Ineos has revealed the interior of its much-anticipated Grenadier body-on-frame 4×4, billed as a 21st century spiritual successor to the classic Land Rover Defender.
Love it or not, it’s a distinctive button- and switch-heavy layout that places function at least as high as it does form.
“Advanced technology is included only where it benefits functionality and usability,” goes the tagline.
The two-spoke steering wheel has clear buttons on each side (including a red horn) and both reach- and rake adjustments.
It’s not totally clear if there’s a head-up display or some other means of seeing your speedo and revs other than looking to the centre display.
Said display is a 12.3-inch touchscreen which can also be controlled by a rotary dial between the seats “if hands are wet or covered in mud”.
It runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and also off-road pathfinder navigation that lets you program, follow, and record a route via waypoints only. It also looks unlike BMW’s latest iDrive OS, though the two companies share other technologies.
Below this is an analogue compass and air vents, then a bank of buttons and toggles to control ventilation, window heating, volume, park assist, stop/start, hazard lights, and seat temperature. No haptic touchpads or screens here.
Along the tunnel is a gear shifter familiar to any BMW driver – the Grenadier will use BMW petrol and diesel sixes and a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission – plus a separate shifter to put the car into low-range, and a manual handbrake.
Overhead, mounted between the optional removable glass roof panels, are a further bank of hard touch points comprising pre-wired auxiliary switches, plus buttons to switch on the diff locks, change the off-road modes, and activate the emergency assistance (000) feature.
Ineos says it’s all designed to be “as mechanical as possible”, claiming around half the number of ECUs as comparable vehicles – for example, there’s a physical key.
The company also claims hard-wearing surface materials are used throughout. Drain plugs in the rubber flooring and wipe-down upholstery mean the interior can be hosed out. There are also water-resistant, anti-stain Recaro seats. Carpet floors and leather trim will merely be options.
Stowage space comprises a dry storage box under the rear seat, a lockable centre console, and secure side-mounted storage in the rear load area.
The back seats have child-seat attachment points, vents, and what appears to be USB points and a power socket.
An optional Power Pack will provide a 2000-watt AC converter to power electric tools and equipment
Furthermore the cargo bay has tie down hooks and the option of interior fixing rails for securing loads, while sturdy-looking grab handles on the dash and A-pillar offer support on rough terrain.
“When we started thinking about the Grenadier’s interior, we looked carefully at modern aircraft, boats and even tractors for inspiration, where switches are sited for optimal function, regular controls are close to hand, auxiliary ones are further away,” said head of design, Toby Ecuyer.
“You can see the same approach in the Grenadier: the layout is functional and logical, designed with ease of use in mind. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t.”
This startup competitor for the Toyota LandCruiser 70, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and Land Rover Defender (new and old) is slated to enter production in July 2022 at its recently purchased Mercedes-Benz facility in Hambach near the French-German border. Reservations open October 2021.
The UK High Court dismissed an appeal last year from Jaguar Land Rover on Monday, upholding the UK Intellectual Property Office’s finding last year that the shapes the company wanted to trademark weren’t distinctive enough.
The pandemic has created six-month (ish) delays, but Ineos Automotive is now around half-way through prototype hardware testing on its hyped Grenadier 4×4. “Next stage: the dunes of Morocco,” it added.
The company’s chief engineer says about 100 ‘2B’ prototypes are being put through their paces across 15 countries with extreme weather. The ultimate goal is 1.5 million on-road and 300,000 off-road testing kilometres before sign-off.
The first parts of program – comprising sub-zero drivetrain and safety analysis in sub-zero Sweden, and altitude testing at Austria’s Schöckl mountain near the home of its engineering partner Magna – have been ticked off.
“Now we started our rough-road durability testing, our water tightness program, corrosion protection program, and then we continue with winter testing behind us, preparing for summer and high speed testing, the remaining program for the 2B vehicles,” chief engineer Oliver Schlipf added.
He claimed testing will take place in 15 countries including Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Namibia, Sweden, Iceland, and the USA. Any early thought to do Aussie desert testing was kiboshed by COVID travel restrictions.
The Grenadier project is the brainchild of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the British billionaire engineer and chairman of multinational petrochemical giant Ineos.
The official story says that Ratcliffe was hanging out in London’s Grenadier pub in 2017, bemoaning Land Rover’s decision to kill the rugged old Defender and replace it with the more modern and luxurious new model that could meet modern safety and emissions tests more easily.
Brexiteer Ratcliffe had intended for the Grenadier to be made in the UK, but said Hambach “presented us with a unique opportunity that we simply could not ignore: to buy a modern automotive manufacturing facility with a world-class workforce”.
Ineos owns a chunk of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, which may have given it the inside line on the factory acquisition.
The old Land Rover Defender lookalike will be sold as a body-on-frame 4×4 wagon at first, with low-range gearing, multiple diff locks, retuned BMW inline-six engines, and stripped-back off-road suspension, “designed and built to handle the world’s harshest environments”.
A box-section ladder frame with up to 4mm thick walls is expected to feature – no monocoque here.
The Grenadier is expected to have beam axles front and rear made by Italy’s Carraro, supplier to tractor-makers John Deere and Massey Ferguson. They’ll support multi-link suspension with separate long-travel Eibach coils and ZF dampers, and panhard rods.
There’ll also be permanent 4×4 rather than part-time, a mechanical transfer case for low-range, and diff locks front, centre and rear. Payload must be at least a tonne before the road cars are signed off, and the towing capacity target is 3.5-tonnes.
Engines will be supplied by BMW. Both are 3.0-litre inline-six cylinder donks, one that runs on petrol and the other on diesel. They’re codenamed B57 and B58 if you want to head to Wikipedia for more.
Both will be linked up to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission as the sole choice – a key difference from the manual-only LandCruiser 70 and old Defender. The rationale is that fleet buyers want everybody to be able to drive their vehicles, and fewer people these days can drive three-pedal cars.
The Grenadier will eventually be powered by hydrogen fuel-cell technology supplied by Hyundai, after the companies signed a memorandum of understanding to “explore together new opportunities in the hydrogen economy” and to create a value chain in Europe.
Sales will likely start in Europe before branching out across the world to markets including the US and, indeed, Australia, where demand for stripped-back 4x4s that don’t break is particularly high.
The goal is understood to be LandCruiser 70 Series pricing.
Ineos Automotive recruited Justin Hocevar, former Renault Australia managing director and Jaguar Land Rover Australia sales director, to the role of APAC region sales and marketing head, to oversee the rollout in this region.
- How much will it cost?
- Will BMW dealers service it?
- How will Ineos look after remote and regional owners?
- What are the specifics of its sales model?
We will bring you any and all Grenadier updates as they emerge.