The Ineos Grenadier is a new 4X4 set to fill a void in the market. A simple, durable, off-road vehicle for hard work or hard play without the fluff
Gone are the days of simple, strong ladder frame chassis with solid axle 4WD’s built for the sole purpose of hard off road work. The preferred configuration for many Farmers, Miners and 4WD enthusiasts.
Ineos Grenadier Specs at a glance (more details below)
- Wagon and double cab ute variations
- 3.5 tonne towing
- 1 tonne payload
- Strong ladder frame chassis
- 5-link independent coil suspension all round
- Solid axle front and rear (CARRARO Diffs)
- Full-time four-wheel drive with switchable high & low range
- 3.0L Diesel or Petrol straight-6 BMW engine options
- Multiple diff-locks
- 8-Speed Automatic gearbox (ZF gearboxes)
- Aluminium body panels
The Demise of Ladder Frame, Solid Axle 4WD’s
In the Australian market, the only remaining vehicles with these thoroughbred traits are the Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series (LC79), Suzuki Jimmny and Jeep Wrangler. Out of these three; only one is a true utilitarian vehicle with a 1-tonne payload made for hard work – the LC79 (Grenadier’s only competitor).
We have been watching the lineup of new live-axled 4WD’s slowly diminish over the last couple of decades. The solid-axle Hilux was one of the first to go, followed by the Landrover Defender which ceased production in 2016, as did the Nissan Patrol in its utilitarian configuration soon after that.
Usually the manufacturers ceased production due to emissions standards, so they used the opportunity to do a complete overhaul to modernise the design and add on all the mod cons that their ‘target market’ required. Like lane keep assist, cruise control, independent suspension, reverse sensors, dvd players, seat warmers etc…
In the process they often moved away from a ladder frame and solid axle design to adopt a monocoque chassis and independent suspension, common in the SUV industry.
But what about those who just wanted to keep things simple, and need a car for a purpose. The people who believe less is more? Less to go wrong? The people who want to be able to quickly make repairs in the field and keep on plugging away.
What about the people who want a simple, capable, reliable 4WD wagon or ute which meets modern day compliance, while all the parts are easily accessible? Think: Farmers, Park Rangers, Mine workers, Tour Operators, and Offroad adventurers.
Why Solid Axle?
Well, simply put – Strength, Durability and Simplicity. The axle and suspension of a 4WD in off road conditions undergo immense pressure from all the undulations and rigours of the tracks over a long period of time.
Australia is vast, and when you are in the middle of nowhere, 1000 km’s from the nearest town, the last thing you want is a suspension component to fail on you. The simpler the setup, the less to go wrong. Solid (or beam) axle’s simplicity is key to its durability.
The Grenadier’s suspension is designed to undergo the pressures from all types of terrain, while also being easily accessible for maintenance.
The Grenadier Philosophy
Ineos Grenadier, a chemical manufacturing company has identified this market segment, not just in Australia but Globally, and taken it upon themselves to make a No-BS utilitarian 4×4 Vehicle.
On their website, they say “Our philosophy since day one: function over form, every time. That’s why we’ve taken an engineering-led approach to the exterior design, following in the tyre tracks of history’s most iconic 4X4 utility vehicles.”
They are determined to learn from some of the greats that have gone before them and iterate to an even better solution for off-roaders.
“This is an off-roader that’s got capability at its core. Of course, we care how it looks, but we’re more concerned about how it works. That’s why every decision has been made with practicality in mind.” Their website continues to say.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, with Landrover taking them to court (unsuccessfully) over design similarities to the old style Defender, COVID-19 delays and big manufacturing plant changes, reportedly we should start to see Grenadier making tracks in Australia in 2021 or 2022.
The Grenadier 4×4 DNA
With capability and durability baked into its DNA, the Grenadier range of vehicles will be what us Aussies classify as a “large 4×4” not mid-range 4×4.
It will be essentially an agricultural/industry vehicle built for hard work, without all the fluff that we see in the mid-range market (ie: Hilux, Ranger, D-max etc).
Here in Australia; the Grenadier will be a direct competitor to the Toyota Landcruiser 79 series (LC79) in terms of an uncompromising basic off-road vehicle built for one purpose – hard work and to keep working when the going gets tough.
Ineos Grenadier Specs and What makes it Unique:
Grenadier’s philosophy is to choose or design components which are the best for off-road, no compromises. They partner with Engine, Gearbox & Chassis manufacturers who are experts and have proven technologies fit for this purpose.
And that trickles down to every element of the vehicle. Once testing is complete, every element will have been thoroughly tested over 1.8 Million kilometers.
Grenadier have done their research, and made the call for the launch with a 4-Door Wagon, followed soon after with a Dual Cab ute.
Which is perfect for the Australian Market, as Dual Cab utes are largely one of the most popular segments of utes.
Here is a mockup of what we think the Dual Cab ute would look like with a flat bed tray.
Note: the following specs are paraphrased from the series “Building a Grenadier” on the Ineos Grenadier website (which we highly recommend you watch)
- Engine Choice: BMW 3.0 Litre Straight-6 Diesel and Petrol options.
The BMW Straight-6 Engine is proven to meet fuel and emissions standards on every market
These engines are proven and awarded to be a solid, reliable engine that have a high amount of torque at low engine revolutions.
These engines have undergone extensive calibration and testing to meet Grenadier’s strict quality standards.
- Gear Box: 8 Speed ZF Auto Gearbox with no manual option.
However, there is a manual shift mode for those who want to change gears on the go. This gearbox is built for hard work. And suitable for most applications.
- Transfer Case: This purpose built transfer case, heart of the 4WD.
It provides Full time 4WD. So people can literally just turn off the road without any complex buttons or switches to engage 4WD. Most of its predecessors only had part time 4WD.
There will be a manual switch between high and low range, as well as manual engagement of the three differential locks. This manual option is proven to be the most reliable option over the last few decades. Less to go wrong when you are in a sticky situation.
Chassis & Axle
- Ladder Frame Chassis:
While the rest of the herd is going for a more modern Monocoque design, ushered in by the era of small SUV’s. Grenadier has chosen to go with the box section ladder frame design because of it’s proven track record for military and extreme off road use. It is strong, stiff, rugged and reliable. Ready to take larger payloads, while also ready for the attachment of extra equipment like under body protection, tow points and winches.
- Solid Axle:
Grenadier have chosen to have a solid axle (also known as beam axle) design (front and rear) which is essential for a robust off road Vehicle.
Ineos has partnered with Carraro to supply the beam axles, a manufacturer of heavy duty, reliable axles for tough 4WD vehicles including tractors.
Like the rest of the vehicle, the suspension is built for purpose. The three primary requirements were the best possible ground clearance, constant traction and articulation, while also being easily accessible. After testing many variants, they settled on a 5-link independent coil suspension all round.
The Grenadier will be able to tow up to 3.5 tonne, with a 1 tonne payload. But something that is unique is that both the Wagon and Ute will be designed to carry 1 Euro crate. Something modern day wagon 4WDs with their sleek sloping design angles can’t accommodate.
All in all, very exciting to have a new vehicle designed from the ground up for a specific purpose.
Less is More When Going Off Road
Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the mod cons that we see in modern vehicles as an everyday run-around. Things like adaptive cruise control are definitely nice on long distance drives but when you are off road, navigating undulating rocky terrain, wading through river crossings or cutting through mud, it has no use.
Some of these mod cons are just one more thing to go wrong in the middle of nowhere. One more weakness which could leave you stranded if a bit of dust gets in the sensor. Let’s face it, we don’t all have a computer science degree or the tools to diagnose and fix advanced electronics.
Grenadier Will Be a Blast from the Past, But Better!
Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Landrover Defender due to its lack of reliability over it’s lifespan, but it did have bucket loads of character! When I drove one, I could bond with it like no other vehicle I have driven before or since. Although modern day utes & 4WD’s have beautiful design languages which catch the eye, they lack that persona.
The iconic box shape of the utilitarian Defender and all it’s parts somehow made you fall in love with it. I don’t know how and I can’t explain it with words. After a couple of hours of driving it, the Defender became your best mate with a personality of its own.
Other Defender owners would give you the ‘nod of mateship’ or the steering wheel gripped index-finger ‘wave of rapport’ as you drive past each other, an act to symbolise the affinity you both share with your respective Defenders.
Something that I can’t say about the modern day 4WD’s.
The original solid-axle Defender brought out the adventurer in many of us. Something that we need again as we emerge from lockdown!
In my experience, one of the biggest issues with the old Defender is that inevitably it becomes the mate that always borrows your number 10 spanner and never returns it. The ones I experienced always had electrical gremlins, mechanical issues and oil leaks no matter how many gasket seals you throw at it.
All a part of its charm I suppose…
The Grenadier will no doubt be oozing with character and attract people who are looking for adventure! It is their mission to build upon the good, bad and ugly of its predecessors like the Defender, the Landcruiser 45 and even the old Willis Jeep. Particularly in the reliability department.
With no doubt it will bring back that mateship element that is sorely lacking in the 4WD industry nowadays.
Why Australia Needs The Grenadier
So now we finally get to why I think the world needs the Grenadier and specifically why I think Australia sorely needs it (maybe even more than other countries!)
Here it is in simple terms – because the Landcruiser 79 Series (LC79) currently has no competitor.
Recently the very capable, heavy duty Mercedes G-Professional wagon and single cab ute made an appearance on the Australian market but sadly was discontinued.
For the most part, the LC79 has stayed the same for many years. With a few minor ‘updates’ for emissions and a dashboard refresh to include a more modern head unit with sat-nav and air bags – an extra cup holder for the single-cab. They don’t even have an Automatic option!
They lost their only competition in the Australian market when the old ladder frame Defender was discontinued and when the Patrol went with a smaller capacity engine without a ute variant, which means it was no longer in competition.
So Toyota knows they don’t have to do much for Aussies to keep buying the LC79 and they can pretty much charge whatever they want, because there will always be a market for it.
There needs to be a balance, where there is light there is dark, black goes great with white and even nature relies on it when it comes to Newton’s third law of motion – every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Healthy competition is a good thing, it spurs on innovation and keeps things like price and purpose in check. If there were a viable competitor for the LC79 then maybe it will make them even better.
Have you noticed the hugely popular aftermarket alterations for the Landcruiser, things like:
- Automatic gearbox conversions
- All round coil suspension conversions
- Rear track correction conversions
Why is that?
Toyota is a massive company, yet they aren’t even planning an automatic gearbox in the LC79 for the foreseeable future. Let alone a 6th speed in the manual gearbox (notorious for revving higher than a usual V8 diesel on the highway) that it currently features.
I don’t think it’s because they can’t, I think it’s because they don’t have to. Toyota knows that us Aussies will still buy it regardless! Because we love it, we need it and there also aren’t any other options.
So why go through the hassle of updating a more than 14-year old platform in any significant manner when they know it will still sell?
But here is the kicker, I have read rumours that the LC79 V8 diesel option may get discontinued in light of tighter emission standards in the coming years.
Grenadier and Alternative Fuels
While the age of electric cars seems to be upon us, with almost every car manufacturer announcing or already producing hybrid or full electric vehicles, a new manufacturer in this market will surely have pressure on them to follow the trend.
The Grenadier is going against the battery powered electric trend and has just been confirmed to have a future with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion technology through a partnership between Inoes and Hyundai (one of the leaders in Hydrogen Fuel Cell tech).
Unlike the current popular convention of battery powered all electric vehicles, Ineos (one of the largest chemical and petrochemical producers in the world – and also the makers of the Grenadier) are banking on Hydrogen to be a more viable option in a world striving for ‘net-zero’ emissions.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology is becoming more viable every day, it’s an abundant renewable energy source, which boasts quick tank refill times, longer range from one tank refill, no charging from coal fired power grids required and zero emissions. Overall it’s a lightweight alternative than a huge range-increasing battery bank chewing up your valuable payload capacity.
The only drawback in Australia is that we are embarrassingly behind the curve when it comes to the number and dispersal of Hydrogen refueling stations.
This is a task that Hyundai Australia has set out to rectify by setting up the first automotive Hydrogen refuelling station in Australia with plans of expansion which will no doubt bring more providers to the market.
There are also other standards which could be in the foreseeable future like autonomous emergency braking which both vehicles manufacturers will have to face at some point.
The more technologies these manufacturers reluctantly have to implement as more standards are imposed on the industry, the more it subtracts from the rugged appeal of these utilitarian vehicles.
In the end though, Grenadier and the LC79 are committed to the community of us who love the raw spirit of adventure, working hard and playing even harder.
Looking To The Future
There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the Grenadier in Australia, like final price and actual dates.
The Grenadier will have to prove itself against the LC79 but it can’t do that if no one gives it a red hot go.
However we believe it is up for the challenge, with every component of the Grenadier being chosen from the best of the best to provide an ultimate 4WD platform with no compromise.
Hopefully this blog has opened your mind to a future vehicle choice that is different to the mainstream – another large format 4WD Ute and Wagon like the Toyota Landcruiser 79 series. Except it comes with an Automatic Transmission, front/back wheel tracks in-line with each other and coil all round suspension straight off the production floor.
How to Find Out More
Be sure to watch the “Building The Grenadier” production series which they are releasing in conjunction with the production timeline on the Grenadier website. It’s very informative and entertaining.
Written by Vernon van der Walt
Note the views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of Trayon Campers or Ineos Grenadier.