What is it like to drive?
Last year, TG visited the Hambach factory in north-eastern France – near the German border – a world-class former Mercedes factory in which the Grenadier is made. We also had a quick go in a prototype in a mucky quarry nearby. Now though we've had chance to drive it in central London, north Wales and as far north in Scotland as you can get before you fall into the North Sea. This is home to the North Coast 500, a sweeping, fabulously scenic road that would be all sorts of awesome in, say, an Alpine A110 but may be less suited to a 2.7-tonne off-roader that accelerates to 62mph in 8.6 seconds (petrol) or 9.9 (diesel) and has some interesting roll angles.
An Alpine A110 won’t get you far off-road though…
It certainly wouldn’t. Not in large chunks of Scotland rarely seen unless you’re an eagle or deer. Indeed, to paraphrase a famous movie scientist, where we’re going we don’t need roads.
The Grenadier driver is not the sort to dally with terms like ‘steering feel’, ‘linearity’ or even ‘handling’. You turn the wheel and soon the vehicle changes direction. The Grenadier uses a recirculating ball set-up, a heavier and more ponderous solution than its rack and pinion equivalent but also much more robust and shock-proof off-road. It needs 3.85 turns lock-to-lock and doesn't self-centre, so driving the Ineos in town can be quite the workout. The turning circle is also massive at 13.5m (or 14.5 if you go for the Quartermaster). The wheel itself is a chunky multi-function item, whose buttons include a prominent red one called the Toot button to alert cyclists and horse riders.
But it rides extremely well, its suspension using a five-link set-up front and rear, with progressive rate coil springs (from Eibach). It sits on 17in steel wheels as standard, with 18in steelies and 17 and 18in alloys as options, all of them using a six-stud pattern. You can choose between standard bespoke Bridgestone or optional BF Goodrich all-terrain T/A KO2 rubber. It looks grand on the smaller steel wheels, but you can’t help wondering what a fully murdered-out LA-spec car might look like. Someone’s bound to do it.
Is it noisy or quiet?
Despite its barn-door aerodynamics and body-on-frame chassis, it’s also impressively refined. Eight special mounts help isolate the body from the chassis, reducing vibrations. The BMW petrol engine is a noticeably more enjoyable companion here than the diesel, not just generally more alert and characterful, but a good deal smoother. We noticed some buzzy vibrations in the diesel in fourth and fifth gear at around 2,000rpm, which were mildly annoying. The diesel does have a mighty shove of torque, though.
And anyway, the Grenadier is hardly targeting the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in terms of its NVH, and for a no-nonsense off-roader it’s way ahead of the Jeep Wrangler or Toyota Land Cruiser in everyday use. It even stops reasonably well, courtesy of its beefy Brembo brakes, which rely on 316mm diameter vented front discs and 305mm solid items at the rear. You can feel the huge weight (almost 2.8 tonnes unladen) when you step on the slow-down pedal though.
As you’d expect, it’s hugely capable off-road, whether it’s rock crawling (though we didn’t do much of that), wading (up to a depth of 800mm), or crossing undulating terrain. Once in off-road mode, the seat belt reminders, parking sensors and the engine start/stop are all switched off. There’s a Downhill Assist and an Uphill Assist function.
Here are some off-roadie stats: the Grenadier’s approach angle is 35.5°, its breakover angle 28.2°, and its departure angle 36.1°. Its maximum ground clearance is 264mm. All good, and on a par with the coil sprung Land Rover Defender 110’s numbers: 31.5° approach, 22.2° break-over, 37.5° departure, with 226mm clearance (NB: on air suspension, the lily-livered Defender opens up a bigger margin).
Have you managed to get it stuck anywhere?
One of the cars in our convoy in Scotland did actually fail to proceed in a particularly muddy section. We suspect this was because its rear differential was malfunctioning, a glitch that TG’s car suffered from the next day immediately following a detailed ‘how-it-works’ briefing from Ineos's newly appointed chief technical officer, Hans-Peter Pessler. Turns out that the solenoid in the diff just needed a moment to get its things together. Basically, we turned it off and on again.
On the stretch we were on – heading towards the 300-metre wide mass gravity Orrin Dam – the Grenadier would have coped fine without the optional diffs.
There are some odd quirks, though. The wipers don’t reach far enough, leaving a mucky patch on the screen which conspires with the hefty A-pillars to create an annoying blind spot. There’s also a significant footwell intrusion on right-hand drive cars, due to the routing of the exhaust, which means the pedals are slightly off-set. TG didn’t suffer any back problems as a result, but it’s not ideal and means your left leg gets pretty tired. Rear knee room is tight with a tall driver in front, and rear visibility is hampered by the split door and spare wheel.
What's it like on fuel?
It’s not hugely economical. In fact, it's not economical at all: we saw an average of around 19mpg in the petrol car, and 22.5mpg in the diesel, which is roughly what Ineos claims anyway. CO2 emissions for the Station Wagon are between 299 and 346g/km depending on spec.