Let’s just kick this off, by saying newcomer 4×4 brand, Ineos, expects its upcoming Quartermaster ute to be just as popular as the Grenadier. The wagin that is now roaming Aussie roads as a Land Rover-inspired counterpunch to the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series. And all manner of well-worn live axle off-roaders.
Due across the 29-strong Ineos network around the second quarter of 2024, the Quartermaster is an important next step for the fledgling brand that has already delivered almost 1000 cars to eager adventurers and those who need a dependable and capable work vehicle.
With live axles, a ladder frame architecture and the availability of triple locking diffs, the Grenadier has proven instantly popular in a market segment that has shrunk in options but continues to grow in popularity.
And the company expects the Quartermaster ute to continue the momentum.
“I’m thinking that it’s going to be approximately 50-50 (Grenadier) wagon to (Quartermaster) dual-cab,” says Ineos Asia Pacific boss Justin Hocevar. “The reality is the dual-cab market is much bigger – but it’s also very competitive.”
Quartermaster to forge a new path
Hocevar believes the Quartermaster plays in some relatively clear air in the bustling Aussie ute segment.
At $110,000 plus on-road costs it sits above the big name Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux but it undercuts most of the American large pick-ups such as the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.
“We sit in a neat space there,” says Hocevar, while acknowledging that the coil sprung rear suspension has pros and cons.
“We don’t have straight out of the box one-tonne payload. Five-link coilover rear-end; it’s a compromise to get better roadholding.”
Focus on the bush
Key to the Ineos positioning is starting wide to ultimately attract city slickers.
Of 29 agents (what most people would consider a dealership, except when you purchase the vehicle you’re buying it directly from head office rather than the agent) in Australia, 24 of them are in regional areas, with the remaining five in capital cities.
“We really wanted to penetrate into regional Australia to send a strong message to the market that we think we’re a legitimate player to have a crack at – over time – earning a right to play in regional Australia,” says Hocevar.
“We think that’s where credibility is won, that’s where the ten-thousand-pound gorilla and the number one market shareholder has won their credibility.”
While the Grenadier is often compared with the old Land Rover Defender, the reality is it’s the Toyota LandCruiser 70-Series it needs to tackle in Australia.
The LC70 has huge cred and is the weapon of choice for many.
The Grenadier is tens of thousands of dollars more expensive, but Hocevar believes the extra equipment justifies the spend; even basic things such as rated recovery points and accessory mounting points are standard.
Whereas people turn to the aftermarket for so much with the LC70, the Grenadier comes better prepared – and offers a range of accessories backed by the factory.
Hocevar says the average buyer is spending $4000-5000 on accessories when buying a Grenadier.
A local inspiration?
Ineos Australia is also looking at some local inspiration for models.
The Grenadier is currently available as the plain old Grenadier or you can option the Trialmaster or Fieldmaster packs, each commanding a $13,000 premium.
The Trialmaster is more off-road, with locking front and rear diffs to match the standard centre diff lock, raised air intake, ladder and a second battery.
The Fieldmaster is more luxury, with leather, alloy wheels and safari windows above the front seat occupants.
But down the track there could be more, with Hocevar confirming the company is considering some local packs or models.
“In time we’d like to be able to play with limited editions to find out what works,” he says.
He believes the Quartermaster ute could be a good canvas to build on.
“A white cab-chassis with diff locks, cloth interior and at the right price point that could be something that works really well for us,” says Hocevar.
Keeping things rolling…
For now, though, Ineos is focused on ironing out some early teething problems, some related to software.
The company says software upgrades being rolled out in the last few weeks of 2023 will address those issues.
Then it’s down to the business of signing up more buyers.
Already anyone ordering a Grenadier today will likely be told they won’t take delivery until Q2 2023.
But the company wants to keep the interest ticking along, something that involves getting people to splash out big bucks on a 4×4 that’s likely to be punished by many owners.
Getting the basics right
Going off our latest drive at the media launch there’s plenty to get excited about.
The BMW six-cylinder turbo engines – either petrol or diesel – are terrific accompaniments.
The 210kW/450Nm petrol engine muscles up nicely and is surprisingly well suited to 2.7 tonnes of off-road wagon. There’s no shortage of thrust – BMW engines are known for their flexibility – although its 90-litre fuel tank may not provide the touring range some want from their adventure machine.
That’s where the 183kW/550Nm diesel makes more sense. It’s got more grunt down low and uses less fuel, two things that clearly work better when you’re in the scrub.
We lugged a 2.2-tonne trailer with the diesel and it did it easily, the eight-speed auto expertly sniffing out the full 550Nm.
Of course, the Grenadier is a 4×4 that calls for a basic understanding of what’s happening at ground level – and some mechanical knowledge.
Ineos Traction Control
The traction control system in the Ineos Grenadier isn’t particularly well tuned, so get it cross-axled and it can be left spinning wheels.
Locking diffs solve that problem, although they can be finnicky to engage. There’s a process that needs to be followed, at which point you’ve got supreme traction. Again, it pays to understand what’s going on because it’s not as set-and-forget as many modern off-roaders.
Sticking with tradition
That old school flavour is a big part of the appeal with the Grenadier.
It’s a car that will reward those who work with it and learn to extract the capability within.
It’s also a car that has a solid foundation with a respectable payload. With a 3550kg gross vehicle weight it can carry about 850kg, depending on the model you choose.
So even if you throw a few hundred kilos of accessories at it you should still have half a tonne of payload to play with.
Really, though, the Grenadier’s biggest challenge is getting on the shortlist of the 4×4 brigade.
It’s not cheap and it comes with unknowns, some of which will only be solved by time in market and word of mouth.
But looking at the engineering effort and bush-focused approach of the brand, the Grenadier at least appears to be getting off on the right foot.