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Coming soon: Ineos Grenadier

Back to basics off-roader invokes spirit of traditional Land Rover Defender but is an all-new vehicle with neat modern touches

The latest Land Rover Defender is a very different vehicle from the rugged, utilitarian version of old and has rebranded that heritage into a vehicle that’s every inch the modern, sophisticated SUV. That’s what the majority of buyers want, but there are hardcore Land Rover fans who feel it’s sold out by swapping its muddy wellies for more fashionable footwear.
Most of them would probably go back to tinkering with their old Defenders, and putting up with the considerable practical compromises the old car demanded in terms of comfort, ergonomics and road manners. Not Jim Ratcliffe, head of the Ineos petro-chemical business, one of Britain’s richest men and massive Defender fan. Having failed to convince Land Rover to sell him the rights to keep building the old Defender he it has created his own modern reinterpretation, keeping the same rugged vibe but using modern engineering and BMW engines.
2021 Ineos Grenadier
2021 Ineos Grenadier
It’s called the Grenadier, named after the London pub where the idea was conceived. And, while it may look a bit like the old Defender, it is in fact a clean sheet design by Toby Ecuyer, the architect and boat designer Ratcliffe had previously employed to design his superyachts.
Where the modern Defender is designed for the modern SUV buyer the Grenadier takes its inspiration from the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rovers still popular in the more rugged parts of the world where reliability can mean the difference between life and death. As much as 300,000 of the 1.8m kilometres of testing will have been done off-road, Grenadier prototypes having been put through their paces in Europe and Africa alike, the latter with mine clearing charity The Halo Trust in conditions where dependability using ‘in the field’ maintenance with basic facilities is key. Mechanically the six-cylinder BMW engines – a 285 horsepower petrol or 249 horsepower diesel – have the torque to haul the Grenadier through the toughest terrain, driving all four wheels through an automatic gearbox with low-range for when the going gets seriously challenging.
2021 Ineos Grenadier
2021 Ineos Grenadier
Having said that – and now we’ve seen the interior – the Grenadier does have an impressively modern and civilised vibe inside. Inspired by yachts, aircraft and industrial plant machinery rather than road cars, the switches are large, clearly labelled and logically grouped, and designed to be easily operated with gloves on for those working in colder environments. A central touch-screen is the only obvious concession to modernity in an otherwise totally functional cabin. There’s even a bank of switches in the roof, meaning the front-seat passenger can operate them as a co-pilot might in an aircraft while the driver concentrates on navigating whatever terrain they may find themselves on. Drain plugs mean you can hose mud out of the footwells but the Recaro seats are also supportive and comfortable, with plenty of space for three full-size passengers across the rear bench and tons of headroom. The boot – accessed by asymmetric side-hinged doors – is big and there are nifty integrated rails up top, meaning you can lash additional items to the roof of the vehicle without needing to fit a rack or bars.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed but Ineos has a clear plan and reckons over half of buyers will be what it describes as ‘lifestylists’ needing a vehicle to support outdoor hobbies and ‘cool mums and dads’ whose idea of a family holiday is an overland camping trip, be that to the Scottish Highlands or sub-Saharan Africa. The rest will be made up of farmers, hardcore 4x4 fans and corporate users like utility companies or government agencies. Whether the Grenadier will have enough crossover appeal to sell to the wider SUV audience will be something to test when we get to drive it for real but it’s certainly a distinctive vehicle, keen to fill the gap in the market left by the old Defender’s departure.
2021 Ineos Grenadier
2021 Ineos Grenadier

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