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MOTORS: ‘Wimpy features’ go when Ineos Grenadier leaves road

By Alan Douglas

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Ineos Grenadier.
Ineos Grenadier.

So it’s just the old Defender with a new name? Well, no.

Certainly the Grenadier bears more than a passing resemblance to the much-missed stalwart of country life but unlike the classic Land Rover, it comes crammed with the latest technology.

It also puts right some of the Landy’s inadequacies along with a pack of interesting innovations which allow it to tackle inhospitable terrain with barely a whimper.

The story of its creation has been well-documented but in case you’ve been hiding in a cave, here are the main points.

It was inspired by mega-rich petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose Ineos multinational empire runs the Grangemouth complex apart from 36 other individual businesses and 194 manufacturing facilities in 29 countries while employing 26,000 people.

It also owns a third of the Mercedes Formula One team, part of Manchester United, shares in clubs in France and Switzerland and cycling and sailing teams.

Ratcliffe himself is an adventurer and petrolhead and tried to buy the rights to the Defender when Land Rover pulled the plug. When that failed he dug deep and invested the best part of £2 billion developing his own version.

The story goes that he and some pals drew up the plans on a napkin in his favourite London pub – called the Grenadier, which he now also owns – and in partnership with renowned Austrian engineers Magna Steyr, set about making it a reality.

The original plan was to build it in South Wales but that was abandoned when a former Smart production plant in eastern France became available.

The Grenadier is designed to appeal to outdoor types, farmers and adventurers who want something that won’t just go from A to B but venture off-road as far as X, Y and Z.

It uses tried and tested engineering from specialists around Europe with either a diesel or petrol BMW engine under the bonnet.

Ineos Grenadier.
Ineos Grenadier.

I first got to experience an early prototype as a passenger a couple of years ago in the expansive Duke of Roxburgh’s estate around Floors Castle in the Borders and it felt pretty capable.

I still haven’t had a serious play with it in the mud but I have taken it on the road for the first time, which is probably where most of them will be used.

You appreciate just how big it is as you clamber up into the cab, which is a contrast to the old Defender. It’s a mass of chunky switches and buttons – they can be used while wearing gloves – including an aircraft cockpit-like set of controls overhead for off-road settings, lighting and other equipment which you would use only when stationary.

The featured vehicle was the top-level Fieldmaster with heated Nappa leather seats and felt spacious and comfortable.

Some of the quirky touches are the red Toot button on the steering wheel which gives a subdued warning to alert cyclists and horse riders and the water and dust-resistant interior can be hosed out.

But it’s also a serious off-roader for crawling over rocks, across mud and through water with both downhill and uphill assist functions. When it’s in off-road mode, wimpy features like seat belt reminders, parking sensors and the engine start/stop are switched off.

There’s a huge list of options, including a £5500 winch, on top of the not-insubstantial £76,000 list price. On the road, it felt quite wallowy, partly down to its 2.8 tonne weight and chunky BF Goodrich tyres and the steering felt very imprecise, taking almost four turns lock-to-lock with a huge turning circle of 13.5 metres.

The large footrest allows for the exhaust running underneath but means the pedals are offset to the right which feels awkward.

As well as the Station Wagon, it comes as a Utility van or as a pick-up.

Whatever style, it’s an interesting machine which will appeal to a specialist market... with more than a bob or two to spare.

Ineos Grenadier.
Ineos Grenadier.

Ineos Grenadier Fieldmaster Edition

PRICE: £76,000

ENGINE: 3 litre BMW straight six cyl Turbo 8 speed ZF auto

POWER: 282 hp petrol

TORQUE: 450 Nm petrol

TOP SPEED: 99mph

0-62mph: 8.8 secs


ECONOMY: 20 mpg

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