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Where's the originality in the design of new 4x4s?

By Matt Raudonikis, 23 Sep 2020 Opinion

Ineos Grenadier

Matt is disappointed with the lack of originality from bespoke 4x4 manufacturers.

WHILE I find it exciting to see new and interesting 4x4 vehicles coming to market, I’m disappointed in the blatant lack of originality in the design of some of them.

While it seems to be the norm for most new passenger cars and SUVs to all look the same, as if they were all designed by the same team of Year 5 school students, I’d like to think we should expect more of the bespoke 4x4 manufacturers.

Like many of us I’ve been excited to watch the rapid development and design of the Ineos Grenadier coming out of the UK. They are promising a no-frills, built-for-purpose 4x4 vehicle much along the lines of the classic Land Rover Defender, but one that would meet all modern safety and emissions requirements to allow it to be marketed around the world. What could be better?

After being refused the rights to purchase and continue to build the old Defender when JLR stopped making them in 2016, Ineos started with a clean sheet of paper for the Grenadier. One of the designers encouragingly stated in the lead-up to the reveal that the Grenadier, “wouldn’t have a jelly mould design like most modern SUVs”.

The lead-up to the Grenadier design reveal was an exciting time, but I was gobsmacked and disappointed at how much it looked like a Defender when it was finally shown to the media.

OPINION: Here's why Australia needs the Grenadier

Now the team at Ineos have stated that when you are creating product to suit a specific brief there are limitations to how different you can make it, and inevitably any products designed to do the same thing will look similar. But there are too many Land Rover design elements in the Grenadier for my liking. That’s not speaking against Land Rover, but the lack of originality.

The use of the Alpine windows in the roof are the most obvious rip-off and aren’t essential to design, but there are other elements evident too. Land Rover thought so as well and took Ineos to court over it, but lost the case.

So I was similarly shocked and disappointed when I first laid eyes on the new Thar from Mahindra. I actually thought I was looking at an old sales brochure for a Jeep JK Wrangler. Mahindra has been building Jeeps under licence in India for 70 years, but I would have thought that when creating a new model, and on the back of legal action from Jeep in the USA over the look of its Roxor model, Mahindra might have got a bit more adventurous and sought out the brand’s own identity with the Thar.

That said, I’m excited the Thar is coming here in 2021 … I just hope I’m not as disappointed in the drive as I was with the design.