New marque Ineos goes back to basics with solid-axle, ladder-frame Grenadier
BRITISH start-up Ineos Automotive has revealed its first-ever model, the boxy Grenadier off-road SUV, which takes a back-to-basics approach aimed squarely at 4×4 enthusiasts. Although the brand does not mention it anywhere, the Grenadier – which is due for release in Australia early in 2022 – is quite clearly designed to be the spiritual successor to the pre-2016 Land Rover Defender, giving fans in the UK the option of a homegrown SUV with true 4×4 heritage. Ineos Automotive is founded by Sir Jim Racliffe, founder and majority owner of petrochemical group Ineos, and the Grenadier is named after the London pub where the idea to build the tough off-roader was born.
Built from the ground up by Ineos’ team of engineers, the Grenadier is underpinned by a ladder-frame chassis – the best option for strength, payload and towing capacity – built from high-tensile steel. Like the Defender and Mercedes G-Wagon of old, the Grenadier is also underpinned by rudimentary but robust front and rear solid axles, with five-link suspension and coil springs on all four corners. Once the blueprint for off-roaders, the ladder-frame/solid-axle combination is becoming increasingly rare these days, offered on only the most extreme 4x4s such as the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series, Jeep Wrangler and Suzuki Jimny.
Overseas reports this week indicate that Ineos is in discussions with Daimler to use its factory at Hambach, France, to build the Grenadier, which is currently used to build Smart cars. This would nix the Ineos’ current plans for chassis manufacturing in Portugal and final assembly in Wales. From an exterior design perspective, the similarities to the Defender are unmistakeable, with a boxy, five-door SUV profile that sports an unapologetically utilitarian look.
At the front, the Grenadier features circular LED headlights, a flat, vertically oriented bumper, straight grille slats and a domed bonnet that leaves no question as to its inspiration. Like the Defender, the Grenadier also features a prominent shoulder line, flared wheelarches and a rounded roof edge, with the roof designed to be able to carry a load without the use of a rack. At the rear, the largest change from the Defender is the inclusion of a full-width split barn door that provides easier access and can be used to avoid constantly opening the door mounted with the heavy spare tyre.
Tow hooks and bash plates feature front and rear, while the Grenadier sits on steel rims with BF Goodrich all-terrain rubber. The five-door Grenadier wagon looks to be the flagship model, however images also show a rendering of a dual-cab pick-up with a tub-style rear – similar to a Defender 110 dual-cab pick-up – which will follow the wagon. It is not yet known whether Ineos will also sell a two-door short-wheelbase version like the Defender 90, or an extended-wheelbase or single-cab pick-up.
The interior design is yet to be revealed but Ineos is promising that the Grenadier will feature 21st century levels of equipment and active safety features. Ineos is yet to go into detail on powertrains, however it is understood the company will use 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines from BMW in a reduced state of tune to enhance durability. For reference, typical outputs for the two engines in BMW guise are roughly 250kW/450Nm for the petrol and 195kW/620Nm for the oil-burner.
Gearboxes will come from German manufacturer ZF, which will be an auto-only proposition. While the driveline is yet to be confirmed, rumours suggest the Grenadier will use one similar to Mercedes’ Gelandewagen, with full-time four-wheel drive and a trio of locking differentials for maximum off-road capability. More details will be revealed in the months ahead, with prototypes set to undergo 1.8 million kilometres of testing in the coming year.
An Australian arrival is confirmed, and although launch timing is still to be specified, an early 2022 debut is anticipated. The vehicle will launch in its home market late next year, while full production capacity expected to take years to reach. Mr Ratcliffe said the Grenadier had to be both capable and reliable.
“The Grenadier project started by identifying a gap in the market, abandoned by a number of manufacturers, for a utilitarian off-road vehicle,” he said.
“This gave us our engineering blueprint for a capable, durable and reliable 4×4 built to handle the world’s harshest environments.”