WHEN pubs reopen on Saturday, Britain will be all the better for it.
Not because we can enjoy a cheeky pint or three with our mates.
Not for the bants. Or the fact we are supporting local businesses.
But for all of those reasons combined and also because some of the best ideas are hatched down the pub.
Sir Edmund Hillary is a great example. He climbed Everest after plotting the expedition at a boozer at the foot of Snowdonia.
Then there’s Bloodhound — the 1,000mph rocket car — thought up by speed kings Richard Noble and Andy Green over a pint.
Now you can add petrochemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe to that list.
He was at his favourite watering hole chatting to pals about the demise of the old Land Rover Defender when he said: “Do you know what, lads. Let’s build our own proper 4×4.”
‘Same minerals as a G-Wagen for less than half the price’
Or words to that effect. And here it is — the Grenadier — named after the pub where it all began.
It’s a no-nonsense work tool that can be hosed down inside and out. Pick-up version to follow. And the price tag will be thirty-something thousand pounds when it hits the road in 2022.
Does it look a bit like a Merc G-Wagen at the front? Yes, but who cares? It’s got the same minerals for less than half the price.
And by that I mean ladder-frame chassis, three differential locks and a mechanical transfer box to keep you moving when the road ends. BMW will supply straight-six 3-litre diesel and petrol engines and ZF will provide auto gearboxes. Tasty.
But to top all that, it’s good to know that Grenadier will be assembled in Bridgend in South Wales, creating up to 500 jobs.
It’s far too early to even begin to compare it to the new Defender but at least farmers and adventurers will have a choice.
Mark Tennant, commercial director at INEOS Automotive, said: “We’re 18 months from the start of production but we’ve got no models to protect, no sales to protect, so we thought, ‘Let’s share it’.
There’s no need to faff around with camouflage while we’re testing it. It doesn’t need to be a secret.
“The growth of the SUV market has been phenomenal but where others have moved on-road and more upmarket, our focus is off-road.
“This isn’t another jelly mould or cookie cutter SUV. It’s a utilitarian 4×4. A working tool for doing a job. But with the safety systems everyone expects. We’re confident there is a market out there and we want customers to enjoy it rather than it being out of reach.”
Grenadier can carry a tonne and tow 3.5 tonnes. It can take a pallet between the double rear doors and there are exterior stowage boxes above the rear wheel arches for wet kit.
INEOS also plans a short-wheelbase two-door version and revealed that future Grenadiers could be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.
Final observation. The A symbol is not a nod to Gulf War tanks or even a Spartan shield. Tennant said: “We just thought it looked quite cool.”
I’ll drink to that.
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