While we have yet to drive the Grenadier, not to mention to see it in action side-by-side with a Defender, it does look like the newcomer to the market has a promising overall package that might make some people stray from the Defender, as well as the Wrangler or the G-Wagen.
The Grenadier is presented as a do-it-all vehicle for those who want to drive their kids to school, go to their vacation house deep in the forest, or decide to go on an extended overlanding excursion. All in the same vehicle.
At this point, you might say that the same can be done in an old Defender with certain modifications, as well as in a G-Class, in an upgraded new-generation Defender, or even in some more SUV-oriented off-roaders.
Now, to the matter at hand, Ineos prepared an event where they displayed two prototypes of the Grenadier, and one of them was available for passenger rides. While it may be disappointing to not be allowed to drive the Grenadier P1, which is the first drivable prototype of its kind for this model, those were the company rules.
Only one person was allowed to drive it: one of the company's test drivers. It was a matter of liability, as the vehicle was without airbags, and it was an expensive prototype that could not be replaced, so it was easier for the company to restrict who gets to drive it. So instead of just looking at it, we went for the next best thing and called shotgun.
We are not going to discuss materials. These two prototypes, P1 and P2, as Ineos Automotive described them, are not meant to wow their occupants with the quality of materials. But, interestingly, the P1 vehicle, which we got a ride in, came with what was described as a 3D-printed dashboard.
The P2, which is a more evolved prototype, came with better materials and had a molded dashboard, and the production model will come with an even more advanced one. Mind you, there will also be P3, which will be the final prototype before production starts, and it will be on the road this fall. Other people outside Ineos employees will be allowed to drive that one.
Since we had the unique opportunity to see two different prototypes of the Ineos Grenadier so close together, we could not stop ourselves from observing their evolution. Pun unintended here; just look at them in the photo gallery and see for yourself. The difference speaks for itself, and, as we mentioned above, another prototype, P3, has already been completed.
Now, time for a couple of details that you might miss at first glance.
First, there is a space on the dashboard where the instrument cluster would usually be placed, and that appears to leave room for a head-up display system. The latter was initially considered but ditched because it added complexity to a design meant to be reliable. Behind the steering wheel, you might notice a set of warning lights, though.
The gauge cluster has been moved to the center display, as you can see in the photo gallery. Its design might change as the vehicle is more advanced. Another element that we noticed is a somewhat restrictive passenger footwell, which may make some people keep their feet to the right, but it depends on the length of their legs.
The steering wheel design, which we found to be "less than beautiful," to say the least, is said to be retained for the production vehicle. Others might like it, so each to their own on this one. The general design of the dashboard will be kept, and that will include the optional switches next to the dome lights.
Promising would be the best word to describe this vehicle. It seems that it could do anything that an off-road enthusiast could want from a new car, except for being dirt cheap. Another impression is the fact that someone spent a great deal of money, without considering much else, to make the best possible vehicle for a specific purpose, without focusing too hard on design or image, which may be a risky bet. On the other hand, we are not British billionaires, and we do not have business advisors, so they may know something we don't.
According to figures, the market for these vehicles is growing, so this may not be a risky bet after all, but the reality of the market is often different from expectations.