Piranha Combines Pontiac Performance with Innovative Functionality and Customization

CHICAGO - Pontiac: It's a name that stands for excitement and performance. With bold, athletic styling that provides an expression of individuality, Pontiac reflects the active lifestyles of its customers while providing high levels of comfort and convenience.

The word "piranha" evokes the image of a creature that's nimble, aggressive, and extremely efficient. Like its namesake, the Pontiac Piranha is "a small package with a big bite." Piranha reiterates the bold, purposeful Pontiac personality for the 21st century, offering simplicity of operation and low-cost performance coupled with unprecedented innovation. "The Piranha concept combines new levels of functionality and versatility with the traditional Pontiac elements of performance, styling, ride and handling," says Pontiac General Manager Lynn Myers.

Influenced by the active lifestyles of young drivers, Piranha provides the versatility required by people in pursuit of extreme fun. From its athletic exterior to the highly customizable interior, it's a vehicle that's full of surprises. What comes as no surprise is the excitement produced by Piranha's performance, ride and handling - after all, it's a Pontiac.

The surprises start with Piranha's exterior. Although it's a coupe, it comes with back doors that open rearward to provide easy access to the entire interior. An innovative roof rack system pops up when needed, and disassembles easily when not in use. Features such as these, plus Piranha's distinctive athletic stance and dual-colored exterior, immediately telegraph Pontiac styling excitement.

Piranha's interior sets a new standard in flexible interior design. Athletic forms, colors and textures emphasize the vehicle's durable, functional character. The interior is highly customizable. Fabric panels on the doors and instrument panel can be changed by zipping them on and off, allowing the driver to change color schemes easily. All four seats are designed to be foldable, lightweight and removable - once outside the vehicle, they do double duty as beach chairs. A lightweight tub in the cargo area serves as a trunk or a cooler, and can be removed to provide storage or seating outside the vehicle. Removing the tub creates a flat bed, effectively converting the Piranha into a "mini-pickup" complete with fold-up tailgate.

Even though the emphasis is on flexibility and utility, there's no shortage of traditional Pontiac performance. A supercharged version of the 2.2 liter 16-valve 4-cylinder Ecotec engine provides plenty of fuel-efficient power. There's plenty of stability, too, with the Grand Prix-derived wide track design, 19-inch rear wheels, and 18-inch front wheels. Front wheel drive and an AISIN 5-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift controls mounted on the steering wheel keep the driver in command and enhance Piranha's fun-to-drive character.

The Piranha concept was developed with young people and young attitudes in mind. So Pontiac went to the source, visiting a college campus and an indoor rock climbing facility and talking at length to consumers in the 18 to 26 age range. These young drivers talked about what they want in a vehicle, what they use it for, what hobbies and other activities they engage in. They gave feedback on Piranha's overall philosophy and specific design elements.

The result is a highly customizable vehicle that allows drivers to express themselves and their individuality. Athletic forms and materials reflect the active lifestyles of these consumers. The design team drew inspiration from items such as sports tents, athletic shoes and biking head gear and mountain bike components. Because young drivers are looking for affordable driving excitement, Piranha's designers explored low-cost manufacturing strategies. The resulting lightweight construction and visible structure make Piranha inexpensive both to buy and maintain.

The Piranha concept introduces a new generation of drivers to unsurpassed driving excitement. Says Pontiac Design Manager John Mack, "The Piranha concept can offer young consumers the opportunity to buy new, not used; expressive, not traditional; in a quality performance that meets their very active lifestyle needs."

SOURCE: Pontiac

Piranha's Driving Excitement is Pure Pontiac

CHICAGO - It may look unlike anything you've ever seen, but at its heart, Piranha is pure Pontiac. Even though the design emphasizes flexibility and utility, there's no shortage of traditional Pontiac driving excitement. Piranha's power, performance, ride and handling make it "a small package with a big bite."

A supercharged version of GM's Ecotec 2.2-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder engine provides plenty of fuel-efficient power. Horsepower is rated at 212@5900 rpm with torque of 203 ft-lb@4600rpm. A lightweight composite intake manifold provides tuned intake passages for excellent power and torque in a compact design. The engine runs smoothly and quietly, thanks to features such as an isolated cam cover that reduces valve noise. Twin balance shafts, located in the cylinder block, cancel out the shaking forces that are normal in an inline four-cylinder engine.

All accessories bolt directly into the engine, contributing more rigidity and reducing vibration. The die-cast lower crankcase, structural oil pan and the full circle transmission attachment make an extremely rigid engine assembly. The engine design gives Piranha world-class noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) control, and smooth, quiet full-throttle operation from idle to maximum engine speed. One of the goals of Piranha's designers and engineers was to create a performance vehicle that is inexpensive to buy and to own. The engine helps Piranha meet that goal by setting new standards among four-cylinder engines for reduced maintenance and enhanced serviceability.

An oil life monitoring system calculates oil life based on engine operation, eliminating unnecessary oil changes while extending engine life. Long-life components such as coolant, belts and coil-on-plugs reduce maintenance costs.

The engine is produced using the lost-foam casting process, which uses a highly accurate foam pattern to create the casting molds. This allows intricate designs to be cast into the engine block, cylinder head, and other major parts, reducing cost and increasing reliability. Durability is enhanced by the basic integrity of the design and the extensive use of roller-chain drives. Piranha's engine features aluminum block and cylinder head construction.

The use of aluminum means less mass and substantial weight reduction. That results in greater operating efficiency and better mileage for economy-minded customers. The aluminum cylinder head provides operational and production efficiencies similar to those in the block. Piranha was designed to appeal to the youth market - a group that is extremely aware of environmental concerns. These consumers will appreciate the many ways this engine is environmentally friendly.

For instance, a unique, compact oil filter cartridge made of paper and plastic can be removed virtually drip free, and it eliminates a canister mating surface that is a common source of leaks. The dual-overhead cams are driven by a single, durable roller chain from the crank, a design that leads to an extremely efficient combustion process and lowered emissions. Also improving combustion and reducing emissions is the design of the pistons, which prevents fuel from flowing down the cylinder wall. The high velocity, thermally efficient nodular cast iron exhaust manifold also improves emissions. With its rear exhaust take down, 3mm land above the top piston ring, thin multi-layer head gasket, superior cylinder-to-cylinder distribution balance and optimized combustion chamber process,

Piranha's engine is able to meet increasingly stringent emission standards. Adding to Piranha's driving dynamics and efficiency is the AISIN 5-speed automatic transmission. This transmission is an excellent match for the powerful supercharged 2.2-liter. The first four gears provide optimum performance, while the fifth gear reduces engine rpm at highway speeds, contributing improved fuel economy and reduced engine wear. In keeping with the nonconforming attitude of Piranha, the transmission features steering wheel-mounted paddle controls to increase driver interaction and fun.

There's plenty of stability, too, with the Grand Prix-derived wide track design. Wide-track physics mean that Piranha's 64-inch wheel-to-wheel width enhances driving control. The vehicle is extremely well balanced, a fact that creates more predictable handling. Stability is also enhanced with Piranha's 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels. These large tires put substantially more rubber on the road than the smaller variety, increasing stability and giving Piranha smooth handling and superb road performance.


Piranha Specifications

VS. 2000 Sunfire Specifications


Drive: Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive


Wheelbase: 105"



Length: 172"



Width: 72"



Height: 56"



Front track: 64"



Rear track: 64"



Tire Size: Front - 225/50R18 Rear - 245/45R19

Front/Rear - 195/65R15

SOURCE: Pontiac