The site of the new Ineos Automotive factory in Wales. There are no images of the vehicle yet. Picture: SUPPLIED
The site of the new Ineos Automotive factory in Wales. There are no images of the vehicle yet. Picture: SUPPLIED

Diehard Land Rover Defender fans lamented the demise of the iconic 4x4 which forged its go-anywhere reputation on the world’s toughest off-road trails since 1948.

The new Defender launched this year is a far cry from that utilitarian workhorse; it’s a hi-tech luxury SUV with a boxy shape vaguely reminiscent of the original.

Now the spirit of the original Defender is to be revived in the new Ineos Grenadier, a back-to-basics workhorse 4x4 that will be coming to SA.

It is a new automotive venture by British chemicals company Ineos, which is best known for sponsoring the Tour de France-winning Ineos cycling team (formerly Sky).

In 2017, Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe, a car enthusiast and adventurer, identified a gap in the market for a stripped back, utilitarian 4x4 engineered for modern day compliance and reliability.

Like the original Defender, and the Toyota Land Cruiser 76 which is still on sale, the Grenadier will be a rugged vehicle focusing more on off-road utility than luxury frills. It will be built on a ladder frame chassis and feature permanent four wheel drive and solid axle suspension.

“We’re looking at a back-to-basics, uncompromising 4x4, and getting it right for an off-road application,” Mark Tennant, Head of Commercial at Ineos Automotive, told Motor News.

LIKE THE ORIGINAL DEFENDER, IT WILL BE A RUGGED VEHICLE FOCUSING MORE ON OFF-ROAD UTILITY THAN LUXURY FRILLS

“We’re dropping the ‘S’ from the SUV, and this will be a utility vehicle.”

That said, the Grenadier won’t be harking back to 1948 technology-wise, and will be powered by latest-generation BMW engines.

“You can’t be completely retro in the 21st century, so the powertrain will be state of the art and all the safety systems will be there; we won’t be skimping on that,” said Tennant.

“Though it will be an unabashed purely utilitarian vehicle, without all the bells and whistles, there will be some modern amenities that people expect, including Apple Carplay and USB ports.”

Starting in late 2021 Ineos plans to build about 25,000 Grenadiers a year at a new factory it is constructing in Wales.

No pictures or sketches of the Grenadier have yet been revealed but Tennant said the vehicle will be boxy, much like the Land Cruiser and original Defender. There will be a number of derivatives including SUVs and double cab bakkies.

Tennant said Europe, SA and Australia will be high on the priority list once production starts, and the plan is to launch the Grenadier locally in early 2022, backed up by a service network and parts supply.

It is too soon to confirm pricing but Tennant says the Grenadier will cost less than the new Defender, which is expected to start at R900,000.