Ineos Grenadier looks to be the no-nonsense 4x4 the SUV world craves
This vehicle standing here definitely appears like it could be the latest Land Rover Defender restomod from a shop like East Coast Defender or Kahn Design, but it is not. It's not a Defender at all. It's not even a Land Rover. This is the Ineos Grenadier, the real Land Rover Defender redux the world was waiting, hoping and yearning for when Land Rover instead dropped this $50K luxury overlander on us.
The Ineos Grenadier is less a shameless Defender copycat and more a living homage. When Land Rover retired the original Defender back in 2016, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a self-described adventurer and Land Rover fan, tried to buy Defender tooling to keep the Defender tradition alive with hardly a hiccup. Land Rover denied his overtures.
Someone else might have patted himself on the back for the effort and walked back to the auction circuit to add to his own Defender collection, perhaps even commissioned one of those aforementioned restomods. But when, in addition to being a self-described adventurer and Land Rover fan, you also happen to be the billionaire CEO of a global petrochemical company and one of Great Britain's wealthiest citizens, you don't give up so easily. Instead, you found your own automotive company — a subsidiary of said petrochemical giant Ineos Group — and you develop a proper Defender-like utility vehicle yourself, from the ground up. And maybe you even partner up and give it some serious German engineering panache to go with its understated British style.
At least that's what you do if you're Jim Ratcliffe and you see a need in the market. Following a six-month feasibility study, Ineos Automotive got to work in early 2017, about a year after Land Rover stopped rolling Defenders off the lines. Its brief was to fill the "gap in the market" with an uncompromising global 4x4 to span the distance between adventure and blood, sweat and utility, a 4x4 for both trail and farm. The years since have brought location and partnership updates here and there, but this week's reveal is the first real look at the Grenadier itself.
While the inspiration was clearly to build the off-Land-Rover-brand Defender, we didn't expect it to look quite so much like the old Defender raised from the dead. Bollinger Motors already proved it quite possible to make a very Defender-like utility that doesn't look like a literal clone, but Ineos goes the other way.
It's actually easier to point out what doesn't look quite like an actual Land Rover Defender when eyeing over Ineos' design. We don't have its dimensions, but the Grenadier appears wider, particularly up front, where the round headlamps are spread by a thinner, lighter grille with dual slats. That face is underpinned by the sturdy chin of a more modern, styled bumper and a skid plate.
The flat-panel sides are just a touch more three-dimensional with the addition of a chiseled channel just below the window line. Out back, the Grenadier wears a large set of taillight pucks and an asymmetrical split-door design with dual windows and a spare tire hanging off the large door.
Underneath its Defender-esque skin, there's no room for a unibody platform, only a tried-and-true box-section ladder frame with walls up to 4 mm thick accompanied by a pair of beam axles. Power will come from a range of BMW gas and diesel engines, with alternative powertrains possible down the line. The idea is to keep the Grenadier simple and affordable enough for global work markets, so Ineos is not following Bollinger into the six-figure all-electric boutique builder end of the market.
"Showing the design now allows us to focus on the critical next phase of the vehicle’s development, testing its capability and durability," explains Ineos Automotive CEO Dirk Heilmann, adding that the company plans to rack up 1.8 million kilometers during the next year of prototype testing.
Ineos plans to begin production in late 2021 at its facility in Bridgend, South Wales. It expects the Grenadier to find an audience with farmers, explorers, aid workers and other customers around the globe who would traditionally be shopping for something like a Defender or 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.
Source: Ineos Automotive