6 January 2024

Meet the Tesla of the 4WD world

| James Coleman
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Ineos Grenadier

The Ineos Grenadier in the Lerderberg State Park in Victoria. Photo: James Coleman.

Normally, when a man stands up in a pub and crows about an idea he’s just had and how it will ultimately lead to everlasting world peace, the salt shaker comes out big time.

But this time, the man in question wasn’t half-wrong. The Ineos Grenadier is genuinely, properly good.

The origin story goes that Sir Jim Ratcliffe had made his billions selling petrochemicals (and hand sanitiser during COVID) to the point he approached Land Rover with hopes to bring back the original Defender. They said no, so Sir Jim responded with “blow it, I’ll build my own”.

The initial sketches of ‘Projekt Grenadier’ were revealed among mates in the Grenadier pub in London. The first examples rolled off the old Smart production line in Hambach, France, in July 2022 and arrived here in Australia in May of this year.

The whole USP is that modern 4WDs have lost their way. They’re too complex, too extravagant, and you can’t hose them out when you’re done.

Whereas you can literally hose out the Grenadier, because there are drainage holes engineered into the cabin floor. And that’s just the start of the baffling amount of thought that has gone into this. Sir Jim is like the Elon Musk of the 4WD world (except he delivers).

For instance, the most popular choice of colour, ‘Scottish White’, is inspired by what happens when the legs of Sir Jim’s Scottish friends see sunshine. Approximately nothing.

The standard horn is also accompanied by a little red button with a bicycle symbol on it and the word ‘toot’. This offers a “friendly tone” that is “ideal for notifying cyclists… or other road users of your presence in a friendly, polite way”.

More seriously, the front bumper is cast in three parts, so you don’t have to replace the whole thing after that rock decided to jump out at you. There’s a winch under the number plate on some models, and everything you need to fit a snorkel on the driver’s side. A ‘Utility Belt’ on each side means you can simply click into place foldable tables, jerry cans and all manner of assorted accessories.

There’s a 500-amp plug out the back, ready to receive your loaded caravan, and two 25-amp plugs mounted under the roof racks. Where you’d normally have to pay an auto-electrician thousands to lay cable for the likes of lights, awnings or tents, not here.

All of these wires run to what is undoubtedly the best feature, and one we all secretly lust after. Yep, a whole panel of overhead switchgear.

We’re told the metal hoops are there to avoid accidental activation of the buttons. Yeah, right. And the red and green lines are there because you really need to know what way’s port and starboard in a car.

Whatever, I loved it too much, except for the flimsy haptics. I want the deep clunk afforded by an actual fighter jet’s controls.

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Rather than make his own stuff and risk failing dismally, Sir Jim also sourced seats from Recaro, electrics from Bosch, and asked BMW very nicely if Ineos could perhaps borrow their twin-turbo inline-6 petrol and diesel engines and 8-speed automatic gearbox. They haven’t hidden this deal either – ‘Powered by BMW’ is emblazoned on the bonnet.

On paper, it’s all very impressive. And after clambering over jutting rocks and through sloshy creeks that would put lesser things to rest, it’s still very impressive.

The knob for high and low range is mechanical, and takes some elbow grease to shift. There’s a reason modern 4WDs are loaded with electronic aids, but this seems a sweet spot. An off-roading babe like me still emerged victorious at the end of the track.

The only real gripe was the steering, which felt like it was set in a tub of yoghurt. And the gear lever design, which is jarringly straight out of a BMW.

This brings us to the price, and it’s not the $85,000 initially flagged. The Utility Wagon, which forgoes rear seats and the rear-most windows, starts at $109,000. The Station Wagon is $110,000 and goes up to $123,000 in top-of-the-range Fieldmaster spec. A dual-cab ute called the Quartermaster is on the way, expected to be even more.

But here’s the thing. You’re not going to scoff at this when you’re already thinking ahead to that $100,000 caravan, or $5000 rooftop tent. Off-roading is a hobby, and not a cheap one.

And there are also overhead switches.

Ineos Grenadier

There are LED lights all round. Photo: Ineos.

2023 Ineos Grenadier Station Wagon Fieldmaster

  • $123,000 plus driveaway costs
  • 3-litre twin-turbo inline-6 diesel, 183 kW / 550 Nm
  • 8-speed automatic, 4WD
  • 10.5 litres per 100 km estimated fuel usage
  • 0-100 km/h in 9.8 seconds, 160 km/h
  • 2718 kg

This vehicle was provided for testing by Ineos during a media launch. Region has no commercial arrangement with Ineos.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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