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Concept-GMC Granite Preview

Concept-GMC Granite Preview

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
GMC Granite ConceptCritical Knowledge:
  • Compact crossover SUV concept from GMC
  • Two feet shorter than GMC Terrain
  • Features "progressive industrial" design
  • Aimed at young professionals and designed for negotiating crowded city streets
  • No-pillar doors open from center, easing ingress and egress and ability to carry long or bulky items
  • Reconfigurable seats that flip and fold in toward center console
  • Room for 5 passengers
  • Two-tone interior with suede-like Nubuck material on seats and instrument panel
  • Full-length center console with integrated storage and connection ports
  • Rotating gear selector knob with LED indicators
  • Navigation, USB port, OnStar and Bluetooth
  • 20-inch wheels
  • Introduced at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit
Introduction
General Motors' GMC division has spent much of the last decade touting the capability and premium features of its vehicles-in particular its Sierra and Yukon line of full-size pickups and SUVs-through its "Professional Grade" ad campaign. But with big-truck sales down significantly from just a few years ago, stricter government-mandated corporate average fuel-economy targets looming on the horizon and, perhaps most significantly-industry sales of crossovers taking off like a rocket-it seems the dedicated truck brand is diversifying. The introduction in 2007 of the midsize GMC Acadia-the brand's first crossover SUV-signaled a sea change for the brand, and was the first significant step toward featuring more carlike, fuel-efficient designs in its product portfolio. The recently introduced 2010 GMC Terrain compact crossover SUV is another example of the shift occurring at GMC.

Now, just months after the Terrain's launch, GMC has introduced another small crossover-Granite-though at this point the new model is still officially a concept. Similar in size to the Chevrolet HHR and a full two feet shorter than the Terrain, the Granite concept is aimed at young urban professionals-quite a change from the general contractor and do-it-yourselfer crowds the brand has traditionally targeted. Featuring rear-hinged rear doors and what GM calls an "urban-industrial design aesthetic," the Granite concept has been engineered to be small on the outside yet feel big on the inside, featuring an open interior with generous cargo space and unique flipping/folding seats. And although the Granite is technically a concept, it is conceivable that, with a few significant modifications, we could see a production version in just a year or two.

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GMC Granite ConceptExterior Design
In describing the design inspiration for the new Granite concept, GMC repeatedly uses the terms "urban" and "industrial." Said Dave Lyon, executive director of North American Interior and Global Cross-Brand Design for GM: "We think of the Granite as the automotive equivalent of an urban loft apartment. The exterior has an unmistakable industrial look, but the interior is warm and personalized." So how did the company go about capturing the urban-industrial vibe and applying it to a crossover utility vehicle? By using young designers who could draw upon the preferences of young, urban professionals like themselves. The end result was a relatively short but functional design, with a wheelbase comparable to a Chevrolet Cobalt but with an overall length more than a foot shorter-ideal for maneuvering on narrow, urban streets. And while the Granite may be considered short, it is relatively wide-70.3 inches.

Viewed from the front, the Granite concept features GMC's signature grille, flanked by headlamps that sweep back into the fenders. From the side, the Granite concept has four doors, hinged on each side to open like a set of French doors. There's no pillar between the front and rear doors, making ingress and egress easier, and making it easier to load long or bulky items. At the rear, design elements include prominent taillamps with a multi-layer appearance and LED lighting technology, and a centered exhaust outlet with a brushed metal tip.

GMC points out that there is no chrome on the exterior of the Granite concept; all the trim has a satin or brushed metal finish, accenting the industrial look, according to the company. The exterior color of the Granite is metallic gray, again evoking the industrial theme.


GMC Granite ConceptInterior Design
The industrial design theme carries over to the interior of the GMC Granite Concept. According to the GMC, the Granite's interior was inspired by the design of aircraft-type mechanical instruments and precision tools. That is most apparent on the dashboard and instrument cluster, where gauges were modeled after finely crafted timepieces, the company says. A compass incorporated into the "barrel" surrounding the speedometer moves with every turn of the vehicle. Red backlighting illuminates the gauges, while a panel of organic LED screens houses the concept's navigation, infotainment, phone and climate control readouts.

The Granite's interior is finished with dark tones on the bottom and complementing, lighter colors on top, including suede-like Nubuck material on the seats and instrument panel. According to GMC, the instrument panel gives the impression of a command console.A full-length center console runs between the front and rear seats and features storage compartments large enough for a laptop computer, as well as ports to plug in portable electronic devices. The center console also houses a unique transmission shifter. Rather than the traditional handle within a conventional gate, the shifter is a simple, space-saving knob that rotates.

The Granite concept also features reconfigurable seats. The front passenger and right rear seats flip up and fold in toward the center console, creating a long, unobstructed storage space.

Hardware
The Granite concept is powered by a 1.4-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine-producing an estimated 140 horsepower-and features a 6-speed automatic transmission. This combination would give Granite EPA estimated fuel economy of 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, according to the manufacturer. The Granite concept has large, 20-inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone tires.

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