British chemical giant Ineos developed the Grenadier, its first car, as a no-nonsense off-roader that picks up where classic 4x4s left off. It proved its point by displaying a prototype next to some of the models that inspired it.
Autoblog frantically searched for the Grenadier on this year's edition of the Tour de France but we found no trace of it. That's because it posed for a quick photo with the Ineos cycling team in Nice and quickly made its way back to its native England to participate in the posh Concours d'Elegance held at the Hampton Court Palace in London. It's a little bit out of its element in this atmosphere, a long-wheelbase Land Rover Range Rover or a second-generation Mercedes-Benz G-Class would undoubtedly feel more at home parked in front of a mansion, but Ineos saw the event as a golden opportunity to show how the Grenadier measures up to the classics.
Seeing the Grenadier parked next to a 1988 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, a 1980 Toyota FJ40, a 1944 Willys Jeep, and the first production Land Rover (a Series I) puts its dimensions and proportions into context. It dwarfs the Series I and the Willys, and it's comfortably bigger than the FJ40. It looks reasonably close in size to the first G, and the two off-roaders share a handful of styling cues, including round headlights and nearly flat fenders.
- INEOS Grenadier Image 1b EMBARGO 00.01 BST 1 JULY 2020
One well-known off-roader wasn't invited to the party: the original Land Rover Defender, successor to the Series models. Odds are its invitation didn't get lost in the mail. Land Rover sued Ineos over the Grenadier's design and lost the case in August 2020. And of course the classic Land Rover box was ticked by the Series I. Interestingly, the Grenadier wouldn't have been developed had Land Rover agreed to sell Ineos the rights to build the original Defender after it ended production in 2016 to develop the new-generation model.
Ineos explained all of the aforementioned classics inspired its car-building division as it created the Grenadier.
"At the outset of the Grenadier project, we brought some of the great 4x4s of the past into the studio to look closely at what made them so enduring. And now, it's fantastic to see Grenadier in the company of these legends. You can see common design traits and proportions, and certainly the same clarity of purpose. I think the Grenadier sits very naturally among these 4x4 icons, and if others agree, then we've achieved our design objective," explained Toby Ecuyer, Ineos Automotive's head of design, in a statement.
Ineos will continue testing Grenadier prototypes in the coming months. It wants its fleet to log at least 1.1 million collective miles on and off the road, in some of the most remorselessly inhospitable parts of the globe. Sales will start in late 2021, though there's no indication the model will be sold in the United States, and production might take place in the same Hambach, France, factory that built the Smart ForTwo for over two decades.