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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

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.

UK & World

Lord Advocate announces new ‘cold case’ unit for Scotland

June 3 2011

A new "cold case" unit to investigate unsolved murders such as Fifer Sandy Drummond who was killed 20 years ago this month is to be created. Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said the specialist unit would support prosecutors and police in reviewing unsolved crimes from across the country which they believe merit fresh investigation. "Justice will pursue down the years those who have so far evaded detection for their crimes," he said. "The passage of time should be no protection. "We will not give up and will seek to identify the perpetrator using new forensic and other investigation techniques and prosecute them for their crimes," he added. "No one should escape the consequences of their criminality and the grief this brings to victims and their families. "Our specialist unit will work with local prosecutors and the police to identify unsolved murders for renewed investigation. The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and the Scottish Police Services Association welcomed the creation of the unit. Strathclyde Police Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton, secretary of the ACPOS crime business area, said, "I welcome this significant commitment which builds upon existing local arrangements. "Through scientific advancement and re-interviewing of witnesses, positive progress has been made in recent years in bringing some unresolved matters to a successful conclusion. "The introduction of this national unit will further assist and support both the investigation and prosecution of unresolved matters which continue to impact significantly on those families and communities directly affected." Tom Nelson, director of the Scottish Police Services Authority forensic services, said improvements in forensic science could be key to cracking previously unsolvable crimes. He said, "Rapid advances in forensic techniques have changed the parameters of forensic science dramatically. Continued... "Technological advancements such as improved ballistics and fingerprint databases and DNA techniques means we are able to revisit material obtained from the original investigation providing officers with a new avenue to investigate that could be the key to unlocking a cold case." There are more than 70 unsolved murders in Scotland but Mr Drummond's death is the only outstanding case in Fife. The 33-year-old was found dead on Monday, June 24, 1991, on a farm track near his home, an isolated cottage near St Andrews he shared with his brother Jimmy. Over the four days before his murder, he withdrew several sums of money from his accounts, most of which was found in his house. On the Friday before his death, he rang Guardbridge Paper Mill where he worked to say he was resigning and refused to work his week's notice. Dundee's most famous unsolved murders are those of Carol Lannen and Elizabeth McCabe, whose bodies were dumped in Templeton Woods. Ms Lannen's body was found in 1979 and Ms McCabe's a year later. Former taxi driver Vincent Simpson was tried for Ms McCabe's murder at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2007 but was cleared after an eight-week trial.

Business news

Fewer businesses go to wall

October 15 2013

The number of Scottish businesses going to the wall continues to fall, according to new statistics. In a sign of further improving trading conditions, professional services firm KPMG said its quarterly study of business failures showed the number had fallen “significantly” for the third period in a row. Meanwhile, full-year figures for the 12 months to September revealed a 33% reduction on last year, with the total of 837 representing the lowest level of liquidations and administrations since the banking crisis hit late in 2008. KPMG head of restructuring Blair Nimmo said the figures showed an improving economic environment was helping more firms keep their heads above water. But he warned that while banks and creditors were now less inclined to force defaulting companies under, many firms are still struggling to attract the finance they need to grow. “As we take the first steps toward recovery, our figures suggest an increasingly more benign environment, with trade creditors, banks and the HMRC now more likely to explore alternative solutions rather than taking insolvency action,” Mr Nimmo said. “It may be too soon to say whether this will translate into investment for growth as, although the number of new insolvency cases to come across our desks continues to fall, our debt advisory practice remains busy with companies, both large and small, who are still struggling to access finance.” KPMG’s research revealed 230 insolvencies during the three months to the end of September a 27% decrease on the total of 316 reported during the same period the previous year. The result followed falls of 46% and 45% during Q1 and Q2 respectively. While the number of administrations held steady during the quarter, a fall in the number of liquidations which typically affect smaller companies accounted for the overall reduction.

Rocktalk

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

October 25 2017

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

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.

Dundee FC

Hearts twist gives Dark Blues hope of SPL survival

May 17 2013

Dundee could be on the verge of a dramatic SPL reprieve after Hearts’ financial plight took an unexpected twist. The troubled Edinburgh club face an anxious wait to discover the effects of the apparent collapse of their majority shareholder, UBIG the result of which could be their relegation from the top flight and Dundee being reinstated. The Lithuanian investment firm was listed on a government website of insolvent firms after reportedly declaring itself unable to meet its liabilities. Hearts are no longer reliant on the company for external funding but they do owe it £10 million. And the insolvency of club owners can lead to a points deduction under Scottish Premier League rules. The SPL declined to comment last night but it is understood league officials are consulting with lawyers as to the facts of this case and whether they impinge on any of their rules, most pertinently Rule A6.12. If deemed to fall foul of insolvency rules before Sunday’s season finale, Hearts would be deducted a third of last season's total 18 points. Hearts are 13 points above bottom club Dundee and would therefore be relegated no matter what the results of the games are on Saturday. It had been thought that the Dark Blues’ end-of-season revival had been for nothing, but that now may not prove to be the case. Hearts are monitoring developments. A statement read: “Heart of Midlothian Football Club can today acknowledge it is aware of a report circulating in Lithuania relating to its parent company UAB Ukio Banko Investicine Grupe (UBIG). “The club is seeking clarification regarding UBIG’s current situation and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.” Dundee, who are well versed in such uncertainty after gaining promotion last summer at the 11th hour at Rangers’ expense, will also be closely following the fast-moving story. As was the case with the Rangers demotion saga, chief executive Scot Gardiner stressed to The Courier that they will not be commenting on the issue. The SPL updated its insolvency rules last summer but the effect of an owner suffering an insolvency event is not immediately obvious. Rule A6.12 appears to state that the board can act in such situations if it is decided that it needs to protect the integrity and continuity of the league; the reputation of the league; and “the relationship between such owner and operator and the group undertaking concerned, also include any group undertaking of such an owner and operator taking, suffering or being subject to an insolvency event and/or an insolvency process.” In their defence, Hearts will point out that they have not required external funding from UBIG since early last year. It is understood they believe they are in a position to trade normally and that suppliers are being paid and they are up to date with tax. The club survived a winding-up order over a £450,000 tax bill before Christmas with the help of more than £1 million raised by fans and negotiated a repayment plan for a separate £1.6m tax bill. But Thurday’s developments continue a chain of concerning events in Lithuania that have spiralled since Vladimir Romanov’s personal finances collapsed. Romanov resigned from the board of UBIG after his bank went into administration. UBIG controls about four-fifths of Hearts’ shares and is owed about £10m of the club’s debt. A further £15m is owed to Ukio Bankas, which was recently declared bankrupt, although the bank has launched an appeal. Manager Gary Locke earlier admitted he might have to seek out the advice of Rangers manager Ally McCoist, who coped with an administration process last year that ultimately saw his team forced to start again in the Third Division. Before the UBIG news broke, Locke said: “Yeah, I could be spending a bit of time with Ally in the summer. I might phone him for a bit of advice. “Hopefully that is not the case. We are certainly moving in the right direction in terms of the wages which are now sustainable.”

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