There’s a sense of occasion when you clamber up into the Grenadier’s surprisingly supportive, heated Recaro seats. For one thing, the driving position is magnificently high. In original Defender fashion, your eyeline almost skims the top of the side windows (though unlike in the original Defender, the sill itself fully invites a resting elbow).
On the motorway, you find yourself peering down into the cabins of other ‘full-size’ SUVs as you overtake. Visibility is panoramic, and the sense of space is heightened by the removable safari windows fitted as standard on road-leaning Fieldmaster Grenadiers, as tested here.
The Grenadier’s designers have chosen to lean into this flight deck ambience. While an array of climate controls are built into a hardy-looking panel on the centre console, switchgear relating to off-road activities is found on an overhead panel. Here you will also find chunky, pre-wired toggle switches for any auxiliary accessories fitted either inside (eg additional USB points) or out (eg a 40in light bar).
All the switchgear is supersized for use with gloves, and while the BMW-sourced central display can be touch-controlled, there’s also a large rotary control on the transmission tunnel.
Perceived quality is some way off what you find inside the new Defender, but some of that is by design and the Grenadier doesn’t feel conspicuously cheap.
All surfaces are splash-proof, and our test car’s heavy-duty flooring can be hosed out then removed to let water out through drain holes. Carpet is an option, and leather can be used for steering wheel, handbrake lever and seats, softening the functional ambience. And while some will find the military-esque graphics performative, others will love them.
Oddment storage is lacking. The door pockets are shallow and the transmission tunnel is mostly devoid of useful recesses. Matters improve elsewhere. The cubby under the driver’s seat holds a toolkit but there’s a similar space under the passenger seat. The rear bench folds up to reveal a dry-storage compartment.
The doors of the split tailgate open wide to reveal fully 1152 litres of seats-up capacity, though flat-topped wheel-arch moulds would make the space more useful. The second row of seats fold 60/40 to swell that capacity to an enormous 2035 litres, though they don’t fold entirely flat. The plastic floor of the boot curves up at its leading edge to confine water, or as one owner will attest, sheep guts.
The Grenadier’s infotainment system is from BMW and uses a 12.3in touchscreen. The dash directly ahead of the driver is deliberately barren, save for a small display that shows various warning lights. It means the central display is used to show fuel level, gear, engine temperature and speed, and road speed, as well as all the usual multimedia functions.
It does so reasonably well, though looking left to see vital information never feels that intuitive, and a large rev counter would be better. Graphics and latency are fine for this kind of application, though would feel a bit out of place in, say, any BMW of similar price to the Grenadier.
Finding the off-road menu is a one-touch affair. There are readouts for driveline temperature, altitude and electrical draw, plus a satellite-based ‘Pathfinder’ programme that allows you to create and share off-grid routes with other Grenadiers.
Apple CarPlay (via Bluetooth) and Android Auto (wired) are standard. The car also has two 12V sockets (one in the armrest compartment, another in the boot) and both USB-A and -C ports.