I wanted to hate the Ineos Grenadier. Really, I did. Its design is derivative, its powertrain borrowed and engineering outsourced. Not to mention, Ineos is a plucky startup that’s neither plucky nor starting up. The new automaker is the subsidiary of a large petrochemical firm. The whole thing is kind of a rich guy’s pet project so until now, I’d been dismissive. But the Grenadier is growing on me because it gives the car key the dignity it deserves.
The Grenadier doesn’t have a push-button ignition. There’s honest-to-goodness tumblers inside a cylinder, and you’ll have to grip the key and turn your wrist to turn it on. Also, it has a “toot” button on the steering wheel for polite honking.
The interior is a mess of buttons and switch panels; it’s great. There’s still a touchscreen but the company prioritizes physical input so there’s a knob, or rotary controller, that drivers can use to navigate menus on the screen. That should be handy when you’re wearing gloves or your fingers are wet and the damn touchscreen won’t work.
The rest of the SUV’s features demand that drivers interact with something besides a screen in order to work. And the layout looks well thought out, too. The off-road controls are on a panel above the dash that makes the SUV’s cabin look like an airplane.
I thought maybe some of the Grenadier’s physical inputs wouldn’t make it to the production model but, as Periodismo Del Motorreports, all those buttons made it to production. Except push-to-start. The Spanish news outlet confirmed there’s no push-button ignition in the Grenadier.
If you squint, you can see a “Start-Stop” button in the center stack but that’s apparently the button to enable/disable the automatic engine cut-off, which kills the engine instead of idling. That could be confusing, but I’ll take a bit of a learning curve over a bare, lifeless dash any day.
Car cabins are slowly losing dimension and the feeling of immersion. They’re starting to look like cubicles; all flat surfaces and screens. It’d be neat to go back to cockpits, and back to using actual keys to bring these machines to life.