9-4x: latest info to hand

UPDATE: this has been moved back to the top for the convenience of all those visiting from Edmunds Inside Line. For your info, everything we currently know about the upcoming 9-4x is available at this link.


Following Ryan’s lead over at Saab Videos, I’ve also taken a screenshot of the 9-4x sketch shown by Jay Spenchian at the Saab Owner’s Convention last month. Ryan’s gone for size and I’ve gone for clarity. Unfortunately what you get in either instance is rather second-rate, but it’s as much as we can put our hands on at the moment.

I requested a copy of the original photo (which I thought was fair as it’s been shown to the public at the conference) but Saab USA want to play it close to their chest at this point. Fair enough.

Here’s what I’ve been able to lift and clean up slightly….

SOC picture9-4x.jpg

Now, I haven’t been able to confirm any of this or verify the source, but ‘Patric95’ left the following information in comments:

The 9-4X will be on sale in the spring of 2008 as a 2009. Around march or april of 2008. This comes from an extremely reliable source. Some specs are as follows: the 2 engines – the 2.8v6 250hp and a new 300 hp turbo. The vehicle will be produced in Mexico for all markets. And the design is something of a cross between FX45 and a Land Rover Discovery but with the AeroX front end design language. The platform being a modified Epsilon 2.

UPDATE: This is still hearsay at this point, but ‘Patric95’ assures me that the source is rock solid.

For those of you outside the US, click here to see the infiniti FX45. I’m sure glad the 9-4x will have Aero-X styling as the Infiniti’s been beaten senseless with the ugly stick in the front! It’s just design cues he’s hinting at here anyway, but sheesh!

The revelation of a 300hp turbocharged engine is a new one. I wonder if that’s a ramped up 2.8 or some other size?

The Epsilon2 construction confirms other things I’ve heard mentioned, including the very first 9-4x revelation from the original Djup Strupe. Previous info has made mention of an Epsilon-Theta mixed platform, though that seems to defeat the purpose of having a platform, doesn’t it?

Mexico’s also been mentioned previously, too.

The northern spring of 2008 seems a little early to be a MY2009 though.

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  1. Mexico?!! I remember reading that C-P Forster said it took the Euro brass “5 mins” to reject the idea of having a Daewoo based suv built in Korea. What gives? Plus – the plant in Mexico isn’t set up to build Epsilons. My money’s still on the US or Sweden for assembly.

  2. Swade,
    I’m with you regarding the release time for a 2009 model. It is, however, the way things have been moving. Heck, I could have marched down to my local Chevy dealer in January and purchased a 2007 Tahoe. (I didn’t, but I could’ve!)


  3. Earlier information given by “steve” in autoblog was that:

    GMT 168 = Saab 9-4X, SOP March 2009
    GMT 166 = Cadillac BRX, SOP May 2009

  4. Also good to remember that GM employee told in GM fansite that platform is theta-epsilon. Wikipedia calls this “Theta Premium”

  5. regardless of the image’s clarity or size, it’ll look much better than the 9-7x.

    seems like all suv-types come in either “boxed” (rover) or “squished” (infinity) looking, so the 9-4x, no doubt, will follow suit; probably more towards the latter, which will be more pleasing than the trailblazer “box” (design).

  6. bleuler,

    I would guess that Mexico is a candidate for manufacturing because even if GM had to build a brand new facility to build Epsilons, they’d probably still make more profit than if the 9-4X were made in the States or Sweden. Besides, they could also use the plant to build any other Epsilon2-based cars.

    The fact that it won’t be a unionized site in Mexico saves GM something like $1,400 on each car in employee benefits. That’s $1,400 more profit on each unit rolled off the assembly line. Not to mention the reduced hourly labor costs!

    I hate to say it, but the UAW is shooting themselves in the foot.

  7. So in the spirit of being socially and ethically responsible, will the 9-4x be built without any rights for the workers?

    Please clarify.

  8. Though this may sound sorta snobby, the idea of a Cadillac and a Saab built in MX sounds la little misguided, even with the savings taken in context. How would it look with the words “Hecho en Mexico” emblazened on the window sticker? It would put a sizable chunk of people off, despite bein as well built as ones built in Europe or the US. Perception is everything, actual facts have little to do with it. Just look at Consumer Reports. Anyone remember the Diamond Star Mitsu’s and Chryslers? Same cars, very different scores on CR’s worthless pages.

  9. SG: Though question. I think they follow the guidelines from the U.N. about how to treat the work force. I mean, Mexico is not the most primitive country in the world.

    But who are we to say that everything that we in western Europe, the U.S. or Japan think is the way it sould be for everyone?

    I know that VW have produced cars (even for the European market) in Mexico for a long time, and the quality seems to be good and I have never heard anything about mistreated labour.

    But i think that some people will start yelling about it…

  10. So,if that happens(I don’t believe)how I will set my customers on european delivery ;-)???
    Forget 9-7,customers never ask about euro delivery on that car.

  11. Much cheaper for them to go to Mexico compared to Sweden. And then it could be fun drivin north and trying to pass the border in to the U.S. 🙂

  12. Excellent news if true.

    The 250 hp/300 hp data is interesting. The new Acura RDX is a turbocharged, 240-hp, four cylinder, and I suspect they’re aiming at that.

    It would be nice to be price-competitive with the Japanese cars, without sacrificing features or perceived horsepower.

    It’s also an indication of what Saab can do with AWD. This may be the first in an impressive line of AWD, 300+ hp Saabs.

    For example, if they’re going to put 300 hp in the 9-4x, what do you think the “flagship” AWD version of the 9-5 will have?


  13. I’d say the workers in Mexico will likely get what they deserve – a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

    The whole notion that they deserve a life long wage and health care after they retire is what’s killing GM’s NA operations now.

    Blueler, I don’t think that window sticker will be a realistic option, will it?

    Mexican Delivery Program, anyone? After some of the disaster stories I hear from time to time about the EDP the Mexican one might be a better option – less chance for cars to get lost in customs etc 😉

  14. Yeah – in the US, a car has to state where it was made on the window sticker.

    Maybe Saab could have some of that “Swedish ice” they sent to the Geneva show and deliver to people who pick up their Swedish Saabs in MX and put the ice in their Corona! Now that would be a delivery experience. Instead of Swedish meatballs, they could could serve Menudo. Saaburritos anyone? 😉

  15. I aint buying a Saab that’s made in Mexico, no way.

    Saab mechanics have commented to me about the build quality of the Viggen above an Aero and standard 93.

    There is no doubt in my mind the country you have the car built in, and in fact the production line, has an influence over the quality. All you have to do is look at the Mercedes experience in South Africa.

  16. I suppose I’m biased, partly because I’m half Swedish, but I don’t think I could enjoy a Saab built in Mexico (or Germany even). I understand that parts and components have to be sourced from around the world, but I want a Saab assembled by Swedes. That, to me, gives it the final Scandinavian touch. Otherwise, I may as well buy a Malibu or G6 or something. I wonder if any of VW’s quality problems arise from being assembled in Mexico?
    It’s okay to flame me for my feelings on this, but I don’t think I’m biased in general. This is just one thing I want from Sweden, something special.

  17. Just a small point but – lets not confuse “built” with “assembled”. Saab (like most cars) are assembled from a collection of parts that have been built all over the world. We shold be looking for “assembly quality” not ” build quality” to be honest.

  18. You are absolutely right PT on the clarity of your statement. Unfortunately for all of us weather we like it or not, economic reality is what matters in here. The fact that many prestige leading brands are being made and assembled away from the country of origin is a commercial reality. Ask BMW, Audi, Merc, even Toyota. If we are all going to buy Saabs only if they are fully made and assembled in Sweden we will all be guilty of the total demise of this great brand and motor car as it won’t survive. So, let’s make our wishes come reality with our heads rather than our harts as emotions do not make always good sense.

  19. Again, perception is everything. Money is definitely an issue, esp in today’s cutthroat market, but GM has a long,long history of making very bad product decisions, always with their eye on saving money, and it’s gotten them nowhere. It’s all about image and product performance on the showroom, esp for a quasi-prestige brand lke Saab.

    Also, I may be wrong, but do Mercedes and BMW, or Audi make cars in Mexico? The VW group has several plants in MX and South America – why are no Audi’s made in them?

  20. bleuler:

    Audi already has a plant in Brazil building A3. They also build cars (the TT at least) in Hungary, and they build A6 and A4 in China.

    Why they don’t have the plant with VW in Mexico could be because they sell more in South America than in the U.S, or that the cars can’t be produced on the same line as the VW models and investing in new lines would be to expensive.

    I don’t see why Mexico is a worse place to put cars together than Brazil. As pointed out, cars (no matter where they are put together) are made up from parts produced all over the world – especially in low-cost countries. The quality has to do with 1) the construction of the car model and 2) the managemant of the plant.

  21. I suppose this won’t help get Saabs produced in Sweden, but The Local is reporting that Sweden is the 3rd most competitive country in the world:
    “Sweden has climbed from seventh place to third in a ranking of the world’s most competitive countries. In top spot is Switzerland, while Finland takes second place in the rating by the World Economic Forum.”

    The reason it probably won’t help is the final sentence:
    “High tax rates and restrictive labour regulations were highlighted as the most problematic factors for doing business in Sweden.”

    If the link got chopped, paste this after “date =”

  22. As one who has lived in Sweden, one of my reasons for being there was was the high quality of life for the working class.

    The “restrictive labour regulations” directly contribute to the higher quality of life for employees. Labor regulations are for the employees, not for the employers. This makes people happier to go to work, and also gives the the worker the ability to work in a healthy environment.

    Unions = good for employees = good for consumer as products are put together with integrity from healty and financially viable work environments.

  23. Does anyone remember back in the 1980’s when Saab’s were built in Finland? I distinctly recall individuals stating that if the Saab was built in Finland, it was put together “better” than it was in Sweden.

    I don’t think this is a coincidence.

    It depends on the a number of factors, but not solely on geography.

    If Mexico had paid their workers a rate in relation to the cost of living in Mexico and had as high standard of labor regulations as Sweden or Finland does, Mexico’s public perception would be up there with Sweden or Finland in terms of a place where quality products are produced that we have grown to udnerstand.

  24. I agree that Mexican made cars will be built to high standards – no doubt car companies see to this. That is missing the point. It’s the perception.

    CTM – thanks for the clarification. However, are the Chinese built A6’s being sold in the US? Probably not. There are multiple marketing studies about perceived quality and where the product is made/assembled. It matters in the public’s mind – again it’s not objective, but very real. Saab would be turning off a significant (let’s hope small) group of people, even though the people have no objective evidence to back their decisions up.

  25. Bleuler,

    This idea of public perception is real.

    Public perception with the 9-4x being built in Mexico needs to resonate without any problems.

    Would Saab publicly advertise that the 9-4x is made in Mexico?

    Let’s say Yes for argument sake because if they create a parallel marketing campaign to get the public around the idea of the Saab being built in Mexico then they would be not be hiding anything like they did with with the 9-2x to the public. This is an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and be up front and open with the general public.

    If no, Saab would continue the trend of hiding the “obvious” which would come back and bite them much harder than the 9-2x experienced did.

    The harsh reality for the “YES” option is that the lowest common denominator may again continue to sound off about the tired old story about bad products coming from Mexico which would seriously hurt Saab’s image.

    The harsh reality to No would mean that the people that gave Saab a “second” change as a customer, journalist, enthusiast, or perspective customer would permanently turn aroud this time and move on from the brand.

    I hate to say it but, this 9-4x being built in Mexico is a “double-edged sword”.

  26. You all forget one thing… No matter where the car is built, the image is never better than then actual quality of the product.

    Already forgot about the oil sludge problem and the DI-problem and the SID-problem and the noise-in-the-door-problem? All the bad press? Recall of tens of thousands of cars? Well, those cars are made in Sweden… But I don’t hear anyone complain about the quality today and relate that to the fact that Saab today bulid most of their cars in Sweden… But you already worry about the quality of future cars that may be bulit in Mexico… 🙂

  27. I’ve had 6 Saabs over the years and only 3 of those (1972 99E, 1986 900T and 1994 9000CS) were built in Sweden whereas the other three (1979 99T x2, 1999 Viggen) weren’t.

    I’m pretty confident that the 9-4x built in Mexico would be built to a good standard as long as the component parts were as good as those used elsewhere. If the workforce is appropriately experienced and trained then the product should be of a decent level of quality.

    I think some of the South African experience with MB or whoever it was came down to a an inexperienced and undertrained workforce. A classic and fundamental mistake that’s sent them back 5 years or so. Why they’d take that chance with such a premium brand is beyond my comprehension.

  28. Interesting that GM have to consider avoiding the US at all – if that is how to read this. Lots of other companies seem to make cars there ( Toyota, Honda, BMW, MB etc..) – all of them continuing to invest while GM is crying poor. Doesn’t add up to me. As much as there are union/plant issues, there must be management ones too.

    it comes down to expertise and you cannot always just buy that, you have to earn and develop it. I work for a German based company with 43 major mfg sites all over the world, including Sweden and China. None of them trade on their heritage, all on their expertise. However, the expertise certainly is developed over time and some of the basic engineering skills do not change despite generations or product being developed.

  29. CTM,

    You are right on the mark with your comments.

    “Already forgot about the oil sludge problem and the DI-problem and the SID-problem and the noise-in-the-door-problem? All the bad press? Recall of tens of thousands of cars? Well, those cars are made in Sweden… But I don’t hear anyone complain about the quality today and relate that to the fact that Saab today bulid most of their cars in Sweden… But you already worry about the quality of future cars that may be bulit in Mexico… :)”

    Sweden may have contributed to most of the problems possibly, but then again they also had the most volume in output of “units” as the industry refers to these lovely little automobiles we enjoy. This proves and disproves very little I suppose. So Sweden may not have been the problem.

    Moving forward I understand the following:

    We all need to have open minds about this next process with the 9-4x if is is built in Mexico, because the absolute last thing Saab needs right now is negative public perception.

    Since we are all Saab Enthusiasts, we want to see the positive and a long exciting future, so let’s try and keep that in mind, seriously in any discussions we have with friends, family, etc. We all want this to succeed.

    – Ryan

  30. PT, the very main reason why GM & Ford are moving away from manufacturing in the US is because of the workers retirement agreements and medical insurance for life that were set in the early 40-50s. I’m sure you all read all about it in the press. These employment conditions were set by unions in their plants in the Detroit Michigan areas. What the Japs did was first of all to build factories down south mainly in Texas where none of these agreements were set and as such have used much more competitive labor as well as high levels of automation. We have similar results Down Under with Toyota proving that there is money to be made building world class cars in OZ. Holden (GM) & Ford are also proving the same by exporting to the Asia, the Middle East and South America. So, I won’t be offended by a world class, up to date Saab emerging from an assembly line not based in Sweden.

  31. I don’t doubt Mexicans are more than capable of bolting together a quality car, but I’d rather let them concentrate on making great tequila and Coronas and leave the Saab building business to the Swedes.

    “Swedish” was, is, and remains an important part of the Saab brand. The reality might be that our Saabs are now GM-designed platforms filled with parts from Bosch and a hundred other companies across the globe, but in order to sell the image that Saabs are still hewn from ice and fire by those clever Vikings and pretty blondes who all answer to “Helga”, they just have to be made by Trolls in Trollhattan. They’ll lose their core buyers otherwise.

  32. Great ! All this planet needs is another gas guzzler, right. I feel my loyalty to Saab melting with every new announcement. If those are the engine choices, it just confirms that GM just doesn’t get it. Who are they going to sell vehicles to when half the roads in the world are underwater.

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