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DRIVEN | The new SUV on the block - why the Ineos Grenadier has a three-month waiting list in SA

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Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier
  • The Ineos Grenadier is a British billionaire's take on the ultimate off-road vehicle.
  • News24 Motoring got to drive the first production models in Scotland.
  • The first units will be delivered to South African customers in May this year.


As motoring journalists, we get to drive new cars regularly, but 90% of the time, these new models are launched by an established brand. Very rarely do we get to drive a new car from a new brand, their first attempt to build a vehicle. The Ineos Grenadier offered that opportunity recently.

Five years ago, Sir Jim Ratcliffe sketched his ultimate off-roader on a napkin in the Grenadier pub outside London, and just last month, we got to drive it on the roads and estates of the Scottish Highlands.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

The basic idea was to develop an uncompromising 4x4, a no-frills, no-fuss vehicle that provides best-in-class off-road capability, durability and utility.

Building a new car from scratch is no easy feat, but with sound financial backing behind the company Ineos was able to source all the best components from suppliers around the world and appointed the best engineers, poached from various automotive companies to put it together and make it work. How much money, you ask, well about 1 billion Euros to date.

No frills exterior design

The exterior design is clear, simple, straightforward, and instantly recognisable. Ineos says it is boxy to maximise space efficiency, while the wheels are positioned at each corner to minimise body overhang for better off-road capability. Everything that has been included in the vehicle is there for a purpose or to make your life easier. There are no superficial styling elements.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

Proof of this is that black strips alongside the body are utility belts that can support up to 45kg of equipment and accessories, reinforced roof gutters facilitate accessory fitment, and a rear door-mounted aluminium ladder provides easy access. Even the spare wheel has been mounted the wrong way round, and its hollow now houses a 20-litre lockable storage box. Inside the boot, the door is a table perfect for brewing a roadside cup of coffee.

The steel body has been galvanised, and all hang-on parts, such as doors and the bonnet, are made from aluminium. Underbody protection includes front and rear skid plates and protection for the 90-litre fuel tank.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

Under the bonnet

The Ineos Grenadier utilises a pair of BMW six-cylinder engines in both petrol and diesel-burning variations.

The B57 3.0 litre six-cylinder diesel engine boasts 183kW between 3 250rpm and 4200 rpm and 550Nm between 1 250rpm and 3 000rpm. This equates to a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 9.9 seconds and a top speed of 160km/h.

The B58 3.0 litre six-cylinder petrol engine is one of BMWs best, and it shines once again in this application. 183kW is available between 3 250rpm and 4 200rpm and 450Nm between 1 250rpm and 3000rpm. This allows for a 0-100km/h time of 8.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 160km/h.

Both petrol and diesel models provide ample power delivered smoothly throughout the rev range while also providing the tractability needed for low-speed serious off-roading or mile-munching on the highway. The well-tuned eight-speed ZF gearboxes do a great job of seamless shifting and ensuring that the engines are operating in the sweet spot most of the time.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

Well-sorted suspension

Suspension on a 4x4 is critical, and here Ineos approached experts Magna in Austria, well known for the magic they have achieved with the iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class over the years, for assistance.

The 4x4 specifications read like a top trumps winner: an approach angle of 35.5 degrees, a ramp break-over angle of 28.2 degrees, a departure angle of 36.1 degrees and a wading depth of 800mm.

The backbone of the Grenadier is a full box-section ladder frame chassis, up to 3.5mm thick in places for excellent rigidity and stiffness and E-coated for longevity.

Torque distribution is taken care of by a two-speed transfer case built by Tremec and features a built-in centre differential which is lockable in both high and low ranges. Heavy-duty solid beam axles were developed in partnership with Carraro and channel torque via a 4:1 differential ratio to the wheels, ensuring maximum traction on any surface.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

The Grenadier rides on progressive front coilovers and regular coil springs at the rear. They are designed in conjunction with Eibach and offer nine and 12 degrees of axle articulation front and rear, respectively. 

Standard on Trialmaster models and optionally available on all other variants are front and rear Eaton diff locks that are electronically actuated with 100% mechanical engagement.

The braking system features 316mm discs up front and 305mm discs at the rear and was designed in conjunction with Brembo.

Wheel options are 17 or 18-inch steel or alloy, depending on the model, as are BFGoodrich All-Terrain or All-Terrain K02 tyres.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

Inside story

The interior is functional but roomy, comfortable, and for the most part, ergonomically well laid out. Switchgear favours analogue over digital, which means that there are many buttons and beautifully knurled knobs. Still, they are nicely labelled and well grouped either in the centre console or on the aeroplane-inspired rooftop panel.

All driving information is located in one place on the Grenadiers Central Control System, an easy-to-read and control 12.3-inch touchscreen. Ahead of the driver is a small panel that only displays warning and information lights, which does mean that the driver needs to glance to the centre to see things like speed.

The steering wheel features standard controls such as radio and cruise control. My favourite is the red toot button that emits a friendly tone that is quieter than the regular horn and can be used to warn other road users, such as cyclists, in a nice way.

Eight-way adjustable Recaro seats are supremely comfortable and significantly contribute to overall passenger comfort.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

Modern safety equipment

While it may have been built for a purpose, the Grenadier is equipped with a range of modern safety equipment and integrated safety systems, including eight airbags, Isofix child seat anchors, ABS, Electronic Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control.

How does it drive?

Specifications and putting the best components from leading manufacturers together is one thing; how they work in practice is another. The team responsible for the expedition in Scotland put together a route comprising everything a Grenadier owner would likely tackle, from highways to gravel roads to some very slippery tracks on an old golf course. The best use of a golf course in a long time if you ask me.

The Grenadier is simple to operate. Selecting between the two- and four-wheel drive and low range is via a tried and tested second gear lever, and push-button switches on the aeroplane-style overhead panel activate the off-road mode and the front and rear differential locks.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

We attempted some extremely steep muddy inclines, and declines, well over 20 degrees, and the Grenadier went up and down without a fuss. With a smooth driving style, wheelspin was minimal, and even from a standstill, it simply chugged up effortlessly. A very well-sorted hill descent control makes light work of traversing such obstacles, devoid of any of the random braking that characterised early such systems.

The problem with building a vehicle that is so good off-road is that, very often, compromises need to be made somewhere. However, the Grenadier seems to have dodged that bullet through clever engineering.

The chassis combines with, among other components, a five-link front and rear suspension layout, robust anti-roll bars and a recirculating ball steering system. This, along with careful suspension tuning, means that when at speed on the road or on twisty secondary roads, the Grenadier is anything but wafty. In fact, it is well poised for a vehicle of this size and weight. The steering is slightly vague and heavy, but that becomes less of an issue the longer you drive it.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

Conclusion

What the team at Ineos have done is rather incredible. They have conceptualised, built and thoroughly tested a vehicle in a relatively short time frame, and the result is exceptional. One can't help but think that this is the vehicle that Land Rover should have built when they decided to modernise the Defender nameplate.

That leads me to my only real gripe. The Grenadier really does look like an old Defender. The boxy shape can easily be mistaken for a Defender, and it is only really the modern lighting that sets it apart, which means that it is not a very pretty vehicle. Ineos badging and elements like the grille are very understated. I do feel that Ineos could have done more to make it unique in their own way. Sure, it is a vehicle built for a purpose, and maybe the shape is ideal for this purpose, but if you are going to this level of effort, at least try to make it your own.

In my opinion, the Grenadier is the best off-roader and the best Overlander that one can buy off the showroom floor today. In addition, it is well thought out and well put together with no real shortcomings. It is no surprise that most markets have waiting lists before customers have even been allowed to drive the car.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

When and where will it be available in South Africa?

Locally Ineos have a waiting list and will start delivering vehicles to customers in May. All models will be sold with a five-year or 100 000km warranty, and service plans are available. As a start, there are three dealers based in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and a total of five service points around the country.

Model range

The Ineos Grenadier will be launched as a three-model range which comprises three derivatives of the five-seater, namely the Station Wagon, Station Wagon Trialmaster Edition, and Station Wagon Fieldmaster Edition. 

In the coming months, the Grenadier Utility Wagon will be added to the line-up, with the choice of a two-seat or five-seat layout. These more standard models retain all the functionality but lose some frills, making them the perfect blank canvas for motorists looking to build their ultimate Overlander. These models are expected to retail in South Africa at a starting price of around R1 million.

Ineos Grenadier
Ineos Grenadier

What's next?

The Ineos business case cannot work with just one model. Representatives have revealed that a bakkie and a chassis cab, perfect for applications such as game viewers are in the final stages of development. The parent company is also one of the biggest hydrogen producers globally, and the company have hinted at a hydrogen BEV in the coming years.

Pricing

Station Wagon petrol                                         R1 513 100
Station wagon diesel                                         R1 513 100
S Station Wagon Trialmaster Edition petrol          R1 630 560
S Station Wagon Trialmaster Edition diesel          R1 630 560

S Station Wagon Fieldmaster Edition petrol         R1 630 560
S Station Wagon Fieldmaster Edition diesel         R1 630 560

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