This is not a Chinese clone of the classic Defender. The middle Kingdom has nothing to do with the car in the pictures. This project is the brainchild of Jim Ratcliffe, head of the English chemical concern Ineos and a big fan of Defender.
When Land Rover stopped producing the original model in 2016, Jim expressed a desire to resume production at its own facilities, for which he proposed to build a new factory in the North of the UK.
But I got a turn-down: the company said that they did not intend to sell the rights to the Defender design to anyone. And then Ratcliffe made a strong-willed decision to create “your own Defender”. In 2017, he organized the automotive division of Ineos Automotive, began to assemble a team and search for partners. And now I am ready to share my first successes in this field.
Of course, the development of the SUV called INEOS Grenadier is not yet complete, but the design has already been formed, and the appearance is “frozen”, so the company released the first images. Declassified appearance allowed not only to declare the car at an early stage, which is important for the new manufacturer, but also to save on camouflage prototypes.
The original Land Rover Defender, although not completely copied, is easily recognized. The body is also made of aluminum, but in small things Grenadier differs from its “spiritual progenitor”: it has other lighting, hood cover, door handles, wheel arches, double trunk door and so on. It seems that Jim Ratcliffe has enough experienced lawyers who suggested to him and chief designer Toby Ecuyer the necessary “degree of distinction” to avoid being sued by Jaguar Land Rover. As previously stated, the Ineos Grenadier is presented as a five-door station wagon and a four-door pickup.
The company claims that the SUV is designed from scratch and has an original platform, but there are not many details yet. It is based on a powerful frame, front and rear, continuous axles with springs and disc brakes, promised honest four-wheel drive. According to the idea, Grenadier will have outstanding off-road abilities worthy of the glory of the original Defender. By the way, for the development of the chassis, a contract was signed with the Austrian company Magna, engineering support is also provided by MBtech (It spun off from the Daimler concern, although part of the shares still belongs to it). And BMW will supply the engines: we are talking about inline six-cylinder engines, both diesel and gasoline, and, of course, reconfigured for the specifics of the SUV.
The interior has not yet been declassified, but in the company promise that it will be devoid of vulgar opulence: the seats are planned to be covered with leather just for durability, the cabin floor will provide drainage holes, and instead of regular audio system you can connect gadgets. Finally, according to Jim Ratcliffe, the car must become very reliable — in order to meet the requirements of those who use cars for work and off-road travel.
Testing and debugging are still far from complete, so we will see INEOS Grenadier fully ready for production only in 2021. In parallel, the construction of a new plant in Wales is underway: for this purpose, a cooperation agreement has been signed with the Austrian company Magna Steyr. Even in the early stages, Jim Ratcliffe stated that he intended to produce 25-30 thousand cars a year.