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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

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


EXCLUSIVE: Bombshell dossier stolen at Tayside police HQ

May 10 2013

Police are investigating the alleged theft of a top-secret dossier on Tayside Police’s last chief constable from a secure unit in their own Dundee headquarters. It is understood the file was compiled last year by Angela Wilson, who was deputy chief constable of Tayside Police before the creation of a single national force, and detailed a series of allegations of unprofessional behaviour made against former chief constable Justine Curran and her deputy Gordon Scobbie. The Courier understands the dossier was being kept in the executive corridor in Bell Street. This is an area that is kept locked at all times and is only accessible to senior staff who are given the necessary access code. A source told The Courier that the theft is being treated so seriously officers from Strathclyde have been brought in to Dundee to carry out the investigation. The source claimed they have been searching for traces of DNA and fingerprints in the executive corridor to help them find who has stolen the file. Offices of the force’s confidential unit, which carried out the investigation into the “Sweeney style” methods used by the drugs squad, have also been searched. All drugs squad officers were cleared of the accusations of over-zealous policing. It is understood the dossier includes information relating to the former chief constable’s inappropriate conduct regarding a sex text she sent to her personal assistant, Theresa Noble. Ms Curran is alleged to have sent a text about the size of a colleague’s manhood. Although she had admitted behaving unprofessionally, Ms Curran was given the full backing of Tayside Police Joint Board. Ms Noble and her former partner Paul Martin were arrested a few weeks after the texts were sent in connection with alleged insurance fraud and wasting police time. Charges were dropped against Ms Noble when she agreed to act as witness againstMartin, who was later found not guilty of both charges. Ms Noble’s mobile phone was taken as evidence during the police’s investigation into Noble and Martin. The Courier understands one of the claims made against Ms Curran and Mr Scobbie is that staff were told to delete Ms Curran’s inappropriate texts. The source said: “No more than a dozen officers have access to that area and some civilian staff.A major inquiry team from Strathclyde has been over investigating for the past three or four weeks. “They’ve been taking DNA samples andfingerprints and the confidential unit has also been searched.” Tayside Police was abolished when Scotland’s eight forces were merged into one, national body on April 1. No executive officers from Tayside were given promoted posts within Police Scotland. Gordon Scobbie is now retired and Ms Curranis chief constable ofHumberside Police. She was appointed chief constable of Tayside Police in 2010 and her time as top cop in Tayside was often dogged by controversy. As well as the humiliation she suffered when her texts to Ms Noble were revealed, The Courier was also sent a dossier containing a number of potentially damaging allegations made about Ms Curran by an anonymous group calling themselves “Staff loyal to Tayside Police.” These were handed into the force but Tayside Police Joint Board dismissed all the allegations 12 days later, claiming they were “without foundation”. A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland are conducting an inquiry into a theft from within Tayside division headquarters in Dundee.As this is an ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.” For the latest on this story, see Saturday's Courier or try our digital edition.

Scottish politics

Labour figures eyeing up independence are ‘living in fairyland’, says party veteran

August 23 2016

Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.


‘We’re taking a backwards step’ police staff fury at ‘Glasgow-centric’ structure

December 4 2013

Furious police staff have accused the new single force of enforcing “sub-standard” Strathclyde procedures as part of a west-is-best attitude in the new regime. East coast intelligence staff claim the Strathclyde processes are a “backwards step”. The practices have been forced through as the way forward for the new single force, ahead of procedures used by forces such as Fife, Tayside or Lothian and Borders. The civilian staff who spoke to The Courier asked not be named for fear of repercussions. One Police Scotland staff member said: “In some cases, some of the legacy Strathclyde processes which have been proposed needed amending due to being sub-standard. “We had to make recommendations in order to improve them. “There has been no consultation about what is the best procedure across Scotland. It has just been assumed that the process in the west can be implemented elsewhere, without taking into account the local context. “The general feeling across the board is that standards are dropping due to Strathclyde processes being implemented we’re taking a backwards step.” Intelligence staff are angry that the power base and majority of jobs have been shifted west and fear that they are losing essential local knowledge. The staff member added: “Intelligence civilian jobs are being centralised to regional hubs. This means that there will be no local footprint in smaller areas such as Tayside, Fife, Forth Valley and Dumfries and Galloway. Therefore, local knowledge and expertise will be lost.” East coast intelligence staff are also facing pay “harmonisation” to fall in line with Strathclyde salaries, a cut that could see some staff lose up to £6,000 for them to fall into line with those in the west. The salary cuts have seen experienced staff quit their posts, amid falling morale on the east coast. A second civilian staff member said: “There is a very Glasgow-centric job structure proposed. For example, all the top analyst management jobs are based in Strathclyde and almost all of the middle-level senior analyst jobs are there, too. There is no longer much of a career path for any analysts and researchers in other parts of Scotland.” Analysts evaluate data and intelligence in order to assist decision-makers and operational activity. They can work across a number of departments, including local policing, performance, operational support, organised crime and counter terrorism. The civilian employee added: “There will probably be a high turnover of staff. It means Police Scotland will constantly take in staff and spend substantial amounts of money training them up. “It usually takes around two years or more for analysts to get a diploma in criminal intelligence analysis. Then the force will probably lose them to the private sector, as is happening already. “Over the last 10 years the role of analysts has become more important and most senior police officers who work with analysts would say they are very valuable members of staff.” A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police Scotland is going through a time of considerable change and there are significant savings to be made in the coming months. This will result in some people leaving the organisation but there will be no compulsory redundancies. “All of the policies and procedures for Police Scotland have been signed off by the Scottish Police Authority and the trade unions. Best practice is being gathered from across the legacy forces and organisations and there is no question of one set of policies and procedures being imposed across the board. “There will be changes in the way that many departments operate and the plans which are being put together are designed to reflect differing demands and to deliver the best possible service for Police Scotland and the people it serves.”

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.

Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states.The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session.Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added.The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler.In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”.He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest.“If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right.“But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest.“It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.”Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

Angus & The Mearns

Top law officer probes Angus whistleblower’s cover-up claims over hiker’s deatrh

January 17 2018

Scotland’s top law officer is investigating an Angus whistleblower’s claims that police covered up a hiker’s possible murder. The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, is personally probing Kenny McKechnie’s claims that senior officers ignored evidence because it was too difficult and expensive to launch a murder investigation. North East Scotland Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked the Lord Advocate to review the case notes in relation to Nicholas Randall’s unsolved death. He said: “Most people reading reports of this case would agree there appears to be more to it. “It’s right the Lord Advocate examines this.” Mr Randall, of Blackhall, Edinburgh, vanished in 2005 after buying a sleeping bag in a store in Edinburgh. It is assumed he hiked on the West Highland Way as his silver-grey Audi A2 was found 47 miles away at the Glen Nevis waterfall car park, near Fort William, three months after he vanished. In the following months there were sporadic sightings, including some walkers at Glen Tilt in Perthshire and Blair Castle Carvan Park where a man answering Mr Randall’s description had asked to pitch his tent. The sightings petered out and Mr Randall’s body was found in a pitched tent by forestry workers in 2008 near Bridge of Orchy, Argyll. When Mr Randall’s tent was discovered, two sets of clothes as well as a used condom were found. The case was quickly closed by Strathclyde Police who suspected no foul play. Mr Randall's decomposed body meant the cause of death was registered as “unascertained”. Mr McKechnie, 48, of Forfar, a former police officer with 21 years service, was close to the investigation. He claims senior officers turned a blind eye to evidence which suggested Mr Randall was with a mystery companion. He said management did not want to deal with the case because it was too difficult and expensive to launch a murder investigation. Mr McKechnie said none of the evidence was investigated and the decision was made by management to incinerate everything including a black-handled kitchen knife. He said: “The powers-that-be decided this couldn’t be a suspicious death.” Mr Randall had been suffering from stress-related depression but was said to be in good spirits when he disappeared. Police Scotland said a thorough investigation was carried out by a team led by a detective inspector and included forensic specialists and a post-mortem examination. The Lord Advocate can refer the case to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner watchdog. The Crown Office said: “Correspondence has been received from Liam Kerr MSP and a response will be issued.”