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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

Angus & The Mearns

Council planner advises against Mearns farm wind turbine project

January 15 2015

A farm four kilometres north of Laurencekirk is seeking to install a 48-metre wind turbine. Mains of Pittarrow Farm is proposing to construct a 100kW turbine with a rotor diameter of 23.6m and a hub height of 36.8m. The application also details the need for associated works, such as the formation of new road access, construction of an area of hardstanding and the construction of a substation building. Seven properties lie within one kilometre of the proposed turbine location. The plan has been recommended for refusal by Aberdeenshire Council’s director of infrastructure services, Stephen Archer. He notes there are 28 turbines which have been approved in the five kilometres surrounding the site and a further 57 turbines which have been approved within five to 10km of the location. In his report to councillors, he states: “In principle, Aberdeenshire Council supports the installation of renewable energy facilities, such as wind turbines. “The impact on the landscape, built and natural heritage and the amenity of those living in the surrounding area must be fully assessed. “Due to its scale, flat landform and simple pattern, the Howe of Mearns Landscape Character Area (LCA) is capable of accommodating limited amounts of wind energy. “Its open character and visual sensitivity reduce both the size and numbers of turbines that can be accommodated. “However, current development takes up nearly all of the capacity in this LCA.” Mr Archer also noted that the turbine would add to the visual impact of turbines in the area. He added: “With the number of turbines within 10km of the site, the sequential cumulative impacts are already significant when travelling through the area. “The proposed turbine would further increase these cumulative impacts, thus continuing to erode the visual amenity of the area and the landscape’s character.” The plan will be discussed at Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee on Tuesday.


Downton Abbey mystery game launched by Dundee studio

October 6 2015

The Crawley family and their servants are stepping from the Edwardian era straight into the 21st Century thanks to a Dundee mobile games studio. Downton Abbey: Mysteries of the Manor has been launched by Tag Games and Activision Publishing of Santa Monica, California. The hidden object game is based on the multi-award-winning British drama series now in its sixth series on ITV. The mobile game is set in the abbey. Players take on the role of a private detective, hired by the Crawley family, to act as an undercover butler and unravel the mystery of why the family home has been ransacked. The player must explore 15 photo-realistic 3D rooms, interrogate 11 disingenuous characters from the TV series to unearth segments of the story and piece together the clues to crack the puzzle. Paul Farley, chief executive of Tag Games, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Activision to bring the Downton Abbey world to life in a mobile game for the first time. “The combination of familiar Downton characters, magical setting, high-resolution visuals and hidden object game-play is bound to be a success with both fans of the TV show and fans of hidden object games.” He added: “As a free-to-play title we can also look forward to delighting players further with the release of new content and improved features for a long time yet!” The game utilises fully rendered 3D environments and comes packaged with Tag’s manager tool allowing players to download new content without having to reinstall the game. Downton Abbey: Mysteries of the Manor is available on iOS, Android and Kindle devices. Based in Dundee, Tag has been making mobile games since 2006 and is well established as a leader in the global mobile space. They work across a number of genres and business models and have heavily invested in free-to-play and games as a contracted service. Tag, based at Seabraes House, Greenmarket, has a staff of 44 in game design, production, marketing, programming and visual arts, and hopes to recruit more staff as it pursues more project contracts. The sixth season of Downton Abbey is running for eight episodes to end with a Christmas special concluding the phenomenally successful period drama. The show will receive a special award at this year’s International Emmys. The Academy will present the 2015 International Emmy Founders Award to writer and creator Julian Fellowes. The award is given to individuals whose creative accomplishments have contributed in some way to the quality of global television production.


Campaign group warns Fife windfarm policy is a ‘recipe for conflict’

February 27 2013

An anti-windfarm campaign group claims planning chiefs are “on a collision course” with rural communities in Fife. Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) claims officials are playing down or ignoring the visual impact large wind turbines can have on people who would live close to them. The group is worried that if officials do not change tack, there will be many more large wind turbine applications too close to where people live. CLPG chairman Greg Brown said: “Inevitably, those applications will be opposed by the people who live near them. That has already happened many times in Fife. “The current approach is a recipe for ongoing conflict and it needn’t be like this.” The group believes a track record is building of elected councillors turning down wind turbine planning applications because they judge the visual impact would be harmful often against advice from the planning chiefs. The group points to Fife planning chiefs recommending approval of two applications for a total of 10 very large turbines at Clatto Hill. By a large majority, councillors turned them down. Both developers appealed but a Scottish Government Reporter supported the councillors’ decisions and refused the appeals. “The difference between the assessment made by councillors, the Scottish Government Reporter and the local community on the one hand and the planning chiefs on the other is quite simple,” added Mr Brown. “The planning chiefs don’t want to recognise the overwhelming visual impact large turbines would have close to where people live. Everyone else accepts this common sense view.” Fife Council is reviewing its wind energy guidance and seeking opinions from Fifers. People have until March 10 to submit their views. CLPG highlight planning officials’ suggestion the council adopts a new report, commissioned by landscape consultants Ironside Farrar. They say this now recognises the “limitations” on large wind turbines being built on prominent hills in Fife. However, they have earmarked new areas on lower-lying land, which they claim are “areas with highest inherent capacity” for large wind turbines. The group is worried those areas include “large swathes” of the Howe of Fife surrounding Ladybank and Auchtermuchty, an area north of Cupar and an area in the East Neuk. The CLPG submission states to the plan consultation says: “Ironside Farrar gives a false impression of the suitability of some locations for windfarms. “The reality is the level of rural population will be a major constraining factor and must be taken into account.” The group has submitted detailed suggestions for a change to Fife Council’s wind energy guidance, showing how visual impact on local people can be assessed. “We have tried to echo how the Scottish Government Reporter assessed the Clatto proposals,” said Stavros Michaelides, secretary of the group. “We are also making the demand full information is collected about peoples’ homes close to proposals and a proper and thorough assessment of the visual impact on them be carried out. “This has been sadly lacking in past planning assessments,” he added. Jim Birrell, Fife Council’s senior manager (development and buildings) said: “Fife Council has received the full submission from the Clatto Landscape Protection Group and many other individuals and other organisations in response to its public consultation exercise. “A full assessment of all the submissions will be made after the March 10 deadline before the council considers any changes to its wind energy guidance. “In assessing applications for windfarms, currently the council pays particular attention to visual and landscape impacts and also the proximity of residential properties.”

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.


Flight concerns at centre of Largoward wind turbines refusal

December 16 2011

A Cupar businessman's proposal for two 100m wind turbines has been thrown out by Fife councillors. Gordon Pay hoped to erect the turbines at South Cassingray Farm, Largoward, but the proposal was rejected during Thursday's full Fife Council meeting on the grounds of insufficient information submitted and defence interests at RAF Leuchars. Members of north-east Fife area committee were excluded from considering the item as they had already voiced strong opposition in a submission to the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA). Mr Pay appealed to the DPEA after the council failed to determine the application within the required timescale. However, his appeal was considered not valid by the DPEA because he did not lodge it in time. The council's planning department said insufficient information had been submitted in relation to the proposal's potential impact on visual and residential amenity, and wildlife. Development manager Jim Birrell said: ''There was adequate opportunity for the information to be collated and there is a clear lack of information. ''This is a relatively simple, straight forward application before the committee but we are nevertheless not in a position to complete an assessment because of lack of information.'' Council leader Peter Grant said the authority had a ''very strong case'' against any subsequent appeal lodged by Mr Pay. The planner's report said the proposal would have a ''significant and detrimental operational impact'' on the MoD's air traffic control radars at RAF Leuchars. It said: ''The resultant desensitisation of the radar could result in aircraft not being detected and therefore not presented to air traffic controllers, which may have a significant and detrimental operational impact and put air safety at risk.'' Scottish Natural Heritage objected on the grounds that Mr Pay had presented insufficient evidence that irreversible damage to protected species of geese, peregrine falcons and bats would be avoided. Largoward and District Community Council objected after a survey found 78.5% of locals were against it. It was concerned the structures would be a visual intrusion in the Cameron area, incompatible with the rural landscape and detrimental to residential amenity and tourism. Fifty-six objections were received by the council.

Perth & Kinross

Inquest to decide fate of controversial Perthshire windfarm

January 19 2017

Scottish ministers have called a public inquiry to determine the fate of a giant Perthshire windfarm. An inquest into the highly controversial Dulater Hill project will be held in Birnam at the end of March. The scheme involves the installation of 17 turbines — each twice the height of the Scott Monument — across an area of land the size of 16 football pitches. Developers say the scheme, north of the A923 near Butterstone, will dramatically slash carbon emissions and help reach crucial green energy targets. But the plan is up against strong opposition from residents and local organisations. Perth and Kinross Council has also lodged a formal objection. It is argued that the turbines would have a negative impact on tourism and the local economy. Opponents say there is already an overabundance of turbines in the area with more than 100 already in place and around 160 proposed. Ecotricity, which is spearheading the development, says that it will create construction jobs and boost the community by £285,000 a year. The Lunan Valley Protection Group, which was set up to fight the proposal, will be representing local objectors at the meeting. A spokesman said: "Our arguments, which have now been submitted, are mainly around the visual impact of having these turbines on the skyline and the cumulative visual impact with the other wind farms in the area. "We are not against wind power per se, but we do think these massive turbines are inappropriate for the proposed site. "And if this site was approved there is the risk, seen elsewhere, of further wind farms being approved locally, creating a cluster that would have a massive cumulative visual impact." He said there was also safety concerns about construction materials and turbine parts being transported along the A923. "Historically very wide loads on narrow roads can slide off the verge," he said. "If oil or other pollutants got into the five lochs system that could present a real threat to a rare and sensitive ecosystem." An Ecotricity spokesman has said that, if approved, "the Dulater Hill wind park would help us take another big step in reducing the national carbon footprint, creating enough clean energy to power nearly 30,000 homes and saving more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 annually." He added: "We've done extensive environmental and ecological assessments as part of the planning process and we're very confident the site is an appropriate place for a wind park of this size." Councillors had earlier refused to back the project, claiming it would lead to "unacceptable adverse visual impacts" which would "erode the experience from popular viewpoints within the River Tay National Scenic Area". The inquiry is due to begin at the Birnam Institute Arts and Conference Centre from 1pm on Tuesday, March 28. It is expected to run until Friday, April 3.