My 0.02 on the Aero-X

Hasn’t that photo on the left got the crowd buzzing?  All to a different tune, too.  Some loving it, some hating it, some quite indifferent if that’s not too contradictory. (Bigger photo here)

Me?  Well, I started off a little cool towards it, but have collected my thoughts, spent a few hours staring at it and….and…. I think it’s great.  I’ve spent some time reading everyone’s comments and thoughts about the Aero-X picture and whilst I can see where people are coming from, I’m going to disagree with what’s been the predominant opinion so far.  I like the car.  A few tweaks and I think I’d really, really like it.

It’s just my humble opinion, but I think Saab needs something in the lineup that looks almost as aggressive as it’s capable of being.  Understatement is a Saab trait, so there should be alittle aggression in reserve.  The 9-3 and 9-5 show relative levels of class and can look quite smart.  I think this car looks like it’s got 400HP under the bonnet.  Contrary to what some have written, it’s not a muscle car.  It looks to me like the beginnings of a very capable sports tourer.

What would I change if I were king?  Well, I’d probably make those front air dams a little less prominent and I think I’d also try to narrow down that central grille opening.  As it appears here it’s a little too Audi/VW for me.  The ancestry (i.e. 9x) was a bit wider in the grille area, more consistent in depth with the headlights and I think I’d be leaning more in that direction.  I’d also try and shape the headlights so they’re a little less new-Camaro, other than that I think the headlight design is actually pretty sensational.

I think this car has got a hell of a lot of potential.  Saab needs a halo car and as much love as I have for the current range, that halo model’s just not there right now.  I think this would appeal to the US market and comments on the Euro billboards already indicate a certain enthusiasm from the Swedes that have seen it (but what would they know?).

Where’s the Saab DNA, you ask?  It carries reminiscences of the 9x in the front, the Sonett in the rear, it’s turbocharged – twice, and it features Saab’s more recent prominent feature, the Biopower setup.  Remember a short while ago when Saab’s lineup was all-turbo?  How about a mid-term future where Saab’s lineup is all alternative-fuel capable – a total Tri-fuel lineup – and Saab the first company to do it.

Consider a strong looking Saab coupe with AWD and a 400hp Biopowered engine.  Where’s the downside to that?

It’s important to remember the following:

  1. It’s only a concept.  This isn’t slated for production, although early words were mentioned about a possible spinoff from this on a shortened Epsilon II platform.  But right now, it’s a concept only.
  2. It’s just a drawing, too.  The real deal will probably look a little different in the flesh when the covers come off next Monday.  What would you rather look at?  A photo of Elle Macpherson or Elle Macpherson?  Case closed.
  3. It’s only a drawing from one angle.  We’re yet to see the rear, the proper profile or the interior.

Given all that and what Saab needs for the future, I think it’s a great concept.  I think it could be even better, but for the moment I’m pretty happy to welcome it to the family.  Come give daddy a hug…

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25 Comments

  1. I don’t like it and that it’s only a concept makes it even worse. Saab had the opportunity to make whatever they wanted (they didn’t have to fit it on to an existing platform) to show the world a future design langue… and they present a car with the longest hood that’s been on a Saab ever.

  2. The concept car looks stunning, now why do car makers always make nice and sexy looking concept cars and then produce “same as” everyone else (well not that SAAB does but most other car manufacturers?

    We like the SAAB concept, car, build it and we will buy it. How hard can it be…

  3. Well, I would like to do a complete about turn on my comments on Swade’s first post yesterday.

    I have just got some images of the concept Aero-X and it looks pretty stunning from the other angles.

    Is is a Saab? Does it have Saab DNA? I’m not sure, …but what I do know is this concept looks pretty exciting and Saab desperately needs something exciting right now.

    Images are here: http://www.saabscene.com/saabforum/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/31595750/an/0/page/0/gonew/1

    Swade – feel free to duplicate them on trollhattansaab.net !

  4. Hi Swade,

    I agree with you on this one. Yesterday when I saw the picture my thoughts were the same
    and my comments to myself were very similar. I even took the picture for a quick and dirty photoshop facelift and narrow
    that central grill to be consistant with the headlight openings and all I can say is that I like it even better that way.
    It becomes even more aggressive and it gets even more attitude.
    I hope that this concept will evolve and that by 2008 we will see the birth of SAAB sportster.

  5. When I first saw it I just didn’t know what to say, but now 18 hours after the first impressions ‘attacked’ me I just love it! This car has a obvious SAAB dna, and the front has the right look of a determened and ambisious sportscar. Now I am very anxious to see the rest of the car. So far we just have this ‘picture’ from one angle to judge, when they turn the spotlights on at the car salon in Geneve next month it will be very exciting to what we then will see. I think it will receive a lot of attention. Go, go, go, SAAB! :/)

  6. This car is completely awesome. It’s like the sexy, naughty sister of the 9X concept. Although I also see hints of the current Mercedes SL500 (a design I didn’t like at first, but wound up lusting after). A hugely aggressive move for Saab. And 400hp? Numbers like that make headlines – and that’s just what Saab needs. I’m thrilled they took it this far. Incidentally, I’d like to go on record as a RABID FAN of the new grill design. It is perfect, and it sets Saabs apart on the road. The reason people aren’t loving it on the new 9-5 is because the rest of the car is still living in the late 1990s – not because the grill is bad design. Anyway, this Aero-X is brilliant and I can’t wait to see it in the flesh.

  7. It looks like GM Cadilac designer group worked on that so called SAAB AERO X, where is Griffin???? They took some of the top from 9-3X and put on the body of that Caddy XLR. I wish SAAB would have 400HP in the body
    of 9-3X

  8. Marketing-wise, you’re right on target, SWade. What I failed to mention in a previous post is that even though I’m disappointed the fairly attractive design offers no innovation, I am quite excited by the technical innovations beginning with 400HP biopower. Don’t forget, however, as your recent 9-5 thrill ride showed, red light sprints are not SAAB’s thing; never were. It’s torque and mid-range overtaking — monster overtaking in the case of the 2.3 Turbo. I really don’t want to lose that tradition. High horsepower for high horsepower’s sake is largely the domain of immature drivers who can do little more than drag race from stop lights and stop signs. Such childishness is not in the SAAB customer profile, to be sure.

  9. “High horsepower for high horsepower’s sake is largely the domain of immature drivers who can do little more than drag race from stop lights and stop signs. Such childishness is not in the SAAB customer profile, to be sure.”

    I agree with this, except that 250-300+ hp is getting to be the norm for the near luxury class that the 9-5 competes in, and it is viewed as a necessary “halo-effect” option in the compact near-luxury class the 9-3 competes in.

    I think Saab needs AWD more than anything else right now — the perception being that anything over 200 hp or so is simply wasted in a FWD application.

    So the concept car says “look at what we can do when we’re not limited to the two front wheels”

  10. Hi from Hungary.
    My first reaction was: WOW, it’s great! But after some seconds I told: wait a minute… is it a real Saab, or just a big, agressive yankee coupe with a Saab-styled front (just like GM did it with the 9-7X and 9-2X)?
    Well, I’m still not sure how can I rate it. Let’s wait the first shots and reports.
    I definitely like the understatement of the Saab cars and this new concept is totally changed this moderate look. Maybe it’s ok for a sporty tourism coupe.
    I think this car mainly addressed to the US market. The european customers are not big fans of this kind of monsters, especially not the faithfull Saab fanatics.
    On the other hand its biturbo Biopower engine is a a great innovation, and this could impress the more “enviromental-sensitive” europeans.
    Anyway, if it helps to recover Saab’s reputation and save some valuable traditions of this innovative company, I welcome it!

  11. Those other pictures are a whole lot better!
    From side on and from the rear it looks great – now im feeling the DB9 tones!

  12. Hardly a break-through. For a company that desperately needs replacments for the 9-5 and 9-2, why are they spending time on a 2-door concept that will never get built? This looks like the result of a drunken meeting between GM executives.

    I’d rather see an example of Saab innovation in practical transport – replacements for the 9-2X or 9-5.

    Unimpressed.

  13. Guess, after looking at the Saabscene pictures, it’s growing on me. It’s only the 2nd Saab I’ve thought had a good-looking back end, the other being the 9-3 Sportcombi. Saabs have never looked quite “finished” to me in the styling department.
    Kind of neat, a smooth, non-threatening, minimalist rear end, hiding a menacing smile at the front end.

  14. After seeing the SAABScene pics, I actually do like the concept whereas I didn’t from the original view we had. I STILL don’t think it looks at all “SAABy”, but if you forget it’s a SAAB it’s a pretty cool looking car.

    I don’t know what elements of the design to imagine being SAAB’s future design direction though. I can’t imagine any of these elements transitioning to a coupe (9-3), Sedan (9-5), or SUV (9-4X). That rear end is really only appropriate for a two-seater as it tapers horizontally AND vertically.

    And this is a front-engined car, right? What’s with the useless hatch on the back? Kudos to SAAB for putting a hatch on the car (obviously trying to evoke memories of the Sonett), but how high would you have to lift your groceries or golf clubs or whatever to get them into that trunk? I can see scratches all over the rear deck already!

    In summary, it looks cool, it looks fun, but it doesn’t look “SAAB”. SAAB’s design ethos are form FOLLOWS function, safety, and utility. I don’t see any of these things with this concept.

  15. OMG, omg, omg, omg.
    That is one sexy looking SAAB.
    Finaly something that will make everyone that said Saab never had the looks to say WOW.

  16. Hmmm… I have to change my mind. Yes, it’s could be a Saab! :)) Even this style is far from the traditional Saab, I can feel some Saab DNA in it. I can’t explain… it reminds me maybe to the Sonett, not because it’s similar, but it’s stylish!
    On these new pictures it looks much better, I like it!

  17. Saabscene pics are better, I can see our griffin. Looks great and back tells me that could be new SONETT.
    But for a public we need new door version.

  18. Agreed, Jacek. The more I think about it, that gimmick with the doors, top, and windscreen being connected and moving forward to open (obviously trying to evoke comparisons to a fighter plane) is a safety liability.

    First, it’s got to be made of a lightweight material to be opened by the average human. That probably means that the tradeoff was strength. The only way this could be AS STRONG as steel and light enough to open would be if the assembly was made of carbon fiber. But there’s no way a production car can have that much carbon fiber and still be affordable. SAAB is known to traditionally reinforce the top and A-pillars of their cars to protect the occupants in event of a rollover. I’m guessing that the top and doors assembly on this concept is a material like fiberglass or aluminum, which would not be very safe in event of a rollover.

    Also, in event of a rollover, if the car is resting upside down, how do rescue crews get in to rescue the occupants? Better hope there isn’t a fire in that crash.

    This is a sensational, but unsafe design, IMHO.

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