Mysterious photo

UPDATE: The consensus opinion from those in comments seems to be that the photo below is the Haldex AWD equipped 9-3 crossover that was canned a few years ago. Some have seen the photo before. It was new to me, hence the publication. I think it’s also interesting to see this vehicle and see what could have been. Looks alright to me. There’s some interesting thoughts in comments also as to whether or not Saab should even bother with such a vehicle, citing falling sales of Volvo’s XC90 etc. I tend to think it’s a worthwhile segment, though when you throw in the scarcity of development resources, it does become a real question for discussion.


You could speculate to the ends of the earth as to what this is actually a photo of. The word I got via email when the photo appeared in my inbox this morning was that it’s an allroad version of the 9-3, with AWD, a design that has apparently been cancelled.

My first impression when I opened the photo was “sport hatch concept”. That was a concept car a few years ago that paved the way for the 9-3 Sport Combi that’s been released this year.

I wouldn’t be too surprised if it is an allroad 9-3. There’s been rumours that one was floating around in parallel development to the died-in-development 9-6x. If it’s been cancelled, that’s most likely because the upcoming 9-4x will be somewhat different but similar in size and function. The car certainly seems to have a similar nose to the 9-3 but the enlarged wheel arches common to an AWD type vehicle, such as the 9-3x.

Anyway, here are the pics and your impressions are welcome… on any of them to enlarge.

Saab 9-3 allroad.jpg
Saab Sporthatch small.jpg
Saab 9-3 SportCombi flip.jpg

Thanks to DV for emailing them to me.

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  1. The first photo looks a lot like what you would get if you Photoshopped a Saturn VUE and Saab 9-3 SportCombi together, and then photographed it on a TV screen.

  2. Ryan, I’ve not made a big deal out of this shot as I’ve received it at least third hand. The guy who sent it to me is a reliable guy, but I’ve no idea who sent it to him. Hence it’s a point of interest, but as it’s claimed that this is a cancelled design anyway, it looks like it’s a point of interest and nothing further.

    Still looks alright, I think. Pretty much what I’d expect from a 9-3 type SUV.

  3. To me the front half (what we can see of it) is unimpressive and could easily be mistaken for a VW Tourag or Porsche Cayenne. What’s interesting is how the roofline does that very SAAB-characteristic rake at the rear so it has that “hockey stick swoop” to it.

    The presence of that light plastic cladding around the bottom and the wheel arches, in conjunction with the apparent raised ride height would indeed indicate to me that this was some sort of SAAB version of the Audi Allroad/Volvo Cross Country.

    It also has a red or orange reflector fore of the front wheel that I haven’t seen on any other models. What that means, I don’t know.

    Personally I’m not in the market for such a vehicle, but it looks nice and “SAABy” to me.

  4. This looks very much like a 9-3sc based suv that I’ve heard was cancelled by GM about two years ago. Was going to have the full range of 9-3 engines and Haldex 4wd system.

  5. I’ve seen this car in real life att SAAB in Trollhättan. There was also a test version of the 9-3 Sportsedan with 4-wheel drive.

    The whole SUV concept is not the way to go. Most people in the world can’t afford one and it’s better to spend money devloping 9-5 to 9-3 size luxury and sports cars and perhaps another convertible. And I think that the new Sonett concept is a great idea. Saab should build smart cars with extreme quality that will continue to work just as fine after 10 years as it did when it was brand new.

    Volvo is soon to present a very small car but the price will be to high for anyone to choose such a car in comparison with for example a japanese car. And look at the sales of the Volvo XC90, they are loosing more and more money on that car everyday,… SAAB should learn from this…

    /Tim (Driving a 9-3 Viggen)

  6. This pic is made in the Saab Advanced Design Center in Pixbo, or in the SACC(Saab adnvanced concept center),I don’t remember well, but i have a reportage about one of this centers, that have this decoration. Is well known that the 9-3SH was delayed due the Viggen project that GM introduced in 2003. Also the AWD version of the 9-3SH and 9-3ss were cancelled for the costs of the project. In that project it was a 9-3SH Crossover.

    I have a very similar pics of the 9-3SH and the 9-3ss convertible. Those two spy shoots were shown in internet in 2003, before the launch of the 9-3 convertible and the 9-3SH and were made in the same place and demonstrated the real projects and designs of the nowadays 9-3SH and convertible. Now I only have the pic of the convertible.

    for this reason I can say that this pic(that I saw before) it has at least a 90% of been real and not a fake.

  7. Its not a Mysterious photo, its a very old photo that you are showing today, nothing new at all.
    When Saab did the 9-3 series, they were planing a AWD version of the estate model. And thats the car you are showing today.

    Infact the picture is about 3 years old, and was first shown in a swedish car magazine, AMS. There are a colour pic of the same car too, also shown in the magazine. So nothing new…

    So you are correct, its an AWD saab. Haldex system actually. The same AWD Volvo uses.

  8. We need this Car next September Carrying Saab’s New 9x Style Facelift.

    In a 12 month period I would expect to sell 2 – 300 units.
    the 3.0CDTi that is in the Vectra sounds like the perfect engine for this Crossover.

    But I guess we will be waiting along while for a CUV like this….

  9. During analysis I heard on the radio of GM’s announced restructing today one of the causes of GM’s woes is “sagging SUV sales”. What new vehicles are SAAB currently designing? Crossovers. What are crossovers really? To me it looks like it’s a PC name for a stylized SUV. Just as “hatchback” has been replaced with words like “3-door” or “5-door” and wagons are now “Combi” or “Avant”, I believe the next generation of SUVs are going to be “crossovers”. I’m really worried that SAAB is jumping into a market (with the 9-4X) at a time when the market’s contracting.

    I too would rather see SAAB develop passenger cars rather than SUVs or even “crossovers”. Put more money into the next-gen 9-3 and 9-5, then add a smaller, lower-cost “hot hatch” hatchback model (9-2, “spiritual decendent of the 900”), and maybe a convertible version of the 9-2. Then make a sport version of the 9-2 called the “Sonett IV”. Then make an AWD SVC-engined sport version of the next-gen 9-3 called the “Draken”. Okay, I’m rambling again. Sorry.

    SAAB should stick to passenger cars and concentrate money on next-gen engines (diesel, SVC, BioPower) that’ll put them ahead of the competition in the market rather than expanding the vehicle types they sell in an already saturated marketplace. Continue to sell the 9-7X as long as it’s profitable, but don’t come out with a “crossover” that there really isn’t a compelling market for. I don’t object to an AWD “allroad” version of the next-gen (Epsilon II-based) 9-3 and/or 9-5 wagon developed alongside the standard coupe, sedan, and wagon versions.

  10. Nice looking car. I agree with other posters here that Saab and GM management need to look towards the true future and not be reactive to the market. Being reactive means you’re being late. Saab should spend the money on the two cars that currently sell well and get great reviews by the experts and the safety community: the 9-3 and 9-5 sedans. Updated models should come with AWD options which will be popular in New England, Switzerland and others areas of the world where there is lots of snow.

    They should secondly invest resources in a ulta-fuel efficent small car with cutting edge safety technology. Commuters in this high-gas priced world will rejoice at such a car that can keep them alive and allow them to save $$$. Volvo is doing something similar and Saab is the only other brand with the safety cache to pull something like that off.

    As for the 9-7x? If it works keep making it. But introduced SAHRs and Turbo in the future.

  11. Hi Swade

    Just thought you’d like to know that your spyshot of the 9-3X soft-roader has made it into AutoExpress in the UK.

    AutoExpress have been known in the past to lift information about Saab from the forums …and now it seems that they have copied your spyshot.

    Assuming this is the case (as I have not seen the image elsewhere) then those naughty blighters have omitted to credit the source. Oh, they always omit the source!

    I can scan and email the article to you if you wish.

    Regards from UK

  12. Thanks John, but it seems it’s an old photo anyway and it wasn’t sent to me exclusively. A bit coincidental that it’s appearing in the monthly issue after it appears here. I might email them and ask for a credit if the publish online (if they have sourced it from me) but otherwise, no biggie. I watermark anything that’s sent here exclusively.

  13. Swade, you are absolutely right. A bit more googling and I found the photo on an Italian auto news website that was posted 21st November – same day you posted.

    Looks like the soft-roader version of the 9-3 did not make it as the platform was unable to accommodate all wheel drive.

    As I understand it, five variations of the 9-3 were planned. We have three: Saloon (Sedan), Convertible and Combi (Wagon/Estate). The fourth appears to have been the soft-roader. Do you know what the fifth variation was to be?

  14. Coupe maybe? Not sure. I think someone has posted it in one of the earlier posts on this topic. Unfortunately can’t look it up now. But I think it may have been a coupe.

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