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Auto blogWed, 12 Dec 2012 17:43:00 EST
As it begins the rollout of the all-wheel-drive Jaguar XJ and XF models, Jaguar Land Rover has just announced that it has opened a new facility in northern Minnesota for winter testing. Located in International Falls, MN (on the US and Canadian border), the British automaker says it is one of the coldest locations in the Continental US. Jaguar's new Instinctive All Wheel Drive system was developed primarily to help sell more cars in the northern US, so it only makes sense to open a testing area in the US as well.
With temperatures that can drop to minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit, International Falls was chosen to mimic some of the worst weather a Jaguar or Land Rover will ever see. The grounds house testing chambers, various road surfaces and even a frozen lake. This new facility complements the hot-weather testing grounds in Phoenix, AZ.
The official press release is posted below.
Of all the tuners this side of AMG, none are as close to Mercedes-Benz as Brabus. After all, when Daimler needed a tuner to spruce up the Smart car, it was Brabus that it turned to. But Brabus tunes vehicles other than Mercedes - it just uses, let's call it, a pen name. It brands them Startech, like the widebody kit it's developed for the new Range Rover Sport and will present at the Geneva Motor Show next week.
The modifications center around the carbon fiber body panels Brabus (excuse us, Startech) has developed for the British sport-ute that give it over two inches of added width. The wider fender flares encompass 23-inch wheels that are forged, ceramic-coated, skinned with low-profile rubber and fitted to a lowered suspension. The front and rear bumpers have been redone in plastic and can be fitted with or without the wider fenders, and there's a three-piece roof spoiler at the back.
Startech is also offering an upgrade for the 3.0-liter twin-turbo-diesel V6 that squeezes out an extra 31 horsepower and 59 pound-feet of torque for a total of 323 hp and 501 lb-ft, dropping the 0-62 time from 7.2 seconds to 6.9. The German tuner also has a wide array of interior modifications on offer, details of which you can read about in the press release below and scope out in the high-resolution image gallery above.
The success of Jaguar Land Rover in recent years has largely been down to a resurgent product lineup, but a recent move into the research and development will see the British-based, Indian-owned brands take the fight to its German rivals more aggressively than ever before.
JLR is investing 50 million pounds ($80,345,000, as of this writing) in a joint R&D center in central England. The move will more than triple its staff dedicated to research, from 150 to 500, with Wolfgang Epple, JLR's Director of Research and Technology telling Automotive News Europe, "In order to play among the big animals in automotive and to be anchored in the mind of customers you have to have offered something unique, to be first in market. We want to be one of the key premier automotive manufacturers."
Jaguar Land Rover's 50-million-pound contribution represents more than half of the 94-million-pound tab, on the so-called National Automotive Innovation Campus. Based at Warwick University, Tata's European Technical Center, Warwick Manufacturing Group and the Higher Education Funding Council, an agency of the British government, are all chipping in for the facility.