Away

Hi all,

I’m away for work for the next day or so. Please feel free to fossick through the archives……or not.

I’ll leave this as an open comments thread for anyone to share whatever thoughts they have about Saab or perhaps even some suggestions for improvements to this site. It’s due for some renovations so your ideas would be welcome.

I’ll be back on track in about 36 hours (Tuesday evening Aust time).

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UPDATE: GM Inside News has posted its Saab: Revitalisation in Action piece. The aim is to see what the Saab lineup could look like given the right level of investment from GM.

Please go and have a look. If you don’t feel like registering with the forum in order to comment, please feel free to leave your comments here and I’ll post them there en-masse on your behalf.

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27 Comments

  1. I certainly hope that those pictures aren’t quite finished designs.
    They all look exactly the same.

    Obviously, the more upscale the model, the larger the visual impact should be.
    The 9-1 should have a subtle Aero-X style nose, whereas the 9-9 could get by with a full blown Aero-X front clip.

    And the bodies look awful too. It looks like they took a Cadillac and tried to make it look exactly like a BMW, and slapped a Saab badge on it when they failed.
    Cadillac is doing the hard edge thing, and Saab should be more distinct.
    I feel that the Saab design should be more swoopy, while still looking edgy.

    Since you said you’d be posting this comments, I’d like to add that I’m part of that very important 18-24 year old demographic group that GM needs. I will make GM a promise right now. I promise that if they get the 9-1 right, I will trade in whatever car I have to buy the very first one that comes off the trailer at the dealer.

  2. Thanks for posting Swade. To the Saab fans here at Trollhattan. Cadillac vehicles weren’t used to create the basis for these vehicles. If you’ll see the 9-1 vs. the 9-9x for instance, there is a difference between the frontal styling, as with the 9-5 and other models in the lineup. I hope this answers some of your questions!

  3. They shouldn’t go after the German brands like this, model by model. They should beat them by being different, like Volvo are doing. Also, if Saab got a lineup this big, there should be a small sportscar and some more hatchback. That is more of in line with Saab tradition. May I suggest:

    9-X
    A new Sonett, 2 seater, AWD.

    9-1
    Small hatchback and maybe even a vert, front- or AWD, basically a chopped of 9-3.

    9-3
    Mid-range family sedan/combi/vert and maybe even a hatchback. i know they don’t do it like that today, but why not? 4 models in 1. With true heritage from the 900 it could be a poster-model for Saab.

    9-4X
    CUV based on 9-3 but somewhat bigger and bolder in design, and with AWD and heritage from the 9-3X concept car.

    9-5
    The new big family sedan/combi (somewhat bigger than todays 9-5). AWD.

    9-6X
    Rugged AWD version of the 9-5 combi (like Volvo XC70). Stuff like that always sell in the U.S and the Nordic countries, and they are “cheap” to develop.

    9-7X
    Why not keep the 9-7X for selected markets? There are always people who need this kind of vehicle. It will sell. Make it a big 7-seater AWD thing but with advanced fuel-saving technology. I think this is more “Saab” with Swedish heritage, than a big luxuary sedan like the Audi A8, BMW 7 and so on. This car is at least practical for people living in the countyside.

    Anyway, just my 2 cent… But it’s still a question of money. I think we should be glad if there are four models 2010. 🙂

  4. I like the lineup and the writer seems to fully understand “what Saab is”.
    However, I do lack a real sportscar and most of all I lack diesel engines and plug-in hybrid configuartions

  5. Well, there’s some nice work in that. i think the lad may have overcooked the Aero-X styling a bit; while the model range needs to come from the same gene pool, each model still needs its own personality.

    i don’t disagree with that model lineup though i think there’s room for a Sonnet-inspired roadster/convertible to take on the Z4 convertible and coupe. realistically that should take the 9-4 moniker (the original Sonnet was the Saab model 94, plus the obvious connection to the Z4 as a competitor, as per the 9-3 and 9-5). Make the smaller Crossover/SUV the 9-6 and the larger one the 9-8 perhaps (the latter showing progression over the 9-7x it replaces).

    firstly, some overall thoughts:

    1. BioPower shouldn’t be an option. Make it standard. As such, the moniker becomes redundant on the back of the bootlid. All petrol/gas Saabs should be able to run on any mix of PULP and ethanol, all diesels should be able to run on any mix of petroleum diesel and B5/B20/B100 etc. Saab should be the first major manufacturer to have its entire lineup able to run on biofuels – that would be a very important marketing advantage.

    The option here instead should be BioPower Hybrid, or rather, SaabHybrid or something. Each model should at least have a mid-spec (ie. Vector) BioPower Hybrid model, using the pseudo AWD twin motor setup and of course be plugin capable.

    2. AWD should be standard on all but the low(er) spec 9-1 and 9-3 (for obvious cost advantages). The ‘X’ moniker is redundant. If Saab wants the 9-5 to be a competitor to the 5 series and E class it can’t be FWD. It should have a slight RWD bias in normal driving, enchewing the current trend of being FWD except around slippery corners. Only the BioPower Hybrid models should be FWD (with a rear electric motor, of course).

    Regardless of drivetrain, the ReAxis system should be retained and improved for sharp handling and tight turning circles/parking ease.

    3. Not everyone will agree with me, especially those who know the North American market, but I really, really think a V8 is just the worst idea for a Saab – it goes completely against the original Saab mentality of small is sweet (when boosted!). The original 900 Turbo provided V8 performance with a turbo 2.0L inline 4 without the weight or fuel consumption – that’s what made it awesome. Let’s just stick with V6s where necessary and add turbos to taste.

    4. Double wishbone suspension. Front and back. Never go backwards.

    5. Saab should develop the best iPod Integration system available on the market, with full and proper control of all the iPod’s functions, text readout and voice control on the 9-9 and maybe Aero 9-5 and 9-6. Plus, each car comes with a free or trivially priced (ie. half RRP) iPod (4Gb Nano for cheaper cars, 80Gb iPod Video for the expensive cars) in the blue and yellow Swedish flag pattern with the Saab logo laser engraved on the back. Team up with Apple and make a big, big noise about it.

    I can understand the need for a sizable 6 cylinder engine in order to compete with BMW et al at the higher end – that’s fair enough – but let’s equip the more potent 9-5/9-6/9-8/9-9 models with clever twin turbo V6s that make the others’ V8s and V10s look downright silly and unnecessary. It’s time for Saab to innovate in turbocharging again – lately all the cool turbo gear has been coming from BMW. With high octane ethanol, direct injection, SVC and heaven forbid even camshaft-less valve systems, why couldn’t we have a 500hp M5 killa?

    9-1. I want one now…. AWD, 280-300hp of Golf R32/Audio S3 consuming fury. Make sure it is practical – we don’t need another 1 series – fuel efficient and funky for the younger market. Make sure the Linear model is affordable… ie. for AU$30,000ish and the Hybrid for under $40K-$45K if possible (not easy I admit). The 3 series Compact was a POS but as a BMW under AU$40K it sold and got more of their brand on the streets.

    9-3. The convertible looks great… if the current model was styled like that it would sell like mad. I’d be very happy to see it with a hard- rather than soft-top, if that’s doable. As mentioned, the Linear and Arc models would be FWD, the rest AWD, with a diesel and Hybrid model sitting alongside.

    9-4 (or 9-6 in Ben’s World). Looks great, agree with the idea, let’s make it. Probably i4 engine in the Arc (no Linear) but V6s in the Vector and Aero models. Definitely a Hybrid and diesel option. Needs to have a decent boot with fold out third row child seats.

    9-5. I like this one the more I look at it. 2.3 i4 LPT AWD as an affordable base, right up to a sub 3L twin turbo V6 Aero AWD and again, with a nicely spec’d diesel and Hybrid option. Needs to be a bit bigger than the current 9-5, to give it more rear leg room and visually differentiate itself from the 9-3.

    At this point I’d like to see the 9-5 Aero get electronically controlled mechanical/hydraulic (rather than airbag) suspension, which stiffens the rear suspension when gear changing (to control surging) and the outer wheels when cornering (to keep the car flat and improve handling).

    9-6 (or 9-8 in Ben’s World). This could be the kind of car I could and probably will buy sometime in the next 5 years, but invariably they will mess it up and I will just buy a LandCruiser instead. Allow me to explain.

    Sooner or later, I will need a 4WD. Most Australian men go through this period. Not because I’m a soccer mum and not because I have grand delusions of dragging my family through the Outback, but because boats are part of my life and I need to tow and launch the buggers. Towing stuff requires beefy torque and full time AWD (with low range), definitely, but it also requires a decently weighty car too to make sure your two-tonne fully fuelled up Reef Runner stays where it belongs, behind the car, and so I can drag it up off the slippery Adventure Bay boat ramp or on the beach. That means the car needs to weigh at least 2,300kg and have a braked towing capacity of 3,000kg, preferably 3,500kg to match the ‘Cruiser.

    This is what I want you to do, Saab. Take a Landcruiser 100 series, a Range Rover HSE and a VW Touarag. Take the ‘Cruiser’s toughness, ground clearance (use airbags to adjust that though), 145L fuel tank and locking diffs (computer controlled, of course)…. the Range Rover’s psuedo solid axle system (makes independent suspension work like solid axles), comfort and luxury…. and the Touarag’s overall Euro sophistication, combine with a good dash of Swedish ingenuity and flair and 3 eggs… and make the 9-6 – I mean, 9-8.

    3.2T, Hybrid and 3.6L TwinT V6s all sound great, make them sporty, stupidly fast and super desirable for the X5-set. That’s OK, I don’t want one of those, because you forgot the most important model.

    I want – and I think the market is crying out for – a proper, powerful turbo diesel premium 4WD. Something as usable off road as it is svelte on road, and not a fuel guzzler either. Something for the families with boats, caravans or three sons who all own dirt bikes.

    The Land Rover’s diesel, like most of the Euros, is too small and gutless. The LandCruiser’s 4.2L inline 6 is bloody fantastic, silky smooth with an auto and pretty economical too, but even the top range Sahara lacks real Euro refinement and ergonomics – it’s still a truck with leather and sat nav. The Touareg is almost too much, 750Nm is sweet but using a half-tonne V10 engine isn’t exactly the best way to go about it.

    Saab, you have up to 3.5L, 6 cylinders and two turbos of different sizes. I want at least 600Nm of torque, preferably more, mated to a choice of 5 speed manual or 6 speed auto, a proper low range transfer case, room for 5 people with a tonne of luggage or 7 with a few suitcases in the back. Keep the brake discs small enough to fit proper off road rubber to 17″ rims. Styling is awesome, but keep the nose short and up high for better angle of attack, at least on the diesel. Give us dealer fitted optional bullbars that can crush Elk, rear tyre carriers that move the full size spare from under the car and give us more ground clearance, and snorkel kits and massive door seals so we can wade through nearly a metre of water .

    I’m sure to many this sounds daft, but let’s face it, there are already enough pretend luxury 4WD/SUVs to service the pretend 4WD/SUV market. The 9-4, I mean 9-6, will of course lead that market with it’s in-between roomier than an X3, more manageable and economical than an X5 sizing and class leading performance. So let’s make the 9-8 a proper 4WD for those who can actually use 4WDs.

    9-9. I dismissed this one when it was first rumoured as an RWD Commodore in Swedish skin, but I guess it makes sense so long as the only thing it shares in common with Cadillacs are air conditioning and 4 wheels. Seriously.

    Needs to be the technological playground the 7 series and S class have always been, but it must be usable too. Everyone knows the BMWs are too complicated for their own good these days… S-class’s voice control is a good start but the 9-9 should go further with a high resolution transparent OLED screen head up display in the lower quarter of the windscreen for sat nav and other information so the driver rarely has to shift his or her vision from the road. Include all the useful stuff from the current S-class then add a few more features we haven’t thought up yet (I honestly can’t think of any). The interior should be more Aston Martin than Mercedes… lumps of satin finished light woods native to Sweden, chunks of real titanium and buy the leather where Rolls Royce buys theirs. Make it really special.

    Engine wise – come up with a 3.2V6+Hybrid and a twin turbo 3.6V6. The latter should be a limo bullet, the former a torque monster when both engine and motors are used when flooring it away from the lights.

    For the missing Sonnett/9-4, this one is easy. Take the Aero-X, santise the roof, and you have the 9-4 Coupe. Replace the roof with a composite hard-folding roof and you have the 9-4 Roadster. Make sure both are light, handle as well as the Porsche Boxster, and pack at least 400HP of twin turbo V6 power. Don’t price them too silly and watch them fly off the showroom floors.

    Two more I’d like to add, in an ‘ideal’ world.

    The 9R: Take an unholy marriage of the 9-3 and a Koenigsegg and produce a sleek, 2-door coupe. With a high revving 2.0L i4 asymmetric twin turbo direct inject SVC engine, AWD platform, sophisticated electronically controlled suspension (a la 9-5 and up) and composite outer panels and roof, it forms the basis of Saab’s Racing efforts in both touring cars and rally. Road going version (for homologation purposes) is >500hp, < 1100kg, 0-100kph in <4 secs, 323kph top speed and shames the M3, makes the M5 look fat and stupid, sneers at the RS4 and makes various Italian supercars seem rather overpriced. It’s handling makes the Evo seem like a ponderous Hillman Hunter. Clarkson runs out of superlatives.

    The Gripen. Saab’s real flagship. Three-seater McLaren F1 style layout, mid mounted 2.4L i4 engine, triple asymmetric sequential turbo running 3+ bars of boost thanks to SVC and a peltier-style ferrofluid cooling system that prevents the lot from melting into lump of magnesium alloy. 9 speed dual clutch style gearbox and AWD. Power? 1200hp to pip the Veyron, but obviously a bit less torque, as it will be lighter (~1000kg) thanks to its magnesium alloy space frame and composite body. 0-100kmh in under 2 secs, top speed of the golden 300mph or 480kmh or thereabouts. Uses adjustable spoiler and venturi effect underbody to develop awesome levels of grip and stability – as much about handling as straight line performance. Price? Preferably a lot less than a Veyron, but still a lot.

    The point? So every 10 year old’s favourite supercar poster is a Saab.

    World domination is complete. Time to jump in the sauna with Helga. 😉

    I’m not holding my breath for much of this to happen, but I’d really like that 9-1 Aero or Hybrid and 9-8 diesel.

  6. Lol, didn’t leave anything out for brevity’s sake did you Ben?
    Seriously, I wish GM would give Saab a blank check to work on all of your ideas.

  7. Just got back from reading the Saab Revitalisation in Action piece, and I’ll simply say that I’m feeling much better now. I just wish the 9-1 could come before I’m too old to enjoy it.

  8. brevity is something you do when people die, right? hehe, it’s probably why Bob Lutz avoids me at parties, to avoid a 3 hr ear bashing as to everything he’s doing wrong and everything he should be doing.

    a blank cheque would be nice. give me about €10billion and a couple of years and i’ll give you saabs so sweet you’ll wet your pants.

    at least that’s what i like to think! 😉

  9. “Thanks for posting Swade. To the Saab fans here at Trollhattan. Cadillac vehicles weren’t used to create the basis for these vehicles. If you’ll see the 9-1 vs. the 9-9x for instance, there is a difference between the frontal styling, as with the 9-5 and other models in the lineup. I hope this answers some of your questions!”

    I want to let you know that I showed all of the pictures in that thread that SaabKen posted to a whole grip of people that I know, and every single person asked me why there were so many different versions of “that one car”.

  10. I think the designs are pretty good in general… a couple of them do have some awkward angles though… oh, and it appears some readers here are a bit thrown off… the GMI Revitalization Team is a group of GM enthusiasts that think up and design what and how they think different divisions of GM can be improved in the coming years. It’s part fantasy part hope, with lots of photo-manipulation skill mixed in. None of these are GM designs.

  11. It’s funny that their idea for the ultimate SAAB lineup jives with the general consensus in the SAAB community to the tee. The need for some of these models in the lineup is so obvious that it’s astounding that SAAB/GM as of yet doesn’t have plans for this lineup.

    I would like to have seen a ‘vert version of the 9-1 (roadster) as well. Also some mention of SVC/SCC hitting production sometime in the future and being a SAAB product offering (maybe in conjunction with BioPower and/or hybrid) would have been nice.

    Lastly, I can’t believe how horribly ugly and un-SAAB many of those renderings are. In the 9-5 and 9-9 I see a big old Chevy Impala in the profile! Don’t let American designers design the bodies of SAABs! It should say something that in the comments on their forum the guys with “GTO” in their screen name or a big Cadillac logo as their avatar like the look of the renderings and dislike SAAB’s current look…

  12. So Swade’s away and the trollhattanites run riot.

    You can’t leave a web site unguarded for 2 seconds these days.

    Those designs at GMINSIDE – Yuck. What is this obsessive fixation with an Audi/Rover style Aero X jowled grille?

    Why is everything so chunky? Where are the compound curves?It all looks like jaw by jowl

    Americana to me…
    Has anyone ever heard of svelte?

    At this rate I am posting my own saab designs up.

    Anyone else drawn anyhting that’s different to the current crapiola?

  13. Same with Safari on mac. Apple and +/- change the font size.

    I could do with a shorter front page. Sometime I have use Internet using a modem *yikes*, and it takes long to load. How about having the last 4-5 postings like they are now, and the rest just as headlines where you have to click to read it? Should even save Swade some bandwith if he is paying for it that way.

  14. Saab sales…

    The other day I wrote in comment that Saab was up 1.8% in U.K., but I didn’t know if that was for October or the whole year.

    Well, according to other newspapers today, Saab is actually -10% for October to 1.593 and -1.1% for the year to 23.337. The U.K. market was up slightly in October, but is -3.2% for the year. Volvo is at -13% for October and -20% for the year.

  15. It’s always nice to creative minds thinking.
    I’ll be posting my appreciation on GMI later to congratulate the guys there, for putting together so many pictures in such a short space of time. There’s easily over 50 hours of private time been put into those images produced by people like you and I and if it’s one thing I dislike, is seeing people slate other people’s hard work as if putting an image together is just a 5 minute job.
    I can see loads of mistakes in those pictures but they are there as an aid to the real objective, which is really explaining what they would like to see.

    There is no dispute that Saab needs to increase its profile and with time, money and the correct marketing I think it’s all achievable. It has been said many a time GM had big ideas for Saab when they bought them, but you can’t produce good products without the right investment. GM knows that better than anyone now! But what is a company supposed to do when you got the UAW and Delphi on your back to name only a couple of things that we, the public have got the hear about and your company stock value is a 5th of what it used to be 5 years ago? Well you cut jobs, close factories and kill brands. When bringing desperately needed products to market, unfortunately GM had to compromise. Has it paid off? In part I believe so, especially when we see the 9-5 being outsold by the 9-7x; a crucial model that neither the 9-3 nor the 9-5 SportCombi can cover.
    Whatever category class vehicle you can think of, designers could come up with a vehicle with the correct Saab identity, even an MPV if you wanted.
    Power train is also a key issue and there are a few products that are in development at present that could in production by end 2008 beginning 2009. The upcoming GM XV8 power train for example; is a compact 4.3 V8 the size of a V6 that produces 300+hp. It is a direct injection engine that not only has GM’s ‘Displacement on Demand’ but the timing precision allows for homogenous compression charge. All this together with VVT and cam phasing produces 90% of it 400nm of torque from 1600 – 6000rpm. It can be combined with a front, rear or all wheel drive vehicle including a hybrid setup.
    With the leading manufacturers now putting V12s in their SUV’s, imagine the 9-4x with a Bi-Turbo XV8? With GM behind them, Saab should be able to bring some very strong products to unsettle a lot of companies. The real challenge will be converting the masses.

  16. Great postings all of you!

    What would you say about enhancing the convertible segment. Convirtibles are probably what saab is most famous for, so why not build a 9-1, fwd with XWD option on the small GM platform (delta?), and equivalent to a Peugeot/Opel are having a great success with, build a small premium convirtible, hard top of cause.

  17. I looovvveee those rims! I fell in 2004 when I saw them on the 9-3ss Aeros. The rest of the styling is alright, although the aero-x nose seems to fit the 9-5 better than the 9-3? Thanks.

  18. it’s just my opinion, but a V8 represents the anti-thesis of everything Saab stood for and should stand for in the future.

    petroleum fuels will only continue to rise in cost and one would hope governments worldwide will continue to mandate reduced emissions and fuel consumption from auto makers. while it seems financially logical short term to engage in the power-and-size-war BS that BMW and Mercedes are playing at currently, I really think Saab should differentiate itself from this “me-too” market by focussing on the “green” automotive future – biofuel compatibility, hybrid and electric vehicle technology and highly efficient, small capacity turbocharged engines with serious performance output.

    case in point: the Jaguar XJ220, once upon a time the world’s fastest car with a 340kmh top speed, had a 3.5L V6 with two turbos. that engine made something like 540hp; more than the V12 the Jag was supposed to have, and with enough torque to still humiliate the 550hp 7.4L V12’d Pagani Zonda, despite being 15 years old and 300kg heavier.

    six cylinders is plenty; any more and you’ve got extra parts, extra weight, extra complexity and extra fuel consumption for diminishing returns. six pistons gives the engine harmonic balance without needing extra balance shafts, so it has all the refinement a luxury car needs under the bonnet. with modern turbo technology like variable turbine geometry and asymmetric (unequal size) twin turbo systems now mainstream and able to make the most of boost-happy ethanol-based fuels, generating suitable power output is hardly an impossible challenge.

    in the highly unlikely event GM let’s Saab design their own engine, I’d like to see narrow angle V4 and V6 engines. they’re more compact than inline engines (shorter engine bays, more interior room), more thermally elegant than V6s (they still have a ‘cold’ side and a ‘hot side’ rather than two hot sides and place the intake manifold with the ‘warm’ V-cradle, have few components (one head and 2 cams rather than two heads and four cams) and weigh less too as a result. SVCing a narrow-V via moving head or moving crank seems easier to achieve than with a regular V configuration.

    currently VW is the main proponent of narrow-V engines but they hardly own the concept… it’s something that Saab could put a stamp on as another of their own, unique Saabisms.

  19. Apparently it might be my criticisms of the GM Inside designs that have not gone down well!

    Look folks, I admire their effort- I just don’t like it. I am allowed not to like it. Surely we don’t live in a world where if someone says how something should be, any protestors (me) are be default being nasty.

    I repeat, those designs are heavy, square jawed, Detroit influenced fashion statements that reflect a current GM outlook.

    They are not in my view Saabs.

    Try putting a picture of a Classic 900 or a 96 up against them for comparo…

    Again- whats with the gaping guppy mouth- as seen on everything from Dodge to Chevy to Audi?Whats with the heavy flanks and muscle bound down the road graphic?

    I respect the enthusiasm in the work, but I dislike the designs.

    I am allowed to- am i not?

  20. Thats a hell of a post Ben. Must have been a slow night in Hobart.

    Still trying to digest all of the thoughts in this fascinating thread.

    Two cents from me.

    1) love the range, whatever its shortcomings – lets just get one please. Love the AWD, the turbos, the wagons, the whole shooting match.

    2) They do all kind of look the same at the front.

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