When is a Defender not a Defender? When it’s a Grenadier



What’s a Grenadier?

It’s a new utility 4x4 from Ineos Automotive, part of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group. Unveiled last year and set to go on sale in 2022, it sits somewhere between the now discontinued original Defender and the current Land Rover that bears the same name.


While Land Rover redesigned the Defender as a 21st century SUV with unstoppable all-terrain capability and premium pricing, the Grenadier is closer to the old Defender in spirit: proven ladder chassis, chunky styling and beam-axle suspension. It’s intended as a working vehicle, even if many are likely to be bought by families sold on its old Defender/G-Class-esque good looks and charming lack of tech (there’s no electric or hybrid version, and you start it with an old-fashioned key…).


Why are people going nuts for it?

Because, just as cars feel like they’re getting too digital, too electric and too complex, the Grenadier comes along with a tonne of old-school charm. In the flesh it’s a purposeful-looking car, bigger than you think, and striking with its mostly flat surfaces and unfussy detailing. And it looks like you could throw anything at it – farm tools, mountain bikes, a tribe of children – and it wouldn’t bat an eyelid.


Inside there’s more space than the old Defender, thankfully, and up front you climb into Recaro seats which are both supportive and super-comfy. The main instrument panel is striking in its clarity, and above it sits a clean, crisp infotainment screen. Overhead, where kids and drunk mates can’t suddenly lock both your differentials ‘for a laugh’, you’ll find the controls for off-road driving. The chunky design and clear readouts call to mind an aeroplane’s cockpit, which is always cool.


Feels like a tractor on the move though, right?

We won’t know for sure until we drive it next year, but a recent passenger ride in a prototype would suggest not. On-road refinement is good, and a million miles away from the cramped, noisy and tiring old Defender.


Two BMW powertrains will be offered – a petrol or diesel 3.0-litre six-cylinder mated to an eight-speed auto ’box. On the move the engine’s quiet and refined and the transmission effortless. While you wouldn’t call the Grenadier fast, the BMW powertrains mean it’s hardly under-gunned, either. The engines have also been re-mapped for this application and feel suitably torquey.


From the passenger seat the prototypes feel impressively cohesive for a car with such an all-terrain remit and simple suspension. There’s far less bodyroll than you’d expect and, while no sports car, the Grenadier doesn’t fall apart at the first sniff of a corner.


When can I buy one?

For now, you can only register your interest, as thousands already have. Pricing is set to start at around £45k and will likely run quite a bit higher with options. First deliveries are set to start mid-2022. So, come next summer, when you clock a smart old Defender on the road, you’ll have to double-check that it actually is a smart old Defender…


Ineos Grenadier: From £45k, petrol or diesel BMW straight-six, n/a sec 0-62mph, n/a mph


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