The Saab 9-3x – Part 1

Here’s a question for Bob Lutz:  Why can’t you engineer this?  The Saab 9-3x could have been a breakthrough entry in 2002 into what is now a growing segment.  What follows is almost a eulogy to a model Saab that would have set GM amongst the progressives in the Automotive industry.  Instead, the stranglehold on that title is currently still residing in Germany.

The Saab 9-3x was developed by Michael Mauer and his team and was envisioned as Saab’s breakthrough entry into the crossover sector.  This was, at the time, a relatively unexplored demographic.  Sadly for Saab, it remained that way.

What follows in this post and in several posts following are the official Saab press releases pertaining to the Saab 9-3x.  They are dated at November 2001.  Shortly thereafter, the project was canned due to cost constraints imposed by the parent company, GM.  Whether or not this car can be resurrected in Saab’s current state of flux and with GM’s current financial plight remains to be seen.

But as you’ll see in these posts.  The 9-3x is a formidable automobile.

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Saab 9-3X concept creates cross-over coupe niche

The Saab 9-3X concept unveiled at the 2002 Detroit Motor Show breaks new ground by taking Saab off-road for the first time.

A unique fusion of sporty, coupe bodystyling and off-road functionality, the bold 9-3X follows the philosophy of last year’s 9X concept in offering multidynamic features, the essence of Saab’s brand appeal.

It is most accurately described as a cross-over coupe, demonstrating that a four-wheel-drive vehicle with off-road capabilities can also retain a strong, sporty on-road appeal. It is the first time Saab has shown a car with off-road abilities and promises to inspire a new, ‘sub-SUV’ niche in the market.

Within its coupe format, the 9-3X offers spacious accommodation for four adults and a versatile load-carrying ability. An all-new, 280bhp, 2.8-liter V6 turbo engine, linked to an ‘intelligent’ four-wheel-drive system, is designed to deliver sporty performance whatever the road surface.

The 9-3X has been developed from General Motors’ "Epsilon" mid-size vehicle architecture, and aspects of its design language, as well as a number of its technical features, are likely to be seen in forthcoming new Saab products. Major Saab 9-3X highlights include:

Advanced ‘infotainment’ system with twin display screens
Adaptable cargo-management system with automatic sliding floor
All-new 2.8-litre V6 turbo with first application of Saab Combustion Control (SCC)
Saab semi-automatic transmission

“This concept is a sporty interpretation of the cross-over theme,” says Saab Executive Director of Design, Michael Mauer. “It is a blend of coupe and off-roader, bringing together a sporty image and real functionality. It will be fun to drive, whatever the occasion.

“The 9-3X is the next step in the establishment of Saab’s new design language, which started last year with the 9X concept. I am confident this car will be an important inspiration behind future Saab products.”

Saab Automobile’s President and CEO, Peter Augustsson, says: “We are seriously considering the right sort of product with which to enter the off-road segment. It must be innovative and sporty and must have multidynamic properties, much like the 9-3X concept. You can also expect to see a number of features from this car in our coming products.”

The announcement of the 9-3X is the latest step in Saab’s aggressive new product plan, which began with the unveiling of the Saab 9X at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. At least one new product or concept is to be announced every year for the next five years, and annual production volumes are expected to almost double to about 250,000 units in the next five or six years.

Continue reading: Saab 9-3x – Part II

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