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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

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.


Celebrating 150 years of McManus

December 20 2016

In 2017, The McManus celebrates its 150th anniversary. Opened in 1867 as the Albert Institute, it was designed by the renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who today is best known for London’s St Pancras hotel. Here in Dundee, Gilbert Scott created a monument to Science, Literature and the Arts – a statement building of towering height designed to impress. Generations of Dundonians have taken it to their hearts and in 2000 voted it Dundee’s best loved building. Sympathetically remodelled by Page\Park architects between 2005-10, their use of the simple ellipse shape vesica pisces to link the refurbished interiors with the streetscape of Albert Square, perfectly complements Gilbert Scott’s High Gothic gem. Launching our year-long programme of celebrations is a new display that marks Dundee’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design.  Selected from the City’s diverse permanent collection, each object highlights the myriad ways in which design contributes to our lives. As you’d expect, the display includes objects of stunning beauty, complexity and historic importance.  Not for nothing are Dundee’s fine art, applied art and whaling industry collections - recognised as nationally significant collections. The Doncaster Gold Cup, designed by John Flaxman, is a demonstration of silversmithing of the finest quality by Paul Storr. Hallmarked 1816, it was made when both were working at the height of their powers. Metalworking on a larger scale is celebrated in a model of the 1887 Tay Rail Bridge piers, constructed to replace the original bridge and a reminder that its collapse was blamed on poor design. There are some revealing juxtapositions - Colin Reid’s complex studio glass Untitled R1198 is shown alongside the striations and startling green of the malachite mineral that provided the inspiration for the piece. A basket star with its intricate branching arms sits alongside an ancient Egyptian terracotta Medusa Mask.  Her snake hair reveals the inspiration for the basket star’s more common ‘Gorgon’s head’ moniker. Dundee’s reputation was built on jute, jam and journalism and readers of The Courier will be well aware that DC Thomson remains the UK’s largest independent publisher.  Looking for related material in store we came across a simple tin of pencils.  Prior to computerisation, tins of coloured pencils sat on desks throughout the organisation, used to edit, mark up and most importantly to create… One of the more unusual inclusions is the sponge known as the Venus Flower Basket.  An amazingly visual creature, the sponge weaves its incredible skeleton from silica which it extracts from seawater.  The properties of this natural fibreglass have influenced the development of fibre optics and solar panels. Does it look vaguely familiar? Its lattice mesh structure inspired the steel exoskeleton of Sir Norman Foster’s iconic Gerkin building in London. We couldn’t complete our display without the inclusion of a Keiller’s marmalade jar – a design icon recognised by marmalade lovers the world over.  Also, closer to home was the fashionable Maison Soutar. With premises on the Nethergate, the firm offered Dundee ladies bespoke dressmaking services based on the latest London styles. The delicately embroidered fabric of the Maison Souter bodice displayed was even purchased from Henderson & Co, silk mercers on the High Street. Perhaps the fabric was bought with a Dundee bank note?  A pound note issued in 1833 by the Dundee New Bank combines a beautiful view of Dundee harbour with complex geometric patterns designed to fox forgers. One of the most striking pieces is a sack sample for poultry feed produced for A&S Henry & Co.  Donated in the early 1970s, little information came in with it and sadly we have no details of the designer of this arresting image. If this is your design – or you know who did it – do get in touch. At this festive time of year, make your new year’s resolution to come along and celebrate 150 years of The McManus and the City’s amazing collections.  Truly something to crow about! Anna Robertson is Fine and Applied Art Section Leader at McManus

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

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

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.

Angus & The Mearns

“It’s hard to believe it will be 42 years between lorry trips” — AC/DC legend to recreate famous video in Kirrie

March 17 2018

It remains one of the most famous videos in music history. AC/DC, complete with bagpipers, played ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)’ on the back of a flatbed truck down Swanston Street in Melbourne in February 1976. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUXMzkh-jI Lead singer Bon Scott displayed his prowess on the pipes in a nod to his Scottish heritage in the historic video alongside bandmates Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans and Phil Rudd. Former AC/DC bass player Evans has now agreed to take part in a re-enactment for the first time in 42 years in Scott’s hometown of Kirriemuir at this year's BonFest. Evans will be stepping back in time on a truck with German band ‘Bon: The AC/DC Show’ at the annual rock festival which celebrates the late singer. “It’s hard to believe it will be 42 years between lorry trips,” Evans told The Courier. “I can’t wait to get back to Kirriemuir. “My last visit was to help to unveil Bon’s statue at Bonfest 2016 so I am looking forward to returning for Bonfest 2018 to celebrate in true Scots’ fashion. “I’m a fifth generation Aussie with no real ties to Scotland but from the moment I set foot in Scotland in 1976 with AC/DC I have always felt at home and I always will I’m sure. “It’s going to be a blast joining ‘Bon: The AC/DC Show’ on the back of the lorry traversing Kirriemuir in Bon’s home town. “It will be a real experience for sure - lots of joy but I am certain that it will be very poignant also.” Evans said he suggested pipes for the song and Scott told him he used to play in a pipe band and went off to buy a set of bagpipes. “So into the studio Bon went with the pipes and I can’t quite describe the noise that came from a very proud Bon and his pipes but it was obvious he was a tad out of touch,” he said. “George Young asked Bon: ‘I thought you said you played in a pipe band?’ to which he replied: ‘I did play in a pipe band - I was a drummer!’” This year’s 13th annual BonFest takes place for three days and three wild nights over the weekend of May 4-6. Festival chairman John Crawford said: “The organisation team are always looking for new ways to improve the festival and enhance the experience for our guests. “What better way to do that than having an original member of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top video taking part in the re-enactment 42 years later? “We have an incredible line up this year which includes current AC/DC drummer Chris Slade and his Time Line band along with a host of top class acts in the main arena. “With free live music during the day and the main arena gig at night BonFest is quickly becoming a mecca for the global ACDC fan base.” AC/DC have not performed the song live since Scott’s death in 1980 out of respect. They last performed the song with him on December 17 1979 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.


Why my head is in the clouds

August 29 2013

WeDundee.com, the local site supporting Dundee's UK City of Culture 2017 bid, this morning revealed a fascinating insight into people's interests. Earlier this yearWe Dundeeinvited the public to say what they loved about the city, and its word cloud, shown above, gives a visual guide to the comments people submitted. Four dominant themes emerged Light, People, River and Environment. Taking the first, Light, we can see the subjects and concepts most often mentioned (the larger the word, the more it was discussed). What fascinates me is how closely this correlates with what we see in the site statistics at www.thecourier.co.uk. We spend quite a bit of time analysing what subjects attract the most attention online. This is obviously very useful information for the site, but we also feed it back to our newspaper colleagues to suggest topics that might be worth further coverage. Some kinds of stories will always do well online... but we also see high levels of interest in areas that might not be immediately obvious. It's no surprise that concepts such as 'Tay' and 'waterfront' are prominent in We Dundee's graphic, but two that jump out at me are 'cycle' and 'buildings'. I cycle to work every day, so I try to ensure my personal interest doesn't result in a bias towards the subject on our site. But it's clearly a big topic of interest around Dundee. Every time we report issues surrounding bike safety or infrastructure, the articles attract a lot of attention from cyclists and drivers alike. It's also a hot topic on the letters page. The Courier carries an excellent cycling column by Scot Tares every Saturday now expanded in our lovely new magazine! but this might be further evidence that there's room to do more. Similarly, the popularity of articles about buildings and built heritage sometimes takes us by surprise. Whether it's poking about in the cellars of some of the city centre's older buildings, or remembering the Law Tunnel, stories on what Dundee has built, plans to build (and what it has knocked down...) always seem to fascinate our readers. My colleague Chris Ferguson's From The Archives blogregularly touches on this subject, and his stories on nightclubs of the past and fallen landmarks have sparked much interest and debate. So, what do you think? Do you want to see more on cycling issues? Or more on our towns' and cities' built heritage? Or is there something else you think deserves more coverage? We're always open to suggestions.


Galactic gastronomy explored at Tayside Space School

April 21 2014

Tayside Space School returned to Abertay University on Saturday to the delight of Dundee’s future Neil Armstrongs. Back in March, the aspiring astronauts made their first foray into the world of space exploration when they learnt about the planets in our solar system and the stars and constellations that are visible in the night sky. But on Saturday the Space School took on a decidedly culinary flavour as cadets got to sample ice cream made using liquid nitrogen and watch marshmallows explode, learning about the food astronauts eat and what would happen to their bodies if they went into space without a space suit. They also looked at the history of human exploration as they learnt about Captain Scott’s voyages of discovery to the Antarctic, which were the Apollo Moon missions of their day. Discovery Point education officer Brian Kelly said: “In the early 20th Century Captain Scott’s daring journeys into the unknown were as dramatic as the later Apollo Moon missions very little was known about the destination, and the explorers had to survive with little or no contact with the outside world. “Even today, the Antarctic continent remains one of the most hostile environments on Earth, and the scientific research stations there may provide the model for those that will be built by future colonists on the planet Mars.” Mr Kelly told the cadets about living and working in polar regions comparing modern clothing and diet with that available in Scott’s day. The children also discovered more about the science being carried out in the Antarctic today. Tayside Space School is run by Abertay University in conjunction with Dundee City Council. Further events will take place in May and June with Space School culminating in a week-long summer school at Abertay in July.