Mountain Wheels: Dedicated, old-school off-roading on the horizon with the Ineos Grenadier |

Mountain Wheels: Dedicated, old-school off-roading on the horizon with the Ineos Grenadier

Andy Stonehouse
Mountain Wheels
For the most unique 4x4 experience this side of that old Defender hiding in a back shed, the purpose-built Ineos Grenadier will offer a rugged, electronics-light option for explorers.
Andy Stonehouse/Courtesy photo

It’s been a while since I wrote about a vehicle I haven’t actually driven, but given that almost nobody else in North America has really had a chance to drive the still-in-development Ineos Grenadier, we’re all on the same slightly speculative page.

If, however, you are a dedicated off-roader who believes that even Jeep Wranglers are now too full of high-tech gear for their own good, you might be interested in the innovative yet entirely old-school Grenadier, which is set to be available in the United States next year.

Built to look like an even bigger and bulkier Land Rover Defender of the 1970s, the five-passenger vehicle is being created with off-road durability and chunky mass in mind. At the same time, it features a purposeful avoidance of some of the computer-chip-dependency issues that many of you waitlisted Ford Bronco (among other brands) purchasers are facing in these strange days of 2022.

It’s not, as I initially misconstrued, designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, nor is it a resto-mod revision of an old chassis. This is an all-new, entirely unique vehicle that tries to be both as modern and as old-fashioned as possible — simultaneously.

Greg Clark, American executive vice president of the upstart autobuilder, came to Denver a few weeks ago to offer a static display of the prototype Grenadier to local writers as well as the super fans who are already excited about a 4×4 of Grenadier’s stature and have signed up for future orders.

As Clark explained, Ineos is probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of, the fourth-largest oil company in the world and a global player in the plastics industry. More importantly, the company is one of the main partners in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One racing team. The company’s chairman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, started to explore ideas for a consumer automotive avenue, and the massive Grenadier is set to be the first project.

Massive is absolutely correct, as we discovered while gingerly clambering over and around the 194-inch-long, 76-inch-tall and 76-inch-wide behemoth. Its physical scale is imposing (though, still smaller than a Chevy Tahoe, Clark noted), built on a decidedly old-fashioned ladder frame, solid axles and oversized coil suspension and equipped with a two-speed transfer case with a real knob in the cabin to crunch it into action.

If the Grenadier (named after the British pub where the 4×4 was dreamed up, not for any coincidentally militaristic overtones, though you might be right about that) strikes you as being a lot of different ideas all come to life, well, right again.

Ineos conveniently purchased a factory that makes parts for the Mercedes GLA crossover and all of the Smart Cars in Europe. It has arranged to use a BMW-sourced 3.0-liter turbo with 285 horsepower and a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

With looks and proportions that are also much like the Mercedes G-Wagen, before it became largely dedicated to Miami Beach cruising duty, the Grenadier features approach, breakover and departure angles that will make it super-adaptable to trail duty. And like the G-Wagen, it has three locking differentials for pulling or pushing itself over anything.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the vehicle, besides its size, is its decidedly non-electrified interior. A center console and a ceiling panel are entirely covered in aircraft-styled analog gauges and switchgear, all waterproofed, so the Grenadier looks in a way more like a 1960s Apollo command module than your average 2022 SUV.

There’s still a small touchscreen on the top of the stack, but in front of the oversized wheel, absolutely zippo — minus a tiny readout screen (reminiscent of McLaren’s “go fast, don’t look at anything” instrument screen mode) which will have maybe turn signals and little else displayed.

The idea, as Clark said, is for the Grenadier to be as infotainment-light and utilitarian/off-road-ready as possible — the polar opposite of most other automakers and their increasingly Tesla-sized (and all-encompassing) digitized dashes and control screens.

External features have all the pre-built ruggedness you’d desire, from tie-down rails and even tie-down rings along utility rails on the doors, plus side steps and a stepladder for the inevitable rooftop camping and cargo systems.

There’s still plenty of issues to be worked out, including a semi-independent dealer network, but Clark said the first Grenadiers are scheduled to be ready for the European and international markets later this year. Price is still a mystery, though the sweet spot for the purpose-built machine seems to fall somewhere above $60,000 and less than six figures. Stay tuned, I guess.

Andy Stonehouse

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