The new SUV made its debut in Canada, hoping to impress Bronco, Defender and G-Class buyers

The new SUV made its debut in Canada, hoping to impress Bronco, Defender and G-Class buyers

Ineos Grenadier.Matt Poppers/The Globe and Mail

Jack Maillet, a retired RCMP officer from Ottawa, woke up early June 1 and drove five hours to Toronto just to see the Canadian debut of the Ineos Grenadier, an unabashedly utilitarian new SUV that picks up classic off-road vehicles like The old land Rover Defender or the old Mercedes G-Class is discontinued.

Maillet said he’s not just looking for a new car, but for adventure, like the one he took in 2014 with his wife. They spent three weeks in a Land Rover Defender driving across the vast Namib Desert along the southwest coast of Africa. “I’m going to buy an old Defender,” he said, “but it’s too hard.” It’s hard to buy because the car is scarce, and you need to import if you can’t find it locally and the prices keep going up. And like many other potential Grenadier customers I’ve talked to, he’s not too fond of the new, sleeker, friendlier Suburban Land Rover. So, the idea of ​​a strong, durable SUV that can go anywhere Maillet appeals to.

The idea has also appealed to British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and president of global petrochemical giant Ineos Group Holdings SA. When Land Rover discontinued the old Defender in 2016, Ratcliffe felt it left a gap in the market for a utilitarian SUV. He founded a new company, Ineos Automotive, and was heavily involved in creating its first automobile, the Grenadier.

The Grenadier has a single center display on the dashboard and a rear view camera.Matt Poppers/The Globe and Mail

The initial Ratcliffe concept dates back to 2017, but now, finally, in the summer of 2022, Ineos Automotive is taking a near-complete prototype of Grenadier on a tour across the US and Canada to show potential customers. Toronto was the first Canadian stop, with nearly 100 people turning out to see it in the metal throughout the day.

Greg Clark, executive vice president for the Americas at Ineos Automotive, told the assembled audience that Canadian pricing will be announced before the end of the year, with the first customer vehicles arriving in the latter half of 2023. (The original target was 2022, but noted a change in manufacturing plans and design modifications as reasons for delay.)

Clark said that buying a Grenadier similar to the one we would get in Canada in the UK would cost around £55,000. For reference, without the 20 percent value-added tax or sales tax, that translates to roughly $70,000.

Finally, before letting customers into the car, Clarke politely reminded them to handle his powerful SUV, because this particular example is a prototype, and the only one in the country, with many 3D-printed micro parts.

Janet Gallagher and her husband David James are from Etobicoke, Ont. , to see the Grenadier. “I’m a Benz driver, but I feel the rarity of the G-Wagon is gone,” Gallagher said. “Part of the appeal [of the Grenadier] You will have something unique.” They already have one reservation.

Behind the Grenadier seats, a split tailgate swings open to reveal the trunk hatch.Matt Poppers/The Globe and Mail

The couple ordered a Ford Bronco—a SUV with a similar retro look—but were unimpressed with the car after a test drive or lack of communication from Ford after making a deposit. Customer Experience [with the Grenadier] James said in terms of the booking process much better. “You get regular updates and invitations to events like this. With Broncos, like, give [the dealer] Deposit and that was it. You didn’t hear anything.”

At least among the self-selected crowd in Toronto, the Grenadier was tempting drivers away from Broncos, Jeep Wranglers, Mercedes G-Classes, GMC SUVs, Range Rovers and the new and old Land Rover Defender.

IIn North America, Ineos has acquired about 5,700 deposits, about 10 percent of which are coming from Canada, Clark said. The company is looking for existing agents for the sale and maintenance of vehicles. The first galleries are likely to be in or around Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton.

“[Customers] I love the blend of analogue nostalgia with 21st century significance; The Grenadier has enough technology.”

With a wheelbase shorter than the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the rear seat legroom on the Grenadier is more narrow than you might imagine.Matt Poppers/The Globe and Mail

The SUV’s engine is a six-cylinder turbocharged unit from BMW that produces 281 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. (Only a petrol engine will be available in Canada, not a diesel.) A four-wheel drive, three locking differential, two solid axles and a two-speed transfer case add up to an SUV that should have serious off-road capability. The frame construction was designed with the help of Magna International Inc. , who knows a lot about the powerful SUV that has produced the G-Class on behalf of Mercedes for nearly 40 years.

Clark said: “There is some disappointment that Diesel didn’t come here, but when [customers] Realizing a 3.5 ton (7700 lb) towing capacity they say, “Okay, so I can haul my boat, or my horse box, or my wagon, or whatever.”

As for technology, Grenadier has some; There’s a single center display on the dashboard, and a rear-view camera, as required by law, but there aren’t the fancy 360-degree cameras or autopilot-like driving aids you find on the new Defender or G-Class.

If you stare, the Grenadier looks like a classic Defender or a Mercedes G-Class from the ’90s. The Ineos is slightly taller, longer and wider than the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or the Ford Bronco, but with a shorter wheelbase than either. As a result, the legroom in the back seat is more cramped than you might imagine.

Behind the seats, a split tailgate swings open to reveal the largest trunk slit I’ve ever seen. It is cavernous.

From the driver’s seat, industrial-looking switches on the dashboard and roof panel will make any suburban occupants feel outside. The Grenadier has all the aesthetic charm of a cute ratchet set; You’ll either get the appeal or you won’t, but Ineos isn’t looking to dominate the SUV market.

In North America, Ineos has acquired about 5,700 deposits, about 10 percent of which are from Canada.Matt Poppers/The Globe and Mail

The Grenadier will be manufactured at a former Mercedes plant in Hambach, France, despite the fact that Ratcliffe was a supporter of Brexit and had initially planned to build the cars in Wales. The facility has the capacity to produce 30,000 to 35,000 grenades annually once things are up and running.

The SUV you see here is just the start, if all goes according to the company’s plans. It is researching a hydrogen fuel cell version in partnership with BMW and Hyundai. There’s also a three-row taller model and a smaller compact version in the works. Recently, Ineos Automotive announced plans to build a smaller, all-electric SUV, but Clark couldn’t say when that would arrive.

Ineos still has a lot of work to do before it can sell its SUV in Canada. It has not yet started full production at its plant in France, then it must register local dealers, train staff and get the car approved by regulators for sale in Canada and the United States, however, before returning to Ottawa, Jack Millett said he plans to speak with his wife about placing a deposit On the Grenadier man.

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2022-06-07 09:00:00

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