BUYERS GUIDE - WAGONS LARGE
It’s no secret that the 2020 Defender was new bodywork and interior on a Range Rover/Land Rover chassis. The Ineos Grenadier aimed to be a true Defender replacement and was previewed Down Under in September 2022. We gave up asking for a road test vehicle in late 2023.
Land Rover devotees saw the 2020 iteration of the Defender nameplate they had mixed responses: some liked the progressive nature of the new beast, while others bemoaned the abandonment of design simplicity and practicality.
In 2017, Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, a car enthusiast and experienced adventurer, identified a gap in the market for a stripped back, utilitarian, hard-working 4WD, engineered for modern day compliance and reliability. It didn’t hurt that Jim Ratcliffe was also Britain’s richest man.
Ineos Automotive Limited was formed and a team of automotive professionals assembled to bring the vision to reality.
The Grenadier employed British traditional design: so ‘trad’ that Land Rover tried to prevent its adoption by Ineos, but lost the court battle.
The engineering was German, including the use of BMW in-line six-cylinder petrol and Diesel engines, and ZF eight-speed auto boxes. The axles were Italian.
Ineos also signed a deal with Hyundai to evaluate the latter’s hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain for the Grenadier.
That non-combustion-engine variant could have appeal to underground miners and the military. Fuel cells have no spark risk, emissions or ‘heat signature’.
As an ardent supporter of Brexit, Jim Ratcliffe promised that the Grenadier would be built in Wales, in the UK, but practicality dictated otherwise and the vehicle was built at Hambach, in France, at a plant vacated by Daimler. (Funnily, another Brexiter, James Dyson, also decided to desert the UK manufacturing scene, for Singapore.)
Ineos dribbled specification information throughout 2020 and we regularly updated this post as information became available.
In July 2021, Ineos took the lid off the Grenadier’s interior and announced that testing of pre-production vehicles was on schedule and deliveries were expected to begin in exactly one year.
“When we started thinking about the Grenadier’s interior, we looked carefully at modern aircraft, boats and even tractors for inspiration, where switches are sited for optimal function; regular controls are close to hand and auxiliary ones are further away,” said Toby Ecuyer, head of design.
Toggle switches and dials on the centre and overhead consoles were widely spaced and clearly labelled. Auxiliary switches were built in, pre-wired to support the addition of winches, work lights and other accessories.
The infotainment system was accessed via a 310mm (12.3-inch) touchscreen, or by using a rotary dial. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration meant users could rely on smartphone navigation that should be up to date. An inbuilt, off-road, pathfinder navigation system allowed drivers to program, follow and record their route via waypoints, when roads and tracks were left behind.
With hard-wearing surface materials throughout, the Grenadier was designed to endure. Drain plugs in the rubber flooring and wipe-down upholstery meant the interior could be hosed out – more on that claim later. Water-resistant, anti-stain Recaro seats provided ergonomic support and comfort on or off the road. Carpets and leather upholstery were available for those aiming to leave the mud and sand outside.
Stowage space included a dry storage box under the rear seat; a lockable central console cubby box and side-mounted storage in the rear load area. There was also a range of interior options and accessories.
Right on schedule, in late September 2021, Ineos Automotive announced that it had established agreements with retail and after-sales partners around the world, to establish up to 200 sales and service points.
Prototype on test Down Under
Hand-picked Bosch Car Service outlets in Australia were announced by Ineos Automotive ANZ on September 30, 2021. As at April 2022, Ineos had 28 retail sites signed up around Australia.
From 14th October 2021, reservations were open to everyone worldwide, with prices for the Grenadier expected to start from AU$84,500 (RRP) in Australia. Order books for the Grenadier opened for Australian and New Zealand customers in May 2022.
In October 2021, a prototype arrived in Australia for Outback testing.
Also in October 2021, Ineos announced a hydrogen-fuel initiative, formed with powertrain specialist company, AVL and Ineos already had an agreement with fuel-cell market leader, Hyundai.
Those arrangements could be a benefit Down Under, if Australia’s hydrogen fuel initiatives work out as ‘Twiggy’ Forrest planned.
A prototype Grenadier made an unexpected appearance at the Sydney 4WD and Adventure Show, held at Eastern Creek in September 2022. We couldn’t drive it, but we did get time to have a detailed inspection – except under the bonnet.
We expected more from what has been a well-oiled Ineos PR machine. People who had signed potential orders were informed by email about the prototype’s appearance, as were selected members of the 4WD press, but the perhaps more critical press was not so advised. We discovered it was on display only after we arrived at the Show.
The Grenadier, as presented, was, disappointingly, much more British than global, so we think its appeal will be somewhat limited.
The prototype was positioned over mirrors that revealed a very well protected underbody, but it was busy under there and that packed chassis space left no room for an additional fuel tank, limiting capacity to 90 litres.
Given the ‘streamlined brick’ shape of the Grenadier, the BMW diesel six would most likely deliver 10-12L/100km in real-world conditions and worse when towing, so range was marginal for Australian conditions.
In typical Land Rover/Range Rover style, there were two presumably air-to-coolant radiators situated at both extremities of the front bumper bar. We say ‘presumably’ because we weren’t allowed to open the bonnet, while were told by bystanders that the ‘tamer’ press members had been allowed to do so.
These small radiators hid behind steel bumpers and mesh panels, which was a better arrangement than the ‘plastic-protected’ Rover vehicle design, but they still needed to exhaust hot air into the front wheel arches, via louvres in the plastic inner mudguards. The intercoolers would need daily cleaning in muddy, dusty and bug-laden conditions, we reckoned.
Obviously, any damage to these little radiators or their long hoses drains coolant!
Another issue was with the bolt-on ‘roo bar hoop that almost touched the bodywork. A typical animal strike impact would most likely push the hoop into the bodywork.
We know that styling is personal – some people even claim to like Lexus grille shapes – but the Grenadier’s ‘face’ as presented on this prototype was just plain wrong. Who dreamt up the idea of putting two weird-looking driving lights into a plastic V-shaped grille that resembled Nissan’s global ‘face’? Horizontal bars or a mesh front would look much better, we thought. (And so did several of the Show visitors we spoke to.)
We found the Grenadier cramped inside, with squeezy access to the back seats in particular. Second row legroom was also limited, despite sculptured cutouts in the backs of the front seats.
However, the cargo area was wide and tall, with ample tie-down tracks.
The two batteries, fuses and vital electricals were located under the second-row split seats and we’d hope that production vehicles had more terminal insulation than this prototype had. Also, the original concept was for a ‘hose-out’ interior and we wouldn’t bring a hose anywhere near the back seat.
The Grenadier’s driving station looked impressive, with tilt-telescope steering column and military-vehicle-style panels and switchgear. However, we’re used to seeing large display screens in new 4WDs and there’s no room on the Grenadier dashboard or centre console for a large map screen.
OK, we may sound over-critical of the Grenadier and we were certainly not happy being uninformed about the Grenadier’s appearance at this Show, but we think people who were expecting ‘son of Defender’ will also be disappointed.
Australian Grenadier models and pricing
At launch, there were two seating configurations available: two-seat Utility wagon with Euro Pallet-size cargo area and a five-seat Station Wagon. On those two different platforms were three stages of equipment levels available – Standard, Trailmaster and Fieldmaster – and a choice of petrol or diesel engines.
Thankfully, there was no price penalty for choosing the three-litre, 183kW/550Nm turbo-diesel BMW engine over the three-litre, 210kW/450Nm turbo-petrol BMW engine. Both were in-line sixes, coupled to ZF eight-speed auto boxes and drove through two-speed transfer cases, giving full-time 4WD.
The basic Grenadier was priced at $85,500 and came with a galvanised steel body on a box-section ladder frame; Carraro live-beam axles front and rear; heavy duty coil suspension; centre differential lock; front and rear skid plates; LED headlights; LED auxiliary high beam lights; 30/70 split rear doors; 17-inch steel wheels; full-size spare wheel; Bridgestone A/T tyres; towing eyes front and rear; roof rails and protection strips; Recaro seats; overhead control panel ; off-road and wading modes and Pathfinder off-road navigation
The Grenadier Trailmaster edition was priced from $96,495 and added: a raised air intake; differential locks front and rear; BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tyres; park assist front; power heated mirrors; heated windscreen washer jets; lockable central stowage box; puddle lamps and ambient door lighting; auxiliary charge points; advanced anti-theft alarm and immobiliser; exterior Utility Belt; access ladder; tow hitch and electrics; interior utility rails; auxiliary battery; auxiliary switch panel and electrical preparation; compass with altimeter and a Belstaff Trialmaster jacket.
The Grenadier Fieldmaster edition was priced from $96,495 and added to the standard Grenadier: 17-inch aluminium wheels; locking wheel nuts; Safari windows; access ladder; tow hitch and electrics; leather trim; heated front seats; carpet floor mats; park assist front; power heated mirrors; heated windscreen washer jets; compass with altimeter and a Belstaff Fieldmaster Jacket.
Buyers who wanted variations on those three levels could pick from a wide options list. Ineos is playing the European-options game with its pricing, starting with a basic vehicle, a long list of upgrades for it and two higher-spec’ models as well.
It was possible to opt for specific items and ‘build’ your own-spec’ vehicle, if none of the three factory-set packages suited your needs. There was also an extensive list of accessories for all three spec’ levels that included front and rear winches, recovery kit, ’roo bars, cargo barriers and nets, seat covers, toy racks, side awning, jerry can and gas bottle racks, roof cargo box, snorkel pre-cleaner and an LED light bar.
Why is there no Outback Travel Australia road test of the Grenadier, we hear you ask? We can only assume that Ineos doesn’t want us anywhere near their Grenadier and we gave up asking for a test vehicle in late 2023.
You can check out the pre-production vehicle video:
Ineos Automotive is a subsidiary of Ineos Group that makes petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products. It employs 22,000 people across 34 businesses, with a production network spanning 183 manufacturing facilities in 26 countries, producing paints, plastics, textiles, medicines and mobile phones.
In 2019, Ineos had global sales of US$61bn.
If you watched any of the America’s Cup races in Auckland you’d have noticed ‘INEOS’ and ‘Grenadier’ splattered all over the Pommy boat. Didn’t do ’em any good, however.