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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.

Scotland

Dundee University disease research to receive £14m investment

May 15 2012

Work at Dundee University on new drugs to treat major diseases is set for a £14 million boost. The four-year funding package will safeguard 50 jobs and support research into cancer, arthritis, lupus, hypertension and Parkinson's disease. The announcement has been welcomed by Science and Universities Minister David Willetts, who said: "Collaboration between the life sciences industry and academia is vital for the development of new treatments and leverages significant private funding into our research base. "This investment will continue the excellent work taking place at the university on major global diseases, helping to bring benefits for patients and the economy." Six major pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, are putting up the funding, which will total £14.4 million between this year and 2016. They have already come together in a consortium known as the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT), which is thought to be the world's largest collaboration between the academic community and the pharmaceutical industry. Under the DSTT, 15 research teams have been set up at the university. Professor Sir Philip Cohen, co-founder of the DSTT, said: "Collaborations between academic laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry typically last a few years. Therefore to maintain and expand support for the DSTT from 1998 until at least 2016 is unprecedented and remarkable. "It shows how valuable the collaboration has been for the pharmaceutical industry."'World-class basic science'The latest funding takes the consortium's financial backing to £50 million since it began. It is widely regarded as a model for how academia and industry can interact productively and was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in 2006. Professor Sir John Savill, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: "We are proud to continue our support of a project that is greatly accelerating pharmaceutical drug discovery programmes for major diseases." From July the new director of the division will be Professor Dario Alessi. He said: "I am delighted that the agreement has been renewed, as this offers further potential for us to translate our recent research findings and ideas into new drug therapies for the treatment of many diseases. "The university is committed to the translation of world-class basic science for health and economic benefits. "Renewal of this collaboration with six of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies is a vote of confidence in that strategy and in Dundee's leadership position in biomedical research." Scientists are working on new drugs that target enzymes called kinases and the ubiquitin system in the body. Ubiquitin is a small molecule that acts as the "kiss of death" for proteins.'Successful collaboration'The university is the world's biggest centre for this type of study, with more than 200 scientific and support staff. Kinase drug discovery accounts for about 30% of the research and development budget of the pharmaceutical industry and more than 50% of global cancer drug discovery. The drug Gleevec, which has transformed a previously fatal form of leukaemia into a manageable disease, is one example of a kinase-targeting drug which has been introduced to the market in recent years. Speaking for the pharmaceutical companies in the consortium, Dr Malcolm Skingle of GlaxoSmithKline said: "This has been a very successful collaboration over the past 14 years and we are delighted to see it continue. "This project has shown the benefits that can come from pharmaceutical companies working hand in hand with top-flight research at the university."

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

News

Deep oceans could provide new medicine for cancer

May 17 2013

Micro-organisms in the world’s oceans could produce cancer cures and antibiotics, according to researchers. Academics at Strathclyde University are leading the SeaBioTech project to uncover chemicals and compounds in the sea which could be used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and industrial chemistry industries. The four-year project, headed by Professor Brian McNeil, has been awarded £6.3 million in EU funding. The biodiversity of the oceans and seas is known to be far greater than that on land but scientists know relatively little about its potential resources. Professor McNeil, of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Science, said: “We’re looking to identify new products from the marine environment, such as antibiotics and find ways to sustainably manufacture them.”

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.

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

Angus & The Mearns

GlaxoSmithKline’s £110 million investment in Montrose will bring jobs boost

July 27 2016

Angus has been given a major economic boost with news that GlaxoSmithKline is to make a major investment in its Montrose operation. The 450-job site is to receive spending of £110 million for a new, state-of-the-art facility for the manufacture of respiratory active ingredients. Overall, GSK is spending a total of £275m at Montrose, Barnard Castle in County Durham and Ware in Hertfordshire, in a significant new investment in its UK manufacturing network. The move also brushes aside Brexit jitters that the UK's departure from the EU would discourage industries from investing on these shores. The spending in the UK will boost production and support delivery of GSK's latest innovative respiratory and large molecule biological medicines. The vast majority of these products will be for export to global markets. GSK has a significant manufacturing presence in the UK, with nine sites employing approximately 6,000 people. The firm is one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. It views the UK as an attractive location for investment in advanced manufacturing due to its skilled workforce, technological and scientific capabilities and infrastructure and a competitive corporate tax system. This includes the Patent Box, which encourages investment in R&D and related manufacturing in the UK by delivering a lower rate of corporation tax on profits generated from UK-owned intellectual property.   »» For further coverage of what the news will mean for Montrose, see Thursday's Courier   The fall in the value of the £ after the Brexit vote which makes UK exports cheaper is seen as a further advantage. Chief executive Andrew Witty said, ‘Today’s announcement reflects further investment to support our pharmaceutical pipeline and meet growing demand for our innovative portfolio of newly launched products. "It is testament to our skilled UK workforce and the country’s leading position in life sciences that we are making these investments in advanced manufacturing here. "From their manufacture in the UK, many of these medicines will be sent to patients around the world.’ Mr Witty, who backed Remain, said the UK's "competitive corporate tax system" and skilled workforce helped the pharmaceutical giant come to its decision. UK Government Minister Andrew Dunlop said: “It is great news that GlaxoSmithKline is boosting investment in Scotland, and a real testament to the hard work and skills of the workforce in Montrose. "Above all, it is a clear vote of confidence in the country’s economy, and shows that Scotland and the UK are very much open for business." Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "An investment of this scale is a clear vote of confidence in Britain and underlines our position as a global business leader. "GSK's recognition of our skilled workforce, world leading scientific capabilities and competitive tax environment is further proof that there really is no place better in Europe to grow a business." Scottish Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “GSK is a hugely important contributor to our economy so this is fantastic news for Montrose, for Scotland and for our life sciences industry. "Life sciences is a vital industry in Scotland, employing more than 35,000 people, and as we’re seeing, one which is a world leader.  This success is built on our strong academic base and the cutting edge research going on across Scotland. “This latest investment demonstrates the continued confidence that international companies have in Scotland and our high quality workforce. "On our part, the Scottish Government, and our enterprise agencies, will continue to do all we can to make Scotland a competitive and attractive business environment which encourages this type of substantial and welcome investment.” Angus MP Mike Weir said: “This is fantastic news for Montrose and demonstrates the continued commitment of the company to the town and the fantastic workforce in the facility. “I understand from GSK that there will be new jobs associated with the construction of the new facilities. It will also continue to support current employment in Montrose which presently employs some 450 staff. There is also the possibility of new employment opportunities.” Barnard Castle is one of GSK’s biggest secondary manufacturing sites, employing 1,100 people. It supplies nearly half a million packs of products per day to 140 global markets. The £92 million it is receiving will fund the construction of an aseptic sterile facility supporting the manufacture of existing and new biopharmaceutical assets in our pipeline. Ware in Hertfordshire, employs 1200 staff, manufacturing innovative respiratory products. Its investment of £74 million will support further expansion of the company’s new Ellipta respiratory inhaler through additional manufacturing capacity at the site. In addition to jobs associated with the construction of the new facilities, the overall investment will support current employment at the three sites and is expected to lead to the creation of more jobs.

Dundee

Leading scientist Sir Philip Cohen warns Yes vote could have ‘serious’ implications for Dundee University and wider research sector

September 9 2014

One of the United Kingdom’s leading scientists fears Dundee University could suffer a damaging brain drain if the country votes for independence. Professor Sir Philip Cohen said the risk of scores of its top scientists quitting for more securely funded research elsewhere could be very damaging for Dundee University, which has built a glowing reputation as one of Britain’s top scientific research centres. He believes the major uncertainty over the future of funding for scientific research in higher education in the event of a Yes vote will worry the legions of top scientists who work on the banks of the Tay. “These doubts could force them to quit for posts outside Scotland where funding is more secure, causing a brain drain that could be a big problem for Dundee,” he stated. “This is serious for higher education in Scotland and it is serious for Dundee University,” stated multi-award winning scientist. “I don’t feel I can sit back any longer without speaking out. An awful lot is at stake with this vote next week - and I am not sure if the full implications on many fronts are fully understood." One of the UK’s most eminent biochemists set up Europe’s largest collaboration between academia and the pharmaceutical industry in Dundee to develop new drug treatments which span such global diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s. It is part of the university’s College of Life Sciences which last year received funding of well over £100 million, 80% of which arrived from outside Scotland. “A thousand scientists and support staff work in the college’s laboratories and thousands more in greater Dundee owe their positions to these scientists,” he explained. “A lot of this money comes from the European research councils and I am astonished that this issue has not been discussed more seriously. “European money goes to member states and we know that Scotland will not get into the European Union as Spain has said it will exercise its veto because it does not want to encourage its own home rule movements in Catalonia and the Basque region. “Cutting off the millions of pounds that flow in from Europe would be a big issue for Scotland, and would be a big problem for Dundee University. “The UK research councils are based in England and if there is Scottish independence there will presumably be separate ones for Scotland and the rest of the UK. “Scottish universities at the moment get about 13% of the UK funding but have only 8% of the population. If funding is to be on a per capita basis the Scottish Government will have to substantially increase the per capita amount to replace the funding that Scottish universities presently receive. “The SNP have said they understand this is a problem and that they will deal with it, but we don’t know how in the long term.” He believes the research funding system in the UK compares well with other countries including the United States and Germany, and Dundee University performs well within the existing system. The absence of details about how an independent Scotland would fund research is causing uncertainty to the profession and all who work in it, he stated. “Another issue is the fact that scientific research can take a long time before results are achieved,” he continued.“The UK’s Medical Research Council has been in existence for 100 years and is an efficient organisation that performs well and brings a lot of experience to its activities. “I worked away with funding from the MRC for 25 years without the pharmaceutical industry taking any notice of me, but thanks to the MRC’s support I have helped to develop our knowledge of kinase enzymes that have become the pharmaceutical industry’s most important drug targets and have led to many new cancer drugs. “In an independent Scotland I think there would be a danger that the government would favour schemes and investments that would produce relatively quick economic returns. "How high a priority would be given to fundamental scientific research that might take 25 years to come to fruition?”'Independence will protect universities'Professor Bryan MacGregor, a spokesman for Academics for Yes, said: “The simple truth is that Scotland does well in open competition for funds but poorly where funds are allocated by other means, such as for research council centres and private R&D. “The Scottish Government is committed to proper funding of research and other benefactors will support quality research wherever it takes place. “Charities already raise substantial funds in Scotland.On the one hand, we have the UK and England contexts of cuts in researchand science funding, high student feeswith unsustainable loan funding, animmigration policy that is preventing and deterring international student recruitment and the possibility of an exit from the EU and its research funding. “And, on the other, we have a Scottish Government committed to funding research, to free access to universitiesfor residents and to attracting international students.Independence will protect Scotland’s universities and allow appropriate research priorities to be determined."

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