There but for the goofiness of ??? goes Saab

PA system: “Jay Spenchian, please report to the Fastlane weblog immediately. Bring a sharing attitude.”

Again, Fastlane continues to disappoint with a lack of Saab content. Saturn get a run in today’s post and I’d be so chuffed if Jay could get some thoughts tapped out on the keyboard. With the Frankfurt Motor Show just around the corner, I’m sure there’s plenty he could be writing about.

With Frankfurt coming up, it really is an exciting time for Saab enthusiasts. We have some great cars already in the stable and from what I can glean, there’s some fantastic ideas and models in various stages of their evolution.

The problem?

Saab was in pretty much the same position (minus the 9-2x and 9-7x) around 4 or 5 years ago. Back then the 9-5 was fresh and fantastic, the 9-3 Sport Sedan was on its way, the 9x concept vehicle had filled everyone with visions of hope and progress, and there were plans on the table for all sorts of future models, enough to have you salivating in your cereal.

Then the plug got pulled. Big time. Cost cutting, lack of investment, latent design. Michael Mauer could smell what they were shovelling and took off for Porsche (better company vehicle, I guess). All of the above contributed to the fact that Saab are now around 5 years or so behind the curve and playing catchup to a market that didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for stragglers.

The main case in point (and reason for the headline of this post) is Audi.

Where Saab stalled, Audi developed. They released the one model so desired by all companies – the halo vehicle. For Audi it was the TT and this car opened a great many doors. It captured the imaginations of what have now become, I’m sure, the often-sought ‘conquest’ customers.

What’s followed has been a slew of well received sedans and wagons and an increasingly high profile, right up to and including direct comparisons with the acknowledged industry leader, BMW.

Autoblog has two entries (here and here) full of photos of the new Audi Q7, a crossover vehicle to be debuted at Frankfurt.

q7.jpg

I’ve received the slightest hint, and I’m really hoping, that Saab will also have a pre-production 9-6x concept to unveil at the same show. Like I said, Saab are currently around 5 years behind the curve from where they could have been, had the ball not been dropped at the turn of the century. Audi seem to have kept composure and are now building, year by year, on a reputation forming around performance and quality.

There, but for the goofiness of ???, goes Saab.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow! I have recently admired Audi’s styling, wishing that SAAB would copy. You know, smooth and refined, but yet, an innocent looking dragon slayer.

    But then this? It makes the Tribeca look BEAUTIFUL. This gets my vote as ugliest vehicle I’ve seen this year. Should help SAAB a lot.

  2. I admit to liking the Q7’s looks myself. In fact just a short time ago I was not even giving Audi’s new snout a second look. Now as I see more and more new A4s/A6s on the road, it’s beginning to grow on me. Actually it’s better proportioned on the Q7 given its larger dimensions.

    Swade’s right, Saab right now is about 4-5 years behind where it should be. Or rather, where Saab is NOW should have happened back around 2000. That way the brand new AWD 9-5 and maybe even 9-3 would be launching right about now, in time to go tete-a-tete with the rash of luxo 4WD sedans out there (see example comparo below).

    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/Comparos/articleId=106555

    Meanwhile the 9-7X would be retiring, coinciding with the cooling off of the SUV craze and the higher oil prices while the 9-6X would be entering into its second cycle or even a gen-II. The 9-2X also would be seeing gen-II that is fresh from ground up. And there’d be an approved Sonett concept about to enter production ….. [sigh] I could dream, can’t I ?

  3. I’m still not a fan of the snout. The Maybach Excelero is the only sillier looking thing out there, but I am spewing that they’re making all the news that Saab should be.

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