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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...

Travel

Six holidays to The States to savour this Independence Day

July 4 2016

Our friends across the Atlantic are partying today celebrating their national day as the day that their nation came together to declare their Independence from Britain 239 years ago. In recent years, Briton’s have enjoyed travelling to the US whether to see the sights of New York, the glorious golden west coast or a trip to the deep south – the country truly does offer something for everyone. The Courier Travel has hand-picked our favourite tours to be used as a starting point, should you wish to visit.   1. America's Golden West Californian sunshine, stunning Pacific coastlines and visits to three of America’s most iconic cities – cosmopolitan San Francisco, starstruck Los Angeles and glitzy Vegas – as well as to the awesome Grand Canyon and stunning Yosemite – make this the trip of a lifetime. 2. Deep South USA Tour The Deep South is renowned for its gracious hospitality, its charming southern drawl, its unique Creole and Cajun cuisine and, of course, the most popular music genres of the 20th century – jazz, rock n’ roll, the blues and country. 3. New England in the Fall Every year, the millions of trees that shade the northeast corner of the USA signal the arrival of Fall with an explosion of red, purple and gold. Journey from Manhattan Island to Boston and beautiful New England, you’ll witness their splendour, framed against the still-blue skies. 4. Musical Cities USA Discover the sights that informed the soundtrack to our lives. Travel from Motown’s birthplace in Detroit to Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and bustling, blues-city Chicago. Then, head south into Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana to explore the landscape that gave the world jazz, blues and country music’s most undying stars. 5. American Queen – Mississippi River Cruise On this wonderful journey through the American South you’ll spend two nights each in New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville, and discover some of “Ol’ Man River’s” most enthralling and historic settlements, as you enjoy the luxury of life on board. 6. New York to Hollywood – The Best of the USA Central Park, New York Discover the best of both coasts. Visit Washington DC and Philadelphia, and spend three nights in glittering Manhattan before you fly west to glorious San Francisco. See nature at its most spectacular at Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, and explore the man-made wonders of Las Vegas and colourful Hollywood. Our holidays The Courier Travel works with in conjunction with specialist tour operators for our trips to USA & Canada. To view our complete collection, click here.

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

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

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

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.

Business news

Stagecoach remains on track amid weather challenges

February 27 2014

Transport group Stagecoach says profits remain firmly on track despite the chaos caused by UK flooding and North America’s polar vortex. A management statement for the 40-week period to February 2 said returns remained “satisfactory” despite the most inclement and disruptive of weather in its major markets this winter. Year-to-date revenue growth climbed above 5% in its North American bus business where Megabus.com continues to pick up market traction and was approaching 6% in Stagecoach’s Virgin Rail joint venture. Rail operations in other parts of the country saw 3.9% growth, with the UK bus business up 4.6% and the London division climbing by 3.1%. The performance set stock climbing in early Wednesday trading before shares closed up 0.58% at 384.00. “There has been no significant change to our expected adjusted earnings per share for the year ending April 30 2014, which given the effects of the severe weather in both the UK and North America reflects the strength in the underlying trading of the business,” Stagecoach said. The company said an alliance between Network Rail and its South West Trains franchise has allowed an “integrated” response to flooding in the south west of England and provided the basis “for the parties to work together to enhance the future resilience of the infrastructure”. It announced new coach-rail services to help passengers in the area. Regional bus services, including Stagecoach East Scotland, had performed “well”, the company added, with passenger volume and revenue climbing year-on-year. In the US, Megabus.com was once more the stand-out performer with a revenue hike of more than a fifth in the nine-month period. Sightseeing revenue from the Twin America brand reduced in the “increasingly competitive” New York market, while Stagecoach continues to discuss a monopolies lawsuit with the authorities. Meanwhile, discussions continue with the Department for Transport over Virgin Rail taking a greater share of risks and revenues from its extended west coast mainline agreement. Under the deal Virgin Rail, in which Stagecoach hold a 49% stake, is paid a fee equivalent to 1% of revenue to run the service until April 2017, with the DfT taking the risk over differing revenues and costs. The agreement follows the DfT’s 2012 franchising fiasco, which initially awarded a contract to First Group before the discovery of massive failures in the tendering process. Virgin Rail is now in negotiation over new terms which could see it take greater revenue and cost risk over the next three years, in exchange for a “commensurate” financial return.

Readers' letters

January 27: Is this the sort of legacy Jim Crumley wants to make for Scotland?

January 27 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I read Jim Crumley's article on beavers with interest. Jim is well known for his promotion of the reintroduction of beavers to Scotland, but I feel he is ignoring the evidence from other parts of the world. An article in a recent edition of National Geographic magazine highlighted the problems now being experienced in South America from a similar exercise. Apparently the animals are causing so much destruction to forests that they are having to be culled in vast numbers.This has also been reported in the UK press. Advanced Conservation Strategies, an international conservation agency, have stated that "millions of acres of forest area have been devastated", since just 50 beavers were introduced in Tierra Del Fuego in the 1940s in attempts to establish a fur trade. The animals, despite trapping, have reproduced to the tens of thousands and spread throughout southern South America. A massive culling process is now necessary to protect forest land, at a cost of multi-millions of dollars. Reintroduction of native species sounds heart warming, but sadly the human footprint on nature has changed the environment so much that we will not be reintroducing animals into the environment they once had, but into one completely different, and probably totally unsuitable. Fifty beavers doesn't seem many, but in just 70 years they have become completely out of control in Argentina and Chile, are devastating their environment, and are having to be eradicated. Is this the legacy Jim Crumley wants to make for Scotland? (Captain) Ian F. McRae.17 Broomwell Gardens,Monikie. Roots of greed on Wall Street Sir, - I have always wondered about the machinery that drives global stock markets. I have concluded the whole rotten system is driven for political power and reasons of greed from America, Wall Street being the cauldron from which the world's monetary problems emanate. Unfortunately, many world banking establishments, in their greed, followed the American "get rich quick" system, like sheep. Standard and Poors, the American credit establishment, has the effrontery to dictate as to which country can or cannot get fair rates of interest. Most of these establishments work hand in hand with an American political system that continues to favour the affluent. With the rise in wealth of the nations in the Eastern hemisphere, why do the US military want to hold "exercises" in international waters off China? Illegal wars, often waged in the interest of US concerns, can continue to rely on Wall Street and its political partners to foot the bills. Internet control by the US government is the latest in a long list of control freakery threatening the freedom of speech of their own citizens and that of others around the world. Since the Wall Street crash of the 1930s, lessons have not been learned and the same greed and political manipulation still remains. Perhaps the emerging markets in the Far East may bring some sanity into the world of the moneymen and the new competition they supply will hopefully loosen Wall Street's stranglehold on the world's stockmarkets. Bob Harper.63a Pittenweem Road,Anstruther. Losing control of our destiny Sir, - One-third of Britain's water, telecommunications, energy and transport networks is now foreign-owned; so says the Office of Fair Trading. Last week China bit off nearly one-tenth ownership of Thames Water, the UK's largest water supplier. Closer to home I noticed on the same day as the water purchase was announced the flag of the People's Republic of China was flying beside the Saltire over the offices of Todd and Duncan, Loch Leven Mills, Kinross a world-class producer of cashmere yarns. The firm goes back to profound Scottish roots in Kinross 140 years ago and was brought to international eminence before his retirement by Second World War Spitfire ace Sir Alan Smith. Have we got to accept that control of our economy and ultimately our very lives is slipping away from us piecemeal? Alastair Harper.House of Gask,Lathalmond. Tragic vision of the future Sir, - The sickening video of a magnificent soaring griffon vulture being felled by a wind turbine on the island of Crete is a portent of what Scottish raptors face if the proliferation of Scottish windfarms is allowed to continue. Stephen Grieve.Nethergate,Crail. Parking charges hit rural folk Sir, - I read with dismay the proposal by Perth and Kinross Council to yet again raise parking charges by more than the rate of inflation. Every recent price rise has been 10p - let the council restrict the amount to 5p this time. Garry Barnett.Campsie Hill,Guildtown. No right to lay down the law Sir, - Sir Fred Goodwin should rightly lose his honour and this should equally apply to those so-called noble Lords, particularly those who have been imprisoned for crimes and also those who have brought shame upon their fellow peers by fiddling their expenses. Why are such individuals allowed to make laws which govern our conduct, when their own leaves much to be desired? John McDonald.14 Rosebery Court,Kirkcaldy. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

Golf

After Ryder Cup maelstrom, what next for rowdy golf fans?

October 4 2016

Football is a gentlemen's game played by rogues while rugby is a rogues' game played by gentlemen. If that's the case then what is golf? The most genteel of games is in the spotlight for the behaviour of fans at the Ryder Cup. The 2016 showdown - which saw America lift the coveted cup for the first time since 2008 - will be remembered as more than just a thrilling contest. It's already being labelled the most hostile in the competition's 89-year history, with groups of Team USA fans hurling abuse at European players. Rory McIlroy faced the brunt of the abuse, with a selection of fans shouting obscenities at him regarding his sex life and break-up with tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki. A fan was thrown out of Hazeltine National Golf Club after hurling insults at the Northern Irishman The brother of 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, Peter Willett, was heavily criticised prior to the tournament for an article he wrote that called American fans a "baying mob of imbeciles" and "fat, stupid, greedy and classless." While Danny Willett apologised for the piece before the event, calling it a "bad article written at a bad time", in the wake of the competition he tweeted that some American fans showed his brother was in fact correct. The players themselves - on both sides  - comported themselves admirably. The European golfers subjected to abuse managed to resist the temptation to respond in kind, while some American players urged their fans to remain quiet during play. Just how damaging can a hostile crowd be to a sportsman? Dr Fiona McConnachie is a sports psychology lecturer at Abertay University in Dundee. She says abusive fans who deliberately set out to distract or upset players can have a devastating effect on some competitors' game. "Players who have an 'external' style of focusing will become easily distracted by jeering," she explained. "If a player is thrown off course they start to ruminate over negative talk and focus on feelings of anger. "They then miss out on all the external information they need to play their next shot and also stop focusing internally on their performance plan." There are ways for athletes to reduce the amount of effect hecklers have, however. "Using a simple keyword can help the player get back their focus and control," she added. "Players can also use stress inoculation training whereby they train under increasing amounts of stressors that they have identified might be disruptive so they're able to get used to it and are less affected by it in competition. "It helps them get used to playing with external loud noise including jeering from opposition fans." Stuart Syme is the owner of Drumoig Golf Centre in Fife. Of the insults reported to have been thrown at European players he said: "I'm wary of taking these things at face value. I have good friends in America and the Ryder Cup was reported quite differently over there. That said some of the comments that were allegedly directed at Rory McIlroy were outrageous and completely indefensible. "What was heartening was the way the fans and players self policed. You had fans telling off the rowdy ones and the players were terrific. Reed and Spieth were excellent. They are both young, inexperienced guys who could have fanned the flames but instead of ramping it up they called for calm. Does he think golf fans are less respectful than they used to be?  "There's no doubt this generation has been brought up differently from the last," he continued. "They're more outspoken but by and large that's a good thing. I think with events like the Ryder Cup and the Open, a bigger issue is that hospitality has grown so huge. "You have a lot of people who are there with free drink all day and who may not ever have been to a golf match or be that interested in the game. They might have a few too many beers then wander out and not realise how golf fans are supposed to behave. "I think I'm right in saying this year's hospitality tent at the Ryder Cup was the biggest ever. The problem's not going to go away so I think to an extent we just have to live with it. "If you look at smaller events that attract more hardcore golf fans they don't have any of these problems. The Dunhill is coming up later this week and I bet there isn't a single incident at it."      

Perth & Kinross

Festival goers can fuel up on authentic soul food

July 22 2016

A mouth-watering selection of authentic soul food dishes will be served up on the streets of Perth as part of an annual celebration of American roots music. Monkey bread, gumbo, drunken sauce and a duck and sausage jambalaya are among the platters that matter at this year's Southern Fried Festival. The three-day event kicks off on Friday, July 29, and features top acts including Imelda May and Mary Chapin Carpenter. US food historian Peggy Brunache has worked with head chef Martin Buchan on a menu to compliment the star-studded line-up. The delicacies, which will be served as part of a barbecue during outdoor performances, are aimed at giving visitors a rare taste of southern American cooking. Gumbo, for example, is a dish from south Louisiana which dates back to the 18th Century. Highly popular in live music haven New Orleans, the thick stew can be made with shellfish or meat and the "Cajun holy trinity of vegetables" - celery, bell peppers and onions. Monkey bread is a sticky, gooey pastry made with cinnamon which is served as breakfast in some parts of America. Peggy said: "People have probably heard about a lot of these dishes in movies and in music, but they have maybe never had the chance to try them." Tickets are selling like hot cakes for this summer's show, with a headline performance by Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack and Andy Fairweather Low already sold out. As well as the main acts at Perth Concert Hall, there will also be gigs at the city's Green Room, That Bar on South Street and the Twa Tams pub. The outdoor and acoustic stages at the concert hall will offer free music to the masses. A week-long music workshop will also be held to offer adults the chance to get onstage as part of the Southern Fried voices community choir. They will perform as part of the new Sunday Morning Coming Down concert. As ever, there will be an open mic session and various fringe events and side attractions. For full details, visit www.southernfriedfestival.co.uk or call 01738 621031.    

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