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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

UK & World

Bin man jailed for stockpiling explosives to prepare for world disaster

March 23 2018

A bin man who stockpiled 250 explosive devices and military supplies in his family home as he believed a “period of war and famine was coming” has been jailed for three years and four months.Reeco Fernandez, 29, stashed the IEDs and supplies – including arrow heads, army-style rucksacks and ration packs – in a cupboard under the stairs, a garden shed at his bedroom at his parents’ terraced home in Bedminster, Bristol.His cache, including modified fireworks, ball bearings and chemicals to make further explosives, was discovered after emergency services were called to the property at 7pm on September 8 last year.Neighbours dialled 999 after hearing bangs, a loud boom and seeing smoke billowing from the house – caused after Fernandez unwittingly blew himself up in his bedroom.A critical incident was declared after firefighters entered the three-bedroom property and saw the devices, with 80 neighbours evacuated for five days while experts including explosive ordnance disposal teams investigated.Avon and Somerset Police found Fernandez had been buying chemicals online for several years before the blast, with footage from his mobile phone detailing experiments he carried out on explosives in woods close to his home.Fernandez, who suffered 22% burns in the explosion and remained in hospital for 18 days, admitted five counts of possessing an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose at Bristol Crown Court on Friday.Mr Justice Dingemans, jailing Fernandez for three years and four months, said the defendant was not “associated with a terrorist organisation” but had put himself, his family and his neighbours at risk of “real harm”.The judge said the incident had been “immensely frightening” for those close to the house at the time of the explosion, including children who were playing in nearby gardens.“The only person injured was you, you suffered burns as you attempted to put out the flames,” the judge told Fernandez.“It is apparent that you had, in a number of the IEDS, put in articles such as arrow heads and ball bearings.“It is also apparent from the mobile phone footage that has been shown in court that you had started to experiment in a wooded area about half a mile from your house with a number of explosive attempts.“Some of them ignited successfully, some of them didn’t. You were taking no safety precautions for yourself. You made a deliberate decision to mix and store explosives.“The explosion was an immensely misguided act which exposed yourself and others who you loved, and your neighbours to real harm.”Mr Justice Dingemans ruled that Fernandez did not pass the threshold for dangerousness, which would have seen him jailed indefinitely.The charges admitted by Fernandez related to flash powder, black powder and three explosive chemical compounds.Prosecuting, Rachel Drake said the explosion appeared to have been caused on a metal cabinet in which Fernandez kept some of his explosives.Experts found 141 IEDs modified from shotgun cartridges, 96 IEDs from modified fireworks, 10 grenades, and four IEDs from other cartridges.There were 10 commercial containers of material and 21 suspected chemical mixtures, fireworks and pyrotechnics.Other material in the property included chemicals, paper tubes, empty grenades, ball bearings, dismantled fireworks, cooking trays, scales, and a pestle and mortar with chemical residue in it.Fernandez replied “no comment” when he was questioned by police following his release from hospital.“No links to any kind of terrorist organisation or suggestion of any kind of malevolent intention were found in relation to these materials,” Ms Drake said.Footage recovered from Fernandez’s mobile phone by police showed him experimenting with explosives in woodland in June 2016 and August 2017.Clips played to the court began with the bin man reciting the list of ingredients before lighting the devices and running away from them.A whiteboard and notebook found in his bedroom appeared to feature content “related to the manufacture of IEDs”, the prosecutor added.“In the notebook, there were recipes and diagrams of IEDS,” she said.“The volume of material is significant. They were stored in the garden shed, under the stairs and in the defendant’s bedroom. They demonstrate a committed interest in explosives.”Representing Fernandez, Mary Cowe said a psychiatrist found he had “eccentric beliefs about what the future holds”.“He talks about being told in 2013 that a period of war and famine was coming and he could do something about it,” she said.“The defendant didn’t realise just how dangerous what he was doing was. He has an entirely misplaced idea of his expertise. He thought by storing them in his metal cabinet, he would mitigate the risk.”Ms Cowe said Fernandez had attempted to commission a woman to sew him a bullet-proof vest from his own design, which he planned to test out with the explosives and then provide to British forces.“He thought he was going to help people by researching this vest,” she said.She added that the family of Fernandez, who dreamed of joining the Royal Navy, were supporting him.Caroline Peter, assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Reeco Fernandez is someone who is interested in impending world disasters and had, for some time, been making his own preparations for a major event.”She added that his family were aware of his “interests”, but simply viewed them as a hobby.

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


Manchester City v Swansea – Story of the match

April 22 2018

Manchester City laid on a Premier League title party for their fans at the Etihad Stadium, with David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus all taking advantage of Swansea’s flimsy resistance.On duty for the first time since being crowned champions, Pep Guardiola’s side delighted their joyous home support with a wonderful display of their attacking qualities and a 5-0 scoreline.De Bruyne scored the pick of the bunch with a vicious long-range blast and the only bum note, Jesus’ penalty miss, was rectified when Bernardo Silva swept home the rebound.Tweet of the matchStar manKevin De Bruyne. Not head and shoulders above his fellow playmakers Sterling and David Silva, but the Belgian set the tone for City’s hunger on a day where they might easily have coasted. His passing was of the usual impeccable standard and his blazing finish capped the performance.In with the crowdHaving secured the title on a day off, City fans took the chance to bask in the achievement. Commemorative scarves, shirts and flags were out in force, regular chants of “champions” filled the rare on-field lulls and they were in good enough spirits to demand “give it to Ederson” when Sterling won the penalty.How many took up the offer, made via the electronic hoardings, to “celebrate in Abu Dhabi, 3 nights from £359” remains to be seen, though.Six of the bestSilva’s opening goal made him the sixth City player to reach double figures this season – following Sergio Aguero, Sterling, Jesus, Leroy Sane and De Bruyne.RatingsMan City: Ederson 6/10, Danilo 7, Vincent Kompany 7, Aymeric Laporte 7, Fabian Delph 8, Ilkay Gundogan 7, Bernardo Silva 8, David Silva 8, Kevin De Bruyne 8, Raheem Sterling 8, Gabriel Jesus 6. Substitutes: Yaya Toure (for De Bruyne) 7, Phil Foden (for Sterling) 7, Benjamin Mendy (for Delph) 6.Swansea: Lukasz Fabianski 5, Mike van der Hoon 5, Alfie Mawson 5, Federico Fernandez 4, Kyle Naughton 5, Martin Olsson 6, Tom Carroll 5, Andy King 5, Ki Sung-yueng 5, Jordan Ayew 5, Andre Ayew 6. Substitutes: Sam Clucas (for Ki) 6, Kyle Bartley (for Fernandez) 6, Tammy Abraham (for Olsson) 5.Who’s next?West Ham v Man City (Premier League, Sunday April 29)Swansea v Chelsea (Premier League, Saturday April 28)

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.


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.


Swansea ease relegation worries with thumping win over West Ham

March 3 2018

Swansea moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 4-1 home win over lacklustre West Ham.Ki Sung-yueng, Mike van der Hoorn, Andy King and Jordan Ayew, from the penalty spot, were on target to deepen West Ham’s own relegation concerns, before Michail Antonio struck a consolation goal for the visitors.The win takes Swansea above West Ham on goal difference – the teams are level on 30 points – but the two sides appear to be moving in different directions.The Swans have now taken 17 points from Carlos Carvalhal’s nine games in charge, while West Ham have won only one of their last six with David Moyes’ initial bounce effect seemingly over.West Ham suffered more misery when Winston Reid appeared to land awkwardly in the first half, the central defender carefully treated for 10 minutes before leaving the field on a stretcher.Storm Emma had wreaked havoc in south Wales in the 48 hours before this game, and West Ham were blown away in similar fashion as they failed to match Swansea’s intensity throughout.Swansea went ahead with their first shot as Ki – a Hammers transfer target in January – drilled low past Adrian in the eighth minute to score for the second successive home game.Ki almost set up a second when Alfie Mawson met his deep free-kick and Adrian scooped the ball away under pressure from Federico Fernandez.The Argentina centre-back was denied again moments later when, following a goalmouth scramble, he stabbed the ball past Adrian only for Declan Rice to block on the line.That action proved to be Reid’s last involvement with the game held up for a lengthy period before the defender was carried off.Reid’s departure led to West Ham fielding four full-backs in their five-man defence – substitute Sam Byram joining Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell and Patrice Evra, with Rice the odd man out.Swansea, sensing a real opportunity, went for the jugular and former Hammers striker Andre Ayew saw his fierce effort batted away by Adrian.But Van der Hoorn instantly doubled the lead when he was left unchallenged to head home Ki’s corner for only his second Swansea goal.West Ham changed to a four-man defence at half-time with Antonio replacing Evra and Moyes seeking a way back into the contest.But Swansea scored again within three minutes of the restart after Andre Ayew headed Sam Clucas’ corner goalwards.Adrian reacted well to save but the ball struck Javier Hernandez in the face and fell to King, who finished from close range.Marko Arnautovic tested Lukasz Fabianski but Swansea claimed their fourth after Cheikhou Kouyate felled Andre Ayew in the box.Swansea had not had a penalty in the Premier League since December 2016, but Jordan Ayew coolly converted his 10th goal of the season.West Ham managed a consolation 11 minutes from time as Antonio fired through the legs of Fernandez and past the unsighted Fabianski, but the storm clouds continue to gather.