The team testing the hotly anticipated Ineos Grenadier off-roader was given a sterner challenge than they bargained for during a recent trip to a remote part of South Australia.
Instead of a torturous hot-weather test for the late-stage prototype Grenadier, the team was faced with flash flooding and a desert whirlpool thanks to record-breaking rainfall in the State’s centre.
“We were really focusing on heat, dust, and corrugations,” Ineos Asia Pacific boss Justin Hocevar told CarExpert.
“We got some of that in – not as much as we would have liked to. I think flood and mud would be the appropriate term,” Mr Hocevar laughed.
The team was based at the Barton Gold Mine in Tarcoola, South Australia, accessed via Googs Track. The track is usually closed, but Ineos was given permission to use its sand dunes and corrugations by South Australian police.
Along with the track, the Grenadier was put through its paces on the mine site by Ineos and the Barton team.
The rain set in on Thursday, blocking most trails and forcing the Ineos team to bunker down at the mine. On Sunday, the Grenadier (along with support vehicles, and a Unimog) was permitted to leave Tarcoola using a police-approved route.
“We eventually got out onto the Stuart Highway thinking that we’d hit tarmac, and it was going to be smooth sailing back down to Port Augusta,” Mr Hocever said.
“About 50km south of [Pimba] on Sunday night, right on dusk, it appeared that two storm fronts collided directly in front of us. You could essentially see the cloud cover completely blocking the horizon, we lost visibility due to heavy rain. It was essentially a flash flood covering the road,” he explained.
That’s when the whirlpool featured in the video was spotted. Mr Hocevar says there was “no safe way” to get past the flood waters, even for the Unimog accompanying the development team.
Thwarted by the flooded highway, the team retreated to the relative safety Spud’s Road House in Pimba. The next morning, with permission from police, the development team made it through the floodwaters to safety.
The Grenadier will launch later in 2022 for Australia, priced from around $85,000 before on-road costs.
Mr Hocevar says another development drive – hopefully a drier one – is in the works. The Grenadier that was being tested is now on its way to Queensland for a customer event.
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