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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...


Superbowl XLVIII: Saint Peyton versus the `Hawks

January 27 2014

When the Seattle Seahawks take the (possibly frozen) field against the Denver Broncos in Met-Life Stadium on Sunday for the NFL’s Superbowl, there is going to be bedlam. Most of it will be directed at Richard Sherman, the young and very talented Seahawks cornerback, who has generously fulfilled America’s need for a baddie to go up against Peyton Manning, Middle America’s super-hero. In last week’s NFC Championship game one of the “semi-finals” that determines the Superbowl combatants - between the Seahawks and their hated arch-rivals the San Francisco 49ers, Sherman reached athletically to bat away a last-minute pass aimed at the 49ers’ star wide reciever Michael Crabtree in the end-zone, the ball falling into the hands of a team-mate. Instead of a potential winning touchdown for San Francisco, it was an interception, Seahawks ball, their narrow lead preserved and their ticket to New York (actually the stadium’s across the river in New Jersey) stamped. But it’s what happened after that has America all agog. Sherman pursued Crabtree and gloated, helmet-to-helmet. Crabtree shoved him away, Sherman was given a penalty - and later fined - for “taunting”, which is frowned upon in the modern NFL (even if it happens almost constantly). Shortly after the game concluded, Sherman was collared by FoxSports’ touchline reporter Erin Andrews for a live interview. Clearly still wired with adrenalin, he unleashed a rant of self-justification and disrespect for Crabtree, occasionally ignoring Andrews completely and speaking directly to the camera. Sherman’s taunting and rant has divided America into those who love his cocky, brash and outspoken style, and those who think he’s a bragging narcissist with no conception of basic sportsmanship. The latter group are in the clear majority, and likely to give Sherman a notable reception at Met-Life. The debate has been intensified, somehow, by the fact that Sherman is black and hails from the notorious Compton district of Los Angeles. However he’s an eloquent, thoughtful writer on the game, and he freely admits his brashness is designed to draw national attention to himself and his team, who are adored in their home area but were largely ignored throughout the US until they reached the Superbowl. Sherman’s also a communications graduate from Stanford, one of America’s top universities, so he knows how to play the media. But it also works because Seattle’s opposition in the Superbowl is Denver, led by the great quarterback Manning. Actually his second name has almost become redundant in America, everybody knows who you mean when you refer to Peyton. Manning has returned from multiple neck surgeries and being written off by his long-time employers, the Indianapolis Colts, to set all sorts of records for passing this season with Denver. He’s just about been elevated to the sainthood as a result, even if as he himself often points out - the rules have been changed so often in the modern NFL’s passing frenzy to make such rules-smashing inevitable. Peyton is the antithesis of Sherman. For a start he’s white, and dresses off-field almost like a Midwestern preacher, in staid suit and tie, while Sherman is all dreadlocks and attitude. Manning never gloats, boasts or taunts anyone, he simply runs to whoever has caught his pass for a touchdown and bumps helmets with them. When approached by touchline reporters seeking immediate reactions after games, he either waves them off or says something praising his team-mates or downplaying his achievements. Thus with America’s ever-present need to have a goodie and a baddie, the meeting of Broncos and the Seahawks has been set up quite well. And while Manning and Sherman may come into direct conflict, it’s the overall battle of offense and defense that is the fascinating match-up. The `Hawks have the best defense in the land, the Broncos by far the best offense. The perennial clich is that good defence beats good offense, especially with championships on the line, but the NFL has been tweaking for years to undo this truism. The key actually might be Seattle’s offense, which has misfired throughout the playoffs. Power back Marshawn Lynch is the `Hawks most important player not their flashy quarterback Russell Wilson because if he can grind out yards and keep Manning off the field for long periods, then they can neuter the Broncos attack. That’s what happened in Peyton’s last Superbowl, when his Colts lost to New Orleans in 2009. The Saints’ varied and inventive offense dominated second half possession, and Peyton eventually forced a throw for an interception that was returned for a touchdown to effectively finish the game. The other factor is the weather this is likely the first Superbowl to be played in sub-zero temperatures due to the decision to take the game into the country’s biggest market instead of the usual Florida, California, Arizona or indoor stadium venue. And Manning, who has played much of his career in indoor stadia, is thought to be vulnerable in cold weather. But if Seattle can’t control time of possession against Denver’s defense, which has improved greatly in the last month, then Peyton will pick them apart, no matter how much talking Sherman does.

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.

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


Footballer rape claim: Court hears woman did not know she had met David Goodwillie

October 25 2016

A woman who is suing two former Dundee United footballers she claims raped her was unaware of who one of them was when she was told by police that they had a DNA finding for him, a court has been told. The accuser was medically examined after police were contacted in January in 2011 and samples were sent for analysis. Detective Sergeant Rebecca Gregson, 36, said: "I am aware the complainer was told about a DNA hit on January 17." She continued: "From what I can remember she was still unaware who that particular male was and was quite adamant that how his DNA was there was confusing. She couldn't understand." Simon Di Rollo QC, for the woman, said police were able to identify the male and the officer said: "Yes, it was David Goodwillie's semen." The former Scotland striker is being sued along with ex-United teammate David Robertson in the action. Mr Di Rollo said: "In her evidence to us she said at one point 'I have never met David Goodwillie'. Is that consistent with what she was saying to you when you were informing her of this?." The detective replied: "Yes." DS Gregson said that at one point police carried out a "cognitive interview" with the woman and explained it was a technique in which the interviewee was taken back to the actual incident to relive it. She agreed there was a gap in her memory in terms of what had happened to her. Mr Di Rollo asked her if the memory was recovered and she said: "No." She said Goodwillie was interviewed but gave a "no comment interview". The 30-year woman is suing Goodwillie and Robertson after raising a £500,000 damages claim at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. It is alleged both men raped the 30-year-old woman in the early hours of January 2 at a flat in Armadale, in West Lothian, following a night out. It is claimed that she was incapable of giving free agreement at the time when intercourse took place. Goodwillie, who is now with Plymouth Argyle, and Robertson, of Bathgate, deny the allegation and maintain that intercourse was consensual. Neither was prosecuted. They claim that CCTV footage shows the woman was capable of walking, holding a conversation and using her mobile phone. DS Gregson agreed that Goodwillie was charged and a report was sent to Crown Office against him alone. Mr Di Rollo said Robertson subsequently gave a statement to detectives in July in the course of which he indicated that he too had had sexual intercourse with the woman. The detective sergeant agreed that up until that point there was no evidence about that. Mr Di Rollo said: "He had, of course, been told he would not be prosecuted in respect of this matter." DS Gregson said: "I believe so." The senior counsel said that a decision was subsequently made by Crown Office that no proceedings were to be taken and she said: "Yes." Anne Marie McKay told the court that she had gone out with friends on the evening of January 1 and went to the Glenmavis Tavern, in Bathgate, also known as Smiths. She said she had never seen the woman in the bar before but knew her through work. She said she was at the bar when the woman fell over into her side. She had later seen her making her way to the public bar. Ms McKay (47) said she was "quite drunk" and added: "Her eyes were quite glazed over and her words weren't like making sense." She later saw her again outside the pub. She said: "She was kind of staggering about and she only had one shoe on." "I called over to her was she OK and where was her shoe. She said that's what she was doing — trying to find her shoe," she said. Ms McKay agreed with Roddy McIlvride QC, for Robertson, that the woman was wearing very high-heeled shoes that night. But she said of the initial incident in the pub: "She was standing still next to me and had come over this way so she wasn't walking." The hearing before Lord Armstrong continues.

UK & World

PM’s former Oxford college launches inquiry into sexual harassment claims

April 12 2018

An independent inquiry is being launched into allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment at the Prime Minister’s former Oxford college.St Hugh’s has confirmed that its governing body commissioned the investigation following claims about the behaviour of a now-deceased Fellow.It is understood the Fellow is Professor David Robertson, who died in August last year.The inquiry was set up after author Mel McGrath wrote an article on the website The Pool, accusing Professor Robertson of “doing a Weinstein on me” – a reference to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – when she was an undergraduate in the 1980s.The inquiry will be chaired by Alison Levitt QC, who carried out a review into the crimes of the late Jimmy Savile and who has been tipped to become the new director of public prosecutions.Ms McGrath wrote: “David, who was my tutor, held tutorials in his flat on college grounds and had an uncanny knack for scheduling a shower, at whatever time of day, just before I arrived.“He’d open the door – as if innocently – dressed in his bathrobe and, one time, in a tiny towel.“For the next hour I would have to undergo the humiliating experience of reading my essay, on which I had laboured hard and with serious intent, while David sat opposite, half-naked and man spreading, often smelling of alcohol and sipping from a mug of what was never tea or coffee.”Ms McGrath was also critical of St Hugh’s, saying that if the authorities at the time had not heard the rumours about Prof Robertson’s alleged behaviour “they couldn’t have been listening very hard”.The college confirmed that an investigation had been launched and released its terms of reference, but a spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment until the investigation was complete.The terms of reference given to Ms Levitt read: “The College has recently received allegations of historic misconduct and sexual harassment about a now deceased Fellow from two former students.“The College requests you to carry out an independent investigation about these allegations and whether the circumstances of these or of similar allegations were known to the members of governing body or management staff of the College.“If so, to report on the adequacy and appropriateness of the College’s responses and any action taken in respect of such allegations or circumstances, with any recommendations for action.”St Hugh’s was founded in 1886 “to open up the opportunities of an Oxford education to poorer women”. It accepted its first male students in 1987.Former students include the Prime Minister Theresa May, Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi, Amal Clooney and suffragette Emily Davison.


The Scaffies clean up at Dundee Rep

April 30 2015

Following on from his hugely successful play The Berries, Gary Robertson’s The Scaffies is a grittier, if no less affectionate, trip back in time. Set in 1978, the Dundee Rep production follows a group of binmen on their booze-for-breakfast-fuelled adventures through the work canteen, pub and the city’s streets. This is a confident production from a strong ensemble cast, with special praise for Robertson as Tam and Scott Petrie as Andy the gaffer, who remarkably makes his acting debut here. Veterans Eddie and Frankie share eye-watering tales from the war, while new recruit Donnie tries to extol the virtues of punk to his sceptical workmates as the Winter of Discontent looms. Throw in some absolute filth from long-suffering colleague Gerry and his fellow scaffies and you have another instant Dundee theatre favourite, that’s sure to enjoy repeated runs like its predecessor. Robertson’s oary dialect script crackles throughout, with nods to city landmarks and not-for-the-faint-hearted anecdotes drawing huge laughs from the sell-out crowd. Heading down the stairs after the curtain closed, one audience member turned to another and said: “That was bra’, was it?”. After an evening in the company of Tam and co, I couldn’t have summed it up better.


Superstars come to play the Smokie Blues

July 27 2010

Organisers of the seventh International Smokie Blues Festival in Angus expect this year's event to sell out after confirmation two of the biggest names in the jazz world will be appearing. Courtney Pine who has been credited with introducing jazz to mainstream audiences in the UK will appear on the festival's Saturday evening bill with a regular collaborator, the Cuban-born violinist extraordinaire Omar Puente. The festival will run from September 17-19 at the Carnoustie Golf Hotel, with acoustic gigs also taking place at the nearby Carnoustie Leisure Centre. Acts confirmed for the opening Friday evening include Wang Dang Delta (Scotland), Dago Red (Italy) and John O'Leary (Ireland/London). On the Saturday afternoon there will be performances from Papa Mojo (Scotland), Jeremiah Maques And The Blue Aces (London) and Dundee's own cajun/zydeco outfit Boogalusa. In addition to Courtney Pine and Omar Puente on Saturday evening there will be sessions from Mama's Brand New Bag (Scotland) and Glasgow's Rhumboogie Orchester. Winding things up on the Sunday will be Scotland's Wolftrain and Chicago 5, the Juke Joints (Holland) and Sherman Robertson from the United States. Alfie Dickson, of Smokie Blues, said, "It really is a massive coup for us to get a couple of artists of the calibre of Courtney Pine and Omar Puente to come to our event, and I hope the people of the area come along and enjoy what promises to be a fantastic weekend of top-quality music. "The line between blues and jazz can be very fine and very blurred, and having seen and heard Courtney and Omar when they appeared together at the Webster Theatre in Arbroath last summer, they can both most definitely play the blues." Details of ticket prices for the whole weekend, as well as for individual days and for special packages being offered by the hotel, can be found at www.smokieblues.com. Photo used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user richardkaby.

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.