SOME new cars are definitely on my must drive list and our latest test motor has been right up there at the top.

It looks very much like a previous model Defender and a Mercedes G-Class have got together and had a love child to produce the new Ineos Grenadier.

Which should be no bad thing as a Defender with German DNA would be a great off road utility vehicle and, after a day trying out the newcomer in a very damp lake district, I can confirm that would seem to be the case.

When Land Rover replaced its original Defender with the impressive but plusher and pricier new model it left a gap in the market for something more basic, tough and uncompromising.

Step forward the Grenadier built in France (after Wales missed out) by a company founded by Ineos billionaire Jim Ratcliffe. Already emergency services like lifeboat crews have signed up to replace their old Defenders with Grenadiers seeing the new Land Rovers as having gone more down the ‘Chelsea Tractor’ route.

Don’t get me wrong, the new Defender is just as capable as its predecessors at taking on treacherous terrain but for less cash and with a more utilitarian feel the Grenadier seems to be a logical alternative.

The reason that German DNA is present is mainly down to the Grenadier’s 3-litre straight six BMW engines (246bhp diesel or 282bhp petrol) and a superb 8-speed ZF BMW auto gearbox.

The range starts with the Utility Wagon which is classed as a commercial vehicle and is available with two or five seats and has been designed as a load lugger.

For those wanting to carry people the five-seat Station Wagon offers the most passenger space plus room for 1,255 litres of cargo while the latest addition is the Quartermaster pick-up truck. This is 305mm longer than the wagons and features an open cargo bed while still having five seats but the maximum payload of 760kg is lower.

The standard model has LED lights, 17-inch steel wheels, climate control, remote central locking, a 12.3-inch central infotainment touchscreen and a ‘water-resistant’ interior with double seals on all doors for when you want to go wading.

Moving up the range the Trailmaster has a raised snorkel air-intake for when you’re up to your headlamps in water plus front and rear differential locks in addition to the standard centre one plus BFGoodrich All-Terrain tyres as well as luxuries like a rear-view camera, heated mirrors, heated washer jets, extra charge points in the cabin and more.

The Fieldmaster is the plushest model and has all of the above plus a leather-trimmed steering wheel, heated seats, carpet floor mats, heated windscreen and puddle lamps plus 17-inch alloy wheels.

Built on a tough ladder frame chassis with beam axles and coil-spring suspension the Grenadier is surprisingly civilised on road but it is when you get into the rough stuff that it really shines. I got to put one through a reasonably challenging off road course during the Lake District event and found it to be every bit as capable as its strikingly similar rival. It is well up to the job of crawling over very difficult terrain with low range gearing and those locking differentials.

There are various systems to help including off-road and wading modes, uphill assist and downhill assist.

One of the reasons for my great interest in trying out a Grenadier off-road is that I have old Land Rovers so was keen to find out how the new kid on the block stacks up.

My only criticism is the steering, which does not self-centre as in most cars, but this is only an issue on road and you soon get used to this slight quirk. Also if you are into lots of switches and buttons then this is the car for you with an overhead panel of electronic driver aids lighting and more that makes you feel like an airline pilot.

0-62mph takes 8.6 seconds in the petrol Grenadier, which is 1.3 seconds faster than the diesel, though the 99mph top speed is the same for both models

The 12.3-inch touch screen combines information like the speed, current gear, fuel gauge and tyre pressures with stereo and sat-nav functionality. There’s also smartphone connectivity and the Trailmaster and Fieldmaster versions also have a compass and altimeter.

The Grenadier is a big vehicle – 4,895mm long, 2,146mm wide (including its mirrors) and 2,050mm tall which means a lot of space inside for passengers and luggage.

Every Grenadier comes with a very competitive five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, plus three years of cover for the paintwork and 12 years cover against rust. Prices are from £64,500 to £76,000.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth