Describing it as an “urban-industrial” wagon for young urban professionals, the Granite is a small, but tough, customer. It looks like a bit of a mash-up of other wagons, like the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and Scion xB. However, the design seems to point towards a different idea. The windshield is raked back at a dramatic angle and the headlights are pushed towards the edge of the front of the car, sweeping back into the fender and leaving a noticeable gap between the lights and the grille. The back comes down at an abrupt vertical angle, with a rear spoiler jutting out from the roof. The Granite sits on aggressive 20-inch wheels, giving the observer the impression of a much larger vehicle that has been shrunk down to size.
Small it is. If the Granite does make it to production, it will easily be the smallest vehicle produced by GMC. In its concept stage, the wagon is a full foot shorter than the Chevy Cobalt. In fact, the closest vehicle one could compare it to is the Honda Fit.
The platform has not yet been disclosed by GMC, though if it is a close cousin to the Orlando, chances are it will be built on GM’s Delta II architecture. Powering the Granite will be a turbo-charged 1.4 liter four cylinder engine, putting out 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Paired to the engine will be a six-speed automatic transmission. GMC has not said if there will be a manual transmission option.
The Granite does have some interesting design features. GMC says the Granite is meant for young people who will use it for weekend excursions. To this end, the vehicle is designed with sits that flip forward and fold flat against the center console, expanding the amount of cargo room considerably. The back doors are rear-hinged, removing the A-pillar. This allows owners to load objects like bikes in front the side rather than from the rear. It is common for many concept cars to have rear-hinged doors only to see the production model adopt doors that connect to an A-pillar. In this case, GMC insists the rear-hinged doors will remain if and when the car goes into production.
Perhaps the most intriguing and radical design change is the transmission shifter. Instead of a handle that one pushes and pulls into gear, the Granite features a knob. Instead of moving through a gate, the knob turns, clicking the vehicle into the proper gear. Drivers will know what gear they’re in by looking at a LED display, where it will be displayed.
The Granite is certainly a strange new fish in the GMC pond. It may just be an indicator of where GM plans on taking the brand in the next few years as consumers move away from gas-guzzling SUVs like the Suburban and embrace smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles.