A bold British automotive start-up, Ineos, has created a “stripped back” off-roader that many believe is the 4×4 Land Rover should have created to replace its Defender. Meet the Ineos Grenadier.
Indeed, the Ineos Grenadier shares plenty of styling DNA with the legendary Defender, from the bonnet and side character lines to the faux windows that skirt the roof.
And its story is almost as interesting as the car itself, involving beer, sketches on the back of a drink coaster, the US Army’s technical specifications for the original Willys Jeep and a dream to revive the legend of one of the world’s most iconic 4x4s.
Clearly inspired by the rough and rugged Defender that ceased production in 2016, the INEOS Grenadier is the brainchild of a company best known for producing chemicals rather than cars. Ineos turned its hand to building vehicles in an effort to recreate the original DNA of the legendary Defender, a 4×4 that is now a more upmarket, high-tech alternative some believes lacks the simplicity and ruggedness of the original. Read our first drive Defender review here.
Blame it on a few pints of beer in a British pub – a pub called the Grenadier – where senior execs decided the Defender legend had to live on, albeit in a modernised package designed from the ground up to get down and dirty.
“They were bemoaning the imminent demise of the old Land Rover Defender,” Ineos Grenadier commercial director Mark Tennant tells MotoFomo.
Grenadier to be off-road focussed
And the Grenadier is all about going off-road. “Off-road first, on-road second,” says Tennant.
The Grenadier uses an old school 4×4 layout: solid axles front and rear housed within a truck-inspired ladder frame chassis. Designers wanted a wheel at each corner and enough clearance to ensure minimal interactions with the ground.
Like the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen – another off-road icon benchmarked in the design of the Grenadier – it has three locking differentials, towering ground clearance and exposed door hinges.
“The proportions of the car are almost dictated by the engineering,” says designer Toby Ecuyer. “Inevitably you end up with a very boxy design.”
Ineos says that extreme off-road focus led the design of the Grenadier to pick up cues from others.“Quite simply, you cross the same bridges and the same paths that others have done before.”
But Tennant says the design is different enough to make it appealing and unique…and to avoid any legal entanglements “We feel it looks fresh and not dated.”
Longevity and toughness were key to the Grenadier’s design brief. “It needs to be hard wearing, bloody durable…” says Tennant of a car he says as a tool of trade as much as one for hard core adventurers and enthusiasts keen to put it to the test.
And it’ll have to be. Ineos execs mention the Ford Ranger Raptor and Toyota LandCruiser 70-Series as the sorts of vehicles it could compete with. While production is due to start late in 2021 the INEOS team is targeting 2022 as a likely arrival into Australia.
Keeping it simple
The Grenadier is summed up with two three-word statements: “Built on purpose” and “function over form”. That’s part of the reason for the live axles front and rear.
“[They’re] simpler, durable and robust and able to be fixed in the field.”
The Ineos team turned to Carraro for axles, a company best known for supplying parts for agricultural equipment such as tractors. Much of the body is made of steel but the doors and swing out back door are aluminium. Engineering work is being done by Austrian-based Magna Steyr, which also manufactures the G-Wagen and cars as diverse as the Toyota Supra and BMW Z4.
Ineos is also looking to the aftermarket to make the Grenadier even better or tailor it to specific applications.
“We want to be open source when it comes to accessories,” says Tennant. “We’re really keen to engage with this off-roader community.”
That’s the reason for the industrial looking rails on the roof and doors and skirting the rear of the car. What looks like Land Rover’s ‘alpine’ windows in the roof are actually cutouts with solid rails for attaching things. They’re designed to have accessories attached and allow extras to be added, depending on the owner’s desire.
Despite the simplicity and ruggedness elsewhere, INEOS has looked to the prestige market for propulsion. The Grenadier will be powered by six-cylinder turbocharged BMW engines, in both petrol and diesel form.
No word on power outputs just yet, although execs admit they have a “different set of requirements” to BMW, hinting there may be more of an emphasis on torque. There are departures from the Defender tradition: the Grenadier is auto only, whereas the Defender only ever had a manual gearbox.
“It was debated long and hard within the team. We felt automatic with the engine choice we made was the best choice … and also more durable for fleet operators, who have drivers leaping in and out of the seat.”
Like BMW, the auto is a ZF unit, executives admitting the powertrain is something that “doesn’t come cheap”. However, Ineos has a separate transfer case for the all-important low-range gearing – as well as G-Wagen-like locking diffs front, rear and centre.
Take a (comfortable) seat
Despite the focus on utility and function elsewhere, the INEOS team wanted the interior to be comfortable and welcoming. Images haven’t been released yet, but they’re adamant it will by an appropriately stylish and functional interior.
“Yes, we’re building a utility vehicle that primarily is a working tool, but who said it needs to be uncomfortable? It’s really crucial that in delivering something in the 2020s we’re not confined by some sort of hair-shirted, spartan view of the world set in the mid-20th century.
“You’ve got to have a comfortable seat, you’ve got to have room for your elbows … you’ve got to have connectivity and screens.”
So expect Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as well as enough tech to keep people content. “The vehicle will be bang up to date in terms of relevant technology.”
Tell ’em the price
As for the price, for now something that hasn’t been disclosed, although with enthusiasts, farmers and mining companies all on the potential hit list it can’t be too expensive.
“Attainable, that is our aim,” says Dirk Heilmann, Ineos Automotive CEO. “We cannot disappear into G-Wagen stratosphere.”
Execs admit the Grenadier will sit well above the mainstream Hiluxes and Rangers that spend so much time in the Aussie bush. Instead, think closer to six figures. “Ranger Raptor… we’ll be a bit above those. We’re not going to be up there with the G-Wagen,” says Tennant.
At your service
The Ineos Automotive team is also well aware of providing parts and service, which is such a big part of the 4×4 market – as Toyota knows well and Jeep has to some extent learnt the hard way Down Under.
“We want, where possible, to be selling direct … in some parts of the world … we’ll be working with regional distribution models.
“As for service … we’ll announce our plans… clearly there are third-party networks around the world that would give us a head start.”
Over the next 18 months the team will be refining and tweaking the Grenadier and undertaking the mountains of engineering work that still need to be completed. That’s part of the reason for revealing the car so early.
“It enables us also to test in plain sight,” says Heilmann.
“We have a very challenging programme ahead, as we put prototypes through their paces in all conditions, on the way to accumulating some 1.8 million test kilometres over the coming year.”
Testing will take place in South Africa, Spain and the United States, with Australia also possibly on the radar. Revealing the car this early also allows the team to get on with the task of convincing buyers to walk away from brands such as Ford, Toyota, Jeep and Land Rover that have created the sorts of cars they have used for decent off-roading and work duties.
“We’re not underestimating the massive task ahead of us.”
Turns out the Ineos Grenadier will get hydrogen power too…You can read more about that via our friends at EV Central.
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