Inspiring wildlife adventure in the new Ineos Grenadier Quartermaster bakkie

Published Jun 6, 2024


When Sir Jim Ratcliffe drew the first sketch on a serviette in the Grenadier pub in London he was well aware that he wasn’t a designer or car guru, so he set about gathering the best in the business and, as they say, the rest is history.

Essentially he wanted a modern old-style Defender minus its unique quirks so he roped in those in the know and as a result the Ineos Grenadier is fitted with a BMW 3.0-litre diesel or petrol engine, eight speed ZF gearbox, Magna differentials and Recaro seats with the whole lot assembled in Hambach, France in a former Smart car factory he bought from Mercedes-Benz.

It was only a matter of time after they had gone to market that the company started offering different variations on the original Grenadier so around 2027 we’ll see the Fusilier in EV and plug-in hybrid form and a short wheel base.

But more imminently Ineos will also launch the Quartermaster double cab bakkie, which we recently got to drive in the Kruger National Park.

We’re a growing market in the sub-Saharan region and we were lucky enough to be the first journalists in the world to get to drive it.

The Quartermaster is a double cab version of the Ineos Grenadier SUV. Picture: Supplied.

We’re not allowed to give driving impressions yet and will have to wait for its official launch to share those views but if you’re familiar with the interior of the Grenadier it is virtually a carbon copy.

What it also has is the Grenadier’s unique Pathfinder off-road navigation system that allows you to record, share or follow your route via way points including breadcrumb tracks.

You can plan an off road route online using GPS coordinates (as opposed to map data), save it as a GPX file to a USB stick, download it onto the system and it will guide you on the 12.3-inch touch screen infotainment system.

Unlike a normal GPS, it doesn’t show you tracks or roads but rather a compass with an arrow that guides you in the correct direction from way point to way point.

The infotainment system is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto friendly so you can also use maps apps or Tracks4Africa should you wish.

We spent almost six hours following a pre-loaded route and it takes a while to get used to it without voice commands, especially since I’ve only ever used Garmin and Tracks4Africa.

One of the reasons we were there was to witness the work of the Tracker Academy, which Ineos Grenadier is heavily involved with.

In a nutshell, the academy trains disadvantaged rural youngsters as professional wildlife trackers for deployment in the conservation and ecotourism industries, and restores indigenous tracking knowledge to demonstrate that it still has relevance in modern conservation efforts.

Alex van den Heever and Renias Mhlongo teamed up as trackers decades ago and after working together locally and in North and South America they realised that this was a dying art and so decided to do something about it.

With the help of Gaynor Rupert they founded the academy in 2010 and since then a number of other benefactors have joined, including Ineos Grenadier who sponsor 13 candidates and the use of a Grenadier.

They receive up to 900 applicants every year but only 24 tracker students can be accepted. It’s a success story to be sure with 83 percent of graduates currently employed in the industry.

We got to see them in action on a short bush walk outside the safety of the fences at Tshokwane River Camp and their knowledge of tracks and the bush in general is remarkable.

What looks like a scratch on the path turns out to be a Duiker, a small hole in the veld, a Baboon Spider prepping for the winter and they’ll tell you whether it’s a male or female Giraffe spoor simply by looking at the imprint.

It’s projects like these that instil hope for future generations and the survival of our wilderness and wildlife and also that vehicles like the Ineos Grenadier continue to espouse the values and excitement of exploration.

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