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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...

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

Obituaries

Ex-Auchterarder pupil Stephen Harper

June 19 2015

A former pupil at Auchterarder High School, Stephen Harper, has died aged 31. Mr Harper, who also had the surnames Mactavish and Watson in his early years, had been living in Aberdeen. After leaving school he started a career in catering but had been working as the manager of a ceramic tile distributor. He became ill last year and was diagnosed as having Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Mr Harper underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but died in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He is survived by his husband Gavin. Mr Harper’s funeral takes place today at Perth Crematorium at 4pm.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Dundee

Dundee man told to renounce his love of cannabis or be sent to prison

July 28 2014

An “egocentric and obstinate” Dundee man caught growing cannabis in his flat was told to renounce his love of the drug or be sent to jail. A court heard eight officers discovered the cannabis plants after raiding Steven Harper’s Lochee flat following a tip-off. Harper, 29, admitted producing a controlled drug at his home in Burnside Court on February 13. Gary McIlravey, defending, said: “He likes cannabis. He feels the law is wrong and he can’t say anymore than that. “The plants were for his own use. He now has to mingle with drug dealers, so there’s a negative aspect to that.” Sheriff Elizabeth Munro told Harper: “My first reaction to this was to send you to prison. “Basically, you want to carry on as before? I don’t see why the rest of us should subsidise your cannabis habit. “What you don’t realise is your cannabis habit has affected your brain. You are not thinking right at all. “The social work report describes you as egocentric, obstinate and not likeable.” Hunter interrupted from the dock, saying: “I’m not doing anything wrong, I’m just smoking weed.” Sheriff Munro replied: ”You are painting me into a corner. Do some wider reading on the subject instead of just the articles that suit you by the time you come back here. “But if you haven’t changed your mind, you are going to prison.” Sentence was deferred until October 27.

Perth & Kinross

Perth senior citizens to receive food and treats from some of Scotland’s top companies

December 15 2014

The staggering generosity of Perth residents and some of Scotland’s top companies will bring cheer to vulnerable pensioners this Christmas. More than 1,300 of the city’s senior citizens will receive special gift bags loaded with food and treats, while hundreds will receive hampers as part of a massive charity effort. Now in its eighth year, the Perth Senior Citizens Christmas Appeal is coordinated by People With A Mission Ministries (PWAMM). Such has been the generosity of supporters this year, the total value of the gift bags is estimated to be more than £50,000. They contain goodies such as biscuits, soup, chutneys, mince pies, shortbread, a gospel CD and a copy of the new biography of Scottish missionary Mary Slessor. The gift bags will now be distributed to the elderly in sheltered housing complexes and the wider community in the run-up to Christmas. PWAMM director and senior pastor Mervyn Milne said: “Many people feel lonely at this time of year. “Society continues to get older and many senior citizens find themselves living on their own, sometimes in isolation. “Over the years, they have given valuable service to their community and nation, and these gifts are a great way of showing how much we still care for and appreciate them.” A variety of top Scottish businesses, including Baxters of Speyside, Walkers Shortbread, House of Bruar, Fairprint and Scottish Fine Soaps have joined forces with chains Asda and Marks and Spencer to provide the presents. A&J Stephen, the Perth Common Good Fund, the Stagecoach Group and the Tay Charitable Trust have also provided financial support for the purchase of gifts. In addition, young people from Perth Christian Fellowship have been raising cash for the appeal by bag-packing in the supermarkets. The young people will be joined by local gospel choir, the Upper Room Singers, for some carol singing in Asda between 6.30 and 9pm on December 17 and 18. In addition to the gift bags, more than 200 Christmas hampers will be delivered to families in the city. The hampers are coordinated by Joseph’s Storehouse, which is part of PWAMM’s community care ministry. “It is a great privilege to be able to again provide something special for so many families this year,” Mr Milne said. “We are extremely grateful to the growing number of supporters who want to show the senior citizens in our community the real meaning of Christmas through the provision of these gifts.” The church arm of PWAMM, Perth Christian Fellowship, provides extensive support to senior citizens across Perth and Kinross. It hosts a free monthly lunch for 300 people in the National Christian Outreach Centre, a weekly fellowship hour and church services in nine nursing homes and sheltered housing complexes around Perth.

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.

Fife

Jubilant Fife mum urges more to fight ‘bedroom tax’

December 20 2013

A jubilant Fife mother and her disabled son have become the latest family to win their appeal against the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ and she says their victory shows people should not be scared of the legal process. An independent solicitor took moments to decide that Judith Aitken, 57, should pay a nominal spare room subsidy fee negated by a discretionary housing payment towards a storage room used to house medical supplies for her son, Stephen, 24, who has cerebral palsy. If unsuccessful then the family would have lost £80 a month because of the room at their home in the Collydean area of Glenrothes, which Mrs Aitken says is essential if she is to provide any level of care for her son. However, following Thursday’s tribunal at Pathhead Parish Church in Kirkcaldy, the pair will not lose a penny in benefit payments. Calling on more people to appeal against the legislation, Mrs Aitken told The Courier: “It is a scary thought, especially when you’re not used to legal proceedings, but the public have to know that this is wrong. It is wrong for us, as a family with a disabled son. “If people can afford to pay for their own house then they would automatically have the number of rooms they need. “We did get the housing discretionary payment but that was only temporary up until March and there was no guarantee it would go beyond that. We couldn’t ignore this.” Judith has been Stephen’s sole carer since her husband passed away 11 years ago. They live in what is termed a four-bedroom home, with one room stacked with supplies essential for Stephen’s care. “Stephen needs total care,” Mrs Aitken continued. He has a bag on his back, which is a feeding machine that is attached to him for 20 hours a day. “In the morning he has to have his feeding machine detached and I set up his fresh feed for the day. “He needs total care; changed, taking him out, medication four times a day. We have a room literally full of boxes of feed, water, medicines the room is full.” Mrs Aitken was initially informed that her housing benefit would be affected when a representative from her housing association visited to explain that they would be charged for two rooms. She continued: “We spoke to the housing manager about downsizing but we couldn’t fit into a two-bedroom because of these medical supplies. The minimum is a three-bedroom house but there are none nearby. “They adapted our house for Stephen so even if they found a property, they would have to adapt that.” Outside the church a small group of campaigners opposed to the “bedroom tax” had gathered to voice their continued concerns over the UK Government’s welfare reform, officially termed as ending the ‘spare room subsidy’. Spokesman Louise McLeary said: “It is very important that people know they can win these appeals. I’m not sure that many people know that they can appeal and that is worrying.”

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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