a luxury raw pickup (video test)

IN SHORT

4X4 pickup

Power: 286 or 249 hp (petrol and diesel)

French manufacturing English brand

From 81,990 euros

We know the song. That of the English industrialist Jim Ratliffe, boss of Ineos who, one evening, sitting at a table in a London pub, had a billionaire’s idea: to design, manufacture and distribute a hardcore 4X4, a car that goes against Land Rover’s policy who decides to civilize his good old Defender. A car which does not copy the English car but which succeeds it. A nuance that is not obvious when looking at the car. But we need to find a name for the machine. No need to look very far: the name of the pub will do the trick: is it called Grenadier? The matter is closed.

It’s 2017, and negotiations begin to find an engine and make agreements with equipment manufacturers. BMW supplies its good old six-cylinders (petrol and diesel), ZF takes care of the automatic gearbox, the Austrian Magna and the Italian Carraro look at the chassis and axles, Brembo takes care of the brakes and Recaro, like he has to, designs seats.

Ineos Grenadier Quartermaster (2024): a raw luxury pick-up (video test)

But where to put it all together? The answer is provided by Mercedes which, in 2020, decides to stop charging for its Smart brand. Half of it is sold to the Chinese Geely and the Hambach factory in Moselle is free. Ratclife bought it to assemble its cars there and continue to produce the Smart Fortwo until the beginning of this year. The two cars coexist in the 210,000 m2 factory in complete incongruity, since the small two-seater could almost fit in the trunk of the immense Grenadier. However, we will have to wait until 2022 for the first 4X4s, in SW version, to hit the road.

A skip 1.67 m long and just as wide to accommodate a pallet.

A pure model is good, breaking it down is better. Besides, Land Rover did not do it any differently. The 110, the extended version of the “Def” was transformed into a short version, the 90, but also into a pick-up. At Grenadier, we intend to do the same. The shortened version will be called Fusilier, but you will have to wait. The machine, which will be electric, is not yet ready. On the other hand, transforming the 4.90 m thermal beast into a pick-up is simpler and that is what has been done.

The pick-up lighter than the SW

The dump car measures 5.40 m, a good 50 centimeters longer than its older, closed brother. Everything is at stake at the level of the overhang, which from almost non-existent on the original Grenadier, extends to the rear of the Quartermaster, since that is the pick-up’s nickname. As a bonus, since the exercise consists of removing sheet metal from the basic machine, the 4×4 and its large skip, 1.67 m long and as wide, weighs 100 kg less than the original version. This should make it faster? Let’s not get carried away: the pick-up weighs 2.6 tonnes naked, not enough to transform it into a gazelle. However, it is capable of towing 3.5 tonnes with a payload of 835 kg.

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Round lights and an almost horizontal hood: comes out of this Defender body.
Round lights and an almost horizontal hood: comes out of this Defender body.

On the design side, we don’t change a team that uses the codes of the Defender. The round lights are present, like the almost horizontal hood placed on the hips of the machine and the general shapes traced with a ruler and square. Inside, there’s not much new either. And very fortunately. Even if, when you take a seat on board, you are terrified by the invasion of buttons, as if, from the console to the roof roof, equipped with two skylights, the Quartermaster had caught chickenpox.

A dashboard that caught chickenpox

But we are very quickly reassured: this layout of the controls is undoubtedly one of the most intuitive in all automobile production. One button = one function, perfectly identified by its ultra-readable pictogram. On the console you can find all the commonly used functions, from the air conditioning to the car radio and on the roof, all those dedicated to off-road modes. Extremely simple and so obvious that one wonders why Ineos did not push this perfect intuitiveness to the end.

A (very) hard plastic interior but designed to last.
A (very) hard plastic interior but designed to last.

Because all the information useful to the driver: speed, fuel level, rev counter and navigation are grouped on the central screen like on a very unergonomic Tesla and on many electric cars which have copied it. In front of the person holding the steering wheel, only small pictograms appear warning them of any fault or the engagement of an off-road mode. Magnanimous, the Ineos designers still included the visual reminder of the indicators in this location.

A profusion of buttons on the center console...
A profusion of buttons on the center console…
... and as much on the roof pavilion.
… and as much on the roof pavilion.

Obviously, these elements are similar on the closed Grenadier and on the pick-up, as is the plastic furniture as hard as concrete but which is obviously made to resist time and the worst treatments. It is so sturdy and well assembled that you would want to hose it down to clean the interior, if it weren’t for these magnificent and very comfortable Recaro leather seats in the high finish. Pullman seats again similar in both models. But if comfort in the front is guaranteed, passengers in the rear seat will bitterly regret the seats of the “sedan” version.

In the back, the passengers are not celebrating.
In the back, the passengers are not celebrating.

It’s a disease of double-cab pick-ups and the Quatermaster is no exception: the rear passengers are stiff as an “i”, the back of the bench being completely vertical due to the seats glued to the edge of the cabin. To get to a local construction site with four or five, no problem, on the other hand, to cross Africa, those punished at the rear would do better to hitchhike, unlike their comrades seated at the front.

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