Alan Kidd


We’ve been hopeful about the INEOS Grenadier ever since the company announced its plans to build a spiritual successor to the original Land Rover Defender.

We’ve become increasingly hopeful ever since, through a series of revelations about what the vehicle is going to be like – a live-axled, ladder-framed off-roader with low range, full-time four-wheel drive and a locker in every diff.

And now we can be more hopeful than ever. Because at last, INEOS Automotive has revealed what it will look like.

You can probably describe what it looks like in one word. But the company’s Head of Design, Toby Ecuyer, has a few more than that: ‘We set out to design a modern, functional and highly capable 4×4 vehicle with utility at its core. A design that is “easy-to-read,” with no ambiguity about the Grenadier’s role in life. There to do everything you need, and nothing you don’t. We have been able to stay true to the essence of creating a utilitarian vehicle that will stand the test of time.’

INEOS is adamant that the Grenadier is a vehicle whose form follows its function. Hence the unmissable resemblance to the Defender, perhaps – whose design brief, after all, was exactly the same. The company says it is ‘very confident’ that the styling revealed on 1 July will see off any legal challenge to its originality.

So far, the Grenadier has only been shown as a long-wheelbase five-door station wagon and extended-wheelbase double-cab. INEOS says, however, that it will be ‘a family of vehicles’ – at present, there’s no formal talk of a short-wheelbase three-door model, but we fully expect that to be part of the company’s plans.

In addition to a more steeply raked bonnet, one of the most notable differences between the Grenadier and the Defender is its use of vertically split rear doors similar to those on the old Nissan Patrol and other Japanese trucks. The larger of these holds the spare wheel, while the smaller is the first to open, allowing small items to be loaded easily.

With both rear doors fully open, meanwhile, the Grenadier can accommodate a standard Euro pallet. Practicality as a workhorse is at the heart of the vehicle’s design – its payload is more than 1000kg, and its towing limit is 3500kg.

The smaller rear door can be accessorised with a ladder for access to the roof – whose bars and strips allow a rack to be mounted in place and can also be used for securing loads directly.

Further load-stowing opportunities come from an optional ‘utility belt’ on the doors and rear body which can be used for attaching accessories such as a jerry cans. A further useful addition is a stowage box for wet and dirty boots and so on, which is integrated into the body and accessed from outside the vehicle.

And what’s on the inside? As yet, INEOS hasn’t shown us that – however it says it believes its customers shouldn’t be forced to suffer for driving an off-roader and promises that space, quality, seat comfort and cabin refinement will reflect this. In addition, the Grenadier will ‘meet the expectations of the 21st Century consumer for equipment levels and safety systems’ – company executives talk of modern infotainment offerings… and send a telling nod in the direction of the original Defender by saying it will be possible to stay warm on board.

Further recognising the vehicle’s intended usage, it comes pre-wired for LED bars, work lights, amber beacons and so on. INEOS says you can sit on its front wings, and the images released so far show it with BFGoodrich All-Terrain tyres on steel wheels.

The company says the vehicle was created as ‘a blank canvas for accessories, so customers can tailor the Grenadier to their evolving requirements.’ A wide range of accessories will be offered, but INEOS is eager for the aftermarket to develop equipment for it too – a welcome alternative to the attitude of most mainstream vehicle makers.

This reflects the openness the company has shown since its inception, with a willingness to communicate and lack of unnecessary secrecy which are refreshingly different to what most of us are used to. ‘We are delighted to be able to share the design of the Grenadier so early in the process,’ says Chief Executive Dirk Heilmann. ‘Most manufacturers would hold back, but we are a new business, building a new brand, and we want to take people with us on this exciting journey.

‘Showing the design now allows us to focus on the critical next phase of the vehicle’s development, testing its capability and durability. We have a very challenging programme ahead, as we put prototypes through their paces in all conditions, on the way to accumulating some 1.8 million test kilometres over the coming year.

‘From today, the covers are off. Testing in plain sight, without the need for camouflage wrapping, foam blocks or fake panels is an added benefit.’

So you can expect to see Grenadiers on (and off) the road any day now. When it goes on sale late next year, the vehicle is projected to cost from around £30-35,000, meaning it will compete head-on with the Toyota Landcruiser and undercut the Jeep Wrangler in the traditional off-road market. We’re getting more and more hopeful all the time.

There’s a van version of the Land Rover Defender on the way. Opening for orders later this year, the 90 and 110 Hard-Top will be rated to tow 3500kg and have what Land Rover calls an ‘impressive payload’ – as well of course as all the usual high-tech equipment for which the vehicle has already become known.

The commercial model will also bring the Defender’s entry price down to a new low (everything’s relative) – by starting at around £35,500 plus VAT.

Land Rover’s announcement comes a day ahead of INEOS Automotive’s promised unveiling of its new Grenadier. If you’re a Defender kind of a person, check back in here tomorrow to see how the all-new off-roader due late next year is going to look…

Half a century has passed since Land Rover unleashed the Range Rover on an unsuspecting world. The original premium SUV was launched on 17 June 1970 – not that anyone knew it was a premium SUV at the time, of course, but turns out that’s exactly what it was.

Back then, the Mk1 Rangey was a posh but practical off-road wagon with an interior you could hose out. It might have had a lord-of-the-manor image from the word go, but it was just as down-to-earth as the Series IIA Land Rover was still selling at the time.

Incredibly, the Rangey is still only in its fourth generation. But few vehicles can have evolved as far in their time. Today, it’s still a mighty proposition off-road – but the levels of luxury and high-tech equipment it comes with are unrecognisable in comparison.

On the subject of luxury and high-tech engineering, Land Rover has plenty of previous for celebrating milestones with special limited-edition models. And sure enough, what you’re looking at here is the Range Rover Fifty – an ultra high-speccer of which a total of 1970 examples (get it?) will be available worldwide.

Based on the already sumptuous Autobiography model, the Fifty is available in standard and long-wheelbase form and can be specced with either of two unique designs of 22” alloy wheel. Depending on the market, it will be offered with a choice of petrol, diesel and P400e plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Appearance-wise, it’s admirably subtle. The vehicle features a number of exterior trim highlights in Auric Atlas (or ‘black’, to use a name which will clearly never catch on) and there’s a special ‘Fifty’ badge in a script created for the vehicle by Land Rover’s design boss Gerry McGovern. That’s Professor Gerry McGovern OBE these days, apparently.

If you want to make one of these stand out in a crowd, Land Rover is offering the Fifty in three Heritage solid paint colours: Tuscan Blue, Bahama Gold and Davos White. These will only be available in ‘extremely limited numbers’, so bid high or face a lifetime of slumming it in Carpathian Grey, Rosello Red, Aruba silver or Santorini Black.

Land Rover hasn’t yet given any indication of what one of these bad boys is going to cost you. Sufficient, we’d expect, that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. What started as a genteel workhorse for lords of the manor has, after all, become a globally recognised status symbol.

What will the next fifty years hold? It’s hard to imagine what the Range Rover Hundred will look like when it’s launched on 17 June 2070.

But we’ll take a wild punt and say it won’t have a hose-out interior.

Ford’s new all-electric SUV, the Mustang Mach-E, will feature over-the-air software updates allowing it to literally get better with time. Almost all the vehicle’s modules can be accessed through a cloud-based platform
allowing Ford to deliver performance enhancements and even entirely new features which might not exist when customers first take delivery of their vehicles.

Ford has also quoted charging times based on real-world testing which improve upon the projected figures it had previously been working with. These suggest that versions of the Mach-E with all-wheel drive and the extended-range battery option will be able to gain 66 miles of range in ten minutes when using an Ionity fast-charging station.

Ford expects to be delivering its initial over-the-air updates around six months after the first Mach-E customers take delivery of their vehicles. This in turn is expected to happen just in time for Christmas; said customers will have paid from £46,750 for a model with all-wheel drive.

Toyota has announced that it is to bring the Highlander SUV to Britain. Due for launch early next year, the seven-seater will sit above the RAV4 in the company’s line-up – and it will be available in the UK exclusively with all-wheel drive.

First unveiled in at the New York Auto Show in April 2019, the current Highlander (also known as the Kluger in some markets) is the fourth generation of vehicles to bear the name. It’s based on the same GA-K platform as the RAV4, which bodes well, and all UK models will be powered by a hybrid system mating a 2.5-litre petrol engine to twin electric motors.

This delivers 241bhp and returns WLTP figures of 42.8mpg and 146g/km. The transmission is governed by a Drive Mode Select system with Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail modes, the latter allowing the vehicle to turn in a credible performance off-road. All four modes can still be used when the Highlander is set to run as a full EV.

Toyota’s Global Platform architecture, of which the GA-K unit is part, has been widely praised for the blend of refinement and precision it delivers. The RAV4, which won its class in our 2020 4×4 of the Year awards, has a quiet and superbly put-together cabin as well as athletic handling and peaceful motorway manners, and the Highlander can be expected to match it in all these ways. This in spite of being significantly larger – at 4950mm, its overall length is the same as that of the massive 200-Series Landcruiser which was withdrawn from sale in the UK in 2015.

These proportions allow a genuine seven-seat interior, with a 180mm sliding range for the second row of seats – allowing easy access and spacious third-row accommodation for two adults. With both the rear rows folded flat, meanwhile, the Highlander’s luggage capacity leaps from its standard 658 litres to a huge 1909 litres.

Elsewhere inside, Toyota promises excellent oddment stowage and plenty of USB ports for connectivity, as well as a wide range of premium including satellite navigation, head-up display, wireless charging and an infotainment system running Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto. Heated and vented front seats are also on the list, along with a digital rear-view mirror whose picture is unobscured by rear-seat passengers or headrests.

Externally, the Highlander will feature 20” alloy wheels to go with its striking styling – which uses the same cues as the RAV4 but, when seen next to the smaller vehicle, is noticeably more aggressive, with pronounced wings and wheelarches giving it a more muscular look. Towing capacity tops out at 2000kg.

Pricing for the new Highlander will be announced in the autumn, as the vehicle’s launch date approaches. We’d expect it to start where the RAV4 leaves off, however, which would suggest a starting price of around £35,000.


Vauxhall has released images of the new Mokka, which will go on sale in the UK early next year. The pictures show a disguised vehicle under testing in various conditions – including on snow and ice and in what looks like a simulated wet green laning environment.

This is an all-new model based on the PSA Group’s CMP platform – meaning it will offer a choice of traditional petrol and diesel engines alongside hybrid and all-electric drivetrain options.

While a large part of Vauxhall’s testing has concentrated on giving the vehicle its own unique driving characteristics, the Mokka will have many similarities to the latest Peugeot 2008 – which is also based on the CMP platform. This means it will no longer be available with the option of all-wheel drive, instead offering the Advanced Grip Control system previously seen on a variety of other PSA Group products. This offers a choice of drive modes governing the traction control and other settings, similarly to programmes like Land Rover’s Terrain Response – however in this case only the front wheels are driven.

A further advantage of the new platform is that it allows the Mokka to be up to 120kg lighter than the old model. This helps with efficiency as well as road manners – which are aided further by a 30% improvement in torsional rigidity.

Vauxhall says its testing programme will continue throughout this summer, with production due to commence late this year. Full UK specs and prices can be expected during the autumn, with the latter likely to fall into the £20-30,000 range.


SsangYong has unveiled a facelifted version of its Tivoli crossover SUV – with revised styling, an improved cabin and a range of new engines as well as greater chassis refinement and sharper dynamics.

The vehicle, which was originally launched five years ago, also gains new infotainment options with what SsangYong calls ‘a brilliant digital interface,’ as well as further updates to what was already a strong set of safety systems. It continues to offer the company’s traditional high-value sales proposition, with prices starting at £13,995 and a massive 84-month / 150,000-mile warranty.

The Tivoli’s new engine options are a pair of turbocharged GDI petrol units. Entry-level models get a 1.2 GDI-T three-cylinder engine with 128bhp at 5000rpm and 169lbf.ft at 1750rpm, while a jump up the range brings you to a 1.5 GDI-T four-pot with 163bhp at 5500rpm and 206lbf.ft at 1500rpm. The 1.2 is available only in manual form, while the 1.5 adds the option of an automatic box – as does the one diesel option, a revised version of the existing 1.6-litre unit with 136bhp at 4000rpm and 239lbf.ft at 1500rpm.

In addition to these drivetrain options, the Tivoli comes with a choice of three spec levels. Entry-level EX models have air-con, cruise control, DAB Radio, Bluetooth and a wide range of safety equipment including autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert and so on, while the mid-range Ventura trim adds 16” alloys, faux-leather trim, heated seats, smartphone pairing, rear parking sensors and a 7” media screen with rear camera.

The EX and Ventura are only available with the 1.2 GDI-T engine. At the top of the range, the Ultimate model comes exclusively with the 1.5 GDI-T and 1.6 Diesel; in addition, this trim level adds 18” diamond-cut alloys, natural leather seats, dual-zone air-con and a 10.25” smart LED cluster.

Pricing for the new-look Tivoli starts at £13,995 for the 1.2 EX. The Ventura model with the same engine costs £16,995, while Ultimate examples start at £19,995 with the 1.5-litre petrol engine in manual form and climb to £22,995 for a diesel auto.

Ford has reintroduced the Thunder badge to its UK line-up. First seen more than a decade and a half ago, the high-spec model had always been at the look-at-me end of the range – and that’s the case more than ever now, with a 1400-strong limited-edition double-cab model whose two-tone interior and high-spec leather-clad cabin are very much designed to attract attention.

Powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre twin-turbo EcoBlue diesel engine, whose 213bhp and 369lbf.ft are put out through a 10-speed automatic gearbox, the Ranger Thunder is based on the Wildtrak model and costs from £32,965 plus VAT. Its styling package includes a Sea Grey paint scheme with red highlights, as well as 18” alloy wheels whose black finish matches those of the front grille, rear bumper, skid plates, light bezels and door handles.

Inside, the cabin features black leather seats with red stitching – which is also extended across the steering wheel and dashboard. You even get bespoke red-illuminated sill plates.

The Thunder model aims to help the Ranger build on last year’s best-ever European sales figures of 52,500 – which included more than 16,000 in the UK alone. This level of popularity is even more remarkable considering the Ranger is the oldest pick-up on the market – two major revisions notwithstanding, the current model has been in production since 2011.