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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...

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

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

Angus & The Mearns

Angus Council SNP group back plastic ban

March 5 2018

The SNP group on Angus Council have given their full support for calls to consider alternatives to all single use plastic currently used on council premises. Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor initially led the call to ban plastic drinking straws, with a view to introducing measures that would drastically reduce the use of other single use plastic items such as carrier bags. However, Monifieth and Sidlaw SNP Councillor Beth Whiteside is calling for the council to be ‘more ambitious’. She said: “As an Angus Councillor, I welcome the recent spotlight on plastic waste, including the campaign by our Provost, Ronnie Proctor, to ban plastic straws and other single use plastic on council premises. “It’s encouraging to see the support for change across the board. “I believe, however, that we must be much more ambitious if we are to have an impact on the problem. In addition to straws and cups, we need to look at the mountain of single use plastic bottles, bags, packaging and throwaway fast food containers that we recklessly discard. “According to ecowatch.com, approximately 10% of the waste we produce is plastic; in the last 10 years alone, we produced as much plastic as in the whole of the last century – scary stuff, especially as none of this is bio-degradable." Ms Whiteside also unveiled proposals by the SNP group to take the campaign out into local communities. “We plan to take the campaign to local businesses, suggesting bio-gradable products for takeaway food in place of polystyrene containers, which can’t be recycled. “We will also encourage food and drink outlets in Angus to consider incentives, such as discounts for customers using their own mugs for takeaway coffee. “Small things, but each one may help to change our habits for the better. While we appreciate that some changes cost money, the public are becoming more aware of the problems. “Businesses showing green initiatives may find they pay off, with increased support from their environmentally aware customers. “Finally, on a personal level, simple changes can make a difference. I urge everyone to think about the waste we create ourselves — try using refillable bottles for water, travel mugs for take-away coffee, and re-usable lunch boxes and bags for packed lunches.” The move was welcomed by Angus Provost Ronnie Proctor. The Conservative Kirriemuir and Dean Councillor said: “I very much welcome Councillor Whiteside’s comments. “This is an issue that transcends politics, and is one that we can tackle by councillors of all parties and none working together to make a real difference in our communities for future generations.”

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.


Pioneering plastic surgeon John Kirk

July 19 2011

Tributes have been paid to retired consultant plastic surgeon John Kirk, who played a pivotal role in the development of plastic surgery services in Tayside. A graduate of the University of London, he saw service with the Royal Navy in the West Indies before qualifying as a general surgeon and becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1954. He subsequently specialised in plastic and reconstructive surgery and developed an interest in the treatment of burns. In 1960, Mr Kirk was appointed as the Eastern Regional Hospital Board's first full-time consultant in plastic surgery. He took a lead role in the design of a new ward for burns and plastic surgery in Tayside, and in 1962 the 20-bed regional plastic surgery unit was opened at Ward 19 in Bridge of Earn Hospital, with 10 beds also provided at Dundee Royal Infirmary. The Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh awarded him FRCS (Ed) in 1973 and he retired in 1983. "He was a superb, tireless and devoted surgeon," said NHS Tayside consultant plastic surgeon Howard Stevenson. "He was an inspiring teacher and meticulous clinician who demanded the highest standards of himself and those with whom he worked. "He was greatly loved by the many patients, and their families, who benefited from his surgical skills, humility and pastoral care." Mr Kirk, who was 88, is survived by his wife Elaine, to whom he was happily married for 60 years, his daughters Rose and Susan, son John, and five grandchildren.

Readers' letters

Rich-poor divide reaching obscene levels

April 12 2013

Sir, The inequality within our society is now reaching obscene levels. On the one hand we have benefit reforms. These will push a further 400,000 children into poverty. Already overstretched food banks will be further strained as more and more people cannot afford to feed themselves. At the start of this winter it was predicted around 27,000 people will die as a result of fuel poverty. That was before it was known this winter would be the longest on record. Today there are increasing numbers of suicides as desperation makes victims decide they cannot face any more. This will become worse. To take just one example from the other hand, we have a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 which will put an average of £43,000 in the pockets of around 250,000 people. The 13,000 people earning over £1 million will be better off to the tune of £100,000. Chancellor George Osborne tried to justify this cut by saying the 50% top rate of tax was not worth collecting. It raised something like £2.4 billion that sounds well worth collecting. The total amount of benefit fraud in the UK each year amounts to only 0.7% of the welfare budget. It is not the huge widespread problem we are led to believe. Tax dodging, however, costs the UK between £160 and £200 billion each year. That is a staggering problem. Would it therefore not make sense to clamp down on the amount of tax dodging and evasion as it would reap far greater returns? As things stand, the phrase “we’re all in this together” has a very hollow ring. Steve Flynn. Westfield Avenue, Cupar. An important world figure Sir, I am appalled that, almost uniquely among the British press, The Courier affords Margaret Thatcher’s death little more than a strap-line on the front page (April 9), with all further detail relegated to the minor pages. I accept she was a divisive character little loved in Scotland, however, your paper’s presentation reeks of cowardice and fear of offending readers that the news of her death be published thus. Irrespective of her politics she must be recognised, as indeed your editorial admits, as unquestionably one of the most significant world (not just UK) figures of the second half of the last century. Your paper could so easily have done its duty without opening any political debate by simply publishing a respectful photograph without significant text on the front page. I can be sure, without resorting to your archives, that no other premier of recent times, most of whom are of much less lasting import, has been treated in such a manner. Sandy Green. The Old Rectory, Cupar. Of historical interest Sir, I write as a Gaelic speaker. There are very few of us in Perthshire, Angus and Fife. However, Gaelic was spoken throughout this area during the formative period of the Scottish kingdom until the 14th century. From then on it became confined to Highland Perthshire and the Braes of Angus. Now it has slipped away almost entirely to the western islands. It is really unnecessary to add Gaelic to motorway signs and road direction signs. Duplication of names would probably add an element of confusion to the passing motorist. However, it would be of historical, cultural and touristic interest to show the Gaelic form on the entry sign of a town or village, for instance: Pitlochry, Baile Chloichrigh; Dunkeld, Dun Chailleann; Ballintuim, Baile an Tuim; Crieff, Craoibh. This is specially true of Highland Perthshire, but could apply to towns elsewhere like St Andrews, Cille Rimhinn, or Perth, Peairt. This is our patriotic duty. The original meaning of “Scot”, a thousand years ago, was a Gaelic speaker to be distinguished from a Welsh (British) or English speaker. Hamish Robertson. Creag na Sith, Princeland Road, Coupar Angus. Plastic bag tax is needed here Sir, I read with interest the articles in The Courier, April 9, regarding charging for plastic carrier bags, and I thought back to the time before the advent of these, when every housewife would automatically take a shopping bag with her, whatever she was going to be buying. I remember some stores supplied paper bags, but I don’t know how good these were. The practice of charging for plastic bags is quite common in some other countries. I know that it has been normal in Bavaria for a very long time, this was before any environmental issues came into being. I for one consider that the government would be doing the country a huge favour if legislation was brought in to do this here. June Reid. 12 Findhorn Street, Fintry, Dundee. How can it be carbon neutral? Sir, There is considerable statement and comment on the proposed biomass plant in Dundee, emphasising the potential output. Electricity is relatively easily connected to the national grid, but how is the heat output (enough for three Ninewells Hospitals) to be distributed? To where? And how is this to be charged? Personally, I cannot see the justification in cutting trees in Canada, transporting them, chipping the timber, compacting it into pellets, more transport, shipping to Dundee, then burning. How can all this be carbon neutral? Jim Reid. Birkhill.

UK & World

Moves to cut down on plastic carrier bags could include charging

August 16 2011

Scottish shoppers could be charged for each carrier bag they use under new moves to protect the environment. The Scottish Government has announced that it is to carry out a consultation on ways to reduce the number of single-use plastic carrier bags. More than 10 billion bags were given to shoppers in the UK last year and, although this is a third less than five years ago, the number of bags given to shoppers is back on the rise. As well as being harmful to wildlife, the bags cause environmental damage as they do not rot in landfill. Shoppers used 6.4 billion bags in 2010 333 million more than a year before. In Scotland shoppers used 590 million bags an average of 9.4 per month for every person in the country. Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Plastic bags are a scourge on the environment and a blight on our streets, our countryside and our seas. That's why we are so determined to drastically cut back on their use. "It's hugely encouraging that so many people are now taking this issue seriously and over the past five years we have seen a lot of progress in cutting plastic bag use, both by shops and shoppers. We want to phase out the use of free plastic bags in supermarkets, with the continued help of retailers. "We want Scotland to become a zero-waste society. Our consultation, which takes place this autumn, will look at options for cutting plastic bag use even further and, as we pledged in our election campaign, we will consider legislating on this issue if need be." Marks and Spencer already charges customers 5p for each carrier bag, which has led to an 80% reduction in its use of plastic bags over the past three years. Some of the money raised through the scheme is donated to charities. From October, all stores in Wales will have to charge 5p per bag and Northern Ireland will follow suit soon. WWF Scotland head of policy Dr Dan Barlow said: "Single-use carrier bags are symbolic of our wasteful attitude to resource use, which must be addressed if Scotland's vision of a zero waste future is to be realised. Each year in Scotland nearly 600 million carrier bags are used, squandering non-renewable resources, polluting our environment, threatening wildlife and taking decades to break down in landfills. "Recent data for Scotland reveals a 9% increase in plastic bags use and it is clear that a voluntary approach is not enough. Charging for plastic bags has been highly successful in changing behaviour and cutting use elsewhere. Scotland should quickly follow Northern Ireland and Wales, who are already planning such a charge. "Green taxes can have a significant role to play in helping to change behaviour well beyond plastic bags. As Scotland moves forward to deliver a low-carbon future a greater role for regulation rather than voluntary action will be required." Friends of the Earth Scotland communications officer Per Fischer said: "People in Scotland are willing to reuse bags and Friends of the Earth Scotland supports a ban on single-use plastic bags but plastic bags are only the tip of the iceberg. "We urgently need to take action to meet Scotland's ambitious climate targets and we are facing more substantial issues than plastic bags. Scotland needs to invest in the transition to renewable energy, green jobs and public transport."


Marine rubbish plea after deer die with rope tangled in antlers

May 23 2018

A campaign to reduce the amount of litter in Scotland’s waters has been stepped up after images of a stag with rope tangled in its antlers were released.Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has highlighted the dangers of marine rubbish to wildlife on land by publishing the photos which were taken on the Rum national nature reserve.The body revealed two deer had recently died on the island after they became tangled together with rope in their antlers.Lesley Watt, reserve manager on Rum for SNH, said: “Marine litter is a huge international problem.“But small actions can make a big difference and everyone has a part to play.”She added: “Along with many organisations, SNH recently joined the campaign to bin plastic straws – and we’re cutting down on disposable plastics by providing our staff with re-useable travel cups.“If you use your own bag for life when shopping, or take litter home after a day at the beach, you could help save an animal’s life.”One of the images released shows a stag with rope and a buoy in its antlers, although a spokesman for the body said this was not one of those found to have died.The SNH post also tells of how staff on Rum once discovered a dead deer caught up in a piece of fishing rope which already had an old deer skull attached.Images released by the body were taken several months ago, according to an SNH spokesman, but have now been published to highlight the blight of marine litter on wildlife on Scottish soil.Some deer forage on seaweed at Rum and this may be how they come into contact with marine litter.While the island community works in partnership with SNH to remove as much rubbish as possible, regular clean-ups of remote and inaccessible areas can be challenging.Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “These images of discarded fishing gear and plastics having such an impact on wildlife on Rum are very distressing. “Plastics are suffocating our oceans and as it’s washed ashore, is also having a devastating impact on animals on land.“This shows why we all need to take greater care in how we use and dispose of plastics.”

Perth & Kinross

First Perthshire business signs up to plastic free scheme

March 22 2018

A new initiative aiming to tackle plastic use in Perthshire has announced the first business to sign up to its scheme. Plastic Free Perthshire is a project helping businesses and communities in the area reduce the use of single-use plastics. It has produced a guide for businesses which sets out solutions to help reduce the use of plastic straws, takeaway cups and plastic bottles and use environmentally-friendly alternatives. Birnam Arts Centre has become the first business in the county to make the Plastic Free Perthshire pledge. The solutions to be introduced by the Birnam Arts Centre café include the use of paper straws, incentives to encourage customers to use reusable takeaway cups, and signing up to the rapidly-growing ‘Refill’ app to advertise free tap water. The project comes as the Scottish Government seeks to introduce a deposit return scheme for bottles, as well as a possible ban on plastic straws. Perth and Kinross Council will also reduce the use of plastic straws, cups and bottles. Jamie Wylie, founder of Plastic Free Perthshire, said: “The issue of plastic has been on everyone’s minds recently. TV Programmes such as Blue Planet 2 have shown people the scale of the problem that is posed by plastic and the issues that it’s causing. “A healthy environment is one of the foundations of Perthshire’s economy, so taking steps to reduce plastic pollution is vital for our county. “That’s why Plastic Free Perthshire aims to help businesses realise the benefits of reducing plastic use. There’s a real opportunity for businesses to build on the huge public interest in cutting back on single-use plastics by making simple but effective changes to their operations, which work for them and for customers.” He continued: “It’s fantastic that the Birnam Arts Centre has taken the Plastic Free Perthshire pledge. They’ve shown a real commitment to help customers cut back on plastic. "We’ve had really positive discussions with other businesses and hope that many more follow the Birnam Arts Centre’s lead.” James Irvine, manager of the Birnam Arts Centre, said: “We were delighted to get involved with Plastic Free Perthshire. We know how important a healthy environment is for Dunkeld and Birnam, so we were keen to take action to reduce our plastic use and help our customers do the same.” Mr Irvine said the arts centre has already started using compostable takeaway cups, providing free tap water and using biodegradable straws. And he revealed the centre will be offering incentives for people to use their own takeaway cups.