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Ineos Grenadier (2023 - )

How good is the Grenadier? That depends on what kind of customer you are. It’s alright, or it’s brilliant.

Starting price:
£55,030

Why we love it:
  • Unstoppable off-road
  • Interesting and comfortable cabin
  • Refined powertrain
Where it could be better:
  • Expensive to buy or lease
  • Not at its best on-road
  • Running costs will be high

Introduction

Ineos Grenadier

It was six years ago that Sir Jim Ratcliffe sat down in a pub in Kensington and sketched out his idea for a replacement for the ageing Land Rover Defender. He tried to buy the rights to use the Defender designs but was thwarted by Land Rover, so he did what any self-respecting billionaire would do; he set up his own car company.

Since then, the world has changed significantly following a pandemic, global chip shortages and, most recently, war in Europe, rising interest rates and rampant inflation. The initial claims that his vision, the Grenadier, would have a price tag of ‘around £35,000’ were always optimistic, but the £69,240 Ineos is asking for our Trialmaster specification test car does feel a little steep.

You do get a lot for the money, though, and it’s unlike anything else on the road. No shiny SUV can hold its own alongside the Ineos, with even the most rugged-looking models failing to match the Grenadier’s road presence. The Mercedes-Benz G-Class might get close, but even that is a shiny show pony compared to the clear workhorse roots of the Grenadier.

The built-for-a-purpose design isn’t just for show, with a ladder frame chassis underpinning the car, and a BMW 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine under the bonnet, regardless of whether you choose the petrol or diesel model.

Our Trialmaster is the more rugged of the trim levels, matched on price by the (slightly) more luxurious Fieldmaster. A more basic model is available for £58,030, while a two-seater van takes the price down to £55,030.

Living With The Ineos Grenadier

We took the Grenadier to some challenging terrain, keen to explore its capabilities. There’s much to be pleased with. Every model gets permanent four-wheel drive, with a switchable low-range ratio and a locking centre differential. The Trialmaster we’re driving also gets locking front and rear diffs and chunky BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres, all of which combine to make the Grenadier feel unstoppable.

The vehicle was thrown towards every kind of terrain we could find, from muddy bogs and sandy beaches to frozen climbs and rocky descents. We even took to an inland beach and, quite literally, drove through a Scottish loch, the water rolling over the clamshell bonnet and easily covering the wheels. The snorkel attached to our vehicle wasn’t actually a snorkel at all — something we found out after tackling the water! — and is simply a higher air inlet for cleaner, dust-free air. Still, despite testing its wading depth and temperatures dropping to -10°C, the Ineos never skipped a beat.

Even without using all of its off-road tech, it scrambled its way through everything, but much was made easier by selecting various driving modes and settings. You do this from a bank of switches mounted on the roof, which includes options for the driving mode, diff lock selectors — front, rear and centre — and a panel of toggles that have been pre-wired for fitting external accessories. These are helpful for those wanting to add equipment to their Grenadier as you could, for example, just plug in your light bar or winch, and it’ll just work.

It’s a highlight of a distinctive cabin. Designed by Toby Ecuyer, whose last role was designing a 100-metre superyacht, it’s full of chunky buttons and rotary dials that are all pleasingly tactile. Even wearing gloves, everything was easy to use, which is the point — when this is out in the field, you want something you can use in all conditions. That said, the lack of heated seats was very noticeable when the temperatures were well below zero.

Some bits aren’t that easy, though. The roof switches, while looking great, are tricky to see at times as they’re viewed from quite an acute angle. The 12.3-inch infotainment screen can be frustratingly slow at times, although it’s incredibly comprehensive in the information it displays to you. There’s also Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay if you don’t want to use the built-in system.

Unusually, there’s no traditional satellite navigation system. Regular run-of-the-mill navigation responsibility is passed over to a connected smartphone. There is, however, Pathfinder navigation for off-road use. This allows you to set waypoints, leave a breadcrumb trail, and generally stay safe when away from the tarmac.

You’ll be comfortable, too. Supportive seats keep you in place, and a wide and flat door panel top gives you plenty of space for your elbow. That might not sound important, but it can make driving, especially around the farm or reserve, far more relaxing. The driving position is also excellent, with everything centrally positioned for the driver. However, right-hand drive cars have an awkward lump in the footwell caused by the shape of the engine that can get uncomfortable.

Its ride is notably smooth, owing to its extended-travel suspension and lofty, cushioned tires, allowing for some leniency in precision as those rugged BF Goodrich tires aren’t optimised for road use. While taking corners, its heft—surpassing 2.8 tons—is palpable, yet it remains stable even when pushed to its limits, although the steering can be lifeless and imprecise, with little self-centring. That can be disconcerting when exiting a roundabout and can see the vehicle wandering around in its lane a little more than you might like.

Performance is impressive, despite the bulk of the Ineos. Our diesel-engined model has a BMW 3.0-litre engine that provides 249hp and 550Nm of torque, which gives a zero to 62mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds. It’s a smooth and quiet engine, the engine note fading into the background until you press the throttle hard, at which point a deep, almost truck-like, rumble emanates from under the bonnet. For those wanting a bit more power and an extra soupcon of refinement, there’s a 3.0-litre petrol engine available with more power (286hp) but less torque (450Nm). 

Ineos Grenadier

Space & Practicality

The passenger cabin is a pleasing space, with plenty of room for human cargo, but it’s a little tighter for your everyday detritus. Beyond a lockable central cubby, there’s little usable storage anywhere else, with nowhere obvious for paperwork, small door pockets, and, while there are two cupholders in the front, there’s nowhere in the back to place a drink. Of course, for the two-seater Utility Wagon, that won’t be a problem, but we’ve yet to try one of those models.

Looking at the cargo area, the split rear doors are initially impressive, but the ratio is probably a little off — the smaller door on the left is a little too narrow, so while it offers a  convenient way to get quick and easy access to the contents of the boot, there’s not much room to lift anything in or out so you still need to open the wide door.

Ineos says that the Grenadier SUV boasts 2,035 litres of storage space when the rear seats are folded down, which is only slightly less than the 2,088 litres offered by the Utility variant. The Utility model also accommodates a greater payload capacity of up to 871kg for gasoline-powered versions, while diesel versions experience a reduction to 796kg.

These measurements and payload capacities are generally comparable to those of the Land Rover Defender Hardtop 110 and Toyota Land Cruiser Commercial LWB. Additionally, the Grenadier's 3.5-ton towing capacity matches the Defender's and surpasses the Land Cruiser's by 500kg.

Ownership

Ineos Grenadier

Running Costs

Anything weighing close to three tonnes with the aerodynamics of an ocean liner and powered by a 3.0-litre engine won't ever be economical. According to official figures, 28mpg is achievable, although anything over 20 should be considered a success. Despite that, a gentle cruise along some 40-50mph A-roads saw the Grenadier’s trip computer showing 34mpg for a while. On the road, we averaged 22mpg by the end of our time with the car — and, understandably, much less than that off-road. At least the enormous 90-litre fuel tank means you can go for hundreds of miles between stops to fill up.

The initial promise of a price of “around £35,000” has long since been wiped from our collective memories, thanks to lengthy production delays, rocketing inflation and reevaluating just what was going to be needed to make the Grenadier a Grenadier. Now the range starts at £55,000 for the van-like Utility Wagon (including VAT), but that’s reasonably competitive.

Every model falls into the highest BIK category, so company car drivers will face a 37% tax rate.

Servicing is required every 12 months, which Bosch, Ineos’ service partner, will carry out. Impressively, Ineos is backing the vehicle with a five-year warranty with unlimited miles.

Verdict

Ineos Grenadier

Reaching a verdict for the Grenadier is difficult. If you're looking for a motorway mile-muncher to replace your Range Rover, you might be left wanting. However, it’s good enough on the road to pass as a rugged van or family car for most, and is certainly no worse than the likes of the Toyota LandCruiser, even if it falls far short of the latest Land Rover Defender.

However, the Grenadier is not designed for extensive motorway travel. Its true habitat lies in remote locations, confidently navigating rough landscapes and carving fresh paths across rural expanses or agricultural lands. Conceived as the spiritual heir to the iconic Defender, Ineos has nailed it.

By Phil Huff
May 12, 2023

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