• Land Rover will launch its new Defender later in July.
• The new Ineos Grenadier will compete directly with the Defender.
• Grenadier will be powered by BMW's petrol and diesel 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engines.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
The timing of the new Ineos Grenadier couldn't have been scripted more perfectly.
As Land Rover battles funding issues and its own history to launch the new Defender, it will soon face an even more significant challenge – the Grenadier.
Land Rover's new Defender was always going to crush expectations. It took the company ages to develop and even if it was technically perfect, traditionalists were going to reject it on principle and blame it for having become too modern.
The uncomfortable truth is that Land Rover can never conquer the burden of its own Defender legend with the new version.
Worsening its scenario is the unfortunate timing of a global launch, production and customer delivery schedule - in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic.
And then there is the Ineos Grenadier: everything that Land Rover purists want, and it will become available in the more normal future of 2021.
Image: Land Rover / Ineos
What Land Rover should have done – but could not
Although the technical details remain unclear, an Ineos Grenadier has all the modernisation Land Rover owners want in a classic adventure vehicle design.
Without the challenge of multiple models, platforms and a substantial workforce to manage through Brexit and the global health crisis, Ineos is a much more agile automotive technology entity. It is a cash healthy company, headed by a charismatic owner who is invested in the success of its first vehicle venture.
Automotive analysts, especially in the rugged SUV segment, have long predicted that owners don't care about advanced autonomous driving features or battery-powered vehicles. By avoiding the expense of coding sophisticated hybrid powertrains or sourcing expensive batteries, Ineos saves massively on R&D and production costs.
South African Land Rover followers will find the Ineos engine choice deeply ironic. Grenadier will be powered by BMW's petrol and diesel 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbocharged engines. In the mid-1990s, BMW and Land Rover collaborated to produce 2.8-litre, six-cylinder Defenders exclusively for the local market. Ineos has completed the circle in this respect.
The Ineos platform is very similar to an original Defender and Toyota's Land Cruiser 70, with solid axles, front and rear. Unlike the Land Cruiser, an Ineos Grenadier will have coil suspension at all four wheel corners, instead of leaf springs.
In a world where Land Rover only produces monocoque off-road vehicles, the Grenadier will appeal to rugged users who dislike unibody 4x4s.
Ineos chooses to have the Grenadier body and chassis as separate structures, allowing for flex over dauntingly technical off-road terrain.
Bakkies were never a core business for Land Rover's Defender. It only ever sold the 110 single- and 127/130 double-cabs in very small numbers.
This convinced product planners that new Defender should offer various station wagon configurations, but definitely not a double-cab bakkie variant – which could be a mistake.
In many markets where the demand for the new Defender could be strong (America, Australia and South Africa), bakkies are immensely popular. Toyota has always done a tidy trade in both its Land Cruiser 70 station wagon and bakkie derivatives, with the bakkies actually outselling station wagons by a fair margin in South Africa – and Ineos has taken notice of this.
When production starts in 2021, there will be a double-cab Grenadier, which will become a worthy rival to the ageing Land Cruiser 70 V8 bakkie. It will also give Grenadier another unique product offering that Land Rover cannot match with its new Defender.