Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s new rugged off-roader with modern tech and powerful BMW engines promises to fulfil the core functions of a utilitarian 4x4. Should JLR be worried?
Finally images of the INEOS Grenadier have been revealed… And it looks great – perhaps something that Land Rover’s design boss Gerry McGovern should have penned. But is there still a market for this type of car given that Land Rover killed off the original Defender partly because the market for ultra-rugged vehicles had dried up? On the contrary chairman of INEOS Group, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, says the Grenadier project started “by identifying a gap in the market, abandoned by a number of manufacturers, for a utilitarian off-road vehicle”, and when you consider that the famous 4x4’s fate was mainly sealed by European laws on safety and emissions, then this may not be such a huge gamble after all.
In the official press release from INEOS Automotive in the reveal of the design it says ‘form follows function in an engineering-led design process focused on delivering a vehicle to do a job’. It sounds all a bit fluffy, but in fairness the prototype testing is now on its way to accumulating its target 1.8 million kilometres on and off-road for the year, as Sir Jim Ratcliffe demands that the vehicle should be capable, durable and reliable – basically built to handle the world’s harshest environments. Sounding familiar to you?
While most manufacturers would hold back in showing off the design so early, being a new business, the idea is to help build the brand and take people with them on their journey. It also means they can focus on the next critical phase of the vehicle’s development, testing its capability and durability. As they put prototypes through their paces in all conditions, in plain sight, without the need for camouflage wrapping, foam blocks or fake panels, it is probably a very good marketing move.
Built from the ground up on an all-new platform, the design brief was to create something ‘easy-to-read, with no ambiguity about the Grenadier’s role in life’ (so a Defender, then?). Apparently, ‘nothing is for show, but modern engineering and production techniques ensure the Grenadier is a true utilitarian vehicle’. And they really mean it.
The belt lines are functional – bump strips on the doors, or an optional ‘utility belt’ to the doors and rear body – to attach loads or a jerry can, say. Out back the small rear door opens first to enable easy loading and unloading of smaller items. Even the front arches have been designed so that you can sit on them – not sure that’s vital! Up top, roof bars and roof strips enable loads to be mounted and secured directly without a
But, of course, this is available if you so demand one, because it’s also been designed as a blank canvas for accessories, so customers can tailor the Grenadier to their requirements. Whether that’s via the wide range of accessories that will be available from INEOS, or in their own words ‘third-party producers’ – something which Land Rover have always been outspoken about, with McGovern himself vowing in 2017 to “put them out of business”. Let’s hope INEOS don’t try the same bullying tactics. ‘Open source’ has also been a key theme, for interior design, which by the
way can also be hosed down. Sounding good, right?
What else do we know? Well, BMW is the brand’s engine partner (with ZF providing the eight-speed automatic gearbox), Gestamp is taking care of the ladder chassis while Magna is developing the suspension and Carraro the axles. It will feature permanent all-wheel drive and offer lockable differentials. In addition, it will have a one-tonne payload and 3.5 tonnes towing capacity, and promises to be easily repairable. We don’t have a price point yet, but the INEOS Grenadier will go into production in late 2021, with deliveries starting in the UK and Europe, and in other global markets in the months to follow.
So it looks like the outgoing Defender, and INEOS now even sponsor Ben Anslie’s team taking over from their previous backer Land Rover. Is the Grenadier the spiritual successor to Land Rover’s biggest ever icon? Time will tell and we’ll be sure to keep you updated, but fear not Grenadier Monthly this will not become.
To find out more about the Grenadier, visit ineosgrenadier.com. We’d love to hear your views – email firstname.lastname@example.org.