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Ineos Grenadier Defender "Reincarnation" Design Announced

  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Jul 8, 2020

Ineos Grenadier 4x4

 

After several years of discussion, Ineos has released the design of their Grenadier, an all-new 4x4 designed to be a spiritual successor to the classical Defender. Created by Land Rover fanatic Jim Ratcliffe, the Grenadier is designed to fill the gap in the market created by the transition of the Defender from ladder frame and solid axles to a unibody, independent suspension vehicle.

The vehicle looks instantly familiar, though it's definitely not quite an exact replica. There are hints of the familiar though. The bulging waistline that goes back to the Series II, the roof shape, the roof tie-downs in the locations where Defenders had alpine windows, the front clip arrangement, the hood, the wings...it all looks familiar to a Defender, but clearly isn't, either.

This isn't surprising, as the genesis of the Grenadier was Ratcliffe's attempt to buy the Defender tooling from Land Rover. When Land Rover said no, he went to work on his own version. The idea was hatched in the Grenadier Pub in Belgravia, London, which became "Projekt Grenadier." When a contest was held for a permanent name, the test name stuck.

The Grenadier has some pretty neat features, many of which expand on features on the Defender. The rear door is a full-width 70/30 split door, which bears some resemblance to an old Isuzu Trooper. The doors each open independently of each other though, which means if you want, you can open just the small one to toss something in the car or open the full aperture to load something large. The back is designed to take something as large as a Europallet -- 1,200 mm × 800 mm, or 47.2 in × 31.5 in. Like the old and new Defender, the spare tire is mounted on the back to increase storage space and ground clearance.

Like the Defender, the wheels are pushed out to the corners to increase approach and departure angles. The headlights are the familiar standard round units, while the taillights are round LED units that bear resemblance to early Series 1 "Porkpie" lights, or maybe an early round-taillight BMW 2002. The roof is designed to carry a full load without a roof rack, with tie-downs and reinforcement ribs built-in.

All models will be powered by BMW inline-six B58 petrol or B57 diesel motors tied to a ZF 8-speed transmission. (It's unlikely the diesel will come to North America, considering BMW has stopped federalizing and importing diesel motors in their own vehicles.)

The Grenadier design was launched early as a matter of practicality. With the design out and shared, the development of a vehicle for a from-scratch brand can now be done in the wide open. There is no need to camouflage mules of a car everyone has seen, after all. This allows Ineos to save on trying to hide the car, and instead use a more proactive approach towards testing.

The intent is to sell about 25,000 Grenadiers a year around the world. Ratcliffe is passionate enough about this project that he's spent approximately $745 million of his $12 billion personal fortune to make it work.

The project has not been without controversy, though. Originally, the Grenadier was to be built at Ford's Bridgend, Wales factory, where the AJ-V8 and AJ-V6 engines used in Land Rovers are also made. The Bridgend factory is closing at the end of 2020 as Ford realigns European plans and the AJ engines are made obsolete by changing emissions standards. Ineos had begun site work on new facilities there, as well as a body and chassis plant in Portugal. Both areas were looking forward to retaining and creating jobs.

Then a week after the design launch, Ineos announced they were talking to Mercedes-Benz about buying their Hambach, France "Smartville" plant. Used by Mercedes-Benz to make Smart cars since 1997, the plant has also recently been set up to build an SUV around the size of the Grenadier. Since Mercedes has sold half of Smart to Chinese carmaker Geely, production will be moving to China for the next generation of the city cars, and they intend to sell the factory. Ineos is now in discussions to buy Smartville, which has not gone over with the locals in Bridgend who were promised a factory, jobs, and a Built in Britain car.

Where the Grenadier goes from here will be interesting to see. Right now there are some mules and a clay model, and considering the turmoil of the world right now, there's no guarantee that the vehicle will ever actually make it into production. However, Ratcliffe has put a lot of money behind the project, and that faith may carry us into a new Golden Age of 4x4s alongside recent offerings from Land Rover, Ford, Jeep, and Toyota.


  • Written By
  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Adventure addict. '90s Land Rover daily driver. Historic preservationist. Personal vehicles: 1994 Discovery I, 1994 Range Rover Classic, 1961 Series II.
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