Auto blogSun, 17 Aug 2014 17:45:00 EST
It's only been a couple of months since Jaguar Land Rover announced the formation of its new Special Operations division, and we've already seen a number of vehicles to come out of it. But now the British automaker has announced a new facility that will house its elite skunkworks department.
Set to be built at Prologis Park in Ryton, England, on the outskirts of Coventry, the new Special Vehicle Operations Technical Centre will encompass dedicated production lines, F1-style flexible workshops, a dedicated paint studio and VIP suite for commissioning bespoke projects. JLR will spend some $33 million on the facility that will be home to 150 specialists - 100 of them being new hires.
The first project which the Special Operations division is working on is the F-Type Project 7, but we've already seen more projects in the pipeline - including the upcoming Range Rover Sport SVR - and you can bet there'll be more. The revival of the Lightweight E-Type also falls under Special Operations, but is undertaken by the Jaguar Heritage department located nearby at Browns Lane.
Care for a bit more proof that the Jaguar Land Rover portfolio of vehicles is the best it's ever been? Well, the Indian-owned pair of brands saw a record year in 2013, while 2014 has seen a 14-percent increase in sales. The crazy thing is, though, is that figure could be even higher, provided the company had the production capacity.
JLR is running a six-month waiting list on two of its most popular models, the Range Rover Sport (above) and Range Rover. According to Mark White, the company's chief technologist for body engineering, the blame can be placed on the paint shop at the company's Solihull factory, in the UK.
"We will probably max out the paint shop before we max out the body shop. Putting the second body shop in has given us the flexibility to ebb and flow the different models that go through there and meet the capacity demands we've got," White told Automotive News. "However, you always hit a bottleneck somewhere. And the paint shop is probably going to be the next biggest obstacle."
Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?
Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.
A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.
Since buying Jaguar Land Rover, Indian automaker Tata has generally left its luxury arm's platforms and technology alone. However, those days might be gone. The two of them are gradually growing closer with coordinated development and rumors of shared platforms. And it looks like all of that work and money is finally going to pay off with an actual vehicle in the near future.
According to Australian website Drive, Tata wants to make its cars more attractive to buyers outside of India, and to do that the company knows it must improve quality. The Indian company is being careful, though, because it doesn't want to dilute the Jaguar or Land Rover brands with cheap models. "You're going to see in the future a lot of sharing of technologies and platforms over time, but you won't see a JLR with a Tata badge on it," said Darren Bowler, managing director of Tata's Australian distributor, to Drive.
According to Bowler, these future vehicles are already on the way. Tata and JLR have a global platform in the works for 2017 that both companies could use for cars or crossovers. He also hinted that Jaguar's new Ingenium engines could be shared among the brands in the future, too.
For athletes, the cold is often a powerful ally in treating injures, with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) a popular means of treating muscle pulls, bruising and other common forms of discomfort. Did you know, though, that frosty temps are also popular tools for simply recovering from a rough training session?
Well, we're guessing Jaguar Land Rover knew that, as the British company was kind enough to loan out its climactic testing chamber to Jaco van Gass and Luke Darlington, a pair of veterans wounded in their service to Queen and Country. Van Gass, a former private in the Royal Army, and Darlington, a Royal Marine, are attempting to earn a spot on the British Armed Forces cycling team for the upcoming Invictus Games.
The Games, inspired by the Warrior Games held in the United States, are a sporting competition reserved for injured servicemen and women, either active duty or veterans, and is slated to take place from September 10 to 14 in London's former Olympic venues. Van Gass lost his left arm below the elbow after getting hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (he also suffered from a collapsed lung, punctured internal organs, severe shrapnel and blast wounds, a broken tibia and a fractured knee). Darlington, meanwhile, suffered a traumatic brain injury during action in Afghanistan, and he now suffers from weakness in his right side and cognitive issues.
Jaguar Land Rover officially announced its Ingenium family of engines with the unveiling of the 2.0-liter version in the Jaguar XE concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, but it kept details very thin at the time. All we knew was that the new turbocharged mills could be configured to use gasoline or diesel, and be positioned longitudinally or transversely. Months later, JLR is finally letting some more info slip about its new baby, but there are still some big questions to be answered.
For the Ingenium project, Jaguar Land Rover gave its engineers a clean sheet of paper and told them not to worry about using any previous parts or machinery. In the end, the designers came up with a family of turbocharged, aluminum-block engines based around modular, 500cc cylinders to allow it to grow or shrink as the market demanded. The layout was also made adaptable enough to incorporate hybrid drivetrains, if needed. "Being configurable and flexible are the two key strands of Ingenium's DNA because we have future-proofed our new engines from the outset," said said Ron Lee, the company's director of Powertrain Engineering.
To maximize efficiency, Jaguar promises that all versions of the Ingenium engines come with computer-controlled, variable oil pumps and water pumps to use only as much energy as needed. They also get direct injection, roller bearings for the cams and stop/start. The diesel version alone has 17 percent less internal friction than the mill it replaces, the company claims. JLR is also promising class-leading figures for Ingenium's torque and horsepower too, but it's not giving away those specs just yet.
Land Rover makes some of the most capable SUVs on or off the road, and some of the most luxurious too. But the British automaker isn't about to rest on those laurels - not when every other automaker assaults its territory with sport-utes of their own. That's why Land Rover has been working so hard on nifty new technologies from a depth-sounder in the door mirror of the Range Rover Sport an augmented-reality head-up display that makes the whole front of the car virtually disappear.
JLR's newest tech may not be ground-breaking, but its integration promises to make driving around town that much easier. The system syncs with the driver's smartphone and uses all manner of parameters - including driver habits, weather and location as well as the presence of other passengers - to make the commute go as smoothly as possible. Get into the car and it'll set the seat and mirrors for you. No big deal, because lots of cars do that. But it'll also set up the nav system to take you to work and the sound system to play your favorite music. Okay, getting more interesting.
Get in with your kids and it'll know not only that you've got to drop them off at school first (or remind you to pack their gym bag if they've got soccer practice after school that day) but that they might not enjoy that Chumbawamba album you've been listening to since college and it'll play something it knows you'll all enjoy based on your listening history. Then it'll switch back to Tubthumping once the kids are out, remind you of your morning meeting and alert those you're scheduled to meet with if you get stuck in traffic while finding you a better route to get there, monitoring fuel levels all the while and telling you if you'll need to tank up before you reach your destination. It knows if you like calling your mother on the drive to work and will lower the air suspension to make it easier to hop out once you get there.
At the Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend, Land Rover previewed its upcoming performance version of the Range Rover Sport. Only instead of wearing the R-S badge that adorns the most hardcore of Jaguar models, the performance SUV from JLR's Special Operations unit introduced the letters SVR. And now, it seems that badge is here to stay.
Following the Range Rover Sport SVR, a new report from Motor Authority now says that Jaguar Land Rover will use those letters to distinguish the top-of-the-line performance models from both marques moving forward. As such, we might expect SVR models of the upcoming Jaguar XE compact sedan and Land Rover Discovery Sport, as well as potential new performance models based on the new F-Type and next-generation XF.
If accurate, the move would seem to separate Jaguar in particular from the R-S badge that has adorned performance models like the XFR-S and XKR-S. Both Audi and Porsche use the letters RS to distinguish its most hardcore models as well (e.g. Audi RS7 Sportback and Porsche 911 GT3 RS). Whether the similarity was a factor in shifting to the SVR moniker, we don't know, but either way, we welcome the arrival of a new generation of Jaguar and Land Rover performance models - especially if they pack the 575-horsepower version of the company's ubiquitous 5.0-liter supercharged V8. Not incidentally, that delicious powerplant gained a couple of new engine bays to call home at Goodwood as well - it's not just found in the forthcoming Range Rover Sport SVR, it's found a home in the F-Type Project 7, too.
Jaguar Land Rover has announced that a new division of the British manufacturer will be dedicated to "bespoke commissions," as well as heritage products and apparel. Oh, and the new Special Operations division will also be behind JLR's halo cars from now on.
It's that last one that is the most tantalizing, as the last real halo product to see production from Jaguar was the XJ220. The Range Rover, meanwhile, has always had its own kind of halo reputation, although the Land Rover brand itself has never really gotten into the game with a dedicated model.
According to JLR, the new halo models will focus on ultra-high performance and luxury with a limited run of vehicles. The bespoke models, meanwhile, will give the wealthiest customers full sway over how vehicles are outfitted, with unique paints, trims and other accessories. The new SpecOps division will be run by John Edwards.
Jaguar has moved its Range Rover Evoque-bodied tests of the production C-X17 Concept from icy streets to the legendary Nürburgring, as work continues on the brand's first SUV.
Really, there's not a great deal of new stuff here. Based on the number plates, this is a different vehicle from the one we saw back in March, which we originally identified as the upcoming replacement for the Land Rover Freelander/LR2. The details, though, appear largely the same. The biggest distinction we can see between the March tests and this are the US-spec headlights, which add amber reflectors at their sides. Based on these shots, it does seem as if the C-X17 should be a fairly poised road vehicle, as the engineers hustle it around the 'Ring.
Of course, as soon our spies can capture images of a production-bodied C-X17, we'll be sure to pass those on to you. Until then, take a look up top for images of the Range Rover-bodied Jaguar as it tests at Germany's Nürburgring. You can also scroll down for our March images for the C-X17 mules testing on public roads.