I’m hesitant to go charging to the defence of a vehicle that I have no hands on experience with, but after reading the latest crop of reviews I can’t help but be a little frustrated that many seem to have missed the point.
Of course, faults with wildly offset pedals, large A pillar blind spots and other niggles cannot be ignored. But for a vehicle ‘built on purpose’ to be a true utilitarian, off-road first vehicle, it is frustrating to see it receive a kicking primarily for its poor on road manners. Or worse still, being compared to vehicles designed for something else or that tower over its starting price.
And that’s without mentioning LRs reliability record or the shear complexity of the thing; which has to be a consideration when you are looking to cross plains of Africa instead of boroughs of Kensington.
I’m talking of course about comparisons being drawn to the new Defender, which I believe are moot. The Defender moved from the ‘sling some sheep in the back’ sector, to one that is better for hosting children on posh school runs than small cattle. Whatever land rover say, they built an SUV. Yes, with extreme off road capability, but have you seen any being used in the way the old model was? Or for that matter, in place of the ubiquitous pickup truck that has become the go to choice in recent years.
I haven’t, because the Defender is now too posh to be a true go anywhere utilitarian vehicle. And that’s without mentioning LRs reliability record or the shear complexity of the thing; which has to be a consideration when you are looking to cross plains of Africa instead of boroughs of Kensington.
The G wagon is another popular comparison to make, but even a 2017 vehicle (before the latest update that took the G wagon in a similar direction to the Defender) is the same price as a new Grenadier. And that’s with thousands of miles on the clock and with every warrantied one of them a distant memory of one of the previous owners.
A small aside whilst on the G wagon, why was it never accused of copying the old defender? Of course it possesses a lineage that dates back several decades, but it has remarkably similar features to the Grenadier and only one of them has caught huge amounts of flak for looking a bit like the LR. I digress.
If I was to perform a twin test featuring the Grenadier it would be up against the Wrangler, the Land Cruiser and maybe the Ford Ranger; although that would be a better comparison when INEOS lobs the boot off to form a pickup.
These comparisons have also been drawn, but when mentioned in the reviews I read, you get the impression these are 10/10 vehicles when those same publications have previously given them a kicking as well.
It would be like a Caterham receiving two star reviews for not handling the school run with the grace and decorum of a fast saloon.
Jonny smith’s video on his channel The Late Brake Show seems to be the only review I’ve seen so far who really understands the vehicle. He still points out its faults, but understands the idiosyncrasies that are almost inevitable when creating a purpose built adventure vehicle.
Yes, it’ll roll and the steering on the road will be a bit weird, but this is surely an inevitability when creating a car of this type? It would be like a Caterham receiving two star reviews for not handling the school run with the grace and decorum of a fast saloon.
We seem to have become so accustom to vehicles that can seamlessly straddle multiple sectors, we forgot what a car built truly for just one discipline is like. Yes, there’s compromise. But crucially for this particular discipline, that compromise is not in the form of complexity.
I truly believe despite the kicking it’s received in these early reviews, the Grenadier will be a success. It’ll hide its flaws behind charm and owners will come to love them, not just respect them. The old Defender was an objectively awful car, but is committed to the history books as one of the most cherished vehicles ever and given time, I believe the Grenadier will head in a similar direction. If nothing else, it is a much better homage to old Defender, than the new one.