Car reviews - Ineos - Grenadier
High-quality parts throughout, strong performance on- and off-road, factory-fitted tyres perfectly up to the task, analogue interior a pleasant change
Room for improvement
Expensive and price will jump with options ticked, steering is vague until used to it, Safari roof panels radiate heat when in the sun
Does the purpose-built Ineos Grenadier off-roader live up to the hype? GoAuto finds out
8 Dec 2023
INEOS is a brand born out of one British businessman’s desire to make a four-wheel drive ‘no-one’s building anymore’, filling a gap as live-axle, ladder-frame 4x4s become an increasing rarity in today’s world.
Founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a chemical engineer and self-made billionaire, is said to have originally approached Land Rover in a bid to continue producing the departed ‘old’ Defender in its boxy, riveted form.
After being knocked back by Land Rover, he and a few mates devised a plan to build their own off-roader – over a few pints, no doubt – taking a scribble on the back of a five-pound note and turning it into the Grenadier we see today.
The model was named after Sir Jim’s local pub – The Grenadier – where the plan was first hatched, and apparently the original sketch is now featured on the ceiling of the London watering hole.
While the result shares styling cues with the Defender, visually closer to a Mercedes-Benz G Wagen from the back, legal attempts by Land Rover to quash the Grenadier were denied – somewhat of a middle-finger salute to the green oval from Sir Jim.
The resulting Grenadier is a built-for-purpose off-roader, offering a blank canvas across its versatile model range, but don’t let its durability fool you – it isn’t without most modern comforts and tech.
Serious players were brought onboard to piece the vehicle together, meaning the Grenadier is made up of components from the very best, but somehow it still equals more than the sum of its parts. We’ll get to that, though.
The ladder-frame chassis was engineered by Magna, springs tuned by Eibach, drivetrain supplied by BMW, axles designed by Carraro and stopping power optioned from Brembo, and inside the seats were put together by Recaro.
Around €1.0 billion ($A1.63b) have been poured into the Grenadier program so far, with a seemingly no-expense spared engineering and parts sourcing approach taken to offer the best of everything; but nothing that isn’t required.
Ineos even acquired Hambach from Mercedes-Benz in 2021, using the state-of-the-art 210,000 sqm facility as its production hub, gaining an experienced manufacturing workforce with it.
The powertrain is a major step-up from the classic wagons the Grenadier replaces in the market, sporting BMW petrol and diesel engines mated to the ubiquitous ZF-sourced eight-speed transmission with added heavy-duty torque converter.
The B58-series inline six-cylinder turbo-petrol engine produces 210kW/450Nm while the B57-series turbo-diesel inline six puts out 183kW/550Nm, both offering a wide and usable torque spread which when coupled with the eight-speed transmission get the Grenadier moving with ease.
Constant four-wheel drive is also a big plus, both in terms of safety and the ability to go from the hardtop to dirt without having to do anything at all.
At 4896mm long, 1930mm wide and 2036mm high, the Grenadier wagon is smaller than a Toyota LandCruiser 300 but larger than the classic Land Rover Defender it is likened to, offering a good mix of on-trail agility and inner-city maneuverability.
Hefty ground clearance of 264mm and a wading depth of 800mm put the Grenadier around the top of the modern 4x4 pack, while a 35.5 degree approach angle, 28.2 degree ramp-over angle and 36.1 degree departure angle for the wagon mean out of the box it’ll tackle more than most buyers will be game to.
In terms of practical carrying and towing capacity, the Grenadier is a very handy steed. A 3550kg GVM and 7000kg GCM across the entire range allow for a full 3500kg towing capacity, while still leaving decent payload for passengers and cargo.
Available as a two-seat utility wagon, five-seat station wagon, and with premium Trailmaster and Fieldmaster Editions available for each, the Grenadier range offers a mix of models aimed at both commercial and recreational buyers.
On paper the Grenadier has no true direct competitors, somewhat like the Suzuki Jimny, instead competing with established models that offer a similar but less-adventure ready package. But it does come at a premium.
Priced from $109,000 plus on-road costs for the base model Utility Wagon, $110,000 +ORC for the base station wagon, and topping out at $123,000 +ORC for the Trailmaster and Fieldmaster Editions, it is not cheap. It does, however, offer strong value for money as a premium 4x4 with a top-tier mix of components and build quality to match.
We spent a day putting the Grenadier through its paces on- and off-road starting at Woodend in Victoria, about halfway between Melbourne and Bendigo, driving into the Lerderderg State Park to get down and dirty. Though, we didn’t even get close to finding the Grenadier’s limits…
Sitting in the cabin of the Grenadier for the first time, it offers a glorious mix of analogue, minimalistic and somewhat experimental design cues, which all take a little getting used to.
The left-foot resting position is unusually large, pushing the brake and accelerator pedal right over and they sit unusually close to each other for an off-road vehicle.
Then there is the absence of any gauge cluster, digital or otherwise, looking over the wheel at the dash, with only a small panel for warning lights. Instead, the tacho, speedo and other critical information is housed within the high centre-mounted digital display.
It all feels very ‘function over form’ and after setting off, the design intent starts to make sense, as you quickly acclimate to the unorthodox positioning of pedals and vehicle information.
The overall experience feels more like you’re in a cockpit than a cabin, which gives the Grenadier a military-esque feel and adds to its rugged appeal. So far, so good.
This is a vehicle, evidently, that was designed from the ground-up without having to honour an existing layout or model theme, instead built for a specific purpose. A switchboard below the 12.3-inch touchscreen trades haptics for analogue toggles and dials, with a brushed aluminum surround that would look right at home in a private jet.
Looking up, an overhead switch panel offers auxiliary switches for any add-ons like lights, as well as switches for critical functions like the diff locks.
The eight-speed transmission brings the same shifter found throughout BMW models, a little more contemporary in design to the beautiful ball-head transfer case shifter to its left offering high- and low-range with the centre diff locked or unlocked.
While we spent much of our time in low-range with the centre-diff locked, the option to run it open will be handy for caravanners or those looking to make tight turns while remaining in low-range.
Driving south-west to Lerderderg State Park, the Grenadier handles on-road duties better than a rugged, boxy 4x4 ought to; but isn’t without flaws.
The steering, a beefy recirculating-ball steering box with electronically assisted hydraulic setup, felt particularly vague at first but after some time in the seat its linear predictability felt right.
Remember, this is a solid-axle front end, so sharp steering is a rack-and-pinion luxury not afforded to rugged off-roaders like the Grenadier. In some ways, a slow, linear steering setup feels better off-road, so the compromise is probably only something we noticed because every SUV is so tac-sharp these days.
The powertrain, however, is one we can’t fault. Both petrol and diesel engine options feel similar in their power delivery, the petrol slightly sharper and diesel a bit gruntier off the bottom – but our pick is the diesel.
BMW’s B57-series diesel engine is a goer, with all 550Nm available between 1250-3000rpm, and it sounds incredible under load. A stout six-cylinder diesel is hard to come by nowadays, with peppy four-cylinder units the norm, which makes this engine a real novelty.
While the B57 is undoubtedly capable of making more power and torque, this tune feels ideal in the 2600kg Grenadier, with performance that is impressive without being over the top.
Ineos claims fuel use figures of 14.4-14.9 litres per 100km for the petrol and 10.5-12.2L/100km for the diesel, thirstier than other modern 4x4 alternatives, but clearly honest given we achieved 15.5L/100km from the diesel and 20.6L/100km from the petrol across a full day of hard off-road use – and predominantly in low-range.
It is not uncommon to use double the claimed fuel use when off-road, so we think Ineos has been truthful in their claimed figures.
Off-road, the Grenadier is a superbly capable performer and with front and rear lockers in all but the base models, it’ll go up and over just about anything – clearance permitting.
Aggressive factory fitted BF Goodrich K02 tyres, available with the Rough pack option, offer ample grip even fully aired up without annoying levels of road noise, meaning you won’t need to worry about swapping better rubber on before hitting the trails.
In low-range, flicking the gear shifter over and manually holding second gear will tackle just about anything with the short first gear offering a crawl speed of just 2.04km/h in the petrol or 2.08km/h in the diesel if you need it – we didn’t.
Even with the front and rear diffs locked, the Grenadier still turned with relative ease on tight terrain, only occasionally requiring a three-point scramble around sharp trail turns.
Suitably, given Sir Jim Ratcliffe founded the company, we travelled up and down an intermediate trail named, you guessed it, Ratcliffe Trail. Watching the vehicles ahead of us, the Grenadier flexed and contorted as others opted for rowdier lines on certain hill climbs, never getting stuck.
Even the vehicles without locking diffs walked up everything Ratcliffe Trail had to offer.
Heading back to Woodend, after a full day of four-wheel-driving action, we’d acclimatised to the aforementioned quirks, particularly the steering which grew on us. Suddenly, it all made sense.
The Grenadier really is in a league of its own, filling a gap in the market for adventurers happy to dip into six figures for their next freedom machine. As we alluded to earlier, it really does equal more than the sum of its parts.
21st of October 2022
Grenadiers set sail for Australia
First examples of the Ineos Grenadier roll off the assembly line, due here December
21st of July 2022
LCT exemption cuts price of Ineos Grenadier
Buyers to save up to $17k on list price of French-built off-roader
2nd of June 2022
Ineos plans smaller, fully electric 4x4
Sub-Grenadier four-wheel drive to offer workhorse DNA and off-road capabilities
29th of April 2022
Grenadier price and spec for Oz revealed
Ineos Automotive announces full local price and specification of its Grenadier 4WD
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