2023 Ineos Grenadier Review


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More than a curio, the Ineos Grenadier is backed by some of the biggest names in the business and a serious first-attempt for a brand new automotive company.

This year will see a record number of electric vehicles launch. Most will boast more technology than is strictly necessary. That’s partly what makes the Ineos Grenadier so intriguing and one of the most anticipated cars of 2023. Deliberately simplified in order to get to market in a timely manner, and prove reliable once there, the Grenadier might feel and look like something of a throwback, but the company has huge plans for the future – including its own EV in 2026, a hydrogen proof-of-concept Grenadier later this year and a Grenadier dual-cab ute.

The story, passion and investment behind the Ineos Grenadier are simply mind boggling, and all go to prove that this isn’t a very well-developed vanity project for Ineos co-owner and CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe. Ineos is a giant in the petro-chemical world, employing over 25,000 people in 36 businesses across 184 sites in 31 countries. In recent years, Ratcliffe has thrown his money and time behind numerous sporting codes and events including the Ineos Grenadiers professional cycling team, New Zealand’s all-conquering All Blacks rugby union team and, of course, the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.

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Ratcliffe is also a keen runner and Ineos was behind marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge’s successful attempt to break the two-hour barrier in the marathon distance in 2019. As a marathon runner myself, it was at this event in Vienna that I briefly met Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and his passion for ideas outside of the box was immediately apparent. While Ineos has been accused of sport-washing its primary business, Ratcliffe is passionately involved in many social and, indeed, environmental causes. One such example was the company’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, when it established six production facilities (each in under 10 days) to make and bottle hand sanitiser. Millions of bottles of sanitiser were then supplied free of charge to hospitals around the world.

As a keen adventurer and four-wheel-drive enthusiast, Ratcliffe’s ventured to far flung places and saw a need and gap in the market for a rugged go-anywhere off-roader. Company legend has it that it was during a visit to London’s Grenadier pub, that Ratcliffe hatched the plan to build such a vehicle. Launching a new brand, and designing and building a brand-new vehicle isn’t the work of a moment, so it’s beyond impressive that in late 2022 – less than six years after the pub idea hatched – that production began on the Ineos Grenadier.

Ineos Grenadier Development and Spec

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More than a billion Euros have been spent on bringing the Grenadier to market, though it’s not clear whether this total includes the purchase of the Grenadier pub in which the idea was born (yes, really).

According to Ratcliffe, the pub idea “behind the Grenadier is to develop a 4X4 that will be an uncompromising, no frills, no fuss vehicle that provides the best-in-class off-road capability, durability and utility. It will support those who depend on a vehicle as a working tool, wherever they are in the world. Ineos Automotive set out a vision to build the world’s best utilitarian 4X4, and we have done just that.”

The billion Euro investment does include the purchase of the former Mercedes-Benz production facility in Hambach France – home to Smart production. In fact, Ineos has now taken over the production of the Smart EQ fortwo on a manufacturing contract basis, and it will be built beside the Grenadier. The facility already has the capacity to build 25,000-30,000 Grenadiers per year, so this is no small-time effort (that’s more than the combined output of Lamborghini and Ferrari).

In the early days of the product, there was some thought that Magna in Austria would be responsible for building the Grenadier, but sufficient capacity couldn’t be found at the company’s Graz facility. Magna’s wealth of experience certainly helped during the development of the Grenadier, with Ineos describing their involvement as “game changing”. Also important to the development of the Grenadier was the permission granted by Mercedes-Benz to allow Magna engineers, who had previously worked on the G-wagen, to assist on the Grenadier. Indeed, the Grenadier’s doors require G-wagen levels of heft to shut and are opened with very familiar handles and push buttons.

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Aside from Magna and Mercedes-Benz, Ineos has also partnered with BMW (engines), ZF (gearboxes), Tremec (transfer case), Carraro (solid axles), Brembo (brakes) and numerous other top-end automotive OEMs and suppliers. More than 350 engineers worked on the project and prototype testing took place in 15 countries to ensure all terrains and climates were adequately covered by the 1.8 million testing kilometres.

The Grenadier is built on a steel box-section ladder frame chassis that’s up to 3.5mm think in parts. The chassis is protected by an E-Coat treatment, and powder coating, while the internal cavities have wax injected into them. Given these lengths, it’s no surprise that the ladder-frame chassis is backed by a 12-year anti-perforation warranty. At each end you’ll find heavy-duty solid beam axles from Carraro (supplier to John Deere among others). The standard manually engaged transfer case and centre diff lock is from Tremec. During the development phase, Ineos was able to call on its connection with the Mercedes-AMG F1 Team to help resolve an issue with the transfer case. The F1 team 3D-printed a transparent section of casing so that engineers could see the live operation of the internals and make the necessary adjustments to the design.

A choice of two BMW 3.0-litre straight-six engines power the Grenadier – both backed by an eight-speed ZF torque converter automatic. The B58 turbocharged petrol makes 210kW at 4750rpm and 450Nm at 1750rpm. The B58 diesel is good for 183kW from 3250-4200rpm and peak torque of 500Nm available from 1250-3000rpm. Regardless of engine, both top out at 160km/h, but the petrol is a good chunk quicker to 100klm/h from rest – 8.6 seconds plays 9.9 for the diesel.

Given the type of vehicle, it’s no surprise that the B57 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel six will be the most popular, but perhaps not by the margin you might expect. Forward orders for the Grenadier in Australia are running at a surprisingly strong 20 percent petrol, while the demand is even higher in the home market with UK forward orders tracking at 30 percent petrol. Part of this can be explained by the narrowing gap in price between the two fuels (especially in the UK market) and the relative closeness in official fuel consumption between the engines. Ineos says that the petrol-powered Grenadier will consume 14.4-14.9L/100km, while the diesel drinker uses 10.5-12.2L/100km. Pricing for each drivetrain is identical, so choice really comes down to your planned usage and what you think might suit your needs better.

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The Grenadier is available at launch in two models – two-seat Utility Wagon and five-seat Station Wagon – across three grades for each; base, Fieldmaster and Trailmaster. The range starts at $97,000 and rises to $109,525 for the Fieldmaster and Trailmaster editions of the Station Wagon. Given the customisation available at every turn on the Grenadier range, we’ll limit our spec rundown to the top models.

As mentioned, both the Fieldmaster and Trialmaster models are available with either drivetrain and at the same price. The Fieldmaster is more obviously specced towards the lifestyle market with standard 17-inch alloys, leather trim and the cool pop-out ‘safari’ windows in the roof. The Trailmaster is the hardcore workhorse with standard front and rear diff locks, BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tyres and raised air intake. In good news, all of these model-specific options can be cross ticked to the other model. Additionally, the options list for both vehicles is extensive so that you can build the perfect vehicle for your lifestyle, adventures, work or government/NGO needs. There’s even a 5.5-tonne heavy duty winch available for every variant in the range ($5705).

Ineos Grenadier Drive Review

The Ineos team on the Grenadier’s international launch in Scotland were keen not to draw any comparisons to the old-school Land Rover Defender that ceased production in 2016, but there’s little hope of that from both the automotive media and those in the market. Though I’m sure that there’s some legal advice behind the official stance, not comparing it to the OG Defender is a missed trick. The Grenadier evokes the same feelings of rugged nostalgia, but with several steps towards contemporary off-roaders so that you don’t need to be a masochist to enjoy it.

My very first thoughts when we jumped aboard in the pre-dawn gloom of winter in Inverness was that I didn’t smash my elbow as I closed the door, and that I wasn’t rubbing shoulders with my passenger. The upright screen affords excellent forward visibility, but the junction of A-pillar and header rail isn’t right at my temple like it was in the old-school Defender.

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During the launch, I spent most of my driving time in a petrol-powered Fieldmaster, making full use of the standard heated front seats in the deep winter conditions at the top of Scotland. But given that the drive programme was heavily skewed to show off the Grenadier’s remarkable off-road ability, it was fitted with all conceivable options to help in that department.

The drivetrain might be familiar from various BMWs, but it really is a peach. The straight six is smooth and gutsy, delivering urge from low in the rev-range and yet eager to keep spinning. Several full-throttle overtaking opportunities were executed with ease. And as is also familiar, the operation of the ZF eight-speed torque converter auto is decisive when you demand it to be and calm and unobtrusive when you don’t. Tipping the scales between 2665kg and 2740kg depending on spec and options, the Grenadier is no lightweight, but the petrol engine is capable of shifting that mass without strain.

The same can be said for the diesel-powered model. During my brief drive, it too delivered familiar and smooth performance, but without the last 1000 or so revs of meaningful urge delivered by the petrol. It’s a case of horses for courses but I’d be opting for the petrol.

For some, the Grenadier’s recirculating ball steering will be a deal breaker but it’s nothing like that of the old Mercedes G-wagen. It’s low geared at 3.85 turns lock-to-lock, but it doesn’t constantly fidget in your hands or require constant correction to maintain a straight-ahead position. You do need to wind off lock, which does take time to acclimate to, but otherwise you can guide the Grenadier with relative ease. It’s probably a little more fatiguing to drive than a Toyota LandCruiser but we’re not talking degrees of magnitude. That said, after a full day of off-roading, a wet and night-time drive back to base along 100km/h tarmac backroads did highlight that the standard lights could do with a few more lumens.

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On Scottish tarmac that has more than a passing resemblance to an Australian country road, the suspension – five-link coil-sprung live axles at each end – did an impressive job of delivering a decent ride while containing roll, pitch and dive.

At 4896mm in length, 2146mm wide (including mirrors), 2036mm tall and sitting on a 2922mm wheelbase, the Grenadier isn’t a small vehicle to thread along narrow roads, but it doesn’t occupy the space of the aforementioned LandCruiser – perhaps the only other vehicle on the market to offer the Ineos’ level of off-road ruggedness.

Hard-core off-roading types don’t need a guy who usually flings cars around racetracks to tell them how capable the Grenadier is off road, but I can attest that it is extremely capable when the blacktop gives way to boggy climbs and descents. It’s also equally adapt at crawling over rocky tracks and wading through a freezing Scottish loch with sheets of thick ice smashing into its bow.

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If you’ve been skipping the gym, it might take a two-hand shove to select low-range and lock the centre diff, but the front and rear diff locks engage at the push of a button. Once these are in, there doesn’t appear to be anywhere that the Grenadier cannot go. Several colleagues – including some very rough and tumble South Africans – expressed that they’d never driven an off-roader this capable straight out of the box.

Some key stats include 264mm of ground clearance, 800mm wading depth, 585mm of wheel travel and low-range crawl ratios of 2.04km/h for the petrol and 2.08km/h for the diesel. The approach angle is 35.5 degrees, the ramp over is 28.2 and the departure angle is 36.1 degrees. In all of our rock climbing and off-roading, only once did I touch down after I misjudged a particularly deep crater. The Grenadier took it all in its very impressive stride.

Much like the OG Defender, the Grenadier certainly won’t be the right vehicle for everyone, but for those that want or need such a vehicle, it might just hit the spot. That it tugs on the nostalgia strings so convincingly is just icing on the cake.

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More than a curio, the Ineos Grenadier is backed by some of the biggest names in the business and a serious first-attempt for a brand new automotive company. This year will see a record number of electric vehicles launch. Most will boast more technology than...2023 Ineos Grenadier Review