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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…

UK & World

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

February 21 2018

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

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

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

Pendragon to reduce dealerships and sell US operation

December 4 2017

Car firm Pendragon is to shut dealerships in Britain and offload its US division following a profit warning in October and a slowdown in UK new vehicle sales. The company said that following a strategic review of the business, it will “reduce” the number of its premium brand franchises over the next three years. A total of 70 Pendragon dealerships house brands such as Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar and Porsche. Pendragon also announced that it will offload its US division, from which it expects to bank over £100 million. “Given the strong performance of this division, we have concluded it is economically right to sell the business at this time to realise its value,” the firm said. The decisions follow an October profit warning which sent Pendragon’s share price tumbling, with boss Trevor Finn pointing to a decline in demand for new cars amid falling consumer confidence. He also said “certain manufacturers” were forcing vehicles into the market despite “softening demand”. It also comes after dire November figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which showed that Britain’s new car market declined for a seventh consecutive month. Pendragon will instead focus on the used car market, where it trades as Evans Halshaw with 118 dealerships and is aiming to double revenue by 2021. Mr Finn added: “Following our strategic review, we have focused on reshaping the business to accelerate transformation and ensure capital allocation is optimised across the group. “The actions I am announcing today are a further step towards achieving our strategic objectives. “I believe this strategy will provide more reliable and sustainable returns.” (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '8f5d5b0d-e0a3-4d88-97b2-b7a6cc2c13af'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:finance,paservice:finance:city'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Pendragon to reduce dealerships and sell US operation'});

Rolls-Royce launches review of L’Orange

January 15 2018

Rolls-Royce has launched a strategic review of L’Orange, a German arm of the group that makes fuel injectors for diesel engines. The announcement from the aircraft engine maker comes after reports surfaced last week suggesting that L’Orange was to be sold for $700 million. “Rolls-Royce notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is reviewing its strategic options for L’Orange. “Irrespective of the outcome of this review, Rolls-Royce intends to maintain close ties to L’Orange, either as an owner or as a key customer,” the company said on Monday. Based in Stuttgart, L’Orange specialises in injection technology for diesel and heavy fuel oil engines in the “off-highway sector”, which Rolls says makes it possible to combine low pollution emissions with low fuel consumption. If it goes through, the sale would be the largest divestment since boss Warren East took the top job in 2015. The strategic review has no impact on the remainder of the Rolls-Royce Power Systems business, the group confirmed, and any decision about the future of L’Orange is subject to the approval of the supervisory board. In August, Rolls-Royce took a step forward in its recovery after a jump in large engine deliveries helped the firm swing to a half-year profit. The firm booked a pre-tax profit of £1.94 billion for the six months ending in June, up from a £2.15 billion loss over the same period last year. Revenues climbed 12% to £7.57 billion, as the FTSE 100 firm cheered a 27% rise in large engine deliveries in the civil aerospace sector. The company has been looking to shore up its performance after reporting its largest ever loss and one of the biggest in UK corporate history last year. Rolls slumped to a pre-tax loss of £4.64 billion for 2016 after a £4.4 billion writedown linked to the collapse of the Brexit hit pound, as well as a £671 million penalty to settle bribery allegations. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '0ccdb97a-fb5f-4ca2-8f04-267b204de5f3'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:finance,paservice:finance:city'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Rolls-Royce launches review of Lu2019Orange'});

Batchelors not on the menu, Premier Foods says

January 15 2018

Premier Foods has played down reports that it is weighing up a potential sale of Batchelors, its Cup a Soup brand. The company, which is also behind Ambrosia custard and Bisto gravy, said it “regularly reviews options”, adding that talks have not gone beyond an “exploratory stage”. Premier was responding to reports over the weekend that Batchelors was being readied for a £200 million sale to its biggest shareholder, Japan’s Nissin. “On 29 June 2017 the company confirmed that, in line with good corporate governance, it regularly reviews options to deliver value for all its stakeholders. “Such reviews do periodically involve discussions with third parties, including Nissin. “There is no current situation where discussions have gone beyond an exploratory stage,” the firm said. In 2016, Premier rejected a £537 million takeover bid from the US company McCormick, choosing instead to form a strategic alliance with Nissin. Since then the group, which has over £500 million of debt, has had to issue a profit warning linked to the Brexit-hit pound. Premier added: “As a matter of normal good governance, the board continues to keep under review any options which could potentially add value for shareholders and other stakeholders, and accelerate the delivery of the Board’s strategic objectives, particularly with respect to reducing gearing.” The group served up a half-year pre-tax loss of £1.2 million for the six months ending in September, a narrowing of the £8.7 million loss recorded for the same period last year. (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'}); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '8fc4ed35-0176-4f08-94fb-e44cbcd1d2b1'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:finance,paservice:finance:city'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', null); ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Batchelors not on the menu, Premier Foods says'});

Business news

TAG Games hiring for ‘aggressive growth’

November 23 2013

Dundee’s Tag Games is targeting “aggressive growth” as it gets set for a string of key appointments. Ongoing recruitment will take the city games studio’s workforce to around 35, but founder and chief executive Paul Farley told Courier Business the new additions would also hasten further expansion. He expects Tag’s “massively important” new hires which will include a senior business development executive, art director, and marketing and data management support to help grow headcount to 50 over the coming months. “These are strategic appointments, but we’re being fairly aggressive in how we want to grow the company,” Mr Farley said. “We want to get bigger, but it’s also about planning for the future and ensuring we’ve got the people we need to keep delivering great games to customers. “The industry is more competitive than it has ever been, so this is about some key hires for the next stage of Tag’s development.” Tag is already on course to post its strongest ever turnover this year, but the new appointments are key to the company’s future. Mr Farley said a yearly review of the business had shown areas for new growth. Bringing the marketing function in house is important in the ultra-competitive marketplace, he added, while better interpretation of existing user data will help to focus what Tag offers. “It will mean we’ve got good people in all the key posts and will allow us to get to 50 fairly quickly,” Mr Farley said. “This is about planning for the future and ensuring that we don’t stagnate, which is just so important in our industry.” But he warned that, while Dundee is full of good industry talent, bringing candidates for top jobs to the city could prove challenging. “We could probably maintain our position in terms of where we are at our current size,” he said. “But we don’t want to stay where we are we want to go for the much more aggressive growth. “We think we can get business in the current environment in many multiples of what it is now.” Mr Farley said Tag is “expecting great things” from a busy pre-Christmas period, with several releases on the cards. The studio, which specialises in social and mobile games, has already worked with a range of well-known names including Doctor Who and Channel 4’s Hotel GB. Recent releases included a penalty-kick game for credit card firm and English league cup sponsor Capital One, which hit the top of the UK’s Apple download chart.

Readers' letters

Irony of the Typhoon display at Leuchars

September 13 2013

Sir, As the RAF Ensign was lowered at the sunset ceremony at the last RAF Leuchars Airshow, well- informed observers and commentators would have seen the irony in one of the displays during the flying programme, namely the Quick Reaction Alert scramble of two Typhoons. With the planned move of air assets some 150 miles north to Lossiemouth, it is in danger of being renamed Delayed Reaction Alert or Diminished Reaction Alert as even travelling at a supersonic 660mph at, say, 35,000 feet, it is going to take the aircraft approximately 14 minutes to fly from Lossiemouth to Leuchars. RAF Leuchars QRA aircraft have been protecting British airspace for over six decades, with no complaints as to their ability to do so, and as a 9/11 style attack is probably the most likely threat to our airspace these days, it is very strange that these same aircraft will be asked to patrol our skies from Lossiemouth to protect us from rogue civilian aircraft that will be flying in air corridors over Britain, 95% of which are south of the Glasgow/Edinburgh corridor. It would appear that the politicians know they have got it wrong, but none are prepared to reverse the decision. The army are destined to come in 2015, even though rumour has it they don’t want to, as it is completely unsuitable for their needs the runway and its services are being retained for emergency diversions. The £240 million price tag for this folly seems steep, but when compared to the £1.5 billion which has reportedly been wasted by the MoD over the last two years, it doesn’t seem so bad. The taxpayer also gets to see £10.2 million wasted every year in increased training costs for the Typhoons, as they fly all the way back to Fife to practise in well-established training grounds just east of Dundee. The prime directive of government is to protect its citizens. Good defence is not determined by luck but by strategy, something the Government decided to leave out of their SDSR. Mark Sharp. 41 Norman View, Leuchars. Jenny’s got it wrong Sir, Jenny Hjul’s article (yesterday’s Courier) takes up the cudgels on behalf of “female exploitation” in lads’ mags. Jenny has got this one wrong, however. In cases of exploitation it is usually the end user, or purchaser, who is being “exploited” and these magazines are no different. The ladies whose images make up the content are being handsomely paid for being photographed, with their full consent, and the magazines’ proprietors are raking in the cash. Nobody is being exploited at that end of the trade, but it is the blokes who part with their cash to buy the mags who are being exploited. No, Jenny, it’s not male exploitation of women, but quite the reverse. It’s female exploitation of men for profit. It’s being going on since the beginning of time and trying to sound trendy by reversing the roles ain’t going to stop it. Vive le difference! (Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. No Scottish jobs created Sir, The brief article re Seimens turbines arriving in Dundee docks should be of interest to readers. The SNP have consistently declared these monstrosities, which are destroying our beautiful landscape, create jobs. The reality is they are manufactured abroad, connected using foreign cables and do not create any Scottish jobs, courtesy of EU procurement rules. We all know the enthusiasm Mr Salmond has for the EU, so he is right in one respect. They do create jobs. For the Germans. However, they cost us all huge amounts in massive subsidies in our electricity bills. If, God forbid, we secure independence, we will have the euro thrust upon us, increasing cost even more. Iain Cathro. 31 Ferndale Drive, Dundee. Slipping into a ‘dark age’? Sir “Humans have stopped evolving” (The Courier Tuesday, September 10). This statement by Sir David Attenborough may be the most significant of his career and deserves to be taken very seriously by governments around the world. Should he be correct, and there is much evidence to indicate he is, then we are already in regression and slipping into a “Dark Age”. Perhaps it is now time for ad hoc “think tanks” to formulate strategic global plans for the way ahead . . . taking into account the objectives and aspirations of all good people before it is too late! Kenneth Miln. 22 Fothringham Drive, Monifieth. A great day all round Sir, Having been an outspoken critic of the traffic and parking management in the past, I must now congratulate all concerned with last Saturday’s air show. In light of the number of people attending, getting on site was, for us, a breeze. The show was excellent even though the Vulcan and red nine (only eight red arrows some shapes just didn’t work!) were sorely missed. Even the weather held up. a great day all round. Marcia Wright. 19 Trinity Road, Brechin.

Politics

Poverty Alliance sets out priorities for next Scottish Government

April 11 2016

The next Scottish government should introduce anti-poverty legislation to comprehensively tackle the issue, campaigners have said. The call for a Scottish Poverty Reduction Bill is one of 17 priorities for Holyrood set out in the Poverty Alliance’s election manifesto. The alliance – which is made up of more than 200 member organisations – has also called for an increase to working age benefits and a ban on tax evaders from public contracts. With new powers over tax and welfare coming to the Scottish Parliament, it says there has never been a better time to re-consider the approach to tackling poverty. A Scottish Poverty Reduction Bill would require the production of a long-term anti-poverty strategy, periodic reviews of the strategy, and the “active engagement of civil society and people with experience of poverty in its development and review”, its manifesto states. The Poverty Alliance is also calling on Scottish parties to commit to using new powers to top up child benefit and the benefits of working age adults, and use tax powers progressively. Other priorities include the exclusion of those who practice tax evasion from public contracts, a redesign of the assessment process for disability benefits, and tackling negative attitudes towards those living in poverty. The group also wants a future government to introduce a socio-economic impact duty to require public bodies to use their powers to reduce inequality. Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance said: “We’ve had 17 years of the Scottish Parliament, and poverty remains deeply ingrained. Today we are presenting 17 demands that we believe will lay the basis for a fairer Scotland. “It was clear following the independence referendum that there was a widespread desire for more powers to the Scottish Parliament. While the package being devolved may not be as exhaustive as many would have liked, they are still significant and it is vital that new powers are used. “As an organisation primarily interested in tackling poverty, the Poverty Alliance is principally concerned about how we use these new powers, alongside existing powers, to create a more socially just Scotland. “This will not be easy, and there are tough choices ahead for whoever makes up the next Scottish government.” The manifesto coincides with the publication of the Scottish Anti Poverty Review which contains articles from Scotland’s five main political party leaders setting out their views on how best to tackle poverty in Scotland. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said her vision “is of a prosperous, productive, high-wage country where everyone gets the chance to fulfil their potential – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or economic background”. Kezia Dugdale, leader of Scottish Labour, said a future government must respond to immediate challenges as well as build for the future. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson pledged to prioritise childcare, education and housing, while Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called for universal access to good public services. Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie said “political will” and “creativity” can lead to far greater progress.

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