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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

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

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.

Business news

Sales and profits up at Graham’s The Family Dairy

November 27 2014

More success is pouring into Graham’s The Family Dairy, Scotland’s largest independent milk products supplier, with sales up 25% and pre-tax profit up by more than 30%. Managing director Robert Graham said the last year has not been without challenges for the Bridge of Allan company started by his namesake grandfather 75 years ago. These included the continuing debate over low farm-gate prices. Mr Graham said: “As farmers ourselves, we understand the pressures farmers face. Farm-gate prices are always difficult discussions, but our direct relationships help us maintain good relations.” Graham’s is exploring a new balancing scheme where farmers would produce certain amounts for the liquid and manufacturing markets, to give them more financial security. The latest meeting with farmers was last night. Mr Graham said: “This is about tying production in farms into business needs, but at 27.5p a litre we are paying more for milk than our rivals in the industry.” Graham’s sales last year rose from £68 million to £85m, and pre-tax profit went up from just above £1m to £1.32m. From its origins at Airthrey Kerse Farm with 12 hand-milked cows and horse and cart deliveries, almost half of the households in Scotland now buy Graham’s products. The business works with more than 90 dairy farmers across Scotland and employs 500 staff, and has grown 20% annually for the last 15 years to now produce an extensive range of milk, butter, cream, cheese, ice-cream, organic and Jersey products. More than 1.1 million Scottish shoppers buy a Graham’s product at least once a year. Graham’s products are sold throughout the UK via more than 6,000 customers from independent retailers to hotels and restaurants and the major multiples of Waitrose, Tesco and Asda and Sainsbury’s. Graham’s is next year introducing additional spreadable butter varieties and a range of luxurious butters, and future plans also include a new £20m purpose-built dairy. They see that scheme as a boost to the Stirling economy and the long-term future of the dairy industry in Scotland. The dairy would accommodate a new product development research facility and create up to 450 jobs including 50 local apprenticeships. The project is subject to approval of their 600 home Airthrey Green development proposals currently sitting with Stirling Council.

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

Readers' letters

September 10: Planning decisions need to be taken at as local a level as is practicable

September 10 2012

Today’s letters to The Courier. Sir, – Councillor Frances Melville surely speaks for the vast majority of us in north-east Fife in condemning the proposal to replace the responsibility of the current seven area committees for planning decisions with one centralised planning committee (Courier, September 6). A central committee would not only remove the vital local perspective from planning decisions, it would also lead to greater reliance on the opinions of planning officers since members of the central committee would have many more applications to review than do each of the present area committees. In St Andrews, where we struggle against mighty odds to preserve the historic amenity of the town, we suffer at the hands of inexperienced planning officers with little knowledge of local circumstances, patchy supervision of their work and inadequate administrative systems. The north-east Fife area committee performs an invaluable service in offering a counterbalance to officers’ opinions, sometimes overturning their recommendations. Cllr Rowley is quoted as saying that area committees were never intended to be planning committees. He may be right, but we certainly need planning decisions taken at as local a level as is practicable. At the council elections earlier this year, the ”democratic deficit” was the major issue with voters complaining that Fife was being run by officials rather than elected representatives. These centrist proposals by the new administration, if implemented, would only make matters worse. Graham Wynd.Chairman,The St Andrews Preservation Trust. The real under-lying cause is overpopulation Sir, – Clark Cross gets it spectacularly wrong in his letter about climate change (September 7). Humans emit at least 100 times as much CO2 as volcanoes and 50 million years ago atmospheric CO2 levels were several times their current levels, so palm trees in Antarctica are proof of what CO2 is capable of. Mr Cross has scored an own goal. It is alarming that other countries are burning more coal. And Germany’s move away from nuclear power is moronic, but is that an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing? Eventually the world will be forced to move away from fossil fuels anyway. Those countries that have already done so will then have a head start. Meanwhile, instead of repeating the discredited rubbish of climate change deniers, Mr Cross should concentrate his efforts on drawing attention to the underlying cause of the world’s environmental and resource problems overpopulation. Dr Stephen Moreton.33 Marina Avenue,Great Sankey,Warrington. ‘No’ to lectures from Tories Sir, – In reply to Tory councillor Dave Dempsey, who has criticised the centralisation of power in Edinburgh, I would like to offer how things are done in comparison in England. It is a Tory minister who approves windfarms, despite any local concern. It is a Tory minister who decides which councils will have their council tax capped, despite any local concern. It is a Tory minister who effects the election of police commissioners, despite the grave concerns of police officers and local people. It is a Tory minister who is pushing through huge cuts in fire services in England, despite the very vocal concerns expressed by local fire officers, local councils and local people. Cllr Dave Dempsey complains that the SNP don’t believe in devolution or localism. Well neither have the Tories who, given a sniff of power, would dismantle democracy in Scotland, slash and burn public services and return Scots to the political Dark Ages as punishment for having the temerity to challenge rule by London. Here is the truth of the matter and a lesson Cllr Dave Dempsey should heed. Scots will not be lectured to by Tories on how we run our own affairs in Scotland. Malcolm McCandless.40 Muirfield Crescent,Dundee. Really a simple question Sir, – All the talk on what wording should be on the ballot paper for the referendum by politicians all hell-bent on loading the question in their own favour should stop. Only one question needs to be answered and one word will do. Independence? Yes or No? Put a cross beside the one you want. Simple and final with no confusion over what we are voting for. Is this too simple for our slippery politicians, none of whom seem to believe in democracy? It is time we had more say. For too long the tail has wagged the Scots. John George Phimister.63 St. Clair Street,Kirkcaldy. Farmers to feed and heat us Sir, – I must congratulate you on yet another excellent article on the farming page (Friday, September 7) about the excellent work being done by Professor Halpin and her colleagues. As an anti-windfarm enthusiast, I crave news of such far-reaching research with all its potential. At a stroke, Prof Halpin is doubling the social and financial value of our agricultural industry by making the feasibility of annually renewable fuel a probability, thereby reducing the need for slow-to-replace deforestation to feed biomass plants. Our farmers will not only feed us, but also heat us. A T Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

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.

Scottish politics

FMQs: Sturgeon hits back over claims she is ‘squandering’ millions of pounds on independence

February 23 2017

Nicola Sturgeon defended her government’s £136,000 intervention in the Supreme Court case on Brexit as a Conservative MSP accused her of splurging millions on breaking up the UK. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_GB/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); First Minister's Questions – 23rd February 2017 Earlier today First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took questions from party leaders and other MSPs in the Debating Chamber at Holyrood.Please take the time to read our online discussion rules before commenting: www.parliament.scot/discussion-rules. Personal insults will be removed.We're trialling Facebook Live over the next few weeks, so please be patient as we work things out!#FMQs Posted by The Scottish Parliament on Thursday, 23 February 2017 The SNP leader laid into Tory backbencher Maurice Golden at First Minster’s Questions after he lambasted her for wasting taxpayers’ cash on promoting independence. She struck back saying her administration would not have needed to take part in the court action over the triggering of Article 50 if the UK Government did not pursue a case they were not going to win. Mr Golden, a West Scotland MSP, asked the First Minister if she thought the £136,000 outlay was good value. He added: “This SNP Government will literally say and do anything that they think furthers their goal of tearing our Union apart. “And they don’t care how much Scottish taxpayers’ money they squander in the process. “This £136,000 is one example of the 10s of millions of pounds that this SNP Government spends on policy decisions that they believe will promote separation.” Ms Sturgeon mocked Mr Golden for raising the issue of cost when the Conservative Government had refused to reveal how much they have spent on the case. She added her government’s intervention was “necessary to force the UK Government to enact the legislation that is currently going through the Westminster parliament before the triggering of Article 50”. “The case also raised fundamental issues about the rights of people in Scotland and the role of this parliament,” she added. “So yes I do think it was absolutely right that this government, like the government in Wales, defended our interests in what was the most important constitutional law case for many, many years.” The Lord Advocate last month made representations before the UK’s most senior judges, who ruled that the triggering of Article 50 required parliamentary approval. It was also confirmed that Holyrood could not block the start of the Brexit process.

Business news

Healthy goal in sight as Scottish Women’s Hockey Team gets right behind new sponsor

June 16 2017

Award-winning Graham’s The Family Dairy has swung into action with sponsorship of Scottish Hockey and the Scottish Women’s Hockey Team – as the latter continues training at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre for the upcoming World League semi-finals. As part of the partnership, the Graham’s logo will feature on the Scotland Women’s Hockey team’s shorts, and the dairy will gift the players a selection of its products throughout the year. The new sponsorship is in addition to Graham’s backing of Scottish Ballet, currently in its second year. © SuppliedTeam Captains Kareena Cuthburt,29,Greenock and Becky Merchant, 28, Edinburgh Marketing director Carol Graham said: “Being healthy and active is hugely important to the Grahams family and, as hockey fans ourselves, we’re delighted to support the Scottish Women’s Hockey team. “As a family business, we’re always looking for ways to support local talent and partner with organisations that embody the values of our business, so this is an exciting partnership for us. “We wish the team the best of luck in Brussels and look forward to an exciting year ahead.” © SuppliedTeam Captain Becky Merchant, 28, Edinburgh David Sweetman, Chief Executive Officer at Scottish Hockey, said: “Hockey is such a physically demanding sport, so the health and well-being of our players is so imperative. Dairy forms an important part of the nutritious and balanced diet of the Scotland Women’s Hockey team and we’re excited to work together with Graham’s the Family Dairy to help keep the team in peak condition in 2017.” The Scotland Women’s Hockey team took a break from training to top up their energy with pots of Graham’s Protein 22, the award-winning protein packed product from the Graham’s range. Graham’s The Family Dairy, based at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, produces an award-winning, home-grown range of quality food and drink, including milk, cheese, cream, butter, ice-cream, cottage cheese, quark, sour cream and yogurt. © SuppliedTeam Captains Kareena Cuthburt, 29, Greenock and Becky Merchant, 28,Edinburgh Established for more than 76 years, Graham’s remains a family-run company with a focus on farming, provenance, high quality produce and a quest to promote the best of Scotland’s larder throughout the country. The company was named number one Scottish food brand, and number two Scottish brand overall in the 2016 Kantar WorldView Panel Research. The brand also retained its 2015 title of number one dairy brand in Scotland. In May Graham’s Gold Smooth won the Dairy category at the Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Awards. Feedback from the judges noted Graham’s excellent marketing activity and understanding of the marketplace, with the milk being described as a ‘luxury product’ and ‘milk like it should be’. In February last year, Graham’s was the only UK company to be honoured at the global Gulfood Innovation Awards, taking home the ‘Dairy Innovation Award’ for their new Protein 22 product. They also won the innovation award for Protein 22 at Wabel Paris in April 2017.

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