INEOS Grenadier – Australian Offroad Review

By Robert Pepper 17 Min Read

When was the last time a brand new carmarker was created purely to bring to market a dedicated offroad vehicle? Never, far as I can recall, and that’s why the INEOS Grenadier is so special and was so anticipated.

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I said ‘was anticipated’, because now Grenadiers are in Australia, delivered to owners and being used as intended. There’s no press cars yet, as INEOS have decided to put the early vehicles into the hands of owners rather than run a press fleet, a wise move in my view and no doubt that decision was aided by the fact early vehicles need a software update.

What’s the story?

Fortunately for me, two of my supporters offered me the chance to look over and drive their vehicles, and so it was one fine Saturday morning I found myself behind the wheel of a Grenadier less than 24 hours after the owner picked it up. I was able to explore its offroad potential, and since then I’ve put it up against a Defender L663, Patrol Y62 and LC300 GR Sport so I’m able to report on its offroad capability. I’ve also hosted an owner interview on my YouTube channel, and chatted to quite a few other owners, and INEOS PR have answered quite a few (thirty of so!) of my questions.  This review will look only at offroad performance, and we’ll get into touring capability in a follow-up.

Ineos Grenadier recap

So let’s begin with a brief recap. The Grenadier is a ground-up design with a separate chassis, progressive-coil-sprung live axles front and rear and all-wheel-drive. Major components are sourced from world leaders and include a 8-speed ZF auto, Carrao axles, BMW engines in both petrol and diesel, and a Tremec-built transfer case with four positions. That’d be familiar to any older Defender or Discovery owner; centre diff unlocked high and low, centre diff locked high and low. There’s your first trap, driving in low range not realising the centre diff doesn’t lock automatically, something which has caught out quite a number of experienced 4×4 people on Land Rovers and even on the Toyotas like the LC300 and some Prados.  The transfer-case flexibility is good though, so the four positions are a great feature as it the fact it’s a stubby level not a button or dial

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I think we can all agree we like this little lever, no?

Grenadier tyres

Tyres are 265/70/17, not quite as tall as they should be for a focused offroader, but still decent and a common size. Glad to see 17s fitted, don’t know if 16s will fit but these days it doesn’t really matter. I’d be hugely disappointed if the car came standard with 20s and you had to struggle to fit 18s – but no maker of 4x4s would do something so ridiculous, would they? Owners are fitting 285/70/17 but I’m not sure if that requires wider offset wheels and thus flares.

Clearance matters

Ground clearance is claimed to be 264mm, but my tape measure says it’s more like 245mm. For some bizarre reason INEOS refuse to accept reality and insist it’s 264mm as they measure from the fuel tank, not under the diff or steering damper…just ignore the 264mm figure, it’s wrong according to the tape measure and also according to the ADR definition of ground clearance instead of running clearance.  Still, 245mm is very good, better than the 220mm you find under similar vehicles with a live axle. The diffs are flat-bottomed too, a nice little slidey bonus in tough conditions. Approach and departure angles are good, and the underbody is well organised with on exception we’ll get to later.

Gadgets and gizmos

Electronics are minimal. There is of course brake traction control, ESC and hill decent control. There is no adaptive terrain system similar to Land Rover’s Terrain Response, just an ‘offroad mode’ which does things like disable seatbelt warnings and ESC.  Adaptive terrain systems are not actually needed, but if done well can certainly aid capability even if I feel some (many!?) are more tick-the-box features from marketing than engineering driven designs. There is a useful wading mode which disables the engine fan and DPF. The ‘snorkel’ is definitely not sealed so it’s a RAI (Raised Air Intake), and many owners are reporting the indicator lights fall out and even the bolts in one case, but the wading depth is a decent 800mm. Why oh why do carmakers bother with RAIs? Have they never seen their bonnets disappear underwater?

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There is a touchscreen of course, but it’s a bit different to the usual because a) it has lots and lots of actually useful information and b) you don’t need to touch it, you can use the rocker pad instead and c) it works with gloves, I tested it. It’d probably take a day to go through everything on that screen so I won’t try in this article, but it’s actually interesting and useful for the most part, well done INEOS.

Red winch

The winch is a custom 12,000lb unit from RED Winches controlled by a remote, not a standard lowmount and it has only 12m – yes, TWELVE meters – of useable rope and won’t run if the engine is off or the transmission is in Park, all this to protect the car. So you know that time you were deep in the poo with a dead engine and dragged yourself out by sacrificing a battery? Forget it with the Grenadier, even if the rope would reach. And you can barely see, let alone access what little winch rope there is.  So, great winch, very poor integration, seems like a late-addition afterthought to me.  And 12,000lb is overkill, 9500lb would have been fine, there’s such a thing as snatch ring from, let me think, RED Winches! What is it with oversized winches these days, save your money and weight people!

The vehicle has, and massive kudos to INEOS here, two recovery points at the front and two at the rear, rated for 4000kg and 3500kg respectively.  Oddly, the front ones don’t fully accept a 4.75t AS2741 shackle unless the pin is inserted from below, an oversight in my view, but otherwise all four are well-placed.

The only way a 4.75t shackle fits on the front. This is not what you want to frig around with when it’s dark, the car is deep in mud and you’re doing it by feel. Ask me know I know. Why couldn’t it be just 15mm or so greater diameter?!

Grenadier trim

There are three grades of Grenadier; ‘Grenadier’, the base model, Trialmaster, and Fieldmaster. The Trailmaster includes  a bunch of options like front and rear cross-axle lockers, tow pack, roof ladder etc and is popular as most people would add that gear anyway. Fieldmaster has 18″ alloys and is the ‘luxury’ version.  The base model is $110,000 plus onroads, and we’ll come to the value equation in the next article but let’s just say anything that makes the LC300 look inexpensive is, well, you know.

Offroad potential

So how does the Grenadier go offroad? Let’s start with the progressive-sprung suspension which flexes beautifully right up to its maximum which is about what you’d expect from a beam axle and a five-link rear end.

Vehicle shown with sidesteps, factory rocksliders are an option. INEOS tell me you can actually jack the car on the sidesteps at the mount points only, but anywhere along the rockslides.

The Grenadier doesn’t have the flex of say a Puma Defender or Wrangler Rubicon, which also boasts a swaybar disconnect missing from the Grenadier. Once the flex limit is reached, the Grenadier has to rely on its brake traction control which is average by 2023 standards, not as good as Land Rover or Toyota, but better than Isuzu’s efforts, albeit that’s not a hard bar to clear. 

Fortunately, most owners will have bought the Trialmaster variant which comes with front and rear cross-axle lockers, optional on the other two grades. Unfortunately, brake traction control is disabled on the front axle when the rear locker is engaged, so it’s twin-locked and little steering, or no lockers and steering. You also cannot engage the lockers in high range, and it must also be rear-first, then front, I know why they do that but as an offroad driver, I disagree.

When it comes time to disconnect the lockers the indicator lights take ages to go out unless you turn or slip the wheel as INEOS chose to rely on wheel speed differences to put the indicator light out. This is far from ideal, you want your lockers in and out and demonstrably so, no messing around, and made worse by the fact the switches are in the roof, something you’d get used to but I feel is a useability miss. More on that here.

The Grenadier’s throttle control is very good, no problem metering out the torque and there’s power power power the moment you demand it. The gears work well too, defaulting to 2nd low to pull away, and you can select third or second high.  Sensibly, there are no steering wheel paddles which are useless on 4x4s, only proper manual control of the 8-speed ZF auto via the BMW gear selector.  The vehicle will let you drive through the brakes too, a left-foot-braking technique – I think LFB is overused these days but it has its place, particularly in hill starts. Engine braking is very, very good, a superb crawl ratio of 56:1 (guess that’s why it defaults to a 2nd-low pullaway) and there’s variable-speed hill descent control, but unfortunately that disables when lockers are engaged.

The seating position is great, as is visibility over the squared-off bonnet; it’s like a modern Defender Puma, or a better version of the G-Wagen, absolutely brilliant and confidence-inspiring. Steering offroad is near to ideal, nicely damped and plenty of feedback, but the damper itself is oddly low and easily damaged – really needs a proper bashplate.

Steering damper has hit the ground, very easy to do. Imagine if it’d have been a rock. You’d have had to use that 12m of winch rope doubled back to bend it into shape.

It’s a good thing the visibility is great as the turning circle of an LC300 is 11.8m. That’s for context. The L76 is 12.5m. The Defender Puma 110 is 12.8m. More context. The Grenadier is 13.5, which is frankly appalling but not a major issue for Australia. Driving tip; unlock the centre diff if you need to negotiate a tight mountain hairpin as you can be in low range with the centre unlocked, and it’s a campsite-friendly drive mode too, no ripping up of the grass. And handy for slow-speed work with heavy trailers.

Ineos Grenadier conclusion

So how does the Grenadier stack up against the competition as a pure offroader, leaving aside price, payload and everything else? Pretty well is the answer, better than the average tourer but it’s not an absolute weapon, at the level of the best of the touring class such as the LC300 GR or the specialists like the Wrangler Rubicon. But it doesn’t need to be; it’s designed as a working 4×4, a tourer, not playing in the Rubicon space.  Add in the cross-axle locking diffs and it’s even better, but the brake traction control is a little weak compared to the best on the market so I’ve found the Grenadier has more need to rely on its lockers than say the LC300, Y62 or Defender. As for the LC70s, well they’re nowhere near as capable as the Grenadier unless Toyota have radically improved things with the 4-cylinder which I’ve yet to drive.

I have a litmus test for 4x4s, and that is to consider a situation where I need to drive deep into the Victorian High Country, in the dark and wet, to fetch out a loved one. Would I trust the Grenadier with that job. Absolutely, yes I would. It’s not only got great offroad capability but it’s got a lot of supplementary positives such as a proper parkbrake and a lockable centre diff, so I can trust it when I’m parked on a steep downhill chainsawing a tree out of the way.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, despite me being a huge technology proponent I’m yet to see any clever center clutch outperform a locked center differential, and it’s more reliable too, so again, thanks INEOS.

Adding to the sense of security is that I know the car is controllable, for example if I need to send it up a hill and select fourth low, then it’ll stay in fourth low and not change gears on me so I lose traction. The Grenadier is the sort of 4×4 that makes me want to trust it in tough situations, and I don’t just mean tough terrain. That’s more than I can say for some other vehicles which are immensely capable offroad but don’t back it up with controllability and a sense of designed reliability; it’s important to understand that for a working, touring 4×4 you’d often rather have ‘bushability’ over pure rough-terrain traversal ability.

In the next article we’ll look at touring capability, value, accessories, payload and more. I’d say ‘stay tuned’ but nobody tunes radios any more, so ‘stay subscribed!’ In the meantime, you can watch a video review:

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Robert Pepper is an independent automotive journalist specialising in 4x4s, camping, towing, fast cars, and tech. Robert’s mission is to make these high-risk activities safer through education informed by his own experience and a commitment to inclusivity. He has written four books and hundreds of articles for outlets in Australia and around the world, and designed and delivered driver training courses in all aspects of offroading, towing, and car control. In order to maintain independence Robert’s current outlet is his own YouTube channel and website.
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