- for those who prefer the former classic to the newly introduced land rover defender, a u.k. company has introduced the ineos grenadier.
- magna steyr is providing the off-road capability, bmw is supplying six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and the gearboxes are from zf.
- the grenadier will go into production this year, and yes, it is intended to come to the u.s.
but, while the design may be familiar, the name is almost certainly not. ineos is a british chemical company formerly known as inspec ethylene oxide specialities. its owner, jim radcliffe, is one of the u.k.'s richest men with a fortune that allows him to indulge other passions; he purchased and rebranded the front-running team sky cycling team last year. he also loves land rovers and, when the original defender retired, tried to persuade the company to let him buy the rights to carry on making it.
that didn’t happen, so radcliffe then hatched a plan to create a similar vehicle himself. he named the project after the pub in london where the idea was hatched: the grenadier in belgravia. at that point, jaguar land rover started legal proceedings, only for it to be revealed that the larger company had never got around to trademarking the shape of the original defender and that its attempts to do so retrospectively were prevented when the u.k.'s intellectual property office decided the shape "wasn't sufficiently different" from other suvs to justify the award of a trademark.
which is why the grenadier bears a very obvious similarity to the model that did so much to inspire it, with the combination of flat-topped fenders, round headlights, angular sides and near-flat glass all strikingly familiar. the grenadier certainly looks more like the original defender than the new one does.
solid axles, locking differentials
the grenadier has been designed to be both tough and useful, and to be able to venture into the genuine wilderness. off-road ability will come from solid axles and lockable differentials rather than air springs and clever traction control. the beltline around the top of the doors is capable of carrying a load, allowing items to be mounted to the outside, and like the jeep wrangler users will be able to fully remove the doors. integrated roof bars allow loads to be carried without a rack, and the flat-topped fenders are strong enough to carry a person's weight. we're told that all grenadiers will also carry wiring for extra lights and external accessories and, although the company hasn’t released any images of the cabin yet, that it will be waterproof enough to be cleaned with a hose.
at the rear the grenadier is most obviously different from the original land rover, with a full-width rear door featuring a vertical split. the shorter door is capable of taking the weight of a roof-access ladder, while the larger one will carry a full-size spare wheel; we’re promised that trunk space will be sufficient to take a 47-inch by 31-inch european pallet. there is a also a drop-down panel on the outside of the trunk to allow dirty or smelly items to be put directly into a stowage compartment from outside the car.
magna steyr, zf, bmw all involved
nor is the grenadier a distant dream. work on the factory in wales where it will be built has begun, with the plan being to start sales in some markets next year. ineos has struck deals with austria’s magna steyr, which is helping to develop the car and its off-road capability, and has bmw signed up to supply six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, with zf providing gearboxes and carraro axles. the production grenadier will have a ladder chassis, permanent all-wheel drive, a mechanical transfer box, and the ability to tow up to 7800 pounds under european testing methodology. the company has only released images of a four-door station wagon and crew-cab pickup, but the ladder-frame architecture would make it relatively simple to create different versions, and a short-wheelbase example looks like a fair bet.
up to 25,000 a year are planned
the plan is to create a vehicle that will appeal to both original defender buyers who haven’t been able to directly replace their vehicles (with british πfarmers being high on the list), but also government agencies, ngos, and adventurers looking for a vehicle capable of tackling the true wilderness. plus, of course, those drawn to such a tough-looking truck for lifestyle reasons. ineos says it will build up to 25,000 a year for global sale, and that the grenadier will be offered in the u.s. with full federal approval.
we’ll have to wait to learn how ineos plans to sell its cars over here, and how much it intends to charge for them. but after years of having no defender, it looks as if u.s. buyers are going to have the choice of two very different vehicles inspired by the seminal original.