We’ve had a close look at the much-anticipated INEOS Grenadier’s pure offroad capability, and now it’s time to look at its suitability as a tourer. For a proper evaluation we’ll need a few months and many thousands of touring kays, but nevertheless this early look has made clear a few strengths and weaknesses.
Believe it or not, ultimate offroad capability isn’t the most important attribute for vehicle you’ll use to explore Australia, or the world for that matter. You can take any low-range 4×4, fit some high-profile all-terrains of up to 50mm taller diameter, add a suspension lift and you have a vehicle capable of tackling any 4×4 touring track in the country. You don’t need 35s, portal axles, cross-axle locking diffs, and a throttle controller or the like – fight me in the comments, or well, fight amongst yourselves as I know I’m right. Yes, all (most of) those mods will certainly improve capability, and there will be occasions you’ll be glad of the changes, but they have downsides such as weight and cost and just aren’t needed for the vast majority of recreational 4×4 driving.
What’s the story?
So as I wrote earlier, the Grenadier is well and truly capable enough offroad to be a tourer, but it’s a new vehicle from a new carmaker so we need to take a close look and see if INEOS has delivered on their much-spruiked “Built On Purpose” motto, and thus a brief recap. The Grenadier is a separate-chassis, live-axled, coil-sprung, full-time 4×4 offroader available as a wagon, or in ute form as the Quartermaster. The component list is high quality – Carraro axles, Tremec-built transfer case, BMW supply a diesel, and unusually for Australia, a petrol engine, both using the common ZF 8-speed automatic. Also rare is the option of a two-seat variant. The Grenadier is all-wheel-drive with a four-position transfer case; low and high range, and the ability to actually lock (yay!) its centre differential, and, happily, a proper parkbrake in the form of a handbrake. There are three grades, Grenadier, Trialmaster as pictured which comes with various offroad accessories, and relative-luxury Fieldmaster.
So off to a good start but as it’s 2023, our touring analysis has to start with payload which is how much the vehicle can carry. In the case of the Grenadier, the spec sheets say the GVM is 3550kg, just above 3500kg to get into NB1 vehicle category classification and avoid LCT, and maybe eke out a little more payload, and INEOS claim a tare weight of 2718kg for the diesel station wagon, giving a payload of 832kg. That figure is demonstrably incorrect according to several sets of scales in different states – I don’t know what the right payload figure is and if INEOS does, they’re not telling (at least not yet), but for the base model it’s probably closer to 782kg, and the Trialmaster offroad-oriented version, 702kg. You can see how I got to those figures in great detail here, including INEOS’s response to my findings.
Axle limits matter
The front axle load limit of 1667kg is also a little low to be comfortable as you’ll get very close to exceeding it if not over with their bar, winch and brushrails plus two people in front who enjoy a feed. The rear axle limit is great at 2150kg. However, most wagons suffer similar problems so this alone is not reason enough to discount the Grenadier, just don’t expect it to be significantly better than other low-range wagons. Roof load is good for a modern car at 150kg dynamic load, and 420kg static so rooftop tents will work nicely. And you can even put 100kg up there without racks on the strakes, which is a typical INEOS touch that I love to see, not to mention the tiedowns above the passenger windows.
Now there is a caveat to these weight figures and that is comparing like-for-like. The Trialmaster comes with various accessories, not least being a second battery so that needs to be accounted for when comparing specs between competitor vehicles, and as ever, each carmaker has a slightly different version of unladen weight making accurate comparisons very difficult. Nevertheless, the Grenadier payload figures are comparable to other 4×4 wagons, which is a bit of a disappointment given the Grenadier is very much focused as an overlander, working 4×4 and therefore I’d have thought high payload would have been a priority – maybe it was, but weight got away from them as the regulations of 2023 and their own robustness principle mean weight would have been a challenge.
Second battery and controller under the seat of the Trialmaster. There is a jumpstart post in the engine bay. The battery is 105aH AGM, unfortunately not a lithium which would save some weight.
Ineos towing ability
For those of you who tow the Grenadier looks good. Braked tow is 3500kg, but of course never go that high, towball mass is 350kg (despite what the sticker on the towbar says), and the car can even operate in low range with the centre diff unlocked for those tricky backing maneuvers, short rear overhang, torquey diesel and well-proven 8-speed auto, plus Trailer Stability Control. Current cars have been delivered with NATO plugs requiring an adaptor or rewiring, not ideal but I view that as minor in the big picture of long-term ownership and modification.
Another major Grenadier talking point is range. The tank is 90L, which isn’t massive, but the base fuel consumption is high at 10.5L/100km, nearly as much as the LC76 at 10.7, about 18% more than an LC300. There also appears to be limited space for a long-range tank, and to top it off, the car cannot accept a high-flow diesel nozzle. So once loaded with a full rack, and/or towing…don’t expect to go too far between fills. And no I don’t think “just take jerries” is a good solution, long-range tanks exist for a good reasons. So why the high consumption? Two reasons; that beautiful, boxy shape which is unfortunately terrible for aerodynamics and the offroad-oriented tyres both of which affect cruise fuel consumption in cruise, and under acceleration where aero isn’t an issue the heavy kerb weight of 2800kg requires a lot of energy to get up to speed.
Pros and cons
So far everything has been negative, but I’m now done with the disadvantages except for one which we’ll get to at the end. Now it’s time for the very long list of positives, and that starts with the accessories. There’s a huge range from INEOS themselves, all factory-warranted and crash-tested – roofrack, bullbar, rocksliders, rear table, raised air intake (albeit NOT a snorkel) and much more. I wouldn’t however say it’s everything you’d possibly want, but it’s close and many owners are very happy they have a one-stop-shop. There are aftermarket accessories rapidly appearing for the Grenadier, many in Europe and including a rooftop tent conversion, PPF wraps and storage systems, but I’ve spoke to ARB, Ironman and TJM who all tell me they have no plans to develop any accessories until they see demand. My read is that I think the INEOS and other aftermarket options will be sufficient to fit the car out as a tourer for most people, something I couldn’t say about, for example, the Range Rover. Oh and there is a winch option, but read my other Grenadier article or watch the videos below before you tick that box.
INEOS rear table option, something many owners would want.
One common problem with manufacturer-supplied accessories is that they’re often not as good as the aftermarket, which is often subjective but a case in point is the bullbar, or roo bar as INEOS term it. The vertical risers are very close to the bodywork, and there aren’t any tabs for accessories like UHF antennas or sand flags. Would be nice to have them, and neither is a dealbreaker, but as ever no two accessories are identical and each have pros and cons.
Another great point about the Grenadier is its beautiful functionalism. The INEOS press releases do not compare the Grenadier to some big cat, or talk about sensuous lines or muscular presence, there’s no gushing description of stance, and they even managed to resist using the terms “homage” and “heritage” which must be a first for any car marketer’s twitching fingers, and they don’t call everything innovative even if there’s a few things for which I’d allow them the term, like this the utility rails inside and outside the vehicle:
Instead of gushy cliches you get a box on wheels which is immensely practical and to my eyes is therefore beautiful. With the chequerplate bonnet accessory you can stand on the side of the bonnet – Defender owners know how very useful this can be!
The boot is very square, happily lacks carpet but has those utility rails – when I saw those I thought back to when I tested a Pathfinder, put a recovery box in the boot and applied a pull-down to keep it secure…only to rip the cargo barrier point off. I don’t think I’d be strong enough to pull anything apart on the Grenadier, and that I like, very much. There’s storage under the front seat, a flat dash to rest things on, a centre console and side pockets. There is even an optional spare-wheel lockable cubby box. No storage under the second row as that’s all taken up with batteries. You definitely get the feeling the Grenadier is a practical, robust, well-built vehicle.
INEOS have chosen to use barn doors as shown above, which is odd considering that’s heavy which is why Toyota, and I guess Land Rover have moved to single-piece doors. The smaller door is in my view too small to do much with, and must be opened before the larger door. I do see that the ladder can remain in place whilst the other door is opened, but personally I’ve always accessed my roofracks from the side of the car not the back. All this is personal preference, but nevertheless something to consider.
Further evidence INEOS have been thinking about practicalities comes in the form of wiring; there’s a bunch of auxiliary switches in the roof ready for customisation, and there’s also wiring ready for the roofrack. The sidesteps can be used as jacking points at their mount locations, and the rocksliders can be jacked anywhere. The roofrack has a hi-lift jack mount option, but given that, it’s odd there is no specific provision for hi-lift jack points. The infotainment system is fantastic too; lots of useful info, can be operated by glove and by rocker made so no need to use the touchscreen.
I feel the second row and backwards is a bit of a missed opportunity. First, the boot is only around 800mm depth, maybe a bit more if you measure above the hump at the base of the second row. It should have been 1000mm like some options, which could have been done by extending the body a bit but then it’d have been even heavier. That said, as the body is square there’s more room per inch of boot depth than say Discovery 5. The second row is a 40/60 split, and I’d have liked to see 33/33/33 for flexibility, and a full fold-flat and flush with the floor option, and under-seat storage…but that’s where the batteries live.
Now we come to perhaps the biggest problem, by far, that the Grenadier has to face, and that’s price. The base model starts at $110,000 plus onroads and that doesn’t include power windows or a reversing camera. Most people will be selecting the Trialmaster which has all of that plus front and rear locking differentials, a roof ladder, towing gear and a second 105ah AGM auxiliary battery, and that’s $123,000 plus onroads. That’s a lot of money, and you can buy other wagons for a lot less, throw $30k at at them, and still come out below the cost of even a base model Grenadier. However, remember when you price-compare any vehicles to ensure it’s like-for-like – for example all Grenadiers come with four recovery points, whereas you’d need to add them most of the others so factor those costs in too but that works both ways – Grenadier needs an accessory pack to match the basic luxuries of other cars such as reversing cameras, but then again Grenadier doesn’t invoke LCT. Another factor to consider is safety; while the Grenadier has all the requisite airbags and ESC, it doesn’t and won’t have an ANCAP rating and nor does it have advanced safety aids such as lane departure or blind spot warning, unlike even many cheap competitor wagons.
I also need to mention The Footrest. In right-hand-driver Grenadiers there is a huge footwell intrusion in the driver’s footwell, such that your left leg is somewhat bent rather than being able to stretch. You can only extend your left leg by placing your foot under the brake pedal which is far from ideal. This appears to be a design oversight, and as ever with such matters, opinion is split; some say it’s a dealbreaker, others swear it’s no problem at all. My advice is be aware of the problem and determine for yourself if it’s an issue for you. Notably, some owners have removed the rest and found it could be made much smaller, so that’s perhaps an option too. I’m 6ft and can fully extend my left leg in my Ranger and still brake the car, not possible in a Grenadier regardless of your size. I liken the Grenadier Footrest Argument to the great Defender Driving Position Debate; that position worked for me, didn’t for others.
Onroad the Grenadier drives well for what it is and while I’ve not done thousands of kays in one, I don’t see any problem doing so, footrest aside. It’s no luxury vehicle but more than adequately quiet, powerful and easy to drive. There has been extensive criticism of the steering, which I’ve not found to be a problem thus far but I need to spend more time in one doing some faster work before I can offer a definitive opinion. I would certainly say it’s very unlikely to be a dealbreaker for the vast majority of people, especially those who are familiar with Tritons or older 4x4s as you just get used to it very quickly, certainly don’t not buy the car based on that. There has also been criticism of the rear-mounted spare restricting visibility, to which I say either fit the camera or learn to use the excellent side mirrors as most touring 4x4s are so loaded the rear view mirror is blocked anyway.
Support is a big question. INEOS is a new company without the networks that say Toyota enjoys, so owners may be concerned about sales, support, servicing and even whether INEOS will be around in ten years. So far, owners are generally reporting good, even very good support from dealers and INEOS themselves (watch this interview). Nobody has a crystal ball, but there is no indication that won’t continue, and INEOS appear to have more models on the way. The old “but Toyota has dealers everywhere” trope is now not as valid as it once was; vehicles are far more reliable these days, we’ve all had to wait weeks for parts from Japan, and these days even remote areas in Australia have very frequent truck connections to capital cities, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the fact INEOS is new. The industry and owners are starting from zero experience building up knowledge, and the few issues I’ve seen I think will be ironed out in future as we all learn more about the car; every new vehicle goes through this learning process as we figure out how it works, what needs to be done to it and how to modify it. I’m looking for big problems, and I’m not seeing any other than the disadvantages I’ve covered in this article, and most of those will come down to personal use cases.
So is the Grenadier for you? Definitely not if you’re on a budget as you can do the same job with much cheaper vehicles, nor if ANCAP-proven safety or luxury features are important to you. However, if you’re not put off by the price, range or lack of major aftermarket support, then you’ll find the Grenadier an extremely capable and well-thought-out tourer. There are many very happy owners driving around Australia, quite a number of whom are experienced people who have completed multi-week trips of thousands of kilometers; no significant problems have been reported and the reports are glowing. All things considered, I think the Grenadier is a fantastic vehicle that has defined a new market niche. Maybe you should consider one as your next adventure or working vehicle?