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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…

Perth & Kinross

Pop star Toyah backs Perth bid for City of Culture

June 10 2016

Perth’s bid to be the UK’s City of Culture is being backed by pop star Toyah Willcox. The ‘80’s hit-maker believes the Fair City is in rude health to challenge for the prestigious honour, and that the annual staging of the Rewind Scotland festival at Scone Palace can only boost the locality’s case. The Birmingham-born singer and actresss regularly visits the area and was a popular draw at Perth Concert Hall when the musical Vampires Rock enjoyed sold-out stints at the venue in 2009 and 2010. “It doesn’t surprise me that Perth is bidding to become the UK City of Culture,” Ms Willcox said. “I think Perth deserves that recognition as much as any other city. “I think cities that preserve their own culture and look after it, and are in touch with their own history, as well as supporting the local population, deserve to be City of Culture. “I think it’s a very good thing to have happen and I wish Perth the best of luck.” Toyah, who enjoyed top ten success with It’s A Mystery, I Want To Be Free and Thunder In The Mountains, is looking forward to performing at next month’s Rewind Scotland after acting as the event’s compere last year. She said the star-studded festival provides a welcome boost for Perth’s wider reputation by attracting festival-goers of all ages. “Rewind is always so special and it definitely puts Perth on the map,” said the 58-year-old. “The atmosphere is always is exceptional, and it’s exceptional because the audience is great. “You look out over 30,000 people who are having a great time. They want to be part of it, and they want to sing along and have a lot of fun. “The Rewinds are hit after hit after hit and they’re designed to be that way. These songs mean a lot to people because they grew up to these songs, but also we have a new audience. “We look out to the audience and they’re all ages, and to anyone under the age of 25 this is new fresh music. “So it’s a very lovely experience and the production values are a 100%. It’s always special and I can’t wait.” The Quadrophenia star said she regularly attends meetings in Perthshire as well as enjoying walking breaks there. “I know Perthshire very well, I was up from the West Midlands only a few weeks ago,” she added. “The beauty there takes my breath away. I get very little time off, when I’m up there it’s usually for business meetings but I enjoy it very much. “I’m a keen walker so I’m always looking for new places to walk and to find very old woodland, which you can in Perthshire and other parts of Scotland. “It’s always wonderful to just park the car and go and walk for a couple of hours.” Perth is set to go up against the likes of Coventry, Sunderland, Paisley and Cardiff in the race to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2021. Councillors have set aside £250,000 in a bid to land the coveted title, which could bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to Perth and boost the wider economy by tens of millions of pounds. The bidding process is expected to formally begin early next year ahead of a deadline for applications in April 2017. Toyah is due to appear at Rewind Scotland at Scone Palace on Sunday, July 24.

Angus & The Mearns

It’s no mystery: Toyah will take to stage for two Stonehaven Town Hall gigs

August 19 2015

Toyah Willcox is the latest chart star to play one of the north-east’s most popular music venues. The former punk princess is to take the stage at Stonehaven Town Hall on September 18 and 19. The gigs follow her successful recent appearance at Scone’s Rewind festival alongside other greats from the 1980s including Bananarama, Jimmy Somerville, Kim Wilde and Nik Kershaw. The event is being organised by music shop owner Chris Stirk, who has also booked ska band Bad Manners, led by Buster Bloodvessel, for October and Scottish hard rock group Nazareth for next April. She has already brought rockers Big Country to the town hall and was also responsible for a highly-acclaimed version of the musical Hairspray being put on there, with auditions about to start for a stage version of the hit movie Fame. Chris, who also organises the popular open-air charity music festival Party in the Park, said: “These revival gigs usually turn out to be great nights out, with the acts giving their all and the crowd bopping along. “Toyah is a uniquely gifted performer. “She is charismatic, outspoken and one of Britain’s iconic household names. “She is an award-winning rock legend as well as a much-loved actress and music composer and we are delighted she is the latest big act to come to Stonehaven.” In a career spanning 30 years, Toyah has had 13 top-40 singles, recorded 20 albums, written two books and appeared in more than 40 stage plays, as well as making 10 films and presenting TV programmes ranging all the way from the Good Sex Guide Late to Songs of Praise. She started on the road to fame in 1977 when film director Derek Jarman offered her the role of Mad in seminal punk epic Jubilee. Hit singles It’s A Mystery, I Want to Be Free, Brave New World and Be Proud, Be Loud, Be Heard, plus the platinum albums Anthem and The Changeling, confirmed her status as one of the most significant talents of the ’80s. In 1982, Toyah won the best female singer accolade at the Rock & Pop Awards, and in 2001 was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Central England in recognition of her distinguished achievements in performing arts, media and broadcasting. Toyah tickets are available from Ma Simpson’s music shop, 26B Evan Street, Stonehaven, 01569 766264, and online at www.masimpsons.com.

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

Praise for Rewind crowds amid hints it may be back

August 6 2011

The organiser of the Rewind Festival, which saw more than 20,000 descend on Scone Palace, has said he was delighted with the event. Director David Heartfield told The Courier the 1980s event went “brilliantly” and did not rule out a return to Perthshire. Revellers took a step back in time to enjoy bands including the Human League, Billy Ocean, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet. Many people took the opportunity to dress up and police reported only a couple of arrests, which were for alleged disorder and dishonesty. Campers left the festival site with many believing it will return possibly in two years. Mr Heartfield said, “We will announce details of next year’s festival fairly shortly we still have one or two details to iron out. “The Olympics is on next year so we may leave it until the year after.” He added, “The festival went brilliantly. We’re very pleased with it. The public had a great time.” He also praised the crowds, adding, “It was a trouble-free event and we saw no traffic chaos. Scottish crowds are notorious for getting behind bands and they were right up for it, singing along. “There were many different highlights but, for me, Billy Ocean and The Human League were brilliant, and Kim Wilde put on a great show.” Audrey Orr (40), of Forfar, who works for Angus Council, was one of the campers and vowed she will be back if the event returns to Perthshire. Mrs Orr said, “It’s been great. We were one of the first in the queue to arrive and one of the last to leave. I’ve heard that it may be back in two years’ time and we’ll definitely get tickets for it.” She added, “For me Billy Ocean stole the show and Kim Wilde was brilliant on Sunday. Toyah Wilcox was also great. We all camped but it was good fun.”

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

Grenfell fire death toll highly unlikely to change, says coroner

November 22 2017

The Grenfell Tower death toll is “highly unlikely” to change from 71, a coroner has said as she opened inquests for the final two victims of the blaze. Westminster Coroner Fiona Wilcox marked the milestone by poignantly reading the names of 70 of those killed in the June 14 fire and observing two minutes of silence. The 71st victim, baby Logan Gomes, was stillborn and not formally named by Dr Wilcox. The coroner praised the work of authorities to “restore names to the dead and return them to their families” in the months since the disaster. Victoria King died alongside her daughter in the Grenfell Tower fire (Metropolitan Police/PA) Inquests were opened and adjourned into the deaths of mother and daughter Victoria King, 71, and Alexandra Atala, 40, who were found at each other’s side on the block’s 20th floor. Preliminary causes of death for the pair were consistent with the effects of fire, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard. Ms Atala was identified through anthropology and secondary records, coroner’s officer Eric Sword told the hearing. It is understood this would have involved the remains being painstakingly reconstructed by experts over the course of many weeks. Her mother was identified through DNA, it was heard. Dr Wilcox said: “Today we have reach an important milestone in the management of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster with the opening, adjournment and suspension of the final two inquests. “The final death toll now stands at 71, including a stillborn baby. “70 people have come through the disaster victim identification and coronial process. All of those on the missing list have been found and identified – it is highly unlikely that this figure will now change.” Tributes left to the victims of the June disaster (Victoria Jones/PA) The coroner had warned on several occasions during the 19 hearings, stretching back to June 21, that it might not be possible to identify all of the dead. It was feared the fire had been so ferocious that little would be left of some victims. Police revised the death toll as the months passed, finally scaling it back to 71 after it was determined fraudulent claims had inflated the total. Dr Wilcox continued: “Every bereaved family has had the remains of their loved ones released back to them and most funerals have taken place. “We find ourselves in a very different position now to that feared in the early days following the fire when it was speculated that the death toll would be higher and that some people may never be found. Repair work continues at the tower (Victoria Jones/PA) “This position is due to the unrelenting work of dedicated professionals from DVI recovery teams, mortuary staff, investigative police officers, coroner’s officers and experts such as odontologists, pathologists and anthropologists – and all those who worked behind the scenes to support them. “Together we have worked as a team to restore names to the dead and return them to their families.” Silence then fell over the courtroom as those present, including the victims’ family, stood to remember the dead, a stillness only interrupted by the distant chatter of broadcast helicopters overhead. Inquests will now be suspended until the police investigation and public inquiry into the fire have concluded. If both processes cover the main questions an inquest seeks to answer – including how, when and why a person died – Dr Wilcox will close her investigation. (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 PA Reporters'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '3b17cedd-72b1-4fd4-89c5-ac59d0730a53'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:news,paservice:news:uk'); ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story-enriched'); 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': 'Grenfell fire death toll highly unlikely to change, says coroner'});

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.

Business news

Pessimism at FSB conference in Glasgow as tougher trading bites

March 18 2016

The confidence of UK small businesses is at a three-year low and two-thirds of Scottish firms are concerned about domestic economy, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The downcast mood was revealed as small business owners from throughout the UK met in Glasgow yesterday for the FSB’s three-day annual conference. The latest Small Business Index found UK small business confidence at its lowest level since 2013. Scottish business owners are amongst the gloomiest in the UK, with a majority pessimistic for the first time since 2013. The FSB’s small business index stands at -2.0, down from +20.4 a year ago. The report has been published as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson line up to address more than 1,200 small business delegates. Andy Willox, FSB Scottish policy convener, said: “Scottish firms whose prospects are indirectly or directly allied with the state of the oil and gas industry are facing gruelling trading conditions. “The pressures on the massive services sector are also taking their toll. This could explain why Scottish confidence figures lag behind even the depressed numbers for the UK as a whole.” Almost two-thirds of Scottish business owners cite the state of the domestic economy as a barrier to their own business growth. The report also highlights that small business revenues and profits are down, although firms predict improvement. Investment intentions have held steady, however, and credit conditions continue to improve. Mr Willox continued: “We need to create the right conditions for more local, small and micro-businesses to establish, grow, employ and invest. The next Scottish Government must spend wisely, tax fairly and regulate sensibly. FSB also found a raft of new challenges facing small businesses included the national living wage, pension auto-enrolment and plans to introduce mandatory quarterly digital tax reporting may also be contributing to the decline in business sentiment. FSB vice-chairman Sandra Dexter said: “We need a renewed push for growth and productivity.”