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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...

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

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Scottish politics

Kezia Dugdale insists Labour ‘really upbeat’ as campaign enters final days

May 3 2016

Labour's Kezia Dugdale insisted she is "immensely proud" of the campaign her party has fought as the race for Holyrood entered its final 48 hours. The Scottish Labour leader said her party is "really upbeat" and "really focused on the final few days of the campaign". She was speaking as she took her campaign, which has focused on using new tax powers coming to Holyrood to raise additional cash for public services, to a softplay centre in Glasgow. Her visit came as another poll put Labour and the Tories neck-and-neck in the fight to be the official opposition. While the SNP are comfortably ahead and expected to win another majority at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Ms Dugdale said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may regret posing with a copy of The Sun newspaper. https://twitter.com/TheAnfieldChat/status/726710543873114113 The paper has been boycotted by some Liverpool fans for its original coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, in which 96 football fans lost their lives, and an inquest ruled last week they were unlawfully killed. In the same week the Scottish Sun gave its backing to the SNP, with a front page picture showing Ms Sturgeon holding a copy of the paper. Neil Findlay, a former Scottish Labour leadership candidate, tweeted : "To pose like this in the week of the Hillsborough verdict is breath-taking." Ms Dugdale said: "I think given the response there has been on Twitter, she will be regretting it." Labour argues Scotland would be £3 billion better off under its plans, which would see the basic rate of income tax increased by 1p north of the border, while the top rate, for those earning £150,000 a year or more, would go from 45p to 50p. "We've got a simple, honest message that the Labour Party has a plan to stop the cuts," Ms Dugdale said. "We're prepared to use the powers of the Parliament to raise enough money to increase public spending in Scotland. If we choose not to do this we're going to face £3 billion of cuts to come in Scotland." That could see £336 million more spent in Glasgow, according to Labour, with an additional £276 million for Edinburgh and £137 million for Aberdeen. Ms Dugdale said: "I'm immensely proud of the campaign Labour has run because we are the only party that has actually been talking about ideas about Scotland's future, about how to transform the country with the powers the Parliament has, and we've done that by being bold and honest about tax, and asking the richest people in society to pay a bit more tax. "I'm immensely proud of that and I will continue to make that argument well into the future."

Business comment

Local priorities must not be lost

June 14 2017

Concerns, I have a few. After what Malcolm Tucker could only describe as an omnishambles of an election, Theresa May and her acolytes are trying their damndest to cling on to power. But whether that is in the country’s best interests or their own is very much a subject for debate. From a business perspective, the political machinations at Westminster are much more than a distracting sideshow. Make no mistake, instability at the highest levels of government and uncertainty about our future economic path will be the dominant subject in boardrooms up and down the country right now. And when that’s the case, a period of lower investment, slower growth, fewer new jobs and economic morass often follows. Only time will tell if that is the case here, but with the Brexit negotiations so close at hand it is hard to imagine our large corporates being happy to dispense with their largesse right now. If I were them, I too would be looking at the rainy days ahead and putting aside some pennies, especially when the UK’s negotiating strategy is so ill-defined and our hand so weak. The Brexit vote left the UK economically isolated and I accept that Theresa May has had to play the cards as they were dealt. But by calling a disastrous election, she let her guard down and handed the other high stakes poker players round the EU negotiating table an unintended advantage at a crucial moment. It was a spectacular own goal and one I fear the UK may rue long after Theresa May, David Davis and Michael Gove are consigned to being names in modern studies textbooks. Away from the Brexit negotiations, there are other domestic priorities I hope don’t get lost in this political whirlwind. The key one for this part of the world is the Tay Cities Deal, the UK and Scottish Government-backed investment package that is so vital to the long-term prosperity of Dundee, Perth, Angus and north-east Fife. City deals are already providing investment and jobs in other areas of Scotland but until the ink is dry on the Tay Cities package then none of us should rest easy. The economic health of this region depends on it. ghuband@thecourier.co.uk

UK & World

Above inflation pay rises for thousands of energy workers

February 26 2018

Thousands of workers at energy firm Western Power Distribution are to receive above inflation pay rises over the next two years.The Unite union said 6,000 employees based across the South West, Wales and the Midlands will see their pay rise by 4.2% from April, followed by another increase of RPI inflation plus 0.5% from April 2019.Unite officer, Matt Tipper, said: “The deal means two years of inflation beating pay increases for thousands of workers.“A worker on an average salary will get an extra £1,260 in their pay packets this year, followed by another inflation beating increase in 2019.”

Business news

PZ Cussons suffers profits hit as UK shoppers eye discount rivals

January 30 2018

Imperial Leather-owner PZ Cussons has seen profits suffer after Britain’s soaring inflation encouraged shoppers to swap brand name soaps for discounted rivals.Adjusted pre-tax profits slid 15% to £34 million for the six months ending in November, driven largely by tough UK trading conditions driven as shoppers tightened their belts. PZ Cussons, which also own St Tropez sun tan lotion and Original Source shower gel, expects profits to scrub up better in the second half of the year when it reaps the rewards of new product launches and bigger distribution.Revenues lifted 2% to £385.4 million over the period, but investors took a dim view of the half-year update, with shares dropping more than 3% in afternoon trading on the London Stock Exchange. British households have faced a sustained squeeze on their spending power from a jump in the cost of living and paltry wage growth, despite inflation easing to 3% in December. In a stock market announcement, PZ Cussons said: “In the UK, consumers are shopping cautiously reflecting general cost inflation outstripping wage growth and broader economic uncertainty, resulting in lower profitability in the washing and bathing division versus the prior period. “Product launches across Imperial Leather, Carex and Original Source brands have been well received. However, volumes remain very sensitive to price points and discounting. “Further brand initiatives are planned for the second half with innovation for the consumer increasingly important to secure distribution and deliver stand out on shelf.”Pre-tax profits made for brighter reading on a statutory basis, lifting 37% to £34.2 million, but reported revenues in Europe fell 4% to £129.9 million. While margins were squeezed across Europe and Africa, Asia helped soften the blow thanks to strong trading in Australia and Indonesia. The FTSE 250 firm said its full-year results hinged on a “successful delivery” in the UK, coupled with improved economic growth in Nigeria.

Business news

Ofgem calls on SSE to reduce electricity bills

November 29 2014

Perth-based SSE has been called on to cut its domestic electricity bills until 2023 by energy regulator Ofgem in price control negotiations. The annual average household bill in the North of Scotland area, where electricity is produced by hydro power, should be reduced by £27. The regulator has also proposed the average household bill should be reduced by £18 a year in the South of England area. The figures come from price control framework negotiations to cover the eight years from April 1 2015. The RIIO (Revenue=Incentives+ Innovation+Outputs) process is intended to balance the interests of customers with electricity generating companies who need to raise money to maintain the network. SSEPD, the generator’s power and distribution division, had submitted a business plan proposing significant reductions in the distribution share of electricity bills and improvements in the standard of service for customers. Ofgem’s final determination delivered yesterday proposed a real reduction in the distribution share of the average household bill in SSE’s North of Scotland and South of England network areas by the sums specified. SSEPD said it is committed to delivering the improvements in customer service that it set out in its business plan. A statement from the company continued: “Over the coming weeks SSEPD will carefully examine the detail of Ofgem’s final determination and assess whether it represents a fair balance for customers and investors. “SSEPD has until early next year to complete its assessment of Ofgem’s final determination.” Ofgem has set out plans for five out of the six companies that run Britain’s local electricity network, who will spend around £24 billion to renew, maintain the electricity network and connect small-scale renewable generation. Ofgem also ordered two power generation firms to pay penalties totalling £39 million for their failure to deliver energy saving measures to low-income households. The regulator secured a record £28m payment from North Yorkshire-based Drax Power for not meeting targets under the Government’s Community Energy Saving Programme. Drax Power delivered just 37.1% of its carbon emissions reduction target, leading to several thousand households in some of the most deprived areas in Britain missing out on energy saving measures which would have helped lower bills. Ofgem also handed a penalty of £11m to generator InterGen after it delivered 61.2% of its required energy saving measures to around 2,200 households by the end of May last year. Ofgem is considering how the penalties can be used to benefit the consumers for whom the scheme was intended.

Politics

Labour ‘offers radical challenge to SNP’

January 26 2016

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will insist her party can offer a "radical challenge" to the SNP with just 100 days until polling begins in the Holyrood elections. Ms Dugdale will be in London to brief the UK shadow cabinet on the May 5 Holyrood vote, days after a new poll painted a bleak picture of her party's prospects. The Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times and Heart FM indicated the Scottish Conservatives are gaining ground in the fight to be Scotland's second largest party, with Labour dropping to 21% in the constituency vote. Ms Dugdale remained upbeat ahead of meeting UK party colleagues, highlighting her plans to use new powers over tax coming to Holyrood to fund investment in schools. She said: "Shadow Cabinet members will be left in no doubt that we will run a confident and positive campaign based on our ideas to transform Scotland. "We are going to make a radical challenge to the SNP about how we use the new powers to break from Tory cuts. "Scottish Labour thinks education is a priority so we would ask the richest few earning more than £150,000 a year to pay a bit more in tax to invest in our schools. "The SNP say education is a priority but are cutting half a billion pounds from local council budgets for things like childcare and schools. "The First Minister said she wanted to fight this election on the SNP's record in government. That is exactly what we will do. Our public services are suffering under the SNP, with school standards slipping and cuts being proposed in our NHS. "Labour can be the authentic voice for those who are desperate for change. We will go into this election with confidence in our vision for Scotland." The weekend poll put support for the Scottish Greens on 3% in the constituency vote, and 5% in the regional. Co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said the party was preparing to distribute half a million newspapers across Scotland in a bid to capitalise on positive polling. He said: "With 100 days to go our top team of candidates and local branches around the country are gearing up for our biggest and best campaign to date. "With our increased resources we're determined to make the most of positive polling which shows the chance we have to make a real breakthrough. "In 100 days Scotland will elect the Parliament which will serve till 2021, and we can't afford to see critical issues ignored till then. "From scrapping the council tax to taking the action needed to abolish fuel poverty, and from investing in the jobs of the future to finally meeting the country's climate change targets, it's clear that Green influence is needed like never before."

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