Magna Steyr helping INEOS bring its rugged Grenadier SUV to production

Ronan Glon

INEOS Automotive, the British firm on a quest to reinvent the original Land Rover Defender, announced it strengthened ties with Magna Steyr to finish developing the off-roader. The SUV will be assembled in Wales, and the first examples are scheduled to roll off the assembly line in 2021.

Magna Steyr has been involved in the project since the beginning; it developed the Grenadier's chassis and suspension. The new partnership focuses on turning what's essentially a concept into a production model that's reliable, relatively easy to build, and hopefully profitable. The tie-up makes sense for both sides. INEOS is a chemical company with no experience in the automotive industry, but enough money to develop a car from scratch. Magna Steyr has a vast amount of experience in making cars for other manufacturers. It helped Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler develop the original G-Class, and it still builds the second-generation model. Its Graz, Austria, factory also handles production of the BMW Z4 and the Toyota Supra, among other models.

The Grenadier will pick up where the first-generation Defender left off, and it sounds like it will completely bypass the technology packed in the second-generation model (shown below) introduced during the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. "We want to take the S out of SUV," the company previously explained.

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Full powertrain specifications remain under wraps. Four-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer case are givens considering the Grenadier is being developed as a no-nonsense off-roader, and buyers will be asked to choose between a gasoline- and a diesel-burning straight-six engine sourced from the BMW parts bin. We're hoping a manual transmission will be available, but odds are the familiar, ZF-built eight-speed automatic widely used by BMW will be the only option offered. Looking ahead, INEOS could make a hydrogen drivetrain available for buyers seeking a zero-emissions truck.

Like the old Defender, the Grenadier will use a body-on-frame architecture. It will have "more angles than curves," according to INEOS, and its boxy body will be made largely with aluminum in order to keep weight in check. The company pledged to deliver class-leading approach, departure, and breakover angles while keeping its first car simple enough to fix in the field if needed.

The function-over-form interior will offer everything drivers need and nothing they don't. More significantly, the BMW-sourced engines will give the Grenadier a nearly 7,900-pound towing capacity, and a 2,240-pound payload. Its cargo compartment will be big enough to fit a Euro pallet. Connectivity will inevitably be part of the package, even workhorse needs basic tech in 2019, and most features — including the infotainment system — will come from the BMW parts bin.

The Grenadier's body and frame will be manufactured in Portugal, its engine will come from Austria, and final assembly will take place in a new facility located in Wales (pictured). It's unrelated to the factory Aston Martin built to make the DBX, its first high-riding model. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2021, and we've reached out to INEOS to learn whether the American market is on its radar.

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