2010 Detroit: GMC Granite Explores New Segment for Brand

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GMC has built all sorts of vehicles throughout its 100 years of existence, but a compact hatchback -- like the Granite concept -- has never been one of them.

Still, there could very well be room for such a vehicle within GM’s truck division. Bolstered by the success of crossovers like the Acadia and the smaller Terrain, the brand is toying with the notion of something even smaller -- something designed for customers who haul duffel bags more frequently than they do bags of Quickrete.

It’s easy enough to call the Granite a competitor to the Scion xB -- it is a rounded box, after all -- but the concept carries more visual flair than the boxy Toyota. Large deep-dish wheels, coupled with flared wheel wells pushed to the extreme corners of the car, are vaguely reminiscent of a Volkswagen GTI.

Designers hoped to lend the car an upscale feel inside, and liberally applied suede throughout the two-tone cabin. We doubt those materials are seriously being considered for a compact vehicle (no matter the price point), but there are a few features we hope reappear in a production car of some sort. The rear-hinged passenger doors, similar to those used on the Opel Meriva, improve entry and egress. Both passenger-side seats fold flat against the center console, allowing a full-sized bicycle -- with both wheels still attached -- to be carried inside.

Production plans for the Granite aren’t yet set in stone, but GM says it is “testing the waters” to see how consumers react. At this point, we think it’s a 50-50 proposition: GM may have a suitable platform (Delta) and powertrain (the turbocharged 1.4-liter I-4 destined for the Chevy Cruze). Still, we’re wondering just how many Scion buyers are truly ready to move into something a little more upscale…

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