Detroit 2010: GMC Granite Concept
By Chris Haak
This morning in Detroit, GM revealed its Granite crossover concept. Calling it an “Urban Utility Vehicle,” the Granite is really very similar in concept to other boxes on wheels such as the Honda Element, Scion xB, Kia Soul, and Nissan Cube. With the departure of Pontiac from GM’s portfolio of brands, GM really needs a way to draw younger customers into Buick-GMC showrooms. Further, until the Acadia (and later Terrain), GMC had sold nothing but body on frame trucks. That product mix is also less-than-ideal for GM in a 35.5 mpg CAFE world that is just around the corner.
Toward the objective of skewing its buyer demographic toward younger buyers, GMC today displayed the GMC Granite concept. Built on GM’s compact front wheel drive chassis that shares components with cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze. In fact, the Granite concept also shares the 1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder Ecotec engine with the soon-to-be-released US Cruze. What the Granite doesn’t share, however, is its six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Fortunately, it also does not share the Cruze’s extremely conservative design.
The Granite does have a boxy design, but the boxiness is far more successful in the Granite than it is in the production GMC Terrain. Rather than looking like a phony, contrived version of “toughness,” the Granite’s large wheels, sculptured wheel openings, swept-back windshield, and extremely short overhangs seem to convey both the GMC design language, with updated modern proportions.
The short overhangs and 103.6 inch wheelbase make the Granite fairly easily maneuverable in urban settings – the scene where GMC hopes to attract more customers than it has been able to in the past. The Granite has four doors, with the rear doors having rear hinges. This combination creates an easy entry, and is of course also present in the Honda Element.
Passenger-side seats can be folded laterally toward the center console to create a large, long open area that’s large enough to accommodate a mountain bike with its wheels still on. The interior design motif is pure industrial-chic, with Nubuck faux suede and satin-finish and anodized trim. Storage compartments abound, and GMC seems to be proud of the Granite’s flexibility and configurability.
The vehicle was presented as a concept, but it seems plausible that it could go into production eventually with some toning-down of the concept car-like features. I’m not sure what effect such a vehicle would have on GMC’s “Professional Grade” brand, but I’m also not sure that GMC has much choice but to expand beyond hard-core trucks, because casual buyers of big trucks have largely disappeared from the market, and are likely to never return.
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