This is the Ineos Grenadier. It’s the first car from the newly formed automotive division of the British chemical company, Ineos – and it’s been designed as a spiritual successor to the previous-generation Land Rover Defender.
The Grenadier takes its name from a pub in Belgravia, London where, just three years ago, Ineos Chairman Sir Jim Radcliffe conceived the project – and from the beginning, his vision was to build a no-compromise, rugged off-roader whose form followed function.
So, the Grenadier shares the same boxy proportions as the old Defender, with similarly angular doors and window glass. It also shares the Land Rover’s slatted radiator grille, flat bonnet, round headlamps and upright windscreen – and, under the front bumper, there’s a thick sump guard.
There are some elements of the Mercedes G-Class mixed into the Grenadier’s design, too, which is no surprise considering Ineos’s partnership with the Austrian engineering company, Magna Steyr. The firm has handled the production of the G-Wagen since 2018 and will also help Ineos piece together the Grenadier.
At the helm of the company is Dirk Heilmann. He’s been an Ineos employee for the last two decades but, like the company’s design chief, Toby Ecuyer, he has no previous experience in the car industry – other than being a self-confessed petrolhead. So, is that a problem or a benefit for someone leading a new car company?
Heilmann told us: “A bit of both, really. We’ve got a very talented bunch of automotive designers and engineers we’re working very closely with, which is massively beneficial and helpful. But equally, I think, being from a different industry and thinking about things in a slightly different way, I think that’s also helped a lot as well.”
New Ineos Grenadier: design and platform
The Grenadier was designed by Toby Ecuyer, who started his career as an architect and recently moved into designing super yachts. The Grenadier was his first car, but he doesn’t see his lack of experience in the automotive world as a problem.
Ecuyer said: “If you can design one thing, you can design another. So, if you can design a toaster well, I think you can design a car really well, too. I think it’s more to do with your designing principles than anything else. But I think it does have benefits.”
So, to make sure he was on the right track, Ecuyer studied a broad range of off-roaders for inspiration. “We were looking at all sorts of different vehicles,” he explained. “From Unimogs to military vehicles, to aircraft, to lorries and vans. The Willys Jeep, obviously, and Land Rover, the Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, Ford Bronco – literally everything. They’re all very uncomplicated and very honest. We thought that was a good place to try to aim for.”
Like most of the cars in that list, the Grenadier will feature a body-on-frame construction with a steel ladder-frame chassis. The company’s CEO, Dirk Heilmann, has also previously said that the finished product will be “fairly light,” with a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes and a one-tonne payload.
The Grenadier has been built to work, too. There’s a tool-box sized storage crate in the rear, external wiring points and vertically split rear doors that open wide to reveal a space large enough for a Euro pallet. Even the flat bonnet surfaces have been designed to be practical. “This is a really useful surface to sit on, put your tea on, laptop on – it’s very much a workbench in lots of ways,” said Ecuyer.
Interior and equipment
We’re yet to see the Grenadier’s interior, but Ineos plans to make it equally utilitarian and functional, with a fairly stripped-back design which forgoes such luxuries as carpet and sound deadening. Leather will be used on the seats purely for its durability and drain plugs will be included, allowing the driver to easily hose out the interior.
However, Mark Tennant, Commercial Director of Ineos Automotive, promises that the car’s cabin will be bang up-to-date. “We’ve got to have a level of comfort that a 21st-century consumer is going to expect,” he says. “You’ve got to have room for your elbows in the vehicle. And you’ve got to have the levels of connectivity, the screens, all the things that people have the right to expect now.”
Ineos will also take a “relaxed” approach to vehicle modification, with Tennant stressing that buyers will be encouraged to personalise their Grenadiers with aftermarket accessories. The company says it will provide pre-fitted mounting points in the Grenadier’s chassis and body for additions such as light-bars and roof racks.
Simplicity of use was also key, with features such as the “utility belt” running around the middle of the car, which allows owners to attach accessories and tethering eyes lower down the doors. And while Ineos will offer a raft of accessories, it will encourage owners to use existing kit and allow other companies to develop their own accessories. “It’s a universal system,” Tennant told us. “We want to be really open-source about it.”
Engines and drivetrain
Ineos signed a partnership with BMW, to provide its 3.0-litre straight-six TwinPower turbo petrol and diesel engines for the Grenadier project. Both units will feed their power to a permanent all-wheel-drive system via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission only – with no manual option available.
Like the old Defender, the Grenadier’s chassis will feature a pair of beam axles, three locking differentials and a low-range transfer case. The 4×4 has been designed predominantly for off-road use, with minimal compromises for use on tarmac roads. Heilmann also said that the Grenadier will offer “class-leading cross-axleing capability.”
Production and development
The bulk of the assembly was initially expected to take place in a new factory in Bridgend, South Wales, meaning the Grenadier would have been British-built – despite Heilmann insistence that the car is an “international” project. However, Ineos is understood to be in talks over the possible purchase of the Mercedes-owned Smart factory in France.
Regardless of the production site, the Grenadier is still some way off. The first cars will be with customers in 2022 – but Heilmann says that revealing the vehicle now means the company can get on with 1.2 million miles of testing the car in plain sight.
Market and pricing
Tennant promised innovation in how Ineos will sell the Grenadier. “We’ll be as direct as possible,” he says, “We won’t be entirely online – we want to give people the chance to kick tyres and take a test drive.”
On pricing, we understand that, in the current market, the Grenadier’s entry-price would start with a four. However, with a classification of N1, it will officially be a commercial vehicle, so VAT will have to be added. That means a potential total starting price that’s closer to £50,000 for those who can’t claim the tax back through their business.
This is only the starting point for Ineos, though. A double-cab pick-up version has been confirmed, while Dirk Heilmann has also promised that “we will have some electrification.” However, instead of a full EV, the company is more likely to use a hydrogen fuel-cell set-up, which Heilmann says is well suited to the ladder-frame chassis. Work has already started on the second-generation Grenadier, he hinted.
Check out Twisted’s plans for electric Land Rover Defenders here…