It looks the business, tall and rugged, the Ineos Grenadier is a hardy off-road 4×4 mud plugger
Car Reviewed: Ineos Grenadier Station Wagon Fieldmaster edition (Diesel)
Drive it and you find it’s very much on a mission… And that mission would be to go pretty much anywhere off-road: trails, mud fields, up mountains, through streams, you name it, and not get bogged down.
The Grenadier has an entire armoury of off-road tools to take this kind of stuff on, just as the old Land Rover Defender did, the car that inspired it in the first place.
You might have heard the story. Once the Defender went out of production in January 2016, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s wealthiest men and boss of the giant Ineos chemicals group, offered to buy the old Defender tooling but was rebuffed.
He then resolved to build his own ‘continuation Defender,‘ as it were and the Grenadier, named after his favourite London SW1 pub, is the result.
Starting from scratch, the body-on-frame Grenadier has been in the works for some time. Indeed, your correspondent went on a Grenadier prototype drive, albeit from the passenger seat, as faithfully reported here : Ineos Grenadier coming to a field near you
Fast forward to today and another carefully PR managed Ineos Grenadier event has the sturdy 4×4 being let loose on the rough stuff and brief road route. On both occasions, we’re fully escorted by an Ineos guide. No bad thing, perhaps, because there’s a lot going on with the Grenadier and inside, a mass of knobs and buttons to adjust this setting or that. It’s like sitting in an aircraft.
There are three versions of the Grenadier, all BMW-powered (petrol or diesel). All have separate chassis, solid beam axles and permanent 4×4 system.
There’s the workhorse-based Utility Wagon, with 2 or 5 seats, then the Station Wagon and Quartermaster pick up, both with five seats.
From there, you can opt for the Trailmaster pack, aimed at extreme off-roading or choose the more upscale Fieldmaster, complete with heated leather front seats and a premium sound system. Prices start for the base Utility wagon at £64,500.
Today, however, we kick off with a petrol-powered Fieldmaster Station Wagon and tackle an unusually tough and muddy off-road course.
This particular Grenadier has a Rough Pack (front and rear e-diffs, off-road tyres), 17-inch alloys, BF Goodrich, privacy glass, high-level switches, rock sliders and a tow hitch. It has an OTR price of £82,478.
You literally haul yourself up and into the Grenadier where you find an ostensibly simple cabin, albeit one with a busy centre console with further minor controls reaching up to the roof. The driving position is comfortable and, praise be, your right elbow isn’t jammed right up against the door, as per the old Defender….
Switch on and the 2998 cc BMW straight six turbo hums into life. Engage the mandatory 8-speed ZF auto box and pull away.
First impressions, the Grenadier does feel big and heavy. This is quite a machine and the low geared steering (3.5 turns lock to lock) needs getting used to. So does the odd throttle action, requiring you to press down unnaturally hard on the right pedal.
After a few minutes, we stop, engage low range, and tackle a long, soft, boggy field. The Grenadier does well through this, then gets stuck axle deep in deep mud. We have to back up a couple of times to find firm enough grass to make it around.
Straightforward, then, and there were still lockable front and rear diffs to engage (beside centre diff lock), if need be.
Driving partially submerged through a lake, up and over some moguls, and more, the Grenadier is untroubled. Ineos has gone to exhaustive lengths to engineer the Grenadier for this kind of work (axle articulation, ramp over angles, approach/departure angles etc) and job done. You sense it would give the classic Defender a serious run for its money when the terrain turns inhospitable.
However, you might not go for the BMW petrol for major league off-roading. Although good for a typically urbane 286bhp at 4750rpm, matched to a torque of 450Nm at 1750-4000rpm, it’s the twin-turbo diesel that’s more of the slugger you need with deeper reserves of low-range torque (550Nm at 1250-3000rpm).
Off the line, the 249ps diesel is slower, though, at 9.8secs for 0-62mph, versus 8.8 for the petrol, although in a vehicle like the Grenadier, maybe that doesn’t matter so much. Just for the record, both weigh in at a considerable 3500kgs.
It’s on the road that the Grenadier loses its edge. Put simply, it’s too hardcore and wholly for the vast majority of today’s drivers. This time, we’re out in a diesel Fieldmaster with contrast leather, 17-in alloys and Bridgestone Duellers, privacy glass, carpet, spare wheel locker and side steps. The OTR price for this is £77,835.
Refinement is good and so is comfort but the vague steering and poor throttle action make it challenging to guide through any set of decent corners. They say you get used to this. Maybe so and for the type of clientele it’s aimed at – farmers, work crews, perhaps military and so on – it will cut the mustard.
The Grenadier certainly looks the part. The design is terrific and there’s genuine space inside for five people plus a big and practical load bay to carry all kinds of stuff. The BMW engine connection is another big positive.
As Land Rover has retreated airily upmarket with the new Defender, leaving its long-time loyal working vehicle customer base behind, a noticeable gap has opened up for something to replace the traditional Defender.
And the tough, body-on-frame Ineos Grenadier had stepped up to the plate and certainly taken on the reins as the successor. Go try it for yourself and see.
As a motoring journalist, he’s been writing about cars for a long time, starting in London in fact around the time the Sex Pistols first began limbering up….
Thereafter his journalistic remit has covered both new and classic cars, some historic motorsport reporting plus a long spell in Tokyo, covering the Japanese car industry for a range of global media outlets. Peter is a car writer and tester in the UK. Gooner, Alfisti and former Tokyo resident. If it has wheels, then he is interested.