2021 Ineos Grenadier First Look: Is This Land Rover Defender Clone a Rip-Off or a Reinvention?
When in 2015 Jaguar Land Rover announced that after 67 years it was ending production of the iconic Land Rover Defender, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe saw an opportunity. Ratcliffe knew that JLR was working on a high-tech successor to the Defender, and he thought it would be a much more upscale vehicle than the old one, leaving an obvious hole in the market. To fill it up, Ratcliffe tried to buy the old Defender tools, but JLR refused to sell. Without getting discouraged, he decided to create his own Defender-style all-terrain vehicle instead. Meet the Ineos Grenadier.
Ineos is the name of the UK-based multinational chemicals company owned by Ratcliffe. Grenadier is the name of the Belgravia pub in London, where Ratcliffe launched the idea of building his own all-terrain vehicle. And the Ineos Grenadier is a flawless tribute to one of Ratcliffe’s favorite vehicles.
The Grenadier is a chassis-mounted SUV with dynamic axles with coil springs at the front and rear. Two engines will initially be available, the two 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six cylinders from BMW, one that burns diesel and one that burns gas. The engines drive all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission and a two-speed transfer case.
Much of the Grenadier’s development work is done by Magna Steyr, who builds the Mercedes-Benz G-Class at its factory in Graz, Austria. Emphasis is placed on capacity, durability and utility, as the Grenadier is designed to be a true off-roader capable of working in punitive environments. “We don’t build an SUV,” say Ineos insiders. The Jeep Wrangler is one of the benchmarks for the development team in terms of on and off-road performance and capabilities.
Although Ineos Automotive’s chief designer, Toby Ecuyer, said his design team looked at Jeep Wranglers, FJ-era Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols and even old Ford Broncos and Mercedes-Benz Unimogs, the Grenadier almost looks like a carbon copy of the old Defender. The shoulder pronounced on the side of the body; the flat beltline under the cabin; the flat roof front wings which roll vertically to house the headlights; the slightly protruding grille; the valve cover; clip-on roof with alpine lights – these are all vintage Land Rover visual cues.
The Grenadier is slightly wider and slightly shorter than the old long-wheelbase Defender, and the body is a mix of aluminum, composites and high-strength steel. The Grenadier will initially launch in the long-wheelbase and Crew Cab body styles, but short-wheelbase versions are also said to be in development.
Ineos hasn’t released interior details yet, but expect more old-school Defender minimalism, albeit with modern ergonomics. “I think it’s fair to say that our ergonomics will be about as far as Defender as we can get them,” said Mark Tennant, chief commercial officer, Ineos Automotive. “The 85th percentile for men in the 1950s is not quite the same as the 21st century, so it’s clearly an area of significant interest. Cars must be much more comfortable than some of these originals.
The Grenadier will initially launch in Europe next year, but the North American market is very much on the radar, says Tennant, although it is not determined by the calendar. “From a regulatory point of view and from a distribution point of view, it’s tricky,” he admits. “We really have to make sure we don’t go to the United States without having everything aligned.”
The first glance of Ineos Grenadier 2021: is this Land Rover Defender clone a scam or a reinvention? first appeared on MotorTrend.