The new Land Rover Defender has a much broader remit than the one that went out of production a few years ago. Sure, it can still handle the rough stuff, but the luxury and technology side of the equation has been cranked right up, as has the price – the range starts at £45,240.
But what if you don’t want all the new fripperies? What if you need a vehicle whose sole focus is all the utilitarian, roughty toughty stuff? The answer these days typically lies in a pick-up, but Ineos Automotive – the four-wheeled offshoot of a chemical company – is banking on a decent number of buyers wanting a ‘true successor’ to the Defender. So it made one.
The Ineos Grenadier is the vehicle in question, revealed this week in official images for the first time. It looks incredibly similar to the old Defender, with a few Mercedes G-Class hints, which might be a side effect of Magna Steyr being involved.
Magna, the company responsible for producing the first and second-generation versions of the boxy G-Wagen, is Ineos’ engineering partner. On the engine front, BMW will be supplying inline-six petrol and diesel uniots mated to ZF automatic gearboxes.
Those are the right kind of companies to partner with, but Ineos’ own team is a little lighter on automotive experience. The endeavour is fronted by Dirk Heilmann, an Ineos employee for 20 years who is taking on a car industry role for the first time. Speaking to Car Throttle sister publication Auto Express, Heilmann reckoned this was both a good and a bad thing.
“We’ve got a very talented bunch of automotive designers and engineers we’re working very closely with, which is massively beneficial and helpful, he said, adding, “But equally, I think, being from a different industry and thinking about things in a slightly different way, I think that’s also helped a lot as well.”
Meanwhile, chief designer Toby Ecuyer was originally an architect and was designing superyachts not so long ago. “If you can design one thing, you can design another…So, if you can design a toaster well, I think you can design a car really well, too. I think it’s more to do with your designing principles than anything else,” he said.
Although Magna will do much of the development work, assembly will take place in Bridgend, Wales. Beyond that, we don’t know a whole lot, but the project still has some way to go, with first customer deliveries not expected to take place until 2022.
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