Staff training has been under way at JLRs new Brazil assembly plant for some months

Staff training has been under way at JLR's new Brazil assembly plant for some months

An executive reshuffle, Mardi Gras holidays and the ever worsening economy amid a deepening recession have all combined in this first quarter of 2016 to delay final construction work on Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover assembly plant in Itatiaia, 174km/108 miles west of Rio de Janeiro City. Now opening is postponed a little to late April or early May.

As just-auto has long expected, the the Range Rover Evoque will be the first model assembled locally followed by the similar-under-the-skin Discovery Sport. Both were confirmed by Dmitry Kolchanov, COO, Latin America and Middle for the British-Indian group, in a statement to the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.

The paper said Kolchanov expects the Discovery Sport to be in production by November yet spokesmen for the Brazilian JLR subsidiary insist the newer model will follow just after the Evoque, possibly in the same month.

Meanwhile, rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which builds the Jeep Renegade at a new plant in Brazil, has decided to speed a new Jeep (known as Project 551) into production in order to simultaneously retire the ancient Patriot and Compass models. Output is due to start next July with Brazil sales beginning three months later.

Another two-month delay hit the locally-made Volkswagen Golf, production of which finally commenced last month. Compared to the previously imported model (from Germany then Mexico), the entry level Comfortline is fitted with torsion beam rear suspension rather than multilink, a six-speed epicyclic automatic gearbox instead of a seven-speed DSG twin clutch unit and a 1.6-litre/118 bhp engine from the new EA 211 family.

The Highline version will continue to use a 1.4-litre flex-fuel direct injection engine made in Brazil (developing 147 bhp) but with the same rear suspension as the Comfortline while the two-litre GTI will keep the two-litre GDI engine imported from Mexico and multilink rear suspension.