The Ineos Grenadier is a retirement home for proper interior buttons
Fed up with fiddly touchscreens? This rugged off-roader is the antidote
For all those of us fed up with the disappearance of the heater control and the volume knob, here is the antidote. It's the interior of the Ineos Grenadier 4x4. The place where hard-buttons go to die.
The justification, sensibly enough, is that you can't operate a touchscreen when you're bouncing along a mucky track, or wearing wet gloves. So although there is a screen, you need never touch it. Twiddle the satnav and menus by a BMW-style rotary controller.
Meanwhile the climate and all electrics operate on the one-thing-one-switch principle. This means the regular driving stuff entirely fills the dash.
Ancillaries for off-roading get their switches bounced onto the roof: diff locks, wade mode and so on. Their number is boosted a row of redundant switches ready-wired for when you later add your own winch, lights and power accessories.
The overhead panel gives full rein to your fantasies of flying a DC3. Fortunately you don't have to keep an eye on the artificial-horizon or rate-of-climb dials: the Grenadier has a deliberately limited and small instrument pack, so as not to distract you as you steer around boulders and ruts.
All the switches are splash-proof, and standard trim is rubber matting on the floor that lifts up to reveal drain holes.
Ineos head of sales Mark Tennant tells Top Gear the Grenadier is still on course for deliveries in summer next year.
Prices start at 'just over £45,000 including VAT' for the base Grenadier, which is a four-door two-seater with blacked-out rear windows so it qualifies as a commercial vehicle. That sounds like value, given it's powered by a straight-six BMW engine (petrol or diesel), driving all four wheels via an eight-speed auto and transfer box.
At the same time the five-seat station wagon, seen here, also goes on sale but if specced without options it's still aiming for sub-Defender prices. They make no bones about the sub-Defender luxury: this is a hardcore working off-roader with live axles, so expect a suitably lumpy ride.
It's in its final testing now. The company has bought and taken over its factory. That's the Smart plant in Eastern France. Ineos is actually building Europe's supply of Fortwos and selling them back to Daimler, so it's already got car-building experience. If of an _entirely_ different sort of car.
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So although this is a British-conceived vehicle that was originally to have been assembled in Wales, it's now only the HQ that's here. Engineering and testing was by Steyr in Austria, while engines, transmission, axles and chassis come from suppliers scattered across continental Europe.