The Ineos Grenadier is an off-road-focused vehicle originally conceived on the back of a cocktail napkin, and largely prompted by the departure of the classic Land Rover Defender.
The rugged off-roader will have a 3.0-liter straight six BMW turbo, ZF eight-speed and three differentials, two electronically locking and one manually locking via a tranfer lever.
The Ineos Grenadier SUV is coming in summer of 2023, with pricing “in the upper reaches of Bronco, Wrangler and 4Runner.”
Remember, this is a vehicle drawn on a cocktail napkin in a bar. In fact, the Ineos Grenadier is named after that very bar, The Grenadier pub in London. Looks like a nice place. There’s no word how many drinks the cocktail napkin drawer—multibillionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of INEOS Petroleum—had downed when he started penning the sport utility vehicle you see here. But here it is.
Ratcliffe wanted to continue the legacy of the Land Rover Defender, an iconic SUV that departed out shores in 1997 and stopped production for the rest of the world in 2016. So rather than despair, Ratcliffe decided to make his own Land Rover Defender, which you can do when you’re a bazillionaire. Thus, the cocktail napkin.
Ineos Automotive’s U.S. executive vice president Greg Clark summed it up thusly:
“Sir Jim Ratcliffe, our founder and owner, was pretty frustrated at the fact that not only was the Land Rover Defender going out of production, he was frustrated that there really didn’t seem to be any alternative for a really rugged, practical, very capable off-road vehicle that wasn’t more on-road focused. And so really, he made the decision subsequently to say, ‘Okay, I have the means and I think that there is an entrepreneurial market gap here. I’m going to set up an automotive division to help fill that gap to serve these customers that have been progressively underserved by a variety of different manufacturers who have, for whatever reason, moved into different spaces and try to appeal to different customer groups.”
So after years of seeing photos of the Grenadier, on January 25, Ineos brought a hand-built prototype of its first U.S.-spec Grenadier to Los Angeles and showed it around to a few interested parties, the first stop in a sort of cross-country tour. The idea was to reassure not only us in the press, but also those 3000 reservation holders that the big ute really is coming out, specifically, the new on-sale date is “summer of 2023.” (Not to complain, but while we were allowed to very carefully look at the delicate hand-built prototype, journalists in South Africa were given Grenadier rides through the bush. C’mon!)
Full technical specs will be announced in April, Clark said, but he did give a few specifications for the BMW straight-six turbo: 280 hp, 330 lb-ft of torque, mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic.
“It resembles the powertrain that you’ll find in a BMW X5, but it is tailored, calibrated, and developed just for us in our application,” Clark said. “We lose some horsepower intentionally to gain some torque. And that is better or best, at least in our opinion, for low-speed, off-road situations where you need more torque than you do horsepower.”
Other markets around the world will have the option of a straight-six diesel, but not us.
“BMW no longer does the emission certification for their six-cylinder diesel, they pulled those from the market, so that makes it pretty much impossible for us to bring that diesel powertrain here.”
The Grenadier rides on a “super-rigid” box ladder frame that’s been zinc-coated and powder-coated.
“We want this car to last 30, 40, 50 years,” Clark said.
Solid beam axles sit front and rear, made by a Grenadier partner involved in agricultural machines. There will be three differentials, the front and rear diffs will offer electronic locking, and the center diff will be controlled manually through a separate shift lever, as God intended.
Inside is an impressive array of switches, including several on the ceiling like a Gemini space craft.
“You will, of course, have all the 21st century expectations. There will be heated seats, there’s wireless Apple CarPlay, there’s Android Auto, we don’t have an onboard navigation system, we leave that to either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which I think is pretty ubiquitous nowadays.”
The Grenadier is also designed to be aftermarket-friendly, with a lot of pre-wiring for winches, LED lighting, exterior power takeoffs, “that kind of stuff.”
“We’ve done a lot primarily because it’s very easy for us to do it in manufacturing, it’s very difficult to do it after the fact if you’re dropping headliners, if you cut through bulkheads, splicing into wiring harnesses that kind of thing.”
Clark said the rig will have 50-percent fewer ECUs than competitors, the goal being less likelihood of “electrical stuff going wrong.” (Why do the Brits drink warm beer, etc…) One of the interior choices can be hosed out, another is leather. There will be safety features like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, eight air bags, and many others.
Full specs will be announced in April, Clark said, the same time when the configurator goes into full operation.
“We’ll be expanding the configurator that we have now, which is kind of more of a visualizer, a bit of a tease, but it allows people to configure in the different colors with some of the different options that are available. Then in April we’ll add all of the different products, features, and accessories.”
Expect to see “actual dynamic pre-production prototypes” by the fourth quarter of this year, “…at which point we’ll be certainly running a regional media drive, and also getting our customers and customers-in-waiting effectively into the vehicle.”
So be patient. There are no prices yet, but the UK price is £48,000 or £49,000, or about $64,500 to $65,800.
“I’d say you could expect U.S. pricing to be in the upper reaches of Wrangler, Bronco, and 4Runner,” said Clark. A little messing around on configurators and I came up with the following prices that might have been “in the upper reaches” of those competitors: $87,705 for a loaded Wrangler with the 392, $60,980 for a loaded four-door Bronco, and $58,329 for a 4Runner TRD PRO with all the trimmings.
You can reserve a Grenadier right now for only £450, or about $600. There will be a network of dealers, too, with 35 to 40 expected in the U.S. and 10 in Canada. More to come on that. Magna is their principal engineering partner; the vehicles will be made in the former Daimler plant in Hambach, Germany.
But the most interesting thing Clark may have said during our walkaround was that there will be more than just this Grenadier.
“It’s subsequently become an organization that is not only launching a vehicle, but it’s actually building our global car company from scratch,” said Clark. “So this is a 10-figure (billion-dollar-plus) investment for our owner. But it is the beginning of an automobile brand that, while specialized, quite focused, and niche, will have Grenadier, variants of the Grenadier and derivatives thereof, and also subsequent vehicle lines that will be produced probably in our manufacturing facility in Hambach.”
All that from a cocktail napkin.
Have you any off-roading experience? How do you think the Ineos Grenadier looks like it should stack up against the competition so far? Share your thoughts in the comments below.