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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...

Golf

Brother was right about some US Ryder Cup fans, says Willett

October 4 2016

Danny Willett believes his experience of some US fans at Hazeltine proved that his brother Pete’s infamous article was “in fact correct”. The Masters champion suffered a poor weekend at his first Ryder Cup - not winning a point in three matches - which he expressed in blunt terms when asked at the Team Europe press conference in the aftermath of the 17-11 loss to the USA how his first experience of the event had been. “Sh*t,” he said to laughs from his team mates and media. “You want me to elaborate? Really sh*t.” The article by his elder brother – claimed to be “satirical” - described US golf fans as “cretins” and was disowned by Willett and the European team prior to the event starting. However Willett suffered almost constant heckling through the week and tweeted about his “very strange week here at the Ryder Cup” “Tried my best but played poorly...unfortunately some American fans showed that @P_J_Willett was in fact correct,” he tweeted. “Nothing to blame my bad play on..,but still shows that sometimes fans don't know when to call it a day.. Shame really!!” The European team continued to play down the effect of the crowd at Hazeltine and praised the reaction of the US team and the majority of fans. Captain Darren Clarke gave the example of fans policing themselves on the Sunday. “Rory was taking his practice swing on 16 and as he was about to hit it, some guy shouted in the middle of his backswing,” he said. “The whole crowd there turned on the guy and pointed who he was out to security, and that guy was swiftly ejected. All that was all done by the American fans. “It's only the odd person that created this whole thing. While it was unsavoury and not the right thing to do, 99.9 percent of the crowd pointed straight at the guy and he was taken away. “So the crowd deserve a lot of credit for their policing of the situation as well.”

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

Golf

After Ryder Cup maelstrom, what next for rowdy golf fans?

October 4 2016

Football is a gentlemen's game played by rogues while rugby is a rogues' game played by gentlemen. If that's the case then what is golf? The most genteel of games is in the spotlight for the behaviour of fans at the Ryder Cup. The 2016 showdown - which saw America lift the coveted cup for the first time since 2008 - will be remembered as more than just a thrilling contest. It's already being labelled the most hostile in the competition's 89-year history, with groups of Team USA fans hurling abuse at European players. Rory McIlroy faced the brunt of the abuse, with a selection of fans shouting obscenities at him regarding his sex life and break-up with tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki. A fan was thrown out of Hazeltine National Golf Club after hurling insults at the Northern Irishman The brother of 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, Peter Willett, was heavily criticised prior to the tournament for an article he wrote that called American fans a "baying mob of imbeciles" and "fat, stupid, greedy and classless." While Danny Willett apologised for the piece before the event, calling it a "bad article written at a bad time", in the wake of the competition he tweeted that some American fans showed his brother was in fact correct. The players themselves - on both sides  - comported themselves admirably. The European golfers subjected to abuse managed to resist the temptation to respond in kind, while some American players urged their fans to remain quiet during play. Just how damaging can a hostile crowd be to a sportsman? Dr Fiona McConnachie is a sports psychology lecturer at Abertay University in Dundee. She says abusive fans who deliberately set out to distract or upset players can have a devastating effect on some competitors' game. "Players who have an 'external' style of focusing will become easily distracted by jeering," she explained. "If a player is thrown off course they start to ruminate over negative talk and focus on feelings of anger. "They then miss out on all the external information they need to play their next shot and also stop focusing internally on their performance plan." There are ways for athletes to reduce the amount of effect hecklers have, however. "Using a simple keyword can help the player get back their focus and control," she added. "Players can also use stress inoculation training whereby they train under increasing amounts of stressors that they have identified might be disruptive so they're able to get used to it and are less affected by it in competition. "It helps them get used to playing with external loud noise including jeering from opposition fans." Stuart Syme is the owner of Drumoig Golf Centre in Fife. Of the insults reported to have been thrown at European players he said: "I'm wary of taking these things at face value. I have good friends in America and the Ryder Cup was reported quite differently over there. That said some of the comments that were allegedly directed at Rory McIlroy were outrageous and completely indefensible. "What was heartening was the way the fans and players self policed. You had fans telling off the rowdy ones and the players were terrific. Reed and Spieth were excellent. They are both young, inexperienced guys who could have fanned the flames but instead of ramping it up they called for calm. Does he think golf fans are less respectful than they used to be?  "There's no doubt this generation has been brought up differently from the last," he continued. "They're more outspoken but by and large that's a good thing. I think with events like the Ryder Cup and the Open, a bigger issue is that hospitality has grown so huge. "You have a lot of people who are there with free drink all day and who may not ever have been to a golf match or be that interested in the game. They might have a few too many beers then wander out and not realise how golf fans are supposed to behave. "I think I'm right in saying this year's hospitality tent at the Ryder Cup was the biggest ever. The problem's not going to go away so I think to an extent we just have to live with it. "If you look at smaller events that attract more hardcore golf fans they don't have any of these problems. The Dunhill is coming up later this week and I bet there isn't a single incident at it."      

Dundee

McAvoy family call for ‘simple’ heart disease test

April 18 2015

The father of a former Arbroath SC footballer who died last year has called for a nationwide strategy to prevent more tragic cardiac-related deaths. Pete McAvoy died suddenly in his college room in the United States aged 22. The talented defender, who played for Herkimer Generals, is believed to have suffered a heart attack as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition. Every year 600 young people die as a result of undiagnosed cardiac conditions. Now his father Peter has backed a manifesto produced by Cardiac Risk in the Young, calling for free screening to identify heart conditions and improve research. Peter, 57, from Dundee, said: “Twelve young people are dying across the UK every week. “If they had a simple heart test they would have been diagnosed, could have had treatment and would still be alive today. “That is unbelievable and it is a nightmare for those of us who have gone through it.” Pete’s family want to see the lifesaving tests rolled out across the country through the NHS. Peter added: “The genetic condition that killed my son is something that could have been diagnosed.”

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.

Golf

Tee to Green: Donald the safe choice?

August 29 2016

The honeymoon is over for Darren Clarke, and the real business starts at lunchtime today. Clarke will name his three wildcard selections at Wentworth, thereby completing his European team who will defend the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine at the end of next month. After a pretty quiet ride so far, the journey gets significantly bumpier from here. Right up until last week, as some columnists breezily predicted, he seemed to have a pretty simple choice. But he hits a roadblock today no matter which names he reveals to the massed ranks of media in the lavish ballroom of the Wentworth clubhouse. As we’ve detailed before, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer remain stick-on selections. This remains a solid enough assessment. Kaymer hasn’t won since his US Open win of 2014 but has five top tens in the last two months. Westwood has just one top ten since his selection-affirming performance in the Masters, but he has an exemplary record in the Ryder Cup, particularly in performing despite slumps when playing for himself. In addition to this, Clarke already has five rookies automatically qualified. You don’t really want to have a situation where you field more than one all-rookie foursome or fourball partnership. Any more than six debutants, you’re probably having to do that. But he seemed bound to pick a rookie with his third and final pick, and this choice came down to Russell Knox and Thomas Pieters. This wasn’t really a serious discussion a week ago. Knox had all the advantages; fresh off a win in a top ranked PGA Tour event, the next in line on the world rankings, an ideal foursomes partner for someone with his solid, reliable tee to green game, and totally accustomed to American playing conditions. These advantages haven’t changed, despite Pieters’ victory in the Made in Denmark event at the weekend. Only the Belgian seems to have a momentum that’s ever so slightly familiar. Like Edoardo Molinari in 2010, or Stephen Gallacher in 2014, Pieters has done just about all he could do at the 11th hour. It was enough for them and one can imagine Clarke, who played with the Belgian on a watching brief for the first two days in Denmark and saw him shoot 62-67, has been seduced. Yet it wasn’t enough to pass Knox is the world rankings list. Furthermore, it doesn’t even compare to the Scot’s victory in the Travelers Championship two weeks ago. Don’t take my word for it. The Travelers was given a rating of 326 by the Official World Golf Rankings, a number measuring the strength of the field. Made In Denmark had a rating of 89 and last week’s Czech Open, where Pieters was second, was rated at 55. Even when combined, Pieters’ last two tournaments don’t rank half as difficult as Knox’s win was, by the same measurement we’re using for the automatic qualifiers. Pieters is not a rookie in US conditions. He had four years at Illinois when at college and was consistently ranked towards the top of the World Amateur Rankings when he was there. But he has barely played there as a professional. Before his recent run, he wasn’t even in the conversation for a wild card, his sole performance of note being a 2nd place at Abu Dhabi as far back as January. Clarke certainly seemed impressed with Pieters in Denmark - how could you not be? But the question with the Belgian always was; if you're not picking Knox, a rookie but with all his advantages I've listed above, are you really going to pick another rookie with even less experience instead? Pieters' main attraction was as a political pick - a signal from the European Tour, through Clarke, that playing in Europe is still the best way to get a place on Team Europe. Those strength-of-field comparison ratings underline the European Tour’s problem at the moment - the strong and moneyed events are invariably on the PGA Tour and more of Europe’s stars are gravitating there as a result. The Tour has few tools left to keep their best players competing in more events at home. Ryder Cup selection is one of them. Yet Clarke is not really in this to be an advertisement for the European Tour, his legacy - specifically given that Europe have won four of the five Ryder Cups played this century - depends on him winning. Being an away captain, he probably has less wriggle room to pick a extra rookie like Montgomerie did with Molinari at Celtic Manor in 2010. Word is that Darren also has been poring over the stats in a McGinley-type frenzy, and from them he'll know that last three European rookie wildcards - Molinari, Gallacher and Nicolas Colsaerts - returned just two points between them for their captains. In that respect, maybe tried and tested Ryder Cup points-winners Luke Donald or Graeme McDowell would be more useful to Clarke. Donald's sudden collapse in odds yesterday would suggest strongly that this is his thinking. The Englishman was left out of McGinley's team despite his Ryder Cup record - almost invincible in foursomes, trusted by Jose Maria Olazabal to lead out the comeback at Medinah, never on a losing side in four appearances. That same record, despite a modest couple of years and only recent hints of a return to form, makes Donald the safe choice for Clarke.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

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

Perth & Kinross

Trio of top tourism awards for Perthshire

March 9 2015

Three proved to be the magic number for Perthshire after the region won a trio of top tourism awards. Craigatin House and Courtyard, the Enchanted Forest and former chairman of Gleneagles, Peter Lederer, were among the winners at the national final of the Scottish Thistle Awards. The awards celebrate tourism businesses or suppliers who have gone the extra mile to offer an outstanding visitor experience. Peter Lederer who was instrumental in bringing the Ryder Cup to Gleneagles was named the winner of the prestigious Silver Thistle Award, which is given to an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to Scotland’s tourism industry. Tourism minister Fergus Ewing praised Peter’s “well deserved” win. He said: “For many years he has worked tirelessly to promote the tourism industry at home and overseas. “He was instrumental in the successful Scottish bid for the Ryder Cup and, since then, has worked on behalf of the tourism industry and of Scotland to ensure that Scotland cemented its reputation as the home of golf.” Pitlochry-based Craigatin House and Courtyard was named Most Hospitable B&B or Guest House. Special mention was also given to owners Martin and Andrea Anderson for their active role in leading and developing the overall tourism offering of Pitlochry. Martin said: “Winning such an industry award is an honour, extremely motivational and a great endorsement for us and our hard-working team. It also serves as valid confirmation that striving daily to deliver the very best in quality, service and experience to our valued Craigatin House and Courtyard guests is recognised.” The Enchanted Forest, which recently enjoyed one of its busiest seasons on record, took home the ScotRail Best Event or Festival Award. In 2014 the spectacular outdoor sound and light show at Faskally Wood welcomed around 45,000 visitors. Producer Derek Allan said: “The Enchanted Forest continues to grow in popularity, setting the bar creatively for large scale son et lumiere events in Scotland, and we are very proud of the high standard of show we bring to the public from year to year.”

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