The interior of the rugged off-roader has been revealed, along with details of who the car is being pitched at
‘Just the thing for the zombie apocalypse,” says Mark Tennant with a grin as he describes the new Grenadier 4x4 utility, which has a starting price of about £45,000 (€53,000).
Ineos Automotive’s commercial director attributes the quote to a group of American off-road enthusiasts who have been polled by the company as it developed the Grenadier.
They were part of a large group of potential customers for the go-anywhere vehicle aimed at filling a gap in the market vacated by Land Rover’s old Defender, the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser.
Most current 4x4s such as the latest Defender have eschewed the Grenadier’s old-style body-on-frame layout and have car-like monocoque bodyshells rather than a separate chassis with long-travel suspension.
The two-seat commercial version of the Grenadier will cost from about £45,000 including vat (a commercial version of the all-new Defender is already on sale).
Five-seat commercials and two- and five-seat station-wagon versions are available. A double-cab pickup is definitely on the way and the company hasn’t ruled out a short-wheelbase version.
Ineos Automotive is a subsidiary of the chemicals giant owned by Jim Ratcliffe, although there’s plenty of experience in the team developing the new car, which had a partial unveiling last month.
While the silhouette of this near-5m-long utility has definite links with the old long-wheelbase Land Rover Defender, Toby Ecuyer’s design is unique in its overall shape and details.
This is especially so in the interior, which shuns the trend for touchscreen and voice-recognition technology and derives heavily from aircraft flight decks and plant- and agricultural-equipment facias, as well as the marine control panels which form Ecuyer’s background.
While there is a centre touchscreen which looks very like that from BMW (which also supplies the six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol and diesel engines), the ancillary buttons including those for the heating and ventilation are separate, large and etch-marked with their function.
These are located in screw-mounted metal-finish switch panels in the centre console and roof; the facia owes more to the Isle of Wight hydrofoil than it does state-of-the-art car manufacturing, but Ecuyer is adamant that this is a long-lasting and durable solution.
“We did look at a fashionable car, but realised that this would make statements that would be fast out of date,” Ecuyer says, “so we quickly dialled that back.”
Instead, the no-nonsense design is tough and easy to use, and it really is a hose-out floor at least, with rubber bungs to drain the water.
Most of the potential options such as winches and roof lights are already pre-wired, so there’s no requirement to dismantle the interior to fit these extras.
Similarly, saddle-leather options for things like the steering wheel cover will stain and adopt the shape of the user’s hands over time.
Ineos is keen to open-source its wiring and luggage-locking systems to encourage outside suppliers to create specialist equipment for the Grenadier.
Despite the Grenadier’s rough, tough approach, the interior feels airy and comfortable with lots of room for rear seat passengers — at least in the station-wagon version that was on display.
“Always in our minds was the need for a practical vehicle, but not rubbish inside,” says Ecuyer. “There’s no reason why a utilitarian vehicle can’t keep you warm, dry and comfortable.”
Ecuyer has worked closely with the main design and engineering offices at Magna Steyr in Austria, which is one of Ineos’s engineering partners.
This Austrian four-wheel drive specialist is part of the Canadian engineering giant Magna and has worked with Mercedes-Benz on its acclaimed G-wagen, as well BMW and Jaguar, and also runs a number of contract-assembly plants.
On the exterior the Grenadier has a number of other innovations such as the racking systems built into the rear panels, doors and roof to enable extra carrying capacity. These attachment points will also be open-sourced to encourage after-market equipment suppliers.
There are built-in attachment points on the side of the roof (where the old Safari window lights were mounted on a Defender) and rubbing-strip panels which means the Grenadier will be able to carry up to 150kg up there without requiring a roof rack.
Exterior equipment storage is possible, but the planned lockable boxes were ditched because, as Ecuyer explains, “by the time we’d ensured safety and access, they really weren’t big enough to be useful”.
Despite its utilitarian roots, Ineos thinks Government and emergency services will form just 10pc of orders, with the majority (more than 55pc) going to lifestyle markets, especially in the US, where hunting and fishing pastimes often demand specialist off-road vehicles.
Utilitarian markets such as farming and estate management along with ski and safari adventure firms are predicted to occupy a quarter of sales, while 10pc of the output is anticipated to go to off-road driving enthusiasts who will value the Grenadier’s solid coil-sprung beam axles and three differential locks as standard.
The company claims it has 300,000 unique users on its website, with 40,000 “hand raisers” who say they are prepared to buy.
Zombie apocalypse excepting, Ineos plans to open reservations this October. Annual production will be around 25,000 to 30,000 when the factory is at full steam, and the main markets will be in Europe and North America, with sales and servicing agents currently being recruited around the world.
Named after a London pub, the Grenadier has been the topic of intense media interest since the start-up company ditched plans for a vaunted Welsh production site (along with a Portuguese plant) and bought the former Mercedes-Smart facility in Hambach in eastern France.
In fact, since January this year, Ineos Automotive has been producing Smart cars under licence for Mercedes, while at the same time preparing for Grenadier production on a line formerly intended for a large Mercedes battery-electric SUV.
“It’s given us confidence that we can produce cars to the standard required,” says Tennant.
“The Smart cars we’ve produced have had a slightly higher quality standard and the plant safety has also improved.”
© Telegraph Media Group ltd 2021
Engines/gearbox: BMW straight-six-cylinder twin turbo 281bhp/332lb ft petrol and 245bhp/406lb ft diesel, eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox with two-speed transfer case giving a set of low-speed crawler gears, permanent four-wheel drive with three lockable differentials.
Construction: ladder frame chassis with separate body, coil-sprung solid beam axles (Panhard rod location at the rear).
Towing capacity: 3.5 tonnes.
Length/width/height: 4,927mm (inc spare wheel)/1,930 (exc mirrors)/2,033mm.
Wheels/tyres: 17- or 18-inch steel or alloy rims with Bridgestone or Goodyear all-terrain tyres.