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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.

Motoring news

Audi showcases raft of new cars

June 29 2016

Audi threw everything it had at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, with no fewer than nine upcoming models making their UK debuts. One of the most interesting – and affordable – was the new Q2. Audi’s smallest crossover yet, it’ll sit underneath the Q3, Q5 and big ole Q7. It will be available as a front wheel drive or with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system. Under the skin there’s a choice of three TFSI petrol and three TDI diesels, with Audi’s 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol offering 114bhp, the 1.4 litre four-cylinder sitting below the 187bhp 2,.0 litre TFSI. Diesel options are the 1.6 litre TDI with 114bhp and a pair of 2.0 litre TDIs with 148bhp or 187bhp. It goes on sale later this summer with a starting price expected to be in the region of £20,000. At the other end of the price scale is the R8 V10 Spyder. The 553bhp supercar comes a year after the second generation coupe R8 was released. Audi reckons the new Spyder is 50 per cent stiffer than the last Spyder, and its canvas roof stows beneath a massive rear deck, able to open or close at speeds up to 31mph in 20 seconds. Fuel economy “improves” to just over 24mpg thanks to a new coasting function that idles the engine when it’s not needed. Expect it to cost around £130,000. In between those two extremes are a plethora of other upcoming Audis, including the new S5 Coupe, and the Audi TT RS which first revealed a year ago is hardly new but apparently it had never been seen in the UK before. A couple of Q7s were also at Goodwood, including the Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which returns a claimed 156mpg, and the SQ7 – a diesel with 429bhp. There was also the refreshed A3 range. Audi’s upmarket Golf rival has been given a styling refresh along with a few new engine options. Following a trend for downsizing, there’s a 1.0 litre three -cylinder petrol unit, while a powerful 2.0 petrol engine also joins the range.

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

Talking Politics

The rise of macho-economics is going to hurt

November 14 2016

It was meant to describe the new President-elect of America but it feels particularly appropriate for Brexit Britain. Kudos to my cousin in any event, someone quite familiar with how large-scale finance works across countries given his job managing a huge project in Singapore, for coining the term "macho-economics". What does it mean? In short it highlights the absurdity of offering simple solutions to mighty difficult and multi-faceted problems. The Don’s are obvious. From promising to create 25 million jobs over 10 years and double economic growth to 4%, which hasn’t been seen since the Bill Clinton presidency in the 1990s, to slapping a 35% tariff on Mexican imports and a 45% tariff on products from China. No thoughts for the consequences, such as the potential economic collapse from implementing such policies. Instead the electorate is simply presented with “bad guys” to blame for the very real problems which hurt them every day. This handily brings us back to the reality of the UK leaving the European Union and how close to the mark the “project fear” arguments of the remain campaign were. Obviously we don’t actually know the answer to that question given we are still in the EU with Article 50 yet to be triggered. It is then that the proverbial will hit the fan but we do have some hints about how messy it will be. Let’s take Sir Howard Davies’s television interview as an example. Asked about whether or not banks will quit the UK and move to the likes of Ireland or mainland Europe if they are not given clarity over how Brexit will be negotiated, he said: “They are currently making contingency plans and once you’ve got a contingency plan - hey, there is a risk you might implement it one day.” Yes, it’s a maybe. Yes, it’s the chairman of RBS saying this. Yes, this means he is one of the “elites” we all love to hate. But is it not obvious he has a point? And is it not obvious that jobs would leave this country along with any financial services who decide they don’t want to stick around any longer? Perhaps threats from the banking sector further demonstrate why people are so disillusioned with the idea of globalisation. People have been left without a safety net and it is down in no small part to the attitudes and actions of companies such as RBS. That does not mean we should scoff at potential unemployment. Easy answers from demagogues help no one but those seeking power based on a tower of lies. That’s simple macho-economics. Let’s see how tough they’re feeling when reality hits home.

Business news

Shares surge at RBS after profits climb

May 3 2014

A shares surge added £2.5 billion to the value of state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland yesterday after it reported a doubling of quarterly profits. Edinburgh headquartered RBS, which is 81% owned by the taxpayer, said profit before tax had risen to £1.64 billion from £826 million in the same period last year. Shares in the bank surged more than 10% ahead in morning trading yesterday, despite a warning from Mr McEwan that there were still “plenty of issues from the past to reckon with.” The update was the first since the group announced an £8.2bn loss for 2013 and launched a mammoth overhaul to slash costs by £5bn within three years. On this occasion, there were no new costs revealed relating to past scandals, litigation or “bad bank” provisions - a staple of recent market disclosures. RBS said it had seen a modest revival in lending volumes during the quarter, with improvements in UK retail and business banking while income from its markets business was lower as it shrunk its balance sheet. Costs also fell. Mr McEwan said the latest figures showed the “great job” RBS could achieve while in a “steady state.” However, he cautioned that “we still have a lot of work to do and plenty of issues from the past to reckon with.” Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of plans to start returning the taxpayer stake to the private sector - a feature of the equivalent update last year. While the share surge saw the price climb close to 350p, it remains well off the 500p needed for the Treasury to achieve “break even” value on its £45 billion rescue of the bank at the height of the financial crisis. Meanwhile, Mr McEwan said that he would do what it takes to hold on to highly-paid bankers affected by the Treasury’s veto on its plans to be able to pay 200% bonuses. The update noted that all the group’s major competitors planned to be able to pay bonuses at twice the rate of salary - a move that requires shareholder approval under new European rules. However, RBS is limited to paying 100% bonuses and the bank said the situation created a “commercial and prudential risk which it must try to mitigate.” Mr McEwan acknowledged that executive packages were an “emotive issue” but said RBS was a “back marker” on pay. The New Zealander said: “We are not going to pretend that this is ideal. “Not having the flexibility does involve an element of risk for us but it is a risk that I as chief executive am going to have to manage and we are having to make some changes to those people to make sure we hold on to them.” In its trading update, RBS said it was seeing increasing economic confidence in some areas and expected a modest increase in margin for the remainder of the year. But it is likely to be hit by costs as part of its restructuring plan that are “considerably higher”. The bank also admitted that it would continue to be haunted by legacy issues which have already cost it billions of pounds over issues such as payment protection insurance mis-selling. RBS said: “The ongoing conduct and regulatory investigations and litigation continue to create challenges and uncertainties for RBS, as for other banks. The timing and amounts of any further settlements or redress remain uncertain.” The bank added that it was on course to achieve targets for improving the level of capital on its balance sheet - a measure lenders have been ordered to take by regulators in the wake of the financial crisis, to bolster their ability to absorb shocks. Shore Capital analyst Garry Greenwood said: “While ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’, we believe that the Q1 2014 outcome represents an excellent start to the year for the group following recent disappointment. “That said, there is still plenty of work to do before RBS gets back to being a ‘normal’ bank.”

Business news

Royal Bank of Scotland slumps to £968 million first quarter loss

April 29 2016

Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a first-quarter pre-tax loss of £968 million - more than double last year's figure of £446 million. The loss reflects the impact of its £1.2 billion payment last month to the Treasury to buy out a crucial part of its £45 billion bailout. The payment ended a dividend access share (DAS) agreement with the Government which was put in place in 2009 and prevented it paying dividends to any shareholders before the Treasury. The bank said: "RBS remains on track with its plan to build a strong, simple, fair bank for customers and shareholders."

Tarrant adds extra dimension to Fife Show

May 14 2014

For the first time in Fife Show history an Irish coursebuilder is being brought to Cupar, adding a new dimension to the fierce showjumping competition in the Kinloss Estate arenas. In something of a “one-off ”, FEI-level international designer James Tarrant, from Tralee, in County Kerry, will create a fresh new challenge for the riders. His attendance has been made possible as a result of sponsorship from tack and clothing suppliers Fosterton Equine & Pet, from nearby Leslie. Adding to an already packed schedule of showjumping classes comes the introduction, for the first time at Fife, of two BS club classes giving rise to 80cm and 90cm competition. “It’s hugely exciting and really something of a coup to have the courses designed and built by Mr Tarrant,” said Sandra Low-Mitchell, of the Balcormo Stud, Leven, who has helped to organise the competition. “We’ve added 80cm and 90cm classes for 2014 for the first time, too and with classes right up to 1m30 and four Royal Highland Show qualifying classes on offer, there really will be something for everyone at this year’s show,” explained Sandra. “It will be a brilliant competition.” This year all seven BS classes have attracted strong sponsorship, with prizes in kind at BS club level and prize money for each of the feature classes, courtesy of Innes Johnston Solicitors, Hutchinson Networks, Eden Veterinary Practice, Copland Construction and Kim Hood and Gary Hood Farriers. Sponsorship from the Dean Park Hotel Kirkcaldy, Taxi Travel, Kilmaron Electrical and Balcormo Equestrian will also enable each Royal Highland Show qualifying class winner to leave the arena with an embroidered rug as a top prize. Sponsored by Cairnie Fruit Farm, the 80cm and 90cm classes are expected to be full. As a result, entries for these classes will be accepted as pre-entry only, and limited on a first-come first-served basis of 30 horse-and-rider combinations. BS Club entries should be sent to S Low-Mitchell, Balcormo, Leven, Fife, KY8 5QF. Entries to the 1m10 open, H&H Foxhunter (incorporating the Andrew Hamilton Coach RHS Foxhunter championship qualifier), Aurora Hotels RHS championship qualifier, Power and Performance RHS Grade C qualifier and Fife Show 1m30 open (incorporating the James Smith Fencing RHS Young Masters championship qualifier) will be taken on the day. Fife Show is on Saturday, May 24, at Kinloss House, Cupar. equestrian@thecourier.co.uk

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.

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