Last week the interior of the 2022 Ineos Grenadier was unveiled for the first time, and visitors to the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend were able to see it in person.
Why should we care? Firstly, because it’s not often we get to witness a vehicle that takes so much inspiration from the original Defender being designed from the ground up. And secondly, this is one of the most eye-catching 4x4 interiors we’ve seen for a while.
But more importantly, Ineos have taken a deliberately analogue approach, with plenty of chunky-looking buttons and a toned-down approach to infotainment. It’s a kind of analogue design that Land Rover has steered away from in recent years in favour of smooth surfaces, multifunctional wheels, and settings accessed via submenus in increasingly large touchscreens. Slick, beautiful and classy – but ask a traditionalist who uses their Land Rover as a workhorse and they’ll often lament the loss of simpler push-buttons.
Grenadier interior highlights include an array of central switches in the ceiling between side-by-side sunroofs, and no obvious instrument binnacle in front of the driver. A rotary dial controls the central 12.3-inch touchscreen, and there’s a ‘pathfinder navigation system’ that allows you to plot and record routes that are off the standard road network. We’re also promised a ‘wide range of interior options and accessories’… sound familiar?
But how functional and utilitarian will that button-heavy interior really be? After all, the new Defender’s equally distinctive cabin has been widely praised (not least by us) as one of its many strong points – and its button count isn’t anywhere near as high.
Here are some of our first impressions…
John Pearson, editor in chief
‘I applaud the simplicity of manual adjustment for those comfy-looking Recaro seats, and the concept of basic buttons and switches – even if the sheer number of them is initially overwhelming. And for simplicity, a basic speedo dial in front of the driver on the dash would have been more relevant.’
Neil Watterson****, editor
‘The roof switches are interesting – I used to have a similar, less well executed switch console in my Series IIA. From a production point of view, it makes sense, as you have one interior for left and right hand drive vehicles, but I’m not keen on the speedo being in the centre of the dash, unless there is a head-up display also fitted?’
Mark Saville, assistant editor
'First impressions are positive. I like the retro aircraft-style central switch panel, but I’m not convinced about the roof-mounted switches, for two reasons. Firstly, it will rule-out any future pop-top roof-tent conversion. Secondly, if like me you have limited upper-body mobility, reaching the switches without taking your eyes off the road or track might be difficult. I’m not a big fan of the steering wheel either; it looks a bit mid-70s Citroën. But, overall, I like it and could probably live with it.'
Martin Domoney, workshop editor
‘The mass of switches on the centre console and roof panel look cluttered, but for pure functionality they make sense and I love that there are fused auxiliaries so you can add your own accessories. I like the leather-trimmed steering wheel, but I think it would look better with 3 spokes. Overall though, I’m impressed.’
Theo Ford-Sagers, news editor
‘First reaction – wow. Things went downhill when I spotted the red ‘toot’ button (it’s a car, not a Nintendo), and the curvaceous BMW-derived shifter looks out of place… also, where’s the speedo and rev gauge? But the analogue, idiot-proof theme certainly works for me, and technophobes should find it easy to figure out.’