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The Ineos Grenadier Is a Surprisingly Refined, Work-Focused Off-Road SUV

The Ineos Grenadier Is a Surprisingly Refined, Work-Focused Off-Road SUV

A no-nonsense, utility-focused 4x4 for those who need its enormous capabilities

  • New Grenadier is a utilitarian off-road workhorse
  • Body-on-frame construction, permanent 4WD and 7,700-pound towing capacity underline the Grenadier’s credentials
  • Surprisingly refined inside and out

With the phenomenal success of the crossover, auto manufacturers have largely ignored the traditional, utility 4x4 market. One of the last to exit that niche area was the original Land Rover Defender, and Jim Ratcliffe — car enthusiast and chairman of the petrochemical giant Ineos Group — thought there were still people and companies who wanted a proper utilitarian vehicle like it. In the spirit of all the best billionaire car enthusiasts, that's exactly what he set about to achieve with the new Ineos Grenadier.

We recently had the opportunity to drive a preproduction Grenadier near Ineos' production facility in Hambach on the French/German border.

Simplicity is key

Ask off-road drivers what they want, and the likely answer will be a strong body-on-frame chassis, solid axles, four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case, locking differentials and plenty of wheel articulation. That's exactly what the Grenadier delivers. The permanent 4WD system comes with a standard central locking differential, with the option of front and rear e-locking diffs should you specify them. Those solid beam axles were picked for their strength and feature five links and coil springs to allow maximum wheel articulation.

Ineos quotes the ground clearance at over 10 inches, with a water fording depth of over 31 inches. Other specs include an approach angle of 35.5 degrees, a departure angle of 36.1 degrees, a breakover angle of 28.2 degrees, and towing capacity of 7,700 pounds.

Powerhaus

All that utility and off-road ability is powered by an engine sourced from BMW. In the U.S., the Grenadier will feature a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 281 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Other markets will also offer a diesel-powered straight-six with 245 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Both these powertrains feature a smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and Magna Steyr-developed four-wheel-drive system. Naturally, the engines have been adapted to suit the grueling off-road use intended for them, as both are tuned to deliver as much torque as possible low in the rev range.

Rugged yet refined

The Grenadier is unashamedly utilitarian. The exterior is decorated with accessory mounts, grab handles, a split rear door that gives maximum access to the sizable trunk, and platform bumpers perfect for sitting, standing or mounting equipment on. The Grenadier's outside looks entirely fit for any purpose you might choose for it, which is further driven home by the interior layout. The cabin features large, simple push buttons and dials — all designed to be operated even when wearing thick gloves. These refreshingly chunky and tactile controls are welcome in an automotive world increasingly obsessed with putting everything into touchscreens.

Utility might be at its heart and worn on its sleeve thanks to things like exposed hinges outside and exposed fixings inside, but the rugged schtick works, thanks in no small part to the fine fit and finish and the quality of the materials used. Given that the examples we're poring over and driving are preproduction models, the finish is genuinely impressive. The interior might be simple, clear and easy to operate, but it's not devoid of tech, though it's usefully integrated, so you'll be able to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto wirelessly via the 12.3-inch touchscreen perched atop the dash.

Getting dirty

Our first drive of the Grenadier was off-road, so we'll need to wait until later to experience the rugged machine on the pavement. But there's plenty to be gleaned from our stint behind the wheel in the mire. We're happy to report that the bone-shaking ride that's so often a signature of working vehicles simply doesn't materialize. Nor are there any refinement trade-offs either. The BMW-sourced engine is refined even under heavy loads, and the Grenadier's overall demeanor is more SUV-like in its civility than we'd expect of a machine with such a utilitarian focus. Regardless of how extreme the scenery gets on the challenging, soaking-wet off-road course, the Grenadier shrugs it off, maintaining progress without any concerns. Traction is mighty, while the engine's ample torque and the unique transmission tuning make it able to tackle obstacles with ease.

There is undoubtedly room for improvement, however. The steering could be refined — in preproduction form, it's overly light and lacks any self-centering. It's also possible, particularly in the slippery, wet mud, to saw at the wheel without any real feedback as to what's going on. Ineos is aware of the issue and says it will be sorted out for production models.

All things considered, we're hugely impressed by what Ineos has achieved with the Grenadier in a relatively short time.

Timing and availability

The Grenadier will come later to the U.S. than the rest of the world, and here it arguably faces its toughest rivals thanks to a number of domestic 4x4s like the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco, as well as plenty of competition from pickup trucks. Even so, there is plenty of interest here, from buyers in the lifestyle marketplace to those wanting its working ability. They'll need to wait until 2023, by which time, Ineos' planned group of partners who can service and sell it — everything from agricultural suppliers and traditional dealer groups to official Bosch service centers — should be set up. Currently you can look at specifying a Grenadier online. Pricing has yet to be confirmed for the U.S., but the expectation is a starting price in the region of $70,000.  

The first Grenadiers will be available in a five-seat SUV configuration, with a stretched frame able to support seven-seat and pickup variants due in the future. Ineos says it has talked to a number of aftermarket conversion firms, so don't be surprised to see decked-out Grenadiers soon after they go on sale.

Edmunds says

A refreshingly honest vehicle that majors on ability, the Ineos Grenadier has appeal beyond its hardcore working credentials and fills a gap in the market that's been overlooked by many manufacturers. Our off-road drive in a preproduction model underlined its ability and surprising quality, as well as hinting at its refinement and ride. An interesting newcomer in a relatively niche area, the Grenadier will undoubtedly find a place in the automotive sphere, however remote or unusual that might be.