed her as she cycled home from work. Bayarmaa Medley, 42, was making her way from Ninewells Hospital to her Lochee home when the male ran up to her from behind and grabbed her handbag from the bicycle’s basket. Ms Medley, a genetic biologist at the hospital, said she had screamed in vain for help before setting off after the raider. Despite her efforts, the man escaped with her handbag, leaving Ms Medley “angry and scared”. She said: “I was cycling back home and it was between half five and six at night. I crossed Lochee Road and went on to a path which is like a hill up to Coupar Street. “I was pushing hard because it is quite steep and I heard a male voice from behind me. He was shouting ‘push, push’ or something like that, I can’t remember his words. “I didn’t really pay any attention and I wasn’t sure if it was one person or several people. I didn’t look up at the voice.” Ms Medley continued her journey on to Gordon Street when the man struck on Friday. She said: “I heard these very, very loud footsteps behind me, running. I immediately panicked and wondered what was happening. “I looked round and the guy almost jumped into me and grabbed my bag and ran away back around the corner. The bag was in the basket and he saw the opportunity. “I felt terrible, I was shocked. I screamed and I couldn’t even move. I started shouting ‘help, help, help’, hoping that somebody would come out of their house but there was nobody.” Although shocked at the robbery, Ms Medley started running after the man, who managed to escape. She said: I don’t know what I was doing. It was just my reaction to run after him. “I ran after him on to Lochee Road. This guy was approaching and I asked him to help me contact the police, which he did.” Ms Medley, who lost bank cards and personal possessions including a mobile phone in the robbery, said she was still coming to terms with her ordeal. She said: “After it, I was quite angry. It was daylight and I was going home. He had been standing there and watching me. It made me very angry to be robbed like that. When I came home I was very scared.” Police have launched an investigation into the May 10 incident and ask anyone with information to call them on 101.


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.

Perth & Kinross

Perth property boom sees homes sold in seven days

April 8 2015

The property market in Perth has become one of the hottest in Scotland, with homes going under offer in an average of just seven days. The country’s biggest solicitor-estate agent Aberdein Considine said that the pace in which properties are changing hands is almost unheard of and similar to levels in Aberdeen during peak periods for the oil and gas industry. The firm’s announcement comes as Perthshire Solicitors Property Centre (PSPC) also revealed an upturn in the local housing market. Its first quarter sales totalled nearly £30 million with 61 properties being exchanged in March, compared to just 48 the year before. James McKay, who heads up Aberdein Considine’s Perth branch on High Street, said the spring market in the city had been fuelled by low mortgage rates. The change from Stamp Duty to a new Scottish system the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax has eased the tax burden on those buying homes below £300,000, making it a true “buyer’s market”. Mr McKay said the average price of a detached home is now just less than £260,000 in Perth and Kinross. “As a national firm, we get a good feel for the market across Scotland,” he said. “What we are seeing in Perth at the moment is the type of market we usually only see in Aberdeen. “In the north-east it has become usual for homes to go in six to 10 days. However, it usually takes a bit longer in Perth. “Our average on the market-to-under offer timescale in Perth was just six-and-a-half days in March, which is remarkable.” He added: “Areas including Oakbank, Viewlands, Craigie, Kinnoull and Scone are particularly popular at the moment. “Buyers appear to be keen to buy in these areas due to schools, bus routes and access to services. The middle market between £100,000 and £250,000 is particularly active.” Mr McKay added that low mortgage rates appeared to be the driving factor. “There is every sign the Perth market will continue to remain active in these areas,” he said. PSPC manager Anne Begg said: “We are delighted to see, in black and white, the promising sales statistics from the first quarter of the year.” She said that although March had seen a boost, overall sales for the first part of 2015 were slightly down. “The good news is that the average price tag being achieved is ahead of this time last year. Values really are holding their own, which is promising for those considering selling up this spring.” Ms Begg said that people were queuing for the firm’s Help to Buy open morning. “With winter in the past, we’re seeing lots of evidence that countless people are ready to make a move,” she added.

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


VIDEO: Tay tornado causes whirlwind of twister tweets

July 9 2014

A tornado, a sight more common in Kentucky than Tayside, was spotted near Dundee. The cylindrical cloud moved across the River Tay and passed Dundee before heading into Perthshire. The vortex was spotted by hundreds, prompting a whirlwind of twister tweets. It left no destruction in its wake, however, and experts are keen to stress that the tornado posed no danger to life or property Nicola Maxey from the Met Office, said there was no need for people to panic. The weather expert said: “Small tornadoes and funnel clouds are actually quite regular occurrences. “They form around an area of intense low pressure and we do see them fairly often to be honest. There have been several sightings over the last couple of weeks, but people certainly should not be panicking,” she added.

UK & World

‘It’s crazy!’ plea for calm as fuel panic increases

March 30 2012

Motorists are being urged to hold their nerve as fears of a tanker driver strike continue to spark panic buying at petrol stations across the country. First Minister Alex Salmond stressed the need for ''cool heads'' as he said: ''I think more Government preparation is what is required to promote calm and orderly behaviour in the population at large.'' Even though no strike has been called yet and there would need to be seven days' notice of such a move sales of both petrol and diesel have spiked after the UK Government advised people to keep their tanks topped up. Petrol sales shot up 81% and diesel 43%, according to the Petrol Retailers Association which represents around 5,500 UK garages. Across Courier country there were long queues on Thursday as drivers laid siege to petrol stations with many running dry. And there are reports of similar scenes today, as motorists look to fill up for the weekend. The situation was particularly bad in Fife and Dundee on Thursday, with long queues of vehicles. One motorist in Fife described the situation as ''chaos''. Moves to start talks to avert a strike have been stepped up, but the conciliation service Acas said discussions between the Unite union and the seven distribution companies will not take place until Monday. The UK Government's Cobra emergency committee met on Thursday to discuss the issue, with Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney taking part. Speaking at First Minister's Questions at Holyrood, Mr Salmond said: ''I want to reinforce those who are calling for cool heads in this situation. I would urge both sides to resolve the dispute, for which no strike dates have yet been called. The priority is surely preventing a strike, not issuing unwise advice about jerry cans.''Long queues in DundeeDundee was in a fuel-buying frenzy on Thursday evening as motorists swamped filling stations in defiance of pleas to stick to their normal purchasing habits. As motorists bought more fuel, supplies at filling stations ran out. A tour of filling stations across the city found the two Asda sites at Milton of Craigie and Kirkton closed as their stocks of petrol and diesel emptied. The Esso station at Barnhill ran out of unleaded and demand at Sainsbury's and Tesco Kingsway was so overwhelming that bus services were disrupted. Tailbacks of vehicles waiting to fill up at the pumps extended so far and caused so much congestion that National Express Dundee services were unable to keep to timetables at Claypotts and Kingsway Retail Park. Sainsbury's management saw the traffic problem become so bad that they set up an emergency detour system round their car park for vehicles queuing for the filling station to prevent the road network outside from becoming gridlocked. Tesco's other stations at Riverside and South Road were also very busy, with queues of anxious motorists spilling well beyond the forecourts. To preserve stocks and slow down the rate of sale, Tesco shut individual pumps a tactic also adopted by Morrisons. The independent stations whose prices are slightly higher than the supermarkets were less busy but they did report brisker trade than normal. A spokeswoman for Tesco said: ''Customers are buying more fuel and we are experiencing an increase in sales in some areas. Our customers can be assured our fuel supply chain is working hard to meet the increase in demand.'' Asda claimed their competitively priced fuel had prompted customers to fill their tanks at their stations. She said: ''We're working flat out behind the scenes to keep petrol in stock. We apologise to our customers in Dundee if they find some pumps are running low. ''We'd encourage customers to heed the advice of the AA. There are no strike dates planned and there would be seven days' notice should there be any industrial action so there's no need for customers to change their petrol buying routines.'' Morrisons said they were well prepared with strong supplies, but to make stocks last as long as possible the company pleaded with customers not to panic-buy. A spokeswoman stated: ''We encourage customers to stick to their normal buying behaviour.'' At Morrisons, support worker Douglas Meldrum (30) admitted he had filled up in case there is a fuel drivers' strike. He added: ''I think people are right to be concerned but they are also panic-buying because of what happened last time.'' Damien Birch (43) of Blairgowrie said he had travelled to the store because fuel was cheaper than in the Perthshire town. He was also filling up jerry cans as a precaution. Fred Jackson (66) of Stobswell said: ''Everybody is dependent on their cars, so people will want petrol especially coming up to the Easter weekend.'''Crazy' scenes in FifeDrivers laid siege to filling stations across Fife with a number of forecourts running dry. Many motorists ignored pleas for calm and the panic-buying brought many garage forecourts to a stand-still with supplies at some garages running out by early afternoon. In scenes reminiscent of the fuel protests of 2000, long queues were being reported in the morning at various petrol stations as people filled up their vehicles. One of the worst affected areas was west Fife where one motorist described the situation in the afternoon as ''chaos''. At lunchtime the forecourt at Shell in Rosyth was packed with queuing cars. By 2pm Asda at Halbeath had completely run out of fuel and was turning cars away. Tesco at Duloch, Dunfermline, had a tanker in at lunchtime with the waiting queues of traffic stretching right around the car park. ''It's just panic!'' one motorist told The Courier. ''It actually makes no sense. People are sitting here in queues with the engines running using up fuel. It's crazy!'' At the Wemyssfield filling station in Kirkcaldy, a spokeswoman said it had been ''very busy'' and she expected supplies of all petrol to run out by the end of the day. The Jet filling station in Bothwell Street, Dunfermline, reported a busy spell on Wednesday evening but by Thursday it was said to be ''not so bad''. A spokeswoman said: ''It's been busier than normal today with some people filling right up, but we seem to be keeping on top of the situation.'' Fife provost Frances Melville Tweeted to say there were long queues at Morrisons in Glenrothes, and panic gripped motorists in St Andrews, with the Shell garage at Bridge Street running out of diesel by lunchtime. Fraser Renfrew, a driver with St Andrews Taxis, told The Courier he had managed to fill up in the morning. But by afternoon it was taking at least half an hour to queue at St Andrews Morrisons and he was ''angered'' to see people filling up jerrycans. ''I think that's wrong and I think people are panicking prematurely,'' he said. Mike Taggart, the proprietor of Crail and East Neuk Taxis, said he was not unduly worried about a shortage of fuel at this stage because ''fuel could always be got from somewhere''. But the former haulier, who helped organise the fuel blockades of 2000, said he would rather the strikes went ahead if it helped bring ''crippling'' fuel prices down. Queues of people drummed their fingers impatiently while the tills rang red hot in Angus. Waiting at the Shell garage in Forfar, teaching assistant Lorna Flett said she fears the worst for her wallet and her watch, as a daily commute to Montrose could add to the already fair length of time she spends at the pumps. She said: ''I'm already £100 a month worse off than when I started my job a couple of years ago. The hassle of paying even more because of someone else's problem, plus this is making me late home, is a bit hard to swallow.'' Arbroath taxi driver Bob Malcom said he was not pleased with the rise in petrol costs, and he he had also taken to filling up outside peak hours. ''You notice the extra fiver here and there every week, and there's a few times every year when those extra fivers get added on to your fuel bill,'' he said. ''I fill up at night which is all right if you can do it.''