We check out the Ineos Grenadier prototype in the UAE
Ineos set out to build a no-nonsense vehicle for hardcore off-road enthusiasts that mainstream carmakers claim isn’t feasible any more. The result is the Ineos Grenadier, which caught an unexpected amount of attention when it was revealed. We were recently invited by the British company to experience a ride in the Grenadier prototype, right here in the UAE.
It surely is a testament to Ineos, a longstanding conglomerate that decided to build a car company from the ground up. The Grenadier was created based on the vision of Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, who came up with the idea in 2017 right after the Land Rover Defender had ceased production. Ineos partnered with BMW and Austrian automotive company Magna Steyr to build a vehicle capable of tackling the harshest environments, while bettering the Defender it is clearly inspired from. Four years later, they are only a few steps away from a production-ready Grenadier 4×4, which is set to start deliveries in the middle of 2022. It will be built in a factory which was formerly owned by Mercedes, located in Hambach, France.
Ineos haven’t cut any corners. They claims their “Phase 2” prototypes will cover 1.8 million kilometres across 15 countries. Their latest testing has brought them to the UAE, where there is a healthy appetite for vehicles like this.
The Middle East market will be getting the petrol engine, which is the turbocharged in-line 6-cylinder 3.0-litre motor from BMW, mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The Grenadier will be a body-on-frame platform with permanent all-wheel-drive and three locking differentials, while both front and rear get a live axle for maximum wheel articulation.
Approach angle on the Grenadier 4×4 is 35.5 degrees, breakover angle is 27.8 degrees and departure angle is about 36.1 degrees. For comparison on how good that is, the Toyota Land Cruiser has an approach angle of 32 degrees, a breakover angle of 21 degrees, and a departure angle of 24 degrees. The Grenadier can drive through water at a maximum depth of 800 mm.
While the interior of the prototype was far from finished, we could see it has been built for functionality, with big buttons on the centre console which can be used with gloves on. Our tester had the optional safari windows, and prewired switches on the ceiling for accessories, which reminded us of a Cessna cockpit. The front seats were heavily bolstered Recaros. It’s not all utilitarian inside as owners will get Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and an infotainment screen. The gear selector looks exactly like a BMW shifter, while the high and low range gear was a proper lever instead of a rotary dial like in most new SUVs.
Our testing ground was the rocky terrains in Mileiha desert at the XQuarry Adventure Park. Driving up the mountain trail to the top, we got to see first hand the fair amount of wheel articulation on the Grenadier 4×4. Our prototype was fitted with only the centre differential but honestly, the trail didn’t really require front and rear differential locking as the offroad course was of intermediate difficulty.
There was more than enough grunt in that tried and tested BMW engine to easily tackle the trail, while the all-terrain tyres made sure there was always enough grip. There was no driving on sand dunes or tarmac road so we will probably have to wait for the production model to test that.
An extensive array of accessories will be offered, with third-party producers welcomed to create compatible add-ons, such as bump strips on the doors, or an optional ‘utility belt’ to the doors and rear body to attach loads or accessories like a jerry can.
The small rear door opens first to enable easy loading and unloading of smaller items, while a rear ladder can be fitted to aid access to the roof, and its design means it is aligned with the shut lines of the tailgate.
Exterior wiring is standard, with exit points to the front and the rear of the roof if you want to add lights. The front and rear lights are designed to be easily replaced as they are the same on both left and right sides.
Front fenders can be sat on, while the roof bars and roof strips enable loads to be mounted and secured directly without a roof rack.
We admire the direction Ineos has taken developing the car, in terms of transparency and involving the media and offroad enthusiasts at so early in the development stage. By doing this, Ineos is making sure to accommodate as much public feedback as possible to improve the final production model. Of course, everything cannot be fixed or added as the product also has to be commercially viable. With the first cars set to be delivered in July 2022, what we have seen so far of the Ineos Grenadier 4×4 is definitely encouraging.