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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

UK & World

Recycled capsule launched with supplies for International Space Station

April 2 2018

SpaceX has launched a used supply ship on a used rocket to the International Space Station.The Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, hoisting a Dragon capsule full of food, experiments and other station goods for Nasa.The Dragon and its 6,000lb shipment should reach the space station on Wednesday when the station astronauts will use a robot arm to grab it.It is the second trip to the orbiting lab for this particular Dragon, recycled following a visit two years ago.The Falcon’s first-stage booster also flew before, last summer.SpaceX has combined a recycled Dragon and a recycled Falcon once before.The company aims to reduce launch costs by reusing rocket parts.The space station is currently home to astronauts from the US, Russia and Japan.

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

Dundee

Games jam played out well in Dundee

September 25 2016

Dundee  developers have come up with new virtual reality games in just 24 hours as part of a competition. A games jam took place from 4pm on Thursday until 4pm on Friday at Tag Games, resulting in games prototypes with names like Spider Spider, Mouse of Horrors and Terminal Station. The developers also created their own answer to the famous Boaty McBoatface, with a game titled Vanny McVanFace. Virtual reality, a form of technology that simulates a player's presence in a replica of a real environment, is said to be the future of games with some VR versions already present in many living rooms. Tag's marketing executive Gavin Moffat said: "At the games jam, staff split into four teams of four people - a designer, an artist and programmers. "They then had 24 hours to design a game prototype. "You would struggle to design a full game in that time, although it could be done if you're extremely good and the game is simple. "But with a prototype, you could then spend months perfecting and polishing it into a full game. "Some really great ideas can come out of these jam - you have to be creative and work fast. It was a great event. "This time the theme was virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets are already being used but it's difficult to say whether they'll become the default in gaming. "It could be the case that it's popular for a few years and then people get bored of it, or it could remain popular. "However, it certainly has great potential." Over the past 20 years Dundee has become an international hub for games developers with the world's biggest-selling video game - Grand Theft Auto - starting life in the city. Games jam are popular events where games developers get together to brainstorm ideas and create new prototypes within a short space of time.

Motoring news

Jaguar launches baby E-Pace SUV

July 19 2017

Hot on the heels of the remarkable F-Pace, Jaguar has launched its second SUV. The E-Pace is a smaller five-seater designed to take on the Audi Q3 and Q5, BMW X3, Volvo’s upcoming XC60, and its own stablemate the Range Rover Evoque. Jaguar held the most literal car launch I’ve ever witness, hiring stunt driver Terry Jones to put the car through a barrel roll at an event in London – and bagging a Guinness world record in the process. Not many owners are likely to require their E-Pace to be capable of such displays of aerial tomfoolery but it’s very impressive nonetheless. Of more practical value is the knowledge the car should, Jaguar hopes, be on sale before the end of this year with a starting price tag of £28,500. All but entry level models will come with four-wheel drive as standard and there’s a wealth of technology and driver features to tempt people away from their German marques and into buying British. Jaguar is positioning the E-Pace as a much more sports-orientated model than its larger sister with drivers able to set up their own personalised throttle, steering and transmission settings. The engine line-up will include a 300PS petrol unit producing a 0-60mph time of under six seconds. Five powertrains will be offered in the E-Pace, across three petrol and two diesel engines. All are Ingenium units built at Jaguar Land Rover’s plant in the West Midlands – the E-Pace will be the first Jaguar with a totally Ingenium engine line-up. The E-Pace itself, however, will be built not in Britain but in Austria. Such is the wave of popularity Jaguar Land Rover is riding now that its British manufacturing facilities are operating at close to full capacity. Its exterior design is bolder than that of the F-Pace and said to be evolved directly from the F-Type sports car. Jaguar is also promising the very latest connectivity for E-Pace owners. The car’s 4G wi-fi hotspot will provide content streaming through up to eight devices simultaneously, while a Touch Pro infotainment system will allow occupants to access their favourite smart device apps through the car. The E-Pace is built on the same platform as the Range Rover Evoque and so is a similar size. It’s 4,395mm long and 1,984mm wide, slightly larger than the 4,370mm x 1,900mm Evoque. Jaguar says it will seat five in comfort, with generous rear legroom. The E-Pace has exceptional boot space compared with the Evoque: 577 litres with the rear seats up, compared with just 420 litres for the Range Rover. Despite its name, there isn’t an electric model in the E-Pace line up. That honour is reserved for the I-Pace, which is due to go on sale next year, and looks so impressive it ought to have Tesla trembling.

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.

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

SpaceX rocket launches science and commercial satellites into space

May 23 2018

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has successfully launched a pair of US-German science satellites and five commercial communications satellites into orbit from California.The rocket roared off from a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 12.47pm (8.47pm BST) and arced over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles as it headed towards the South Pole.Its upper stage deployed the research satellites minutes after reaching orbit. The satellites for Iridium Communications’ next-generation fleet were released in a process completed a little more than an hour after liftoff.The Falcon 9’s first stage was previously used for a launch from Florida in January. SpaceX did not attempt to recover it this time.The science payload from Nasa and the German Centre for Geosciences included two identical satellites for the agencies’ Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment-Follow On mission, continuing the work of two predecessor spacecraft that spanned 15 years ending last October.Called GRACE-FO, for short, the mission will detect the movement of Earth’s water masses and changes in mass within the planet by measuring variations in gravity through tiny fluctuations in the distance between the two satellites as they orbit 137 miles (220 kilometres) apart – roughly the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego – at an altitude of about 304 miles (490 kilometres).The constant mapping of the gravity field reveals changes in Earth’s ice sheets, aquifers, lakes and sea level.“GRACE was really a revolutionary mission for us understanding the water cycle and how the climate behaves and the trends which are taking place over the last 10 or 15 years,” Frank Webb, GRACE-FO project scientist, told a pre-launch press conference.The technique, for example, has shown reductions of mass in Greenland and Antarctica due to enormous losses of water into the oceans each year. GRACE also showed how central California was affected by recent years of drought as water was pumped from a major aquifer, Mr Webb said.“During that drought California lost weight – water weight – as farmers and agriculture pumped out more water to meet the needs that weren’t being met by the snowpack in the mountains with the rainfall,” Mr Webb said.There was some recovery in the amount of mass – water in the ground – due to heavy rains just as the original GRACE mission was ending, but despite the gap in measurements, the new mission will allow scientists to see how much water stayed in the ground and how much ran off into the ocean, Mr Webb said.Nasa contributed 430 million US dollars (£320 million) to the new mission and the German contribution was 77 million euro (£68 million), officials said.The commercial side of the launch was the sixth in Iridium Communications’ three billion dollar (£2.2 billion) campaign to replace its entire fleet of globe-circling satellites for mobile communications.The McLean, Virginia, company now has 55 Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit. Two more launches will increase the number to 75, including 66 operational satellites and nine spares. An additional six spares will remain on the ground until needed.The Iridium satellites also provide platforms for a space-based air traffic management system from joint venture Aerion LLC. The United Kingdom’s public-private air traffic management partnership known as NATS announced last week that it has invested 69 million dollars (£51 million) in Aerion, worth about 10% equity.

Dundee

Council to investigate sites for possible contamination

April 27 2018

Dundee City Council is set to spend £100,000 this year investigating land which could have been contaminated by former petrol stations. In addition former quarries, industrial estates, infilled lands and sites close to where large fuel containers sit will all be periodically inspected over the coming 12 months. Community safety and public protection committee convener Alan Ross said it was important these tests are conducted periodically and will give confidence not just to construction firms looking to build on vacated land, but to residents living in the investigated areas too. The site of the former petrol station on Queen Street in Broughty Ferry is to be studied, with experts set to take soil samples from the land between where the garage used to be located and the railway line. Loftus petrol station was demolished in 2006 and and the site was converted into seven flats, planning permission for which was granted in 2005. It had existed in some form as a fuelling site on Queen Street for at least forty years prior to its demolition. Alongside the petrol station site, the former Downfield quarry is to undergo gas and groundwater inspection. Mr Ross said: "These works will be undertaken as a matter of national policy and are required by law to be carried out. "If we look at cases like the former petrol station site, these premises had underground pipes which were full of fuel so it is important for public protection regular investigations are done. "Bringing this work before the committee helps us keep up to date on the work being carried out to investigate possible contaminated land and allows us to keep tabs on how much it is costing. "There is no need for public concern regarding these investigations, they are regularly carried out." Last year, soil sampling conducted by contaminated land experts discovered there were no risks to public health at the former gravel pits in Happy Hillock and Rowantree Crescent. Similar investigations on the site of the former Ashton works in Hawkhill have certified it safe as an available public open space.

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