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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.

Dundee

Carrie Fisher’s Dashing White Sergeant on Dundee station platform

January 4 2017

Carrie Fisher went from a galaxy far, far away to dancing the Dashing White Sergeant at Dundee railway station, it has been revealed. The actress, best known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars, died at the age of 60 on December 27, four days after suffering a heart attack on a plane. Her mother Debbie Reynolds died the following day after suffering a stroke. But is has now been revealed Ms Fisher enjoyed a trip to Scotland that culminated in a ceilidh on the deserted platform at Dundee railway station. Writing in The Times, journalist Roderick Grant recalled travelling around Scotland on board The Royal Scotsman with the actress. While The Blues Brothers star was one of the fee-paying tourists on the trip, he had been commissioned to write a magazine article about the journey. He revealed Fisher, accompanied by her French bulldog Gary, had been unimpressed by a visit to Glamis Castle — the Queen Mother's ancestral home — because of the dim lighting within the building. But that did not stop her splashing out £500 on a cashmere dog coat from the castle's gift shop before both Carrie and Gary took part in some Scottish country dancing in Dundee railway station. At midnight, an accordion orchestra led the 28 passengers on the £1,500 a day trip on to the deserted platform at Dundee railway station where they danced The Dashing White Sergeant and eightsome reels. Gilchrist wrote: "I partner Carrie, and Gary is here too of course, dashing in and our of the dancers' feet. Carrie appears transfixed with joy by this simple pleasure." Ms Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd broke her silence about the deaths of her mother and grandmother, who died within a day of each other, on Monday. The 24-year-old posted on social media site Instagram: "Receiving all of your prayers and kind words over the past week has given me strength during a time I thought strength could not exist.” “There are no words to express how much I will miss my Abadaba and my one and only Momby. Your love and support means the world to me.” A joint funeral is planned for the two actresses.

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

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.

News

Sponsored article: Scotland To London railway guide

October 1 2012

The journey from Scotland to London can be an incredibly beautiful journey and gives you plenty of time to sit back, relax and watch the idyllic scenery glide past the window. With a variety of affordable train tickets online for those looking to experience the journey, it has never been easier to get from Scotland to London on the railways. For overnight journeys, sleeper trains are simple to book and provide the traveller with all the necessary luxuries to ensure a good night's sleep. For such trains, it is always important to remember to book early to avoid disappointment,The journeyMost journeys from London to Scotland will take in the idyllic and historical walled city of York, the cultural hotspot of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and finally the two most prominent cities north of the border: Glasgow and Edinburgh. The historic city of York has a wealth of cultural attractions to visit, including York Minster, the beautiful and incredibly intricate cathedral, and the fabulous Theatre Royal, which often puts on some of the most critically acclaimed plays in the country. Newcastle, apart from being home to the world famous Newcastle F.C. and Newcastle Brown Ale, regularly hosts some of the most lively and interesting festivals in the country. Edinburgh boasts some of the most fascinating and beautiful architecture of any city in the world. The city is watched over by the imposing Edinburgh Castle, a beautiful fortress that sits atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Housing the Honours Of Scotland, the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum of Scotland, the castle is a fantastic attraction and a must see for any visitors. It's important to remember that the best way to find affordable East Coast rail fares is to book in advance where you'll find the best deals for reaching Scotland by train. Finally, Glasgow is one of the most vibrant cities in the UK, boasting a number of fascinating nightlife and cultural scenes that have made it one of the most interesting places to visit anywhere in Scotland. Following its growth, which was kick-started by its strong industrial activity during the Industrial Revolution, Glasgow has gone on to become a prominent financial centre and the 57th 'most livable' city in the world. Glasgow is a brilliant destination in which to end your trip and will top off your train journey fantastically.Booking your ticketsFinally, remember that using the internet to check ticket prices can be an excellent way of avoiding large train fares and will guarantee that you get the seat you want, when you want it, without any hassle. All that's left to do is relax and enjoy your stunning adventure on some of the most impressive railways in the country. A trip from London to Scotland will be one that you remember for years to come and journeying by train will ensure you make the most of each and every second. Visit eastcoast.co.uk to find out more.

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.

Dundee

Transport minister told ‘Tay Tax’ on train journeys could jeopardise Dundee’s plans

July 16 2012

Dundee railway commuters are the victims of a "Tay Tax" that sees train fares rocket once you cross the river, it has been claimed. Labour MSP Jenny Marra has written to Transport Minister Keith Brown to demand action on the "unfairness" of ticketing on connections between the city and Edinburgh and Glasgow. The North East list member says the cost of return train travel between Dundee and Glasgow which costs as much as £48.60 is unacceptable and potentially damaging to the city's economic future. She said that the success of prestige projects like the V&A Museum could be jeopardised if tourists face prohibitive travel costs to reach the new attractions. And she highlighted that areas around Glasgow and Edinburgh benefit from being part of a "regulated zone", in which fares are closely controlled by the government. Dundee is outwith the zone, meaning train operators are free to set their own ticket prices. This, Ms Marra claims, has led to higher fares and discrepancies in the pricing system, which means it is often cheaper to buy separate tickets for different legs of a journey. With public subsidy of the Scottish rail network expected to reach £738 million this financial year, she said a simpler and fairer fare structure must be introduced. The Scottish Government is preparing to renew the ScotRail franchise for 2014 onwards. "Everyone knows that train fares in and out of Dundee are far too high," said Ms Marra. "This is because Dundee has never been included in the subsidised zone. "The government needs to tell us why they are subsidising train fares round Glasgow and Edinburgh but there is a Tay Tax to get over the Tay rail bridge." Continued... "The zone's purpose is to encourage economic investment. Surely with the rates of unemployment in Dundee, we would then qualify by any standards to get a rail fare subsidy like other cities?" She pointed out that the level of subsidy being spent on the railways amounts to more than £2 million every day in Scotland. "It's high time that Dundee got its share of that subsidy, so we can bring more visitors and investment to our city," she said. "The government is investing money in the new V&A at the waterfront. They should look seriously at rail fares to Dundee as part of this overall strategy because we'll attract many more visitors and potential businesses to our city if we get fairer rail fares like the other cities in Scotland." There are also plans for a £14 million redevelopment of Dundee railway station, including a concourse, retails units cafe/restaurant and hotel, in time for the opening of the V&A museum in 2015. In a statement to parliament last month, the transport minister said £5 billion of investment between 2014 and 2019 would help boost services between Glasgow and Edinburgh and deliver the Borders Railway. Network Rail, which looks after rail infrastructure, will also be required to take forward several improvement projects, including works on the Highland main line and between Aberdeen and Inverness. After 2014, the next rail contract will be extended to run for 10 years, with a potential "break point" after five years. Mr Brown also said rail fares would be "attractive and affordable", while companies bidding to run services would need to link trains with other transport forms, such as buses and ferries. A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland confirmed Mr Brown had received Ms Marra's letter and would respond soon. "The government is committed to affordable fares for passengers, including those in Dundee, and will ensure that the next franchise encourages greater use of our railway," she added. "We are aware that there are a number of fares anomalies across the network, and are also looking at ways to address the situation under the terms of the existing franchise." There are approximately 78 million passenger journeys each year in Scotland while demand for services has increased by more than 25% in the past seven years.

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.

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