The venerable Land Rover Defender has now been out of production for quite a while. After a hiatus spanning several years, it has been replaced with an all-new model being built in Slovakia, not Solihull. Land Rover production (Autocar)
A further guest post by Andrew B
A lot has changed since my previous post way back in 2014, you can read it here. TD What next after Land Rover
Vastly different from the original and now with a monocoque chassis rather than a “body on frame”, it is not as easy to adapt.
There are “90” and “110” versions available in both station wagons and as a commercial 2/3 seat van. A “130” Station wagon is to follow with a stretched wheelbase and longer rear overhang Land Rover 130 Spy shots (Autocar)
I was sceptical as to how good the replacement will be.
I have not driven one, but having read many press reports and watched even more YouTube videos it’s evidently a very capable vehicle.
But, it’s no longer a utility vehicle, it’s more of a very capable “Chelsea Tractor.”
The “Wolf” military version is now the best part of 25 years old, it’s been around a while. There is a very interesting and probably the most definitive series of articles, documenting the history of Land Rover in military use written by Bob Morrison.
You can access them here.
For a period of time, a MOD disposal contractor has had a constant flow of Wolf 90 TUL and Wolf 110 TUM, through their auction yard, all in various states of disrepair. I understand that the main reason that the 90 is being disposed of across the fleet is due to its limited payload. (3350kg GVW). However, I’ve been surprised just how many 110 are up for disposal, with plenty available in each auction catalogue for some months. I understand the rationale for getting rid of the damaged or dilapidated. But interestingly, a very recent announcement is the sale by the MOD via ARMSCOR the procurement agency of the South African Department of Defence, of Land Rover and a number of other vehicles and equipment. It is my assumption that these will be the A1 grade. You can access the PDF sales brochure here.
So, have the MOD found a replacement without telling anyone? or has the army shrunk to such a size that we don’t need as many?
It certainly can’t be the order for MRV – P, this has still not been signed.
That’s another story!!, which has gone very quiet.
It’s a General Service vehicle which I address here.
Pretty much, my views around the General Service vehicle haven’t changed. Much of what I considered back in 2014 remains the same. Given the constraints of vehicle weights and driving licence regulations, a 3500 kg gross vehicle weight is still an issue, and its limited payload is still an issue. Driving licence regulations restrict category B holders to 3500kg. it’s time to accept that the minimum driving licence of military personnel has to be a minimum C1 (up to 7500kg). It shouldn’t be too difficult to get everyone trained and not cost that much.
Rather than a COTS double cab pick-up, I feel two new contenders are worth consideration.
Firstly, the new kid on the block it’s now on my list of preferred options.
The INEOS GRENADIER
Conceived by the owner of the massive chemical company INEOS, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, to be a real Land Rover successor. Yes, it looks a bit like a Land Rover and not dissimilar to a G Wagon too. Is that such a bad thing? it’s a familiar silhouette. INEOS has taken a very serious approach to the vehicle’s development.
They have also chosen to partner with some of the world’s leading automotive engineering firms and suppliers. Magna Steyr is their main engineering expert, developing its four-wheel-drive credentials. A good choice as they are also responsible for the development and production of the Mercedes G wagon. Interestingly the Grenadier has been tested over the same punishing mountains as the G wagon. The test ground is the trails of the Schöckl mountain near their Austrian headquarters. The axles are being developed by CARRARO. The gearbox by ZF. The 8HP gearbox is widely acknowledged as one of the best available. This will be coupled to a bespoke transfer case with high and low ratios being manually selected. The engines are being sourced from BMW, using their B57 and B58 straight-six petrol and diesel engines. Recalibration of the engines is being carried out to better fit the required characteristics. The petrol 285bhp / 450nm with the diesel 249bhp / 550nm.
Some have commented that the choice of BMW engines is a weak link. I strongly disagree. The BMW diesel engine has been rigorously put through its paces as a workhorse, it’s in pretty much every “large” Police vehicle in the UK and elsewhere. Just take a look at the high mileage ex- Police vehicles being disposed of at auction, some with huge mileages having been covered. I don’t doubt its ability and longevity. Initially, INEOS planned to build a new factory in Bridgend South Wales, which would have been a major boost for the local Welsh economy. However, the plans have now changed. Mercedes have decided to dispose of the former smart factory in Hambach, France.
Over recent years Mercedes has spent a small fortune on the plant making it one of the most modern and capable in Europe. INEOS’ decision to buy it makes huge financial sense. The added bonus was their awarded “Contact Production” status by Mercedes, to build an electric vehicle for them. In my opinion, the acquisition of the factory is an offer INEOS just could not refuse. It also makes sense with the post-Brexit, tariff-free movement of the engines and other components within the EU. The development of the Grenadier continues, it appears as part of the development process they are consulting many end-users apparently including UK special forces.
Final specifications are to be confirmed and development work continues. It now looks like its unladen weight is going to be 2650kg, which will result in an 850kg payload. Also, of note and unlike the new Land Rover Defender a Pickup is in development and has now been seen testing on public roads. Grenadier pick-up (Autocar)
This version along with a 7-seat variant is based on a longer 3175mm wheelbase. The reduction in bodywork might give a slightly higher payload. Currently testing as a double cab without any bodywork. Prices are confirmed to start at £48K for the two-seat Commercial with deliveries commencing and a dealer and servicing network in place in the final quarter of 2022. Grenadier Prices (Autocar)
The Grenadier, has a lot of potentials, and I’m sure with a few tweaks, it could fit the GS requirement.
Watch this space, I think the Grenadier has a lot of promise.
The next consideration is the recent update to Mercedes’s ubiquitous G Wagon. After almost 30 years, a number of new models were announced on 28th September 2021. Mercedes G464 Official. Based on the latest generation 464 model which has been available as a passenger vehicle for a couple of years. The new G Class for Rescue and Special Operations is available in two variants, a station wagon and a two-door Chassis cab.
Both Models are designated as G350d with a 249bhp 600nm diesel engine. It’s Euro 3 compliant which allows it to operate anywhere in the world. The station wagon designated as the BA06 has a maximum authorised mass of 3500kg. This keeps it with the Category B driving licence regulations. Its payload is reported as a respectable 1000kg. I shall common to how this was achieved later. The biggest visual change to the vehicle is the position of the air intake, which swaps to the left side of the vehicle. It has an impressive ground clearance of 221mm and an equally impressive 660mm wading depth. Wheelbase is 2850mm.
The Chassis cab is designated as the BA09, with a stretched wheelbase of 3650mm. A maximum mass increase of 4.9 tonnes with a payload of 2.5 tonnes. Both vehicles have a towing capacity of 3500kg. The chassis cab now has an enlarged passenger cab, with more space for the occupants and storage for equipment.
Due to the numerous modifications, which include the removal of vehicle airbags and its protective door bars, it cannot be homologated for civilian use. No doubt the removal of these features and subsequent weight reduction have allowed the increase in payload. Many other specific features, such as 24v electrics and a clever emergency override which disables some features and enables others, will get the operators out of trouble. Plasan has been involved in the development of the LAPV Light Armoured Patrol Vehicle version. Additional ground clearance is achieved by the use of portal axles. MRV-P requirement with commonality, now there’s a thought.
Two interesting articles available from trusted sources are worth a read;
Given that Magna Styer has been involved in the INEOS Grenadier development, I’m sure some of these features could be integrated into a military version.
So, my conclusion is a two-horse race;
The already available MOTS Mercedes G464 G Wagon and the yet-to-be-developed INEOS Grenadier.
My money is on the pedigree of Mercedes.
May the best one win.