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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


VIDEO: Dundee Army Reserve piper’s early-morning wake-up call in Croatia

September 2 2016

The skirl of the pipes drifted through the Croatian highlands as a Dundee piper from the 7th battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland - 7 Scots -  put on several moving performances during Exercise Sava Star attended by The Courier. Private Keith Christie, 24, from Dundee, and Lance Corporal David Hay, 34, from Livingston played a number of traditional pipes and drums tunes including Bonnie Dundee and Scotland the Brave as dusk fell across the Red Earth camp, near Split. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw0-9xPu6k8 The performance also captured the imagination of Croatian Army soldiers as the pair climbed atop a redundant T72 Soviet-designed battle tank and played tunes silhouetted against the sunset. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P1QdGZevcY One Croatian even jumped up to be photographed with the Scots pair whilst hoisting his Hadjuk Split football scarf! Private Christie, a former pupil of Forthill Primary and Grove Academy, has been with the Army Reserve for more than five years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNb2-uDMXx0 He had already given the Scots soldiers and media visitors a taste of his tunes with a 5.45 am wake-up call each morning during our stay at the camp, high in the Croatian mountains, close to the Bosnian border. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5950B0HkDs Going into his second year as an architectural technology student at Dundee and Angus College, he has played the pipes since he was taught as a nine-year-old by renowned Pipe Major Ian Duncan and loves combining soldiering with his love of music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27REiXLtLs4 The former pipe sergeant of the National Youth Band of Scotland said: “It's fairly simple. “The Reserves is very much a case of what you put into it you'll get back. If you can't make a weekend you can't make a weekend. There's no commitment other than the minimum 27 days per year. I really enjoy it. I wouldn't be standing in Croatia if I didn't." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJpDz9hAH_k Private Christie said he'd been all over the world with Army Reserve from America, Cyprus, Denmark, Forteventura, just to name but a few. He adds: "It's really interesting working with the Croatians. We like to have international relations and see how they do things." Lance Corporal Hay, learned to play the drums when he joined the regular army Royal Scots aged 18. He has been with the Reserves 3.5 years and now works for 7 Scots full-time. "Pipes and drums certainly take you to a lot more places than you'd imagine," said the veteran of 10 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoos. "I've probably got more out of the Reserves than I got out of the regulars, but as Keith says, you get out what you put in." To see more on Exercise Sava Star, click here.

Angus & The Mearns

Assessing impact of 45 Commando’s departure from Arbroath

August 8 2011

Angus Council is set to carry out a full impact assessment in preparation of 45 Commando being replaced by the army at RM Condor. Arbroath councillor Donald Morrison called for preparations to be made to ensure a "clean and clear" handover, with no housing, social care or health issues for the new troops set to come to the town. As part of a restructuring of UK defence, the marines will move out of Arbroath within the next five to seven years after four decades in the town, making way for an as yet unknown army regiment. Although the size of the incoming group has not been revealed, Mr Morrison said it was vital to ensure procedures are in place to allow as smooth a transition as possible. He wrote to the council's chief executive, who agreed that an investigation should be carried out in order for the proper infrastructure to be in place for the new soldiers and their families.Preparing for army's needsMr Morrison wrote, "We have got five years to be prepared for what is going to be a different demographic coming into the town, with completely different needs. "We have got ample time to make any changes that are required for the likes of education and social services and as fond as people have been of 45 Commando, we now need to accept that they are leaving and prepare for the future." The 45 Commando unit took over RM Condor in 1971 after it was vacated by the Fleet Air Arm. The troops were originally moved to Arbroath to be closer to Norway, primarily for Arctic training to allow the UK to deal with the Soviet threat. In 2003 the unit's importance to the area was officially recognised when, shortly after they returned from service in Iraq, they paraded through the town centre after being granted the freedom of Arbroath.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire artefacts to go on display in Moscow

May 4 2018

This year's RAF Errol ceremony will coincide with a commemoration in Moscow celebrating the ties between Scotland and the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Photographs and archives from from the former base will go on show on Monday at an exhibition titled Factory Front about the 73rd anniversary of Nazi Germany's surrender in 1945. A number of airmen from the Red Army were stationed in Errol during the conflict, with another group housed and trained in nearby RAF Montrose. Front and centre of the Moscow display will be a unique antiquity discovered in the cellars of one of the Russian airmen's descendants – an RAF flight suit worn by a Soviet pilot, believed to be the only surviving relic of its kind. The suit belonged to Airgroup Commander Korotkov, and his fleece-lined leather pants, and jacket, replete with RAF logo stitched into the lining, are thought to be the last surviving British-made Russian worn uniform left intact. Anna Belorusova is the granddaughter of Soviet pilot Commander Peter Kolesnikov, who was one of sixty or so aircrew who travelled "in secret" from the former communist block to Perthshire and Angus at the height of the war. In the past, she has joined other dignitaries at a memorial service in Errol, which last year saw Russian Consul General Andrei Pritsepov visit the base to lay a memorial wreath. This year, Anna and a number of Russian archivists will host a ceremony at the former Krasny Oktyabr, or Red October, sweetie factory in the Moscow Tribeca. The factory provided sugar-loaded treats for pilots flying nighttime missions deep behind enemy lines, providing much needed energy during daunting bombing raids. The Russian memorial will take place at the exact same time as its counterpart in Errol, 4pm Moscow time, 2pm local. The Perthshire base opened in 1942 and by the following year  was used by the Ferry Training Unit, who taught Russian pilots and flight crews how to operate Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle planes. The Soviet Union had initially placed an order for 200 of the flying machines and the first Soviet-run crew flew from the base to its counterpart in Moscow in the spring of 1943, closely followed by 11 others. Of the twelve which left Scotland, only nine landed safely – one was shot down over the North Sea by German fighter planes and the other crashed due to unknown causes. RAF Errol was used as a base until 1948 and the space is now home to the Errol car boot sale.

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.

UK & World

Germany obtained sample of Novichok in the 1990s, reports suggest

May 17 2018

Germany’s foreign intelligence service secured a sample of the Soviet-developed nerve agent Novichok in the 1990s and passed on its knowledge to partners including Britain and the US, according to German media reports.Britain says an attack earlier this year on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was carried out using Novichok, and blames Russia. German newspapers Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Die Zeit and broadcasters WDR and NDR said in a joint report on Thursday that the West’s knowledge of the substance stems largely from a sample obtained by Germany’s BND agency in the 1990s.The report, which cited unidentified people involved in the operation, said the BND obtained the sample from a Russian scientist and Germany then had it analysed at a Swedish lab.The BND refused to comment.

Angus & The Mearns

Passchendaele heroes added to Dundee war roll

August 10 2017

Three members of a Dundee family who survived the Battle of Passchendaele have been added to the city’s roll of honour. The Great War Dundee Project is the story of the 30,490 men that left the city to fight in the first world war and of the people left at home. Dundee gave 63% of its eligible men to the armed forces and the directory was updated following Saturday’s Courier article about the role the city’s Johnston brothers played in the war. Of the five Johnston brothers, Frank, Walter, David and Peachy were artillerymen, and the fifth, John, was an army doctor. Frank and Walter’s entries have now been updated while David, Peachy and John have now had entries created in the returnee section of the honour roll. Gary Thomson from the Great War Dundee Project said: “Following Saturday’s Courier article on the five Johnston brothers who served in the war, with both Frank and Walter paying the ultimate sacrifice and the fact that Frank, for reasons unknown is not recognised as a casualty of war, the Great War Dundee Project has updated the entries for both Frank and Walter on the new roll of honour. “Dundee paid a high price for her war efforts. By the armistice, over 4,000 men had made the ultimate sacrifice. “Their names are recorded in the city’s original roll of honour, a simple alphabetical list of names, ranks and regiments. “Over the years mistakes and omissions have been discovered by families viewing the list resulting in handwritten corrections to the record.” Mr Thomson said one of Great War Dundee’s main objectives is to produce an “inclusive, fully searchable online roll of Dundonians who contributed to the war effort” and in doing so honour the men and women who lost their lives and those who survived. He added: “Due to the fact that Frank was not recognised as a casualty his entry on the original Dundee Roll of Honour was very sparse with only his name and regiment listed. “Saturday’s article allowed us to contact Frank’s relative who provided us with a fantastic amount on information about Frank and Walter which have been added to their entry. “Not only that but the three brothers who survived, David, John and Peachy have now have entries created, in the returnee section of the honour roll. “It is thanks to people like Douglas that these entries now have added information and photos.” Frank is believed to have been wounded in Flanders in 1917 and he endured a prolonged and difficult death in November 1919 in a private nursing home in Dundee as a result of his injuries. The family have been unable to provide sufficient independent corroboration that he died directly of his war wounds as his army records have not survived. Frank’s great nephew Douglas Norrie from near Arbroath is trying to find documentary evidence to correct this. David and Frank were both with the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and their batteries of large long range howitzers were deployed at Corps level and primarily used to attack specific enemy targets, particularly enemy artillery. Walter and Peachy served with the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) with their respective brigades being attached to infantry divisions and their smaller, highly portable field guns being used in support of infantry. The fifth of the brothers, Captain (Dr) John McPherson Johnston was a doctor and served with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was awarded the Silver War Badge after being discharged with TB.


U-2: when Cold War superpowers squared up over spyplane

April 29 2010

While many people today associate the term U2 with a pop group, it was a U-2 spyplane that almost caused one of the most painful incidents of the Cold War 50 years ago. Brian Townsend reflects on one of the US government's greatest diplomatic headaches of modern times. There were maybe four or five occasions during the Cold War when the two power blocs the West, and the Soviet Union and its allies came perilously close to hot war, which might also have crossed the nuclear threshold. In most of those the blockade of Berlin in 1947-48, Red China's covert involvement in the Korean War after 1951, the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, Russia's crushing of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and above all the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, it was beyond doubt the Communist bloc that instigated the crisis. But there was one painful occasion, 50 years ago this month, when the fault lay indisputably with the West. On May 1, 1960, the Russians shot down a high-flying (up to 80,000ft) American spy plane, the U-2, near Sverdlovsk in central Russia. The pilot, Gary Powers, managed to bail out and was captured. Normally the U-2, which had left a US airbase at Peshawar in Pakistan, was way out of range of Soviet ground-to-air missiles, but on that flight a technical fault meant the plane was flying far lower and was brought down by a missile. Russian missiles then were not too accurate one of them downed a Soviet Mig jet that was shadowing the U-2. The Americans initially insisted the U-2 was a weather plane that had blown off course, whereupon the Russians produced photos of military bases, arms factories and other strategic locations they had salvaged from intact cameras in the wreckage. The Americans then said the event was a one-off, so the Russians produced radar logs proving U-2s had flown over Soviet territory countless times before. The US still tried to bluff and stonewall, but the Russians two months later put Gary Powers in trial and he vouchsafed nearly everything the Russians were claiming. Understandably, the pugnacious Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev, made political hay from the debacle and US President Dwight Eisenhower, in his final year in office, somehow managed to appear flat-footed at every turn. It was a painful humiliation for the West, which Khrushchev gleefully exploited. A much-touted "Big Four" summit in Paris in June 1960 ended before it began, with Khrushchev blaming the shambles on the US and the U-2. Later that year, at the UN General Assembly in New York, Khrushchev made history by yelling at British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan during his speech to the assembly, and even took his shoe off and banged it on his desk. Supermac showed supreme British sangfroid by saying to the audience, "If someone could translate what he is saying, I would be happy to reply." The consequences of the U-2 affair are a source of some debate. It may well have influenced some US voters to vote for John Kennedy, instead of Eisenhower's Vice-President Richard Nixon, in that year's November presidential election. It certainly blighted the final months of Eisenhower's presidency and overshadowed his twilight years. At the end of his trial, Gary Powers was sentenced to 10 years, three in jail, seven in a hard-labour camp, but he was freed in February 1962 in exchange for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. He was received coolly in the US but after debriefing and testifying to a congressional committee, its members praised how he had divulged very little key information to his Soviet interrogators. He became a test pilot for Lockheed but was sacked after he co-authored a book about the U-2 affair in 1970. He later worked as a helicopter pilot with a Los Angeles TV station and was killed after his copter ran out of fuel covering a forest fire in 1977. Powers, just 48 and leaving a widow and two children, was buried at Arlington Cemetery.EmboldenedThe U-2 episode certainly emboldened Khrushchev but that, ironically, led to his eventual downfall. In 1962 he started supplying powerful missiles to Fidel Castro's Cuba in the belief that the US, especially in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, had lost the will to challenge growing Soviet power. But spy planes like the U-2 spotted the missile sites and shadowed Soviet freighters carrying the missiles to Havana. In October 1962, President Kennedy called the Soviets' bluff, and it was they who turned their freighters round and dismantled the Cuban missile sites. Khrushchev never regained ascendancy after that and was ousted from power in October 1964. He died in September 1971. A final irony was that he had to have his memoirs published in the west because he had fallen so far out of favour in his homeland. Could we ever see a similar incident to the U-2 in the future? Highly unlikely. With the Earth's near-space today bobbing with satellites with pin-sharp cameras covering every square inch of the planet, planes like the U-2 are history but a painful history nonetheless. U-2 and Gary Powers images used under Creative Commons licence from US Army source on Wikimedia Commons. Pilot and plane image used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user GJC1.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire connection helps Russian war veterans to victory

April 16 2013

A group of Russian war veterans have won their latest battle with a little help from The Courier. The air force veterans marshalled the power of the press as they fought a rearguard action to save the Museum of the Transport Air Force Division at Vnukovo in Moscow from closure. The museum was created in the 1970s as a tribute to the heroism of pilots during the Second World War and houses a collection of more than 4,000 items of memorabilia, documents and military awards donated by the air force veterans and their families. The future of the museum came under threat after it was decided to close the municipal cultural centre where it is located for renovation. Incensed by the prospect of losing the museum, the families of the war heroes started a petition and held a protest at the local war memorial. They even enlisted the help of a modern aviation hero, pilot Evgeny Novoselov, who in 2010 made a miracle emergency landing of his aircraft, saving the lives of all 81 people on board, who wrote a letter of support to President Vladimir Putin. As part of their plan the veterans armed themselves with copies of articles from The Courier which told of a mysterious wartime mission by Soviet airmen to Perthshire which showed the amount of foreign interest in the veterans’ story and proved vital to their fight. News of the success came from Anna Belorusova, a Russian woman who has made a pilgrimage to Errol airfield to learn more about her heroic grandfather Peter Kolesnikov, who served with the squadron. “What became the turning point in sealing the museum’s future came from Scotland with the recent Courier articles disclosing the mystery wartime mission of the best airmen of the Vnukovo Transport Air Force Division at the RAF Errol base, as part of 305 RAF Squadron,” she said. “The Courier articles closing the gap in the division war history and confirming that the memory of the Russian airmen war time presence is still alive in Scotland, have given the second breath to the Vnukovo museum defenders. “The Scottish articles were seen and appreciated at the top Moscow offices and the happy ending came last week. It has been decided that the museum is to stay and to develop, for the 70th Victory Anniversary and further on. Elena Nikitina, the chief curator, said: “We are very grateful to the Scottish people for their friendly hospitality to our airmen in Errol during the war, which they had very fond memories of.”