The INEOS Grenadier is en route

Back in 2016, when the original Land Rover Defender ceased its 33-year production run, Sir Jim Ratcliffe decided he wasn’t ready to let the iconic car go. So the Chairman of chemical company INEOS did what any man in his position would do. He called up the good folks at Jaguar Land Rover and asked if they would sell him the Defender’s designs, tools, or anything that would help him keep the car in production. Regrettably, they declined.

But, with the might of a petrochemical empire behind him, Sir Jim wasn’t going to be dissuaded. Instead, he headed to the pub and hashed out plans to build a rugged, all-purpose 4×4 of his own. That pub’s name? The Grenadier, of course, in London’s Belgravia.

Five long, unforeseeable years later, and here we are. The boxy, brilliant INEOS Grenadier is finally on the home straight — with production expected to start in July 2022. But it’s been a long road. Development began several years ago, when INEOS Automotive entered into a powertrain technology partnership with BMW. Sir Jim then called on designer Toby Ecuyer to scrutinise and scope out Jeeps, Land Rovers, Ford Broncos and even the odd military vehicle in pursuit of visual perfection. After that, the team went on the hunt for a factory; a project that led INEOS through Wales and Portugal before they settled at the old ‘Smart Car’ factory in Hambach, France.

And, in June last year, the brand finally rolled out a prototype. The sum of Ratcliffe’s considerable, commendable efforts is a striking one, borrowing styling cues from every inch of the SUV spectrum. Intended to have “a clear, unambiguous purpose”, there will be two variants — a five-door station wagon and four-door crew-cab pick-up — and the design team assures us that both will be unapologetically utilitarian.

“Nothing is for show,” says Head of Design, Toby Ecuyer. “Modern engineering and production techniques ensure the Grenadier is highly capable, but we have been able to stay true to the essence of creating a utilitarian vehicle that will stand the test of time.”

And stand it will. There are bump strips on the doors. There’s a rear easy-loading door. A ladder aids access to the roof. Exterior wiring offers power to auxiliary lamps or work beacons. Roof bars are built-in. There’s even high-strength steel built into the bodywork, reinforcing both the car — and the brand’s unswerving focus on ‘strength over speed’.

It’s a similarly serviceable story under the reinforced bonnet. INEOS has opted for a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six engine from BMW, mated to an eight-speed gearbox. It’s a set-up that drives home the brand’s unerring pursuit of market-leading off-road performance, and will offer an impressive towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

For the interior, inspiration was drawn from as extensive a range of sources as the exterior. “We looked carefully at modern aircraft, boats and even tractors for inspiration,” says Ecuyer. “The layout is functional and logical, designed with ease of use in mind. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t.”

It’s a clear marriage of practicality and modernity. There may be a 12.3-inch touchscreen and smart infotainment system — but there are also drain plugs in the rubber flooring, and wipe-down upholstery that lends itself to a good, thorough hosing down. It undeniably fills the knockabout, rough-and-ready gap left that was left in the market when the old Land Rover Defender rumbled home to roost. And as Ecuyer claims, the Grenadier seems to epitomise the “modern, functional and highly capable 4x4 vehicle with utility at its core”.


INEOS Grenadier Image 5copt web2
INEOS Grenadier Image 6opt web
INEOS Grenadier interior 03 Left Hand Drive web

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