Meet Britain’s latest rough, tough, go-anywhere 4x4, designed and built to survive the world’s harshest environments. No, not the new Land Rover Defender, but the traditional Landie’s spirit, cloned as the Ineos Grenadier.
The Grenadier project, brainchild of petrochemicals baron and car enthusiast Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is revealed here for the first time today, as both estate and pick-up. The start-up automotive division of Ineos – a company with global sales of $61 billion in 2019 – says the pictures show how the Grenadier will look when customers get the first cars late in 2021. The Grenadier will be Ineos’s first car.
It’s not a Defender, and the company pointedly makes no mention of its iconic muse, but seeing the Grenadier in the flesh for the first time is a double-take moment. The bluff front, round lights, tapered bonnet, upright screen, horizontal shoulder line, squared windows and non-flush glass, Alpine roof windows, flat sides, vertical rear and side-opening tailgate with external spare wheel… all are unmistakably inspired by you-know-what, although in the past Ineos has said inspiration has come not just from the Series I Land Rover but also the Willys Jeep and J40 Toyota Land Cruiser.
There are some modern design touches and clever reworkings of half-remembered details. The body has been smoothed a little with a few new curves and bulges, even a slight flaring over the wheel arches. That’s as you would expect considering this is in fact an all-new body sitting, in time-honoured tradition, on a separate ladder-frame chassis.
Not being a monocoque makes it virtually unique in today’s car industry but is an obvious way of staying true to its heritage and delivering the sort of no-frills, go-anywhere ability over the harshest terrain which is Sir Jim’s vision.
Ineos says the Grenadier has utility at its core but this is no sports utility SUV. It is a working 4x4, complete with beam axles, permanent four-wheel-drive, locking differentials and a two-speed transfer case for what Ineos claims will be class-leading off-roading, towing and payload, with durability and reliability to the fore.
Ineos design head Toby Ecuyer says there is nothing ambiguous about the Grenadier’s role in life: “It is there to do everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Nothing is for show. we have been able to stay true to the essence of creating a utilitarian vehicle that will stand the test of time.”
Sir Jim, who named his brainchild after the London pub where he hatched his plan in 2017 soon after Land Rover axed the Defender, said it was important a utilitarian off-road vehicle looked the part, calling the design “distinctive and purposeful.”
Little else is so far confirmed about the Grenadier, though we do know turbocharged petrol and diesel engines will be from BMW, the engineering partner is Magna Steyr in Austria, manufacture will be in Portugal and final assembly in a new plant in Wales. In the past Ineos has said it is a £600m project and will ultimately create 500 jobs.
Next up for the Grenadier is durability testing, as Ineos chief executive Dirk Heilmann explains: “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.”