When Daimler pulled back from complete ownership of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team in 2021, team principal Toto Wolff and Sir Jim Ratcliffe stepped in, each man taking a 33.3% share. That Ratcliffe is the owner of chemicals giant Ineos, the same gentlemen who wanted to buy the Land Rover Defender tooling, and when he couldn’t, opened a division called Ineos Automotive to build the Grenadier off-roader. These few degrees of separation is how we get video of the CEO going for a spin in the Grenadier with Mercedes-AMG F1 driver Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Now, we all know how these things go — charismatic, paid ambassador stomps on some pedals, squeals some tires, throws some dirt, then says things that start with, “I wasn’t expecting …” and “I was really impressed by ….” And yes, that happens here. However, the scenes between the talky bits suggest the Grenadier could be as well sorted as the CEO wants us to believe. For an SUV born to be a near-basic workhorse on the farm or construction site or overland expedition in the vein of the old Defender, Hamilton puts the Grenadier through a few moves no one would try in the Landie unless they were dodging bullets. We haven’t driven the Grenadier, so we can’t be sure. What we know is that we’re intrigued. Ratcliffe could merely have been delivering sound bites for the camera, but even he said, “We didn’t know it was going to be as good as it is on the road.”
The Grenadier is now in production at the company’s facility in Hambach, France. Deliveries are expected to commence next month, reports indicating the rig will arrive in the U.S. next year. Built on the hardcore basics of a ladder-frame chassis with 10.4 inches of ground clearance stock, two solid axles, and a locking center diff standard, a coil spring suspension improves pavement attitude and the options sheet will offer locking front and rear diffs. Two BMW engines will be offered in international markets, the B58 3.0-liter inline-six gas engine with 282 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque that we know from rides like the BMW X7 and Toyota Supra, and the B57 3.0-liter diesel with 245 hp and 406 lb-ft. Both shift through a ZF eight-speed transmission retuned to emphasize torque delivery early in the rpm band. We Americans will just get just the gas engine.
Ineos Automotive’s site signals the company is prioritizing customer service as much as all-terrain handling. The base warranty is five years with no mileage mentioned, although 60,000 miles is the rumored figure. The paint’s warrantied for three years — strange for a workhorse, the anti-perforation warranty against rust lasts for 12. Having partnered with parts workshops and parts logistics companies, the company says stores will stock common bits and “we’ll aim to provide delivery in maximum 48 hours for any we don’t have on the shelf.” There will be “Flying Spanners” technicians to fly to remote locations for emergency service. And talk about right to repair: Every component in every Grenadier is “broken down on screen in the online interactive animated 3D repair manual,” and a maintenance tech team at Ineos will take calls and online queries.
The base load-lugger Grenadier wagon with two seats starts at £55,000 in the UK, the standard five-seater starts at £58,000, the latter sum £1,280 less than the base Jeep Wrangler Unlimited over there, £4,710 less than a base Toyota Land Cruiser. Early pricing for U.S. models is expected early next year, the U.S. configurator is open now.