There isn't any love lost between Land Rover and INEOS Automotive. Jim Radcliffe had barely announced his aspiration to build a thoroughly proper off-roader inspired by the original Defender before things turned legal. And, very soon after, slightly surreal - with the revelation that Land Rover had never actually got around to trademarking the shape of the original Defender while it was in production. When JLR tried to do that posthumously, and likely stop what had then become INEOS Automotive in its tracks, the larger company got slapped down by the Intellectual Property Office, which decided that the famous original wasn't sufficiently different from other 4x4 models to justify award of a trademark. Ouch.
Now INEOS has released images of what the finished Grenadier will look like, and it's fair to say the inspiration is pretty obvious. Yes, it is different from the previous Defender - and by what the company reckons is a sufficient amount to end legal wrangling - but the basics of the flat-topped wings, twin round headlights, angular sides and (almost) flat glass are strikingly familiar. It certainly looks much closer to the design of the original Defender than Land Rover's new, life-stylish version does.
The Grenadier might have begun as a billionaire's fancy - funded by the one of the UK's richest men and named after the pub in London the original idea was hatched in - but well before release of the official images it had become a very serious project. It is being developed with the help of Magna Steyr in Austria, which knows a serious amount about building genuine off-roaders, will be powered by BMW engines, use a ZF autobox and be constructed in a purpose-built plant in Bridgend with the aim being to create up to 25,000 cars a year - considerably more than the old Defender was managing for the last years of its life.
The company's stated aim is to build a vehicle that will appeal to buyers in need of genuine utility, "UV, not SUV" as commercial director Mark Tennant puts it. A group that has found itself short of choices as traditional carmakers have increasingly moved towards softer-focused lifestyle SUVs. The target is to create a vehicle for farmers and emergency services, but also NGOs and international charities trying to reach hard-to-access places. Tennant acknowledges there will also be buyers drawn to something so rugged without needing that level of utility, but the car won't be compromised around the needs of such users.
We've already been told that the specification will include a ladder chassis, permanent four-wheel drive, a mechanical transfer box and the ability to tow up to 3.5-tonnes. Both diesel and petrol BMW six-cylinder engines will be offered and the development team are even working on creating an electrical PTO to allow machinery to be powered by the engine. And although there is no confirmation of different wheelbases, the fact the INEOS has chosen to show a double-row pick-up version alongside the five-door estate makes clear how flexible the core architecture is - making a SWB version look like a safe bet.
The pictures make it clear how important utility has been in defining the look of the car. The belt lines on the doors are functional and able to carry loads, allowing items to be mounted on them, and it will be possible to take them off entirely when operating in very hot environments. The integrated roof bars allow loads to be carried without a rack - although one can be added - and the flat-topped front wings are strong enough to take a person's weight. All Grenadiers will have pre-fitted wiring for extra lights, as well as supplementary grille lights as standard. Light units aren't handed, making replacing them in the field easier if broken.
At the back the Grenadier gets a vertically split tailgate which will give a much wider aperture than the old Defender managed, with the boot sized to accommodate a standard Euro pallet. An optional rear ladder mounts directly to the smaller door, with the larger one carrying a full-sized spare wheel on a carrier. Look closely at the rear side of the car and you'll also see a small drop-down panel that gives external access to a storage box incorporated within the boot for wet or smelly items. And although we don't have any images of the interior yet, the team promise it will indeed be possible to hose the Grenadier out. All in all, about as old-school an off-roader as it's possible to imagine.
Key to the Grenadier's success (or failure) will be international sales, with the company committing to the considerable costs of homologating it for the United States. We will have to wait for news on pricing, although it seems certain that the Grenadier will overlap heavily with the new Defender. Both are very different cars intended for very different markets, but given their shared inspiration comparisons are inevitable. As are the 'Pretender' jibes.
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