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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

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

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.

Politics

Kezia Dugdale vows to tax the rich

April 16 2016

Scottish Labour would make taxing the rich a key priority in the next parliament, leader Kezia Dugdale has said. Ms Dugdale will focus on her party's plan to use new powers over income tax coming to Holyrood to introduce a 50p rate for top earners during a campaign visit to Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire. She will highlight analysis by think tank IPPR Scotland showing that Labour's tax plans, which also include a 1p increase to the basic rate of income tax, would raise £900 million more than the SNP by 2020/21. The Labour leader said the extra funds would be channelled towards two other key priorities for her party - investing more in education and stopping cuts to public services. Ms Dugdale will campaign with Rutherglen candidate James Kelly and local activists as they launch a new leaflet in partnership with trade unions. Speaking before the visit, she said: "Today I am outlining the three priorities that must define the next Scottish Parliament, and will guide the next Labour Scottish Government. "Those priorities are simple: Tax the rich, invest in education to grow the economy and stop the cuts to public services. "Labour will use the powers to ask the top 1% to pay the most and stop the Scottish Parliament acting as a conveyor belt for Tory austerity. "That's the positive message activists and trade unionists will be making on high streets and doorsteps all across Scotland this weekend. "Labour will set a 50p top rate of tax for those earning over £150,000 a year so we can stop the cuts and invest in education." Meanwhile Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will join volunteers campaigning in Bridge of Allan, Stirling, and meet voters following his party's manifesto launch on Friday. The Lib Dems' flagship policy, a "penny for education" involves adding 1p to income tax for those earning more than £21,500 to raise around £500 million each year for education. Mr Rennie said: "The Scottish Liberal Democrats' manifesto is a bold and positive programme for the next five years to make Scotland the best again. "Feedback from the doorsteps is that our uplifting message for a transformational investment in education, leading the charge on boosting mental health services, guaranteeing our civil liberties and protecting the environment is translating into votes. "More Liberal Democrats will deliver positive, liberal change. We're back to our best. Now it's Scotland's turn." Elsewhere on the election trail, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will visit the south of Scotland to highlight her party's proposals to boost business in the area. She will focus on a manifesto pledge to set up a South of Scotland Enterprise, similar to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to grow the economy.

Readers' letters

Plight of elderly Kinross residents ignored

March 14 2016

Sir, - I refer to your article, Layout leaving elderly trapped says community councillor (March 10). In February I offered to collate the views of local residents on the new High Street in Kinross. This I did and reported to the last meeting of the community council. My report was also published in the community newsletter. Within the survey, 82% of respondents said they wanted a formal crossing such as a pelican or zebra crossing. Many other issues received high percentages; speeding cars, lack of understanding of the shared space concept, inappropriate parking and its effect on disabled people, better signage... but it was the lack of a crossing that concerned people most. The quality of any society or community is often judged on how it treats it elderly population and in this case it is the elderly and frail that are affected most. Consequently, Perth and Kinross Council should immediately change its stance. In response to your article the council was quoted: “The installation of a traffic controlled crossing is not being considered at present”. This is totally unacceptable. People are frightened. Let us remember that this time next year our four councillors will be asking for our votes. What a bonus for one of them if they could say in their leaflet: “I got a crossing installed”. Let us get this sorted. David A MacKenzie. Vice Chair, Kinross Community Council. Curious aspects of parking bill Sir, - The Footway Parking and Double Parking (Scotland) Bill is in many respects sensible but may I suggest that the proposal to ban parking on the pavement be a matter for decision for local councils in respect of each pavement. There are some pavements in villages where it is safer for cars to park with one wheel on the pavement, leaving room for pedestrians and wheelchairs. I cannot resist asking why we have changed the word pavement to footway. Perhaps one fewer letters saves paint and ink. Garry Barnett. The Garden House, Campsie Hill, Guildtown. Concern over mail sacking Sir, - I wish to express my concern regarding Royal Mail’s attitude towards employment laws and the sacking of postman David Mitchell, an employee of 27 years’ service. Royal Mail’s refusal to reinstate Mr Mitchell, despite being ordered to do so by an employment tribunal judge, leaves me questioning why employment laws can be waived without challenge. If major employers such as Royal Mail can disregard a judge’s ruling then its employees should rightfully be concerned. It is no surprise that Cupar Post Office workers have twice taken strike action with further pending action due in other areas around Scotland. Having attended Mr Mitchell’s employment tribunal as an observer, it was obvious Royal Mail was negligent and incapable of carrying out any sort of proper investigation. More importantly, that was the tribunal judge’s opinion. He made this clear by stating that Royal Mail had breached its duties by failing to adequately investigate the allegation of the claimant before reaching a decision to dismiss him. I wonder if any of the Royal Mail management will lose their jobs after breaching their duties? Richard Rogala. 6 Lumsden Park, Cupar. Perth has its priorities wrong Sir, - I was interested to read (March 8) about potholes in Courier Country. I have reported a huge one just outside the entrance to Oakbank Community Centre in Perth. It could easily burst a tyre or damage a car wheel. On walking in, you could easily trip, fall and injure yourself. Many groups of people including the very old and the very young use this building. Instead of spending a lot of money on daft schemes like refurbishing the council offices in High Streetand upgrading our theatre, Perth and Kinross Council should look after the infrastructure of our Fair City. Isabel Wardrop. 111 Viewlands Road West, Perth. St Andrews rail claims flawed Sir, - I see Jane Ann Liston is once again using flawed and exaggerated claims in her campaign torestore a rail line to St Andrews. St Andrews has the ruins of a cathedral, not a working minster with clergy, offices of an archbishop and visiting pilgrims. The Open comes to St Andrews on a rotational basis; therefore it cannot be compared to Wimbledon which hosts a championship on an annual basis. Colin Topping. Crathes Close, Glenrothes. Invest bridge savings wisely Sir, - I am sure there will be endless suggestions for utilising the forecasted £1 billion underspend from the Queensferry Crossing on alternative projects such as the re-opening of the Levenmouth rail branch line which couldwell benefit the local economy. However, for Ms Liston of the St Andrews rail campaign to claim that there is an overwhelming case for investing in a new rail link into St Andrews really beggars belief. As Ms Liston points out, the town is internationally renowned, particularly in relation to golf, education and tourism. However, she fails to mention the important fact that St Andrews already has the benefit of a mainline rail connection at Leuchars Station some 10 minutes by road from this famous historic town. There is no valid justification whatsoever for massive capital investment on what would be an unnecessary new rail link into a town which already enjoys a thriving economy. Notwithstanding the recent announcement that Scotland’s finances have plunged almost £15 billion into the red, I hope that common sense will prevail and that any surplus from the Queensferry Crossing project underspend (should it still be available) is invested on worthwhile and urgently-needed causes. Allan Chalmers. 7 Links Crescent, St Andrews. Folly of named person law Sir, - It is no surprise that the SNP’s ill-conceived named person scheme is facing a legal challenge, Supreme Court hears appeal over named person legislation (March 9). We all want the best for our children, and to see public resources used effectively to protect children genuinely at risk. But introducing a state guardian into the lives of all families with a remit encompassing well-being, opens up a huge scope for varying interpretations across the country. The point when positive care and support slips into interference is not clearly defined in the legislation. Rather the controlling instincts that led to its development favour a belief that the state really does have a role to play in every family rather than just those in which children are at risk. In many walks of life this Scottish Government has pushed ahead with its we-know-best approach, ignoring those who do not agree with it. It has certainly gone a step too far here in applying this approach to families. The QC for the Scottish Government opened by saying we should not assume that those implementing this legislation will overreach. Yet that is the point. This new law does not have the safeguards to prevent that happening, rather it simply assumes that those wielding these new powers will do so consistently and to good effect. It does not want to contemplate that named persons could do more harm than good. Much as we might hope that the Supreme Court will find a way to stop this bad law going ahead, we might yet have to wait for a change in government at Holyrood before this poorly thought through initiative can be repealed. Keith Howell. White Moss, West Linton.

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.

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Fife

St Andrews rail line bid picking up speed

April 3 2013

Ambitious plans to reinstate the rail line to St Andrews have taken a massive leap forward. Councillors are to examine the case for returning trains to the university town, 44 years after the connection was axed by British Rail. A group which has fought for construction of a railway linking the popular destination and home of golf with the East Coast main line for almost a quarter of a century hopes that winning the support of the local councillors will propel the proposal to the next level. After StARLink St Andrews Rail Link outlined its bid to a committee of North-East Fife area councillors, it emerged that a formal report is to be presented to the committee this year. StARLink convener Jane Ann Liston said: “This is a significant step forward in the campaign to get St Andrews reconnected to the rail network. “I found the reaction from the members very encouraging. The news that the committee will be considering the matter further is most heartening.” Ms Liston has urged the councillors to request an appraisal of the proposal by transport partnership SESTRAN. She also wants Fife Council to ensure provision is made for the railway in the area’s strategic plan, the TayPlan, which is about to be revised. A study has been carried out by Tata Steel Projects, which identified an eight-kilometre route following the Eden Valley. An indicative timetable was produced, suggesting hourly services could be provided to Edinburgh and Dundee, taking one hour 19 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively. It is estimated it would cost at least £76 million to construct the railway and infrastructure. Ms Liston said: “Further analysis needs to be undertaken on the running costs to ensure that the service level accurately reflects the demand profile and costs are split with other, existing services in the peak hours. “This should be done as part of the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) process. Similarly, the environmental assessment should be undertaken, linked to the STAG process. “The next stage of development would be to seek funding from SESTRANS, Fife Council and Transport Scotland to conduct the STAG appraisal to define the business and environmental case.” The committee report will also consider the possibility of reopening the rail halt at Newburgh.

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