People like stuff – stuff that they will never fully utilise, stuff that is over-engineered, over specified, but purchased fundamentally because it tickles their technical fancy and their sheer, sometimes illogical desire to own, with the added kudos of bragging rights and an overt signature of their good taste.
Watches are bought that can withstand being hundreds of feet under water – jackets are bought that can keep you cosy in minus twenty and duvets are bought that would keep you warm in the northernmost igloo.
The reality is you won’t wear your watch in the shower, you live in a temperate climate and the temperature in your three-bedroom semi rarely dips into the icy realms of Antarctica - Yep, we slightly exaggerate our life demand.
I can recall having conversations with fellow motorheads on creating our ideal car/motorcycle, the amalgamated end product comprising of our accumulated best of everything, its reality never coming to being, lost amid the ether of the hostelry we were ensconced.
There’s a lot of wisdom in pubs, their walls absorbing the genius of many, much of it never making it beyond the high stool. When Sir Jim Ratcliffe retired to his favourite hostelry, his mind-meanderings had a tad more gravitas than that of us dreamers. Sir Jim had the means to bring into reality his desire to create the ultimate work/service/lifestyle/utilitarian 4X4 and make it available to those who knew the difference between street fashion and work-function.
Sir Jim’s mind-musings in that Kensington pub have resulted in me now sharing the company of the visually familiar and substantial Grenadier, a 4x4 “built on purpose” at its new assembly plant in Hambach, Northern France.
Never was a tag-line more appropriate, with every aspect of the Grenadier placed and planned to offer the end-user the ultimate on competency when the ground underfoot gets rebellious. And while it is a very comfortable drive, it never loses the reason for its existence – this vehicle thrives where others will falter or refuse and, in that difference, will lie its greatest criticisms, for no other reason that we have been pampered for decades now with what could be described as the over-civilising of the work-themed 4x4.
The ingredients that Sir Jim has purposefully installed in the Grenadier is worth noting, the result of their amalgamation delivering the very unique character of this latest entry into the utilitarian segment.
The Grenadier stands on a ladder-frame chassis, which carries four levels of anti-corrosion, Carraro beam axels front and rear, a steering system that requires understanding, coil spring suspension, three differentials, bespoke Recaro seating, all congregated together with modern accompaniments, without the oversight and intrusion of as many as he could ditch of modern-day electronic control units.
What makes a Grenadier
Formats: 5-seat Passenger, 2 & 5 seat Commercial and 5-seat Quartermaster Crew-Cab
Drive Type: All Wheel-Drive
Steering System: Recirculating ball set-up
Engine Choice: 3.0 litre BMW, in-line 6-cyclinder turbo-petrol: 3.0 litre, in-line, 6-cylinder twin-turbo diesel
Power: (P) 286bhp, (D) 249bhp
Torque; (P) 332Nm, (D) 550Nm
Transmission: 8-speed ZF Automatic
Fuel Capacity: 90 litres
Cargo space, 1,152 litres expanding to 2,035 litres
Suspension: Five-link set-up front and rear with Eibach progressive rate coil springs
Wheels: 17” steel as standard, with option of 18” steel and 17” plus 18” Alloys
Tyres: Bridgestone or BF Goodrich all-terrain
Length: 4897 mm
Ground Clearance: 264mm
Wade Height: 800mm
Approach Angle: 35.5degrees
Departure Angle: 36.1 degrees
Turning Circle: 13.5 metres
Ground Clearance: 264mm
Unladen Weight: 2665 - 2736 kg
Gross Weight Limit: 3,500kgs
Price: €71,995 two-seat model: €99,995 five-seat version
On walking to the Grenadier, there is a familiarity vibe that is both reassuring and intriguing. There is no attempt in its design profile to be brutish or overly muscular, if anything, the rectangular shape simply falls into what we have come to expect from a work-focused 4x4.
Get up close to the Grenadier and a number of features introduce themselves. The three-piece front bumper that allows for those individual sections to be changed should contact damage necessitate – the rear coming in five sections. Subtly fixed at the front can be the optional, military grade, Red Winch, rated at five tonnes, for those with rescue or rampage on their mind.
LED headlights, with a signature gapped halo, plus two built-in spotlights in the grill provide a simple face to the Grenadier, its indented name on each side of the bonnet. Down each side the door carry luggage rails for optional cases, the additional roof bars welcomed by those with adventure on their mind. At the rear, identical left and right circular light clusters, which are interchangeable rest aside the 70/30 split rear doors, the spare wheel hanging on the larger, coming with an optional, handy lockable storage area.
Before you see inside, you must get inside, and here the Grenadier reminds you of its reason for living – it’s a stretch. Owners are definitely encouraged to opting for the side step to aid their entrance - and I’m a 34-leg!!
Once in, the bespoke Recaro seats hug you without seeking to crush your kidneys, the manual adjustment on the seat and steering easily securing a good driving position, when your hands can fall easily to the brown leather steering wheel. The view forward is excellent, even though the windscreen doesn’t have as much glass area as the competitors.
The drivers console, centre console and roof console, all perform specific functions. The no-nonsense approach by INEOS is all here, each button and switch deliberately placed and clearly marked, robustly designed to be activated by a gloved finger. It should be noted that the Grenadier has roughly one-third of the ECU’s currently found in a similar competitor, such is the intent on keeping it honest to its reliability and functional ethos.
Tech buffs will be happy with the centre-screen being home to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and there will be no complaints from anyone who fancy themselves as an Apache Attack helicopter pilot, with the roof console switches, all of which operate optional auxiliary equipment and the differentials, the vast majority of which activated when the vehicle is stationary.
Those who live in the mud and muck can remove bungs in the floor and hose away evidence of their past.
On the Road
Powered by BMW’s straight-six, twin-turbo diesel and driven through an 8-seed ZF transmission, the focus of INEOS and their Holy Grail search and marriage of the best of the best is again clearly apparent. Albeit Sir Jim is a one-third owner of Mercedes Formula 1, their research and objectives steered them to the compatibility of the BMW units in preference to anything else.
My test car was running of BF Goodrich knobblies, the choice of road-friendly Bridgestone boots also available. Soon after taking off, one factor becomes apparent – this yoke has a mind of its own, its steering-box requiring more driver input than the conventional and more common, rack and pinion system. Effectively, the steering-box requires the driver to centralise it, its robust design able to cope with the demands of the Grenadier’s utilitarian intent.
Drivers must abandon all soft-road experience they have once in charge of the Grenadier. That’s not to say it is uncivilised, the opposite in fact, its manners are nigh-on impeccable once you understand its true reason for living. Minor steering correction on the open road become the norm, all the while the ride quality of surprisingly good and mysteriously quiet, with little road noise intruding into the cabin.
My surprise was on secondary road, where the steering was no issue and the Grenadier could be hustled along with enthusiasm – it really is a well sorted out driving machine.
Planning and judgement are required in the urban environ, as the Grenadier’s turning circle requires more space than one might be used to, 13.5metres to be exact. Add in the steering characteristic and your get informed of the Grenadiers hidden talent, heavy-duty axels and beefy differentials need space.
Pointing the Grenadier off-road and it immediately demonstrates its raison d’etre. Quiet, without a creak or a rattle, it doesn’t attack up or down gradients, it simply ignores them. Locking all the differentials and I watched as it climbed a grassy slope that no other 4x4 could manage. Having driven it off-road and talked to many more experienced than I amid the giggle-weeds, all were of the same opinion – the nearest vehicle to the Grenadier is the Mercedes-Benz Unimog.
Given that this is the effective ‘Mark 1 Grenadier, it is a seriously accomplished companion on or off-road. INEOS will undoubtedly learn from the customer feedback and polish any of its aspects that require buffing. Those with a heavy vehicle, farming and construction background, will nod to themselves,
Having driven every 4x4 on and off-road over my thirty years of motor journalism, the Grenadier is unquestionably the best I’ve every seen or experienced. I could easily live with its road persona, all the while itching to find a hill to climb or a track to traverse. Those buying a Grenadier to go shopping have just walked into the finest Chinese restaurant and ordered scramble eggs – missing the point and then complaining about the menu.
can’t wait for the mark 2.