INEOS Grenadier: The Anti-SUV

INEOS Grenadier: The Anti-SUV

Picture yourself in the middle of the desert or on some muddy road in some forest far away from civilization. There used to be an entire range of 4x4 vehicles at your disposal to carry you there and back again without you needing to worry very much about whether you will get stuck or not or, for the matter of fact, ever get home again. Even if this trip had taken you to some of the most remote places on earth, you could be sure that pretty much any reasonably gifted mechanic with a basic set of tools could fix these indestructible vehicles.


This range used to be the original Mercedes G-Wagon, the Land Rover Defender and the Toyota Land Cruiser. While some of these vehicles are still available today, they are a shadow of themselves, their designers and makers having given in to perceived mass-market demands and fitting them with for a true off-roader unspeakable things such as independent suspensions, every computer system is known to man and plush leather seating to make the vehicles fit or the urban jungle – rather than the real one. The true 4x4 off-road vehicle was a member of a rapidly dying species – until recently.

Enter Jim Ratcliffe – chemical engineer, entrepreneur, billionaire, CEO of INEOS, one of the foremost chemicals companies in the world. He decided that there is a gap in the market that was left wide open after the makers of the G-Wagon etc., had refocused their products on soccer mums and dads and city slickers alike. So, he founded the INEOS car division and set off to have the team around Dirk Heilman, the CEO of the division, develop a modern take on the Land Rovers, Land Cruisers and G-Wagons as they were before they became fashionable.


The stunning result is the INEOS Grenadier. With the benefit of being able to start with a blank piece of paper when designing the vehicle, the design team seemed to borrow a page out of Mercedes’ book with a “the best or nothing” approach for all vital components:

  • The engines are sourced from BMW but are adapted for less power and more torque
  • ZF supplies the gearboxes and delivers the power
  • Two beam axles were sourced from Carraro, better known for building axles for heavy-duty tractors and the like

The components are paired with a no-nonsense, somewhat boxy exterior design which shows a lot of resemblance of the former off-road greats. To top it off, the integration and development are done by Magna-Steyr in Austria, which has had some profound experience with developing the most iconic 4x4’s around: the original and current G-Wagon and the Pinzgauer.


Add to that an inside that is both practical and comfortable with retro style buttons that remind the casual observer of an airplane cockpit rather than a car interior. The idea behind these rather coarse-looking knobs, buttons and switches is maximum ease of use. So rather than looking for a specific function that has been buried in the 5th level of a menu system that only a software specialist may be able to penetrate, the Grenadier offers real buttons - easy to use and easy to repair – just like it used to be.

When the 4x4 is released to the general public next year, it remains to be seen whether this will only be the object of desire for true off-road users or if the urban jungle will absorb it as well for its rugged charm. This will then put the motivations of Mr. Ratcliffe to the test: is there a domesticated version in the works for the future which is more tuned towards the needs of the typical SUV lover, or will he stay pure? With the purchase of the former Smart plant in France, one can safely assume that the project is in for the long run and not just a test balloon.

When the 4x4 is released to the general public next year, it remains to be seen whether this will only be the object of desire for true off-road users or if the urban jungle will absorb it as well for its rugged charm. This will then put the motivations of Mr. Ratcliffe to the test: is there a domesticated version in the works for the future which is more tuned towards the needs of the typical SUV lover, or will he stay pure? With the purchase of the former Smart plant in France, one can safely assume that the project is in for the long run and not just a test balloon.

Happy Off-roading!