► New phase of on- and off-road testing under way
► Prototype will recce for Ineos cycle team
► Start of production delayed to July next year
The rugged 4x4 Grenadier from Ineos Automotive is still a year away from reaching its first customers, but Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s fledgling car maker has revealed in detail the interior of the Defender-rivalling newcomer.
Using six-cylinder BMW engines, and developed with 4x4 specialists Magna, the British company’s first car will be built at the Hambach factory in Germany, taken over by Ineos in January and currently producing Smarts for Mercedes. First sales will be in the UK and Europe, with North America following in 2023. An announcement about how sales and aftermarket care will be managed is expected in September, along with details of the trim levels and options.
Pricing hasn’t yet been announced either, but expect the cheapest model (a two-seat commercial version) to start at around £45,000. There will also be a five-seat commercial version (big boot, small rear passenger area), and the model pictured here, the five-seat Station Wagon.
There will also be a twin-cab pick-up version, which has a longer wheelbase – likely to pave the way for a seven-seat Station Wagon.
But before the Grenadier reaches its first customer, Ineos has hundreds of thousands of testing miles to complete, in various climates and on some extreme surfaces. For now, let’s zoom in on five of the coolest interior details.
1. Hoist the mainsail, bosun
Design chief Toby Ecuyer didn’t draw on other cars for cabin inspiration – he looked to tractors, helicopters, boats and other working vehicles; there are also echoes of old audio equipment. The chunky physical buttons dominating the centre stack have a particularly nautical look, and that’s no coincidence: they are intended to be easy to operate with cold, wet hands.
The whole interior is designed to be rugged and easy to wipe clean. And the rubberised floor can be hosed down, with drain plugs to get rid of your filthy run-off, unless you go for the optional carpet. It’s splash-proof rather than waterproof, though.
‘It’s a practical, utilitarian vehicle,’ Ecuyer told us. ‘But we didn’t want to go down the route of thinking that because it’s utilitarian it needs to be crap inside.’
When spec details are confirmed in September, expect some swankier options but mostly a cloth-and-plastic approach that will work well for the farmers, builders, aid agencies, explorers and weekend outdoor types who between them will make up a big chunk of the 25,000-30,000 buyers Ineos hopes to attract every year once production gets up to speed.
2. Chocks away
Look up for a set of auxiliary switches that – like the Grenadier as a whole – taps into 4x4 tradition while simultaneously nodding to other modes of transport, in this case aircraft. Stylish and fun, sure, but also entirely functional, and easily accessible by your co-driver.
Like all the switches in the cabin, these are big and unambiguously labelled. The Ineos philosophy is that every function should have a physical control, although many are also accessible through the 12.3-inch touchscreen, should you prefer that, or via the BMW iDrive-derived controller. The only instrument directly in front of the driver is a simple speedo, enabling the dash to be low, for a good view out.
The infotainment system is rooted in the BMW wiring loom that comes as part of the engine deal, but the interface is bespoke to Ineos. Sat-nav will be based on the driver’s phone, on the basis that smartphone mapping is more readily updated than car-only systems.
The Grenadier comes fitted with ‘plug-and-play’ pre-wiring for exterior lighting, winches and other bolt-on accessories. Either side of the overhead switch panel there’s the option of glass panels that can tilt or come out completely.
3. After you. No, after you
As well as the regular stalk-end horn, there’s this ‘toot’ button on the steering wheel, for a polite alert that should be handy for rural types finding their way blocked by sheep. Don’t forget that Ineos backs a world-class cycling team, so a way of letting cyclists know you’re there without making them fall off in surprise seems entirely appropriate.
4. Adults in the back
When CAR got a tour of the stationary Grenadier, three full-size adults sat in the back behind two full-size occupants of the front seats without anyone feeling cramped. The front seats are carefully shaped to give those in the back as much knee room as possible.
The Grenadier Station Wagon will be a five-seater, all five seats being from Recaro. There will be storage boxes and batteries under the seats.
If a long-wheelbase version follows, as seems more than likely, that could offer seven seats.
5: Room for the kitchen sink
Luggage capacity has not been confirmed, but looks worthy of a car that’s competing with Land Cruisers, Defenders and G-Wagons. The details will vary with the chosen spec level, but the boot has a wealth of tie-down hooks and the option of interior fixing rails, making it easy to tie down your luggage or secure tools. The same philosophy extends to the outside, where various rails make it easy to attach accessories, from Ineos and aftermarket suppliers.
Ineos Grenadier: what you need to know
The Defender-rivalling Grenadier being built by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Automotive has now entered a new phase of tough prototype testing – but the start of production has been pushed back from later this year to July 2022.
More than 130 ‘2B’ prototypes are now switching the focus from cold-weather and high-altitude testing in the Alps, Sweden and Iceland, and moving to hot-weather evaluation in Namibia, South Africa, the Middle East and the USA. The aim is to complete more than a million test miles, on road and off, before production begins. So far about a quarter of that distance has been covered, by the first and second set of prototypes.
Sir Jim himself drove a Grenadier up the Schöckl mountain near the Graz HQ of Ineos Automotive’s development partner Magna, and declared himself pleased with progress: ‘We've made great strides since the very early versions of the Grenadier I drove a year ago. The Schöckl is a proper challenge for any 4X4. Today was a real test for our prototypes, and they came through very well. There is still work to do, but I am confident that the Grenadier will do the job we have developed it for.’
The suspension geometry has been tweaked as a result of off-road testing, and work is continuing on the airbags after some intensive crash testing. Engineers are happy with the cold-weather calibration of the Grenadier’s BMW engines, but Death Valley and southern Africa will bring a fresh set of challenges.
After the Schöckl test, Ineos Automotive chief executive Dirk Heilmann said: ‘Reaching this important development milestone is a great step forward for the project. We only have one opportunity to get this right and our quality and performance targets for the Grenadier remain paramount. We won’t cut corners. After today’s very positive results we are on track to reach our targets and to allow the start of production in July next year at the latest.’
The Grenadier can be seen by the public at a roadshow – details have not yet been announced – and it will continue to serve as a recce vehicle for the Ineos Grenadiers cycle team, racing throughout Europe this summer.
From the off, the Grenadier was always going to have a traditional box-section ladder frame, with beam axles, permanent four-wheel drive, lockable diffs and internal combustion engines.
Says commercial director Mark Tennant: ‘Number one focus was off-road mobility and capability. An off-road vehicle that doesn’t keep on going and providing years of faithful service isn’t really doing the job. It’s got to get you out into the bush and back again.
‘It’s a vehicle designed first and foremost to be a working tool. Not everybody is going to work it as hard as some of the really exacting requirements some of our customers will have, but it’s got to be capable of that.
‘You shouldn’t have to suffer, you shouldn’t be in any pain for having a utilitarian vehicle. In terms of connectivity, screens, seat comfort, room – that’s all built in. It’s not a throwback. It’s a modern vehicle built to a certain style.’
Ramp up the rugged
The styling has a level of butchness not strictly required by the ‘form over function’ ethos. It’s very boxy, with prominent wheelarches, low-ish bonnet, near-flat glass, external door hinges, rubbing strip/utility rail along the sides, asymmetrical rear doors, a ladder to the roof, exposed tie bars, tow hooks front and rear, bash plates and steel wheels.
It looks a lot like a mix of Wrangler, Defender, G-Class and Jimny, not to mention the all-new Ford Bronco.
Design chief Toby Ecuyer says: ‘We looked at other 4x4s, we looked at tractors, helicopters, all sorts of different really hard-working vehicles, and took inspiration. Then we started designing this very honest, uncomplicated vehicle.’
Buy from the best
There are two engines, a petrol and a diesel, both 3.0-litre straight-sixes from BMW. Smartly, Ineos has a deal that covers the next generation of engines as well.
Transmissions are from ZF, axles from tractor-makers Carraro, and a lot of the development work has been done by Magna, the same people who make the G-Class for Mercedes.
The assembly process was originally intended to involve bodies and chassis being built in an Ineos plant in Portugal, before the cars were completed at the purpose-built factory in Bridgend, Wales. But the Portuguese and Welsh operations will now take place in France.
Tennant says: ‘Our peak volume we’re looking to deliver globally is in the region of 25,000 – a lot less than other manufacturers would be aiming for. That peak volume is some way off. We need a run-up. The key to this is a bit of humility and understanding that we’re not going to do it from day one.
‘We’re launching with internal combustion engines, because to deliver on the engineering blueprint we don’t think there’s another game in town right now, but like everybody we’re watching the development of technologies and infrastructure very closely.
‘What we’re doing is developing a new line of vehicles and developing a new vehicle company, a new OEM, from scratch. They’re both big investments. Ineos doesn’t do things by halves. Ineos Automotive will end up being a lot more than the Grenadier.’
Ecuyer explains how his team went about the job: ‘Our starting point was to collate our top utility vehicles. Also ones that had really proved themselves over the years. There was an honesty about them. There were certain words that kept coming up: assured, robust, faithful, dependable, purposeful. Whatever detail we were working on, did it tick any of these boxes?
‘Given our decision to go with a ladder chassis, a wheel in each corner, a big powerful engine and beam axles, that in itself already gives you some strict parameters to work within. We spent ages with the engineers testing wheel-travel angles, the exit and entry angles, getting all the mechanics right first, then we clad that, with this idea that you can see the structural themes running through, you can see how the doors are attached. Everything is very much on show.
‘The interior thinking is very much the same as the outside. All the electronics and essentials that you’d have in any other vehicle are there, but we’ve tried to do it in a very simple, uncomplicated, easily manageable way. All the switches you can operate wearing gloves.’
There won’t be many trim levels. But there will be a lot of options and accessories, and Ineos is working with aftermarket specialists to ensure they can offer good-quality bolt-ons.
Tennant: ‘We will have a range of accessories from the off, but we also want to be quite open-source, and allow people to affix existing accessories, to adapt things they already have in the garage to put on the vehicle. Hence the roof guttering allows people to, with minor mods, put an existing roof rack on as well as the one we will offer.
So, how much? ‘It’s not going to be cheap. Durability isn’t cheap. But G-Wagen has taken a path into the stratosphere from a price point of view. We don’t want to go there.’
There won’t be a traditional dealer network as such – expect a combination of experience centres, service centres and a lot of online-frst thinking.
The first Grenadier will be this wagon, followed by a shorter-wheelbase version and a double-cab pick-up with an extended wheelbase.
Check out our full story on the new Land Rover Defender