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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Angus economic delegation putting Carnoustie Country to the fore at The Open

July 22 2017

A marketing drive is under way at Royal Birkdale to ensure Angus is the real winner at this week’s Open golf championship. Angus Council’s economic development team, in partnership with Carnoustie Golf Links and Visit Scotland, are putting Carnoustie Country to the fore ahead of welcoming The Open to Carnoustie in 2018. More than 225,000 people are expected at the global sporting event at Royal Birkdale in Liverpool where the team has been raising awareness of Carnoustie Country and the attractions of Angus. The week is being seen as a prime opportunity to capitalise on the tourism and economic benefits offered by The Open which could generate as much as £80m for Tayside. Alison Smith, Head of Economic Development at Angus Council said: “It’s been a fantastic first couple of days speaking with visitors to our stand at The Royal Birkdale. “With the R&A expecting record spectator numbers, this week is a prime opportunity to showcase the wealth of golf courses across Carnoustie Country and promote the wonderful local produce which we have brought with us for visitors to sample." Golf is a vital part of the visitor economy with the ripple effect felt in shops, hotels, restaurants and a wide variety of other businesses. Angus Council will also raise concerns about the possible introduction of a ‘no re-admissions’ policy at next year’s tournament in Carnoustie with The R&A. The golf authority will not allow people to leave the course and gain re-entry at this year’s championship as a result of security concerns. However, Carnoustie councillors and businesses are anxious that the Angus town sees a tourism boost from the thousands of visitors at next year’s tournament. Ms Smith added: “In addition to exhibiting at the event, we’ve scheduled a number of meetings to maximise the opportunities that hosting The Open brings. “We’re meeting with The R&A to align our digital marketing plans, explore legacy projects such as making the Carnoustie Open more ‘green’ and discuss the no re-admissions policy. “We’ve arranged meetings with Sefton Council’s head of tourism and England’s Golf Coast to inform our three-year marketing plan for pre, during and post event to maximise the increased global profile that The Open brings to the area." Carnoustie Country is home to 34 courses including many which were designed by the men who are now considered golf’s greatest architects – Old Tom Morris, Willie Park Jnr and James Braid.


Steve Scott’s Five to Watch at Royal Birkdale

July 19 2017

The five players selected from the 156 in this year's wild guess... Jordan Spieth Birkdale is not a bombers’ course; it suits players who plot their way around, hit good long irons, and get the ball in the hole. Spieth is the player (maybe Alex Noren as well) in the world’s top 10 who best fits this profile. Showed he could play in poor weather at St Andrews, when he probably should have won, and although he hasn’t putted as well this year as he did in 2015, if he gets the pace of them quickly there’s little to fool you on Birkdale’s greens.   Rickie Fowler Friday’s forecast is rain and wind, getting progressively worse as the day goes on. Fowler is out at 8.25 am in the second round and he’s pretty good in rubbish conditions anyway; he had a brilliant round in a real maelstrom at Sandwich in 2011. He can play links, his own slight weakness – holing out – is negated by Brikdale’s uncomplicated greens and everyone agrees he’s ready. The only issue is why he’s been so passive in the last final groups of the first two majors of this year.   Henrik Stenson There’s a trend in history of champions either winning again at Birkdale or retaining the Jug after winning there; Harrington obviously, but also Watson, Trevino, Palmer, Peter Thomson. Stenson’s maybe as good a chance we’ve had for a repeat champion since Padraig, given that Rory McIlroy missed 2015 with his five-a-sides ankle. The Swede hits the best fairway wood (or metal) in the game, and you can live without driver, his major issue of late, at Birkdale.   Matt Fitzpatrick A quiet year compared to his compatriot and friend Tommy Fleetwood so far, but if there’s a Englishman to win on English soil for the first time since Tony Jacklin in 1969, it could the Yorkshireman rather than the Lancastrian. Again, a superior course plotter, a good long iron player, and he putts well. Possibly the most talented of this new generation of young players wearing the St George’s cross.   Zach Johnson 2015 was no fluke; Johnson is an exceptional grinder in tough weather as it was on the final day at St Andrews. His lack of length means so many places on the PGA Tour are really out of his range, but he may have found an unexpected niche in these challenging conditions where he can play under the weather, like Greg Norman did so effectively for three rounds in 2008 before he ran out of steam. Was T-12 in defence of the Jug last year, and T-5 last week in the John Deere.

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

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

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


Syme surges to claim his Open debut at Royal Birkdale

July 4 2017

Drumoig’s Connor Syme will make his Open Championship debut at Royal Birkdale after a stunning second round saw him clinch one of just three spots available at Final Qualifying at Gailes Links. Despite heavy rain all day over the Ayrshire links, the 22-year-old, currently the leading Scot at seventh in the world amateur rankings, shot a faultless four-under 67 to add to his par round of 71 from the morning’s play. That meant the Great Britain and Ireland squad member tied with Challenge Tour leader Julian Suri as leading qualifier from Gailes, and won a coveted players’ badge for Royal Birkdale in two weeks’ time. The son of immediate past PGA Scotland captain Stuart Syme, Connor joins former champions Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, and US-based tour players Russell Knox and Martin Laird in a five-strong Scottish contingent at Royal Birkdale, with the chance of more to come from late qualifiers at the Irish and Scottish Opens. “I played awesome, especially to be bogey-free this afternoon,” he said afterwards. “It is amazing to be in The Open and I was thinking about that out there even though I was trying to stay in the moment. “The first Open my dad took me to was at Royal Troon in 2004 when I was just nine. I was buzzing after getting Phil Mickelson's ball at St Andrews in 2005.” Syme got in with a decent par round in his morning 18 with birdies at 15 and 16 and then opened the afternoon with seven consecutive pars before a three at the eighth. The surge that got him into the Open was the birdie-eagle combination at 13 and 14, taking him level with Suri, who had been one of the first finishers with a 36-hole four-under aggregate of 138. There was a four-way play-off for the third and final place involving another Scot, Kirkhill’s Paul Shields, but Australia’s Ryan McCarthy birdied the first play-off hole to take the last precious place. Marc Warren, who qualified at Gailes in 2014, had been well placed at two-under with seven to play but had a huge collapse, bogeying five of six holes to fall out of the qualifying picture.


The Open: Rose, Wood and now Plant thrives at Royal Birkdale

July 24 2017

He may not have bloomed at Royal Birkdale quite as vibrantly as Justin Rose, or sprouted as high up the leaderboard as Chris Wood. But Silver Medal winner for highest-placed amateur at The Open, Ashley Plant, has put down solid roots to make his name in the professional game. Rose and Wood turned pro on the back of their Birkdale heroics and 25-year-old Plant will do likewise in September – ideally after playing in the Walker Cup. Plant, whose 73 left him on six over par for the championship, said: “I don't think there is any set timeframe out there. You have to go when you're ready and go when you've got some good results behind you. “At 25, you know, we've taken our time. I've enjoyed the journey along the way. And I think it's definitely going to be a good journey going forward, 100%. “I’ve had a lot of experience over the years. This is definitely going to be right up there. But you go when you're ready. And my time's now. And I can't argue with that. I’ve just got to go with it.” Birkdale will be a quieter place for the departure of Plant and, more specifically, his friends and family who have travelled up from London and followed him over 72 holes decked out in their Team Alfie T-shirts. Football-style chants aren’t the norm in front of the famous art deco clubhouse. “At first you get a bit embarrassed,” Plant admitted. “But it's absolutely taken off this week, and hats off to my dad. It's been great. I've been getting so much support. And I think it's really made the tournament great for me.” Had he been a pro, Plant would have been paid around £20,000 for his week’s work. Amateurs, of course, get nothing. So, where would the money have gone if he’d been allowed to keep it? “If you ask my girlfriend, she'd definitely say a ring,” he joked. “It will have to be a Haribo ring!” It hasn’t been all joy for Plant’s family this week, with Alfie returning home for his great grandmother’s funeral tomorrow. “Nans and grandparents are always on your mind when you lose them,” he said. “If you think about it too much, you're going to start crying out there. “I tried to put it to the back of my mind, as best as possible. She was definitely with me this week.”

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.


ANALYSIS: Are The Open Scots a Magnificent Seven?

July 19 2017

Will the Scots at Royal Birkdale be a Magnificent Seven? Courier Sports Editor Eric Nicolson assesses their chances at the 146th Open Championship. 1 Russell Knox He’s the highest of the Scots in the world rankings at 47 but it’s been a disappointing season for the American-based player. Knox has missed more cuts than he’s made and admitted to feeling “lost” at the Scottish Open last week. Has been a bit more upbeat here, though, and feels Birkdale will suit his precision game. The Knox of 12 months ago would be getting talked up as one to watch. A week in which par may turn out to be a good score should suit him and, despite his form, he has to be considered the second best bet for a Scottish challenge. 2 Martin Laird Another one who plays his golf in America. Concerns were growing that the three-time PGA Tour winner was a fading force. A third-place finish at the Quicken Loans National in Maryland got him into the Open and, on the whole, 2017 has been a year of recovery. Though he threatened a challenge at Muirfield in 2013 before falling apart on the third day, Laird’s high ball flight game is probably best suited to the States. The fact that he had never played Birkdale before this week will count against him too. Making the cut would be a reasonable expectation. 3 Richie Ramsay Ramsay’s Open record is terrible. He’s played in six and missed the cut four times, with his best finish a lowly tied-55th. This week represents an excellent opportunity to finally make his mark. Second place at the Irish Open got him his Birkdale start and he made the cut at Dundonald last week. Ramsay is the nearest thing to an in-form pro Scottish golfer and is our best hope. 4 David Drysdale Like Ramsay, Drysdale has a strong showing at Portstewart to thank for his Birkdale qualification. This will be his second Open. Wife Vicky, now his caddy, gets some of the credit for giving him “a kick up the backside when I need it.” He’s been a regular on the European Tour for nine years but has never won. It will take more than Mrs Drysdale’s size sixes to turn her husband into an Open contender but a good pay day and continued momentum for the rest of the season will represent a successful week. 5 Paul Lawrie Lawrie is the last Scot to win the Open, of course, and isn’t likely to have that tag taken off him anytime soon. He’s never had so much as a top-20 since Carnoustie in 17 tries. Flirted with the leaderboard at St Andrews a couple of years ago but there has been absolutely no evidence to suggest he can roll back the years at Birkdale. The Seniors Tour is calling. 6 Sandy Lyle Like Lawrie, Lyle gets in every year on the back of former glories rather than anything more recent. Carnoustie next year is the last championship his 1985 Sandwich triumph gets him into. Has made the cut just once in the last nine Opens and infamously walked off after 10 holes the last time we were at Birkdale. He’ll play 36 this time but almost certainly no more than that. There’s a reason Sandy is 2,500/1 to win. 7 Connor Syme An amateur but has plenty going for him. Is in good form, having won his way through final qualifying. Is steeped in links golf, as all leading British amateurs are. Is suited to stroke play as opposed to match play, as all leading British amateurs certainly are not. And has the right temperament for a week like this. Playing with Jon Daly in the first two rounds, and all that goes with it, will test that temperament but Syme has every right to target the Silver Medal for leading amateur and it really wouldn’t be a huge shock if he claimed the title for leading Scot as well.