GMC Granite Concept
The Loft Apartment on Wheels
By Frank Markus

Behold what may come to be the smallest GMC ever. Conceived as an "Urban Utility Vehicle," the GMC Granite Concept on display at the 2010 Detroit auto show is fully two feet shorter than the Terrain, it features a dramatically raked windshield and fat tires pushed to the absolute corners of the vehicle to maximize interior package space. Now that New GM's down to just four brands, each of those brands is hoping to broaden its appeal and reach into segments that even the defunct brands weren't reaching. This is one of those broader-reaching products. Its B-pillarless coach-style (don't-call-'em-suicide) doors open onto a swanky suede-like Nubuck interior, with a front passenger seat that can be reclined flat, then folded up against the center console to make room for a bike. Wider and lower than Kia's Soul, Granite is meant to appear (and be) considerably pricier.

Young urban professional type designers (don't call 'em Yuppies, as that's too Baby-Boomerish) sculpted the exterior with industrial-design and commercial-chic themes. We don't exactly know what that means either, but repeating it makes one seem savvy, and we're reliably informed that its "series of complex, intersecting planes and angles, create the impression of an industrial machine -- an object created out of necessity, but admired for its precision and functional aesthetics." Alrighty then. Naturally there's no chrome (just brushed metal finishes) and the footwear is low-profile rubber on honkin' 20s, bulging from exaggerated wheel arches.

These kids fancy themselves as social and active, more likely to take friends clubbing and lug outdoor gear on weekend jaunts than to schlep lumber or tow a boat. With those requirements in mind, they sketched a vehicle with rather unique dimensions. At 161.3 inches long, by 70.3 inches wide by 60.5 inches tall, it's too wide, squat and short in length to be a minivan; too short in the nose and close to the ground to be an SUV. Inside, the controls interface is totally PDA inspired, as kids these days are losing their patience with buttons. Professional-grade gear selection is via a rotary knob that turns with the precise clicks of a torque wrench. There's even a big floating compass incorporated in the barrel speedometer so nobody ever gets lost.

The suggested powertrain in this concept is GM's 1.4-liter turbo mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. At this point it is still just a concept, and we suspect those "carriage doors" are not likely to survive, but design director Dave Lyon assures us that "A pathway to production has been identified," meaning a platform has been chosen and drivetrain compatibility as been confirmed, but the program has yet to receive the green light.