The Ineos Grenadier adventure continues… A few months ago, we revealed the British manufacturer had acquired a factory in France. Located in the Eastern part of the country, Hambach is where Mercedes currently produces Smart cars. Since then, a number of prototypes, assembled in Graz, Austria, at Magna-Steyr, went through a development process and have now entered a testing phase. Magna-Steyr supervises the tests and validates the technical choices.
After a certain delay due to the 2020 pandemic, activities have been going strong again for several months. Last winter, extreme cold tests were successfully carried out in Sweden. The next step will take place in very hot regions, such as the Death Valley in the USA or sand dunes in the Middle East. The Grenadier’s low-speed crossing capabilities have just been validated in Austria as it went through the difficult mountainous terrain of the Schöckl mountain, near Graz, with flying colours. The 1,445-metre-high peak is characterised by very steep slopes and is part of the central-eastern Styrian pre-Alps.
Although there are still some details to be worked out, this first phase proved promising regarding all-terrain capabilities. For five weeks, two prototypes climbed up and down the peak, more than 300 times, with parts of it angled at more than 50°! A second series of 130 prototypes is currently being assembled at the Magan-Steyr factory. These are bound to cover almost 2 million km in all possible environments by the end of the year. Production should start in July next year, at the latest. Ineos expects to produce around 30,000 units per year by 2025. It should be possible to sign an order form and make a deposit by the end of the year, while sales are expected to start in March next year and deliveries by the end of the following summer.
The separate chassis is made by Gestamp, in Bielefeld, Germany. The same company also produces the VW Amarok chassis. Like the Defender, the Grenadier’s structure is made of steel and covered with aluminium parts (wings, doors, bonnet, roof, etc.). The 5-seater Grenadier is 4.93m long, 1.93m wide and 2.03m high, while ground clearance is 257.8mm. After considering several engine options, both four and six cylinders, BMW’s 3-litre in-line six-cylinder engines proved to be the best compromise, both financially and in terms of ease of assembly. In addition to their proven reliability, they have sufficient torque for the Grenadier’s intended use, even in petrol form, while offering a very decent level of performance on the road.
Both engines will be adapted to the vehicle’s use: the petrol version will offer 211 kW or 283 bhp and 450 Nm torque, while the diesel version will offer 186 Kw or 250 bhp and 500 Nm. Transmission is an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox, combined with a 2-speed transfer case from the well-known American supplier, Tremec. The long-travel rigid axles come from Carraro, an Italian company. These are certainly not the last word in high-fly technology, but they are well suited to the vehicle’s off-road use. Power steering is by Bosch, as are many of the electrical and electronic components. Eventually, a hydrogen-powered electric version should also be available. A collaboration between INEOS and Hyundai was initiated, using the experience of the company’s energy division in this area. At this stage, no details have been released about the interior, equipment or dashboard…
The brand claims to have carried out various marketing studies, all clearly indicating there is a market for the Grenadier. With the new Defender gone upmarket, there is still room for a real tough family hauler, between the small Suzuki Jimny, Jeep Wrangler and… the Mercedes G-Class, this one being assembled by Magna Steyr.
Following on from the old Defender, the Grenadier will be aimed at farmers, foresters, companies, ministries, NGOs and other organisations that need high off-road capabilities without sacrificing comfort. Prices should be starting at around €40,000. Visually, the Grenadier is very close to the old Defender: its rather square shape, the flat windscreen, the visible door handles, the rear side opening door, the round headlights… everything reminds the original Def and should attract disappointed Land Rover customers who dislike the current generation Defender. It may look old school but the Grenadier uses modern technology.
Nevertheless, modern technology will be present (LED headlights and lights, reversing radar…), either as standard equipment or as an extra. The idea is to please Defender enthusiasts by « upgrading » it as well as attracting a whole new generation of enthusiasts, looking for an « old-fashioned » off-road vehicle with a modern touch. The launch range should include a five-seater as well as a two-seater van, using a 2.91m wheelbase chassis. Ineos also plans to complete it later with a 7-seater version and a double-cab pick-up, on a long chassis with a 3.17m wheelbase. Maximum speed will be limited to 160 km/h. 35.9° approach and departure angle as well as water and airtightness that is beyond reproach should allow Grenadiers to be used successfully in the wildest conditions. Towing capacity is 3,500 kg (braked trailer), while the payload is 1,000 kg and it will be possible to chuck up to 150 kg on the roof.