My thoughts on GMI’s Saab revitalisation piece

RE-POSTED

The GM Inside News project called Saab Revitalised was originally posted in November 2006. It’s undergone a revitalisation of its own recently, however, having been picked up in a big way by a few European publications.

Back in 2006 I posted these thoughts about the project (which is one part of a bigger project called Revitalisation in Action). Twenty people chimed in with some comments of their own at the time. As this site has grown a fair bit since then, with new people popping in, I thought it’d be timely to post this again seeing so many people are sending me notes about the RIA project.

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GM Inside News’ Saab Revitalised article has drawn a heck of a lot of interest and there’s one thing that’s clear from this exercise – there’s more people cheering for Saab that what some of us thought. Saab have become an easy target for the hater crowd in recent years but there’s plenty of interest in Saab’s future, and for good reason: it’s the brand with the biggest potential upside in all of GM’s portfolio.

First things first – hats off to ChevroletRevived, FBodyRules and Mgescuro for a first class effort. Having been involved in this internet thing for a little while now, I well and truly understand the number of hours that must have gone into preparing this piece.

I’d also like to thank all of those that entered their thoughts in comments. A bit of vibrant discussion is good for the soul. It’s clearly provoked some reactions from all of you, as it has done with me too, so without further ado……

Trollhattan Saab’s thoughts on GMI’s Revitalisation in Action – Saab.

GMI’s RIA team have embarked on a fantasy ride: All things going well, what would the dream Saab lineup look like? Their answer comes up with the following models and variations:

Saab 9-1 – Sport Luxury Hatchback, A3 Sized, Based on Delta II
Saab 9-3 – Luxury Sedan/SportCombi/Convertible, 3 Series Sized, Based on EPI
Saab 9-4X – Sport Luxury CUV, X3 Sized, Based on Theta II
Saab 9-5 – Luxury Sedan/SportCombi, 5 Series Sized, Based on Enhanced EPII
Saab 9-6X – Sport Luxury CUV, X5 Sized, Based on Enhanced Lambda Saab
9-9x – Luxury Sedan, 7 Series Standard Sized, Based on Premium Zeta

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The model lineup: My thoughts

Saab 9-1

This car, to me, is a no-brainer. As GMI mentions, the only real player in the US premium hot hatch market right now is the Audi A3 (and maybe the Golf GTi). The BMW 1-series will come sooner or later but there’s not a lot else on the drawing board. Saab have an opportunity here and it’s not limited to the US. The European market love their hatches and it’d have plenty of potential in other markets too.

Perhaps the biggest reason for making this car a reality, though, is the reclaimation of Saab’s heritage. Last year GM Europe chief Carl-Peter Forster did an interview where he slammed Saab for investing millions of dollars into fibre optics at the expense of true Saab design traits such as small, sporty performance and the curved windscreen etc.

A 9-1 would give Saab the opportunity of reclaiming that lost ground and design heritage. It has a ready made market of former enthusiasts and young professionals just waiting for it – eagerly waiting for it if the mail I get is any indication.

It’s a real shame, therefore, that indications I’ve had from sources very well placed tell me that this car has been put on hold. Indefinite hold.

Finally, the one thing that’s missing from GMI’s analysis is a Sonett and I think the 9-1 line is exactly where it would fit. It doesn’t need to be a convertible necessarily (not for me at least), but a dream Saab model line wouldn’t be complete without it.

Saab 9-4x

Another no-brainer.

The lack of a genuine Saab SUV is what spawned the 9-7x and whilst it’s won me as a fan and is a fantastic effort at a low-cost badge-engineered temporary model adaptation (and Saab’s second best seller in the US market in 2006), the fact remains that it’s a low-cost badge-engineered temporary model.

The 9-4x will be a genuine Saab crossover vehicle and I think it’ll be a successful one.

Saab 9-3 and 9-5

These are and will prove to be even more, the bread and butter of Saab’s existence.

The 9-3, as good as it is, was woefully under-developed. Recent stats indicate that whilst Saab account for around 8% of GM’s sales, they also account for approximately 25% of GM’s warranty costs (these are market specific and I’m not sure at this point which market they’re relating to). It turns out those Consumer Reports articles aren’t all that far off the mark (though I still think they’re poorly formulated). Quality is obviously an issue that needs to be developed with the 9-3 first and foremost. Hopefully the revised 9-3 that we’ll see in 2007 will go some way to addressing that issue.

That the 9-5 needs a replacement model, and soon, is a prime candidate for understatement of the year. As was recently pointed out by WooDz, the 9-5 is a worthwhile contender in its segment and is often overlooked, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that more can’t be, or shouldn’t be done.

I believe the biggest threat to the 9-5’s sales success is its lack of perceived differentiation from the 9-3. Both are similar sized sedans with similar engine sizes. The baby brother even gets the V6 and despite the fact that the Saab faithful understand the quality of the 9-5’s 2.3 litre 4-banger, the market doesn’t – and that’s going to be a stumbling block for Saab until it’s addressed.

I like the idea of bringin back the Viggen nomenclature to a hi-po 9-3 and I’d call the top-of-the-line 9-5 model the Griffin.

Saab 9-6x

The jury’s still out in my mind on this one.

Does Saab really need to go from no SUV’s to a fill-in SUV to two fully-Saab-designed SUV variants? Can the market really support and sustain both the 9-4x and a 9-6x and does the market really need both?

One of the encouraging moments in Jay Spenchian’s presentation to the Saab Owners Convention was the admission that Saabs aren’t for everyone. Those that want their conservatively styled RWD sports sedan can have their BMWs. It’s not Saab’s exact market. Saab aren’t playing at being the biggest and would be fooling themselves if they did. Saab aim to make interesting sporty vehicles that have great everyday road driving characteristics as well as the ability to ‘turn it on’ when required.

The pursuit of a second, bigger SUV may be an exercise in following the leader rather than intelligent analysis of what the market can realistically sustain. If Saab are going to build an SUV, I’d rather they build the 9-4x and do it right, with a diesel variant that takes care of 90% of the average Joe’s towing requirements. Those that need more don’t necessarily need a Saab, they need one of GM’s other behemoths.

Put it this way: Would you rather see Saab’s precious R&D dollars go into a second SUV, or a Sonett-type sportster?

Saab 9-9x

Some of the model lines proposed by GMI make sense. To me, this isn’t one of them.

My argument earlier about the 9-3 and 9-5 being too similar failed to mention my hope that the 9-5 will get a reasonable (and quite well disguised) re-size to a distinctly larger model. This not only provides for adequate differentiation from the 9-3, it also means that a model such as GMI’s proposed 9-9x would be unnecessary.

This is a sandbox that Saab don’t need to play in.

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GMI’s designs

Some of the strongest comments, both positive and negative, relate to the design ideas that GMI have posted along with their articles. Pictures always elicit stronger reactions than words, initially at least, and this case is no different.

I’m appreciative of the time that must have gone into the CGIs they’ve presented, but I’m also thankful that Saab’s next 9-3, 9-5 and 9-4x designs are already well and truly established. Many of the CGIs at GMI are actually 9x and 9-3x based ( in terms of the front end of the vehicle) rather than Aero-X based and I’m sure that the design language of the Aero-X will dominate the next round of Saab vehicles.

Whilst the 9x and 9-3x were fantastic concepts, their value (to me at least) lay in their versatility and utility more than their looks. The Aero-X is a much more attractive vehicle by far and to adopt a previous, inferior design language would be a bit like dancing with your sister.

The designs also appear to have a much more American feel to me, rather than European (or more specifically, Scandinavian) and I’d put that down to normal, everyday cultural bias by the authors. Completely understandable.

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Finally…..

I know I’m not the first to mention the lack of diesel variants in GMI’s proposed lineup. It’s an obvious omission and a vital one. Diesels currently account for about 60% of European car sales and will account for an increasing number of US sales as time goes by.

The other omission is the mention of a Saab plug-in vehicle, which is totally feasible and would boost Saab’s credentials in the environmental department to no end. The technology’s already there in development.

Then there’s SVC, but that’s a whole other ball game…..

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None of this in any way negates the awesome efforts that the GMI team have gone to to stimulate interest and discussion about the Saab lineup. The fact that I don’t agree 100% with them just means that I’m one bloke with an opinion.

Whilst I’m not a big fan of the illustrations, I do like many of the concepts and I’m really stoked to be here writing about them.

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34 Comments

  1. “Saab 9-1 … It’s a real shame, therefore, that indications I’ve had from sources very well placed tell me that this car has been put on hold. Indefinite hold.”

    Sadly, this is the variant I would most like to buy.

  2. Me too, Ted. Probably the only one I’m likely ever to be in a financial position to buy new as well.

    I think there’s a lot of people that would love to pick this car up.

    Smaller cars = smaller margins though. This is probably what’s killing it.

  3. Add me to the list of people wanting a Saab 9-1

    I also think that young people (18 to 25) are more aware of the damage that is being caused to the environment. They also don’t want a big car as there is no need. If Saab could produce a trendy swedish designed BioPower 9-1 then you’d have a very keen young enviro friendly market.

  4. “Smaller cars = smaller margins though.”

    I know, but somehow I don’t think the margins on BMW’s Mini or the Audi A3 are that small that they aren’t highly profitable. It would certainly generate more volume to keep factories busy. I could afford a new 9-3 or 9-5 Aero, but as much as I like them, they just don’t get me excited. I would “drive” a new 9-1, but I would probably store a new 9-3 Aero in a climate-controlled facility.

  5. I think that saab will need a coupe (other than the 9-1). Just look at the market growth that Mercedes, Infiniti, and BMW are gaining toward a coupe. The market is LOVING it. I think the 9-1 will need to be a hatch, 2 and 4 door varients, and then their should be a coupe (based off the 9-3?). And their should be an entire new range of powerful saabs marketed under VIGGEN or GRIFFIN. Something to mate with the power of the Audi S vehicles and BMW/MB crew. Its NOW the time Saab needs to play catch up. We are lagging BAD. Just look at Volvo. They are doing great, because of dynamic designs and (over) exploited safety features. I think their new small hatch is going to be a huge hit. Oh, saab better hurry, we cant be last in the game AGAIN.

  6. I agree that SAAB must make a 9-1/9-2. The 9-3 and 9-5 is bread-and butter for SAAB and, yes, the GMI proposal for the next gen. 9-3 looks great. Next gen. 9-5 they must make “larger”, both in terms of size and engines to differentiate it more from the 9-3 and to compete head-on with Audi. Generally, I think the epsilon II platform will be the basis for more models than the traditonel sedan and wagons of today. Niche thinking is what the future is all about. Just look at all the models Audi’s got in the pipeline. SAAB needs a V6 diesel for the new 9-5, a larger then 2,8L V6 petrol (gas)/ethanol and smaller diesels (available already with Opel/Fiat) for 9-3 and 9-1/9-2, DI across the reange and top of the range technology. The way forward is sensational, outstanding scandinavian design, sportiness (turbo only), safety features and ethanol/electric capasity.

  7. While I generally agree with your comments about the vehicles Swade, I really do see the need for the 9-6x. The 9-6x isn’t an SUV so much as it is a CUV like the Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia. My wife and I are in the market for a larger vehicle because we’re expecting our 2nd child and do NOT want a minivan. We’re considering the Mazda CX-9, but we don’t want to get away from SAAB, and we don’t feel like the 9-5 wagon has enough room (we currently have a 9-7x, but would like a little more SAABness).

    I, for one, would welcome the 9-6x with open garage doors, as would a number of other people I’m sure. Mr. Jay can say all he wants to about SAAB not being for everyone, but limited model line-ups and customer bases do not a profitable company make.

  8. GMI team did impressive work, But…
    These models are mostly american style for american taste.
    No return to roots of Saab, no hatchback, no scandinavian design style. Remember, Saab became famous and unique based on it’s very European and very Scandinavian features. Now, it seems to become comverted slowly to a GM brand being Saab only on the surface, but deep inside it’s a CaddyOpelHolden… 🙁
    Furthermore: No diesels, in Europa it makes very difficult to sell.
    Few of 4 cyl Saab turbo engines (in bigger ones no Saab engines at all).
    Looks mostly badge engineering to me, like 9-7x.
    I have mixed emotions about the designs, not bad, but not really “Saabish”.
    9-9X and 9-6X are almost impossible to sell in Europa.

  9. 9-1: yes, viggen variant as well.
    9-3: yes, fix some reliability issues, a viggen would be nice
    9-5: yes, make bigger, nicer
    9-4x: yes
    9-6x: no
    9-9x: no, maybe. (s class, audi a8, 7 series competition; but only if done right, no cutting corners and make it 10-15% less than the competition in MSRP)

    again, Saab is a niche market, they don’t need a car to fill every single gap.

    biopower (hybrid??) and/or diesel available for all variants. Let Saab do the designing. Note to GM: spare a nickel to let Saab do some wonderful stuff.

  10. 9-1 — agree completely.

    9-6x — There are multiple SUV segments. The 9-4x is not going to be big enough for a lot of people.

    How many SUV’s does Toyota sell right now? I think I’ve lost count. Saab can sell two without a problem.

    9-9x — I’m more positive on this. Done right, this could be a real “halo” car, a breakthrough for Saab. It can’t be a “me-too” S-class, it’ll need to be class-leading in one or more aspects.

    But trying to do this now would be trying to run before learning to walk. The 9-1 is a better fit right now with where the brand is, and is needed more from a sales volume standpoint.

    If everything goes right for Saab between now and 2010, I’d explore development of the 9-9x then, looking at the 2012-14 time frame.

    It’s an interesting exercise. The make or break moment for Saab, though, is the next 9-5, and this doesn’t tell us a whole lot about that.

  11. I don’t understand the criticisms being leveled at some of these designs – particularly the charge that these designs are too “American.” The 9-1 and 9-3 look, to me, more Alfa than America. This is good. Actually, the new 9-3 looks positively sexy in hardtop form. The 9-4 and 9-6 have a hint of Mazda about them (not a travesty; the Mazda 3 is great looking in sedan and wagon form). The revised 9-5 does share something – not sure what – with the Camaro concept we all saw a few months ago. But its overall feel to me is still very Saab. As for the 9-9, I love this idea. Many of Saabs core customers here in the states are doctors & highly-paid academics – and now they’re getting on in years. We’d rather not have them defect to Audi or BMW just for more legroom, would we? Agreed, a 9-9 shouldn’t be a high priority. But if we’re talking about what a “Dream” line-up would look like, why not dream? Bring ’em ALL on, is what I say.

  12. 9-1 Strong Agree, my wife would love to drive this one.

    9-3 Combi – agree, as my kids grow I would definetely switch from my 9-5 combi to 9-3 combi, also would love to see some diesel models in US.

    9-4 great idea.

    9-5- agree with everyone to make it larger and different from existing 9-3
    9-6 no need for another SUV in over saturated US market.

    9-9 a big maybe, as someone mentioned, there is a growing need for something that size and status.

  13. Just a comment to the SUV/CUV debate.

    The 9-7X saw the light bacause the buyers wanted it. What is wrong with that? Saab is not in a postition today to just tell the customers to **** off because “we will not build what you want”. Saab is selling something like 140.000 vehicles per year. If one or two SUV or CUV can attract buyers, generate some cash and help Saab now, why not? Rather that then big luxuary cars nobody will buy, or minivans or….

    Just as a side note: The BMW X3 has sold 280.000 in three years. Just imagine is Saab can sell only 15.000 a year of a 9-4X! That alone would mean a lot to Saab.

    Why will nobody buy a “9-9”? Because it is not “Saab” and because the brand is not that premium. People will not spend that amount of money on a Saab. Look at VW and Phaeton. It’s a damn good car! And nobody is buying it. Why? VW is not premium enough. Stupid, I know, but that is the truth. The same with Saab. Yes, it’s kind of premium, but not that much No way. It will just be embarrasing. A slightly bigger 9-5, like the new Volvo S80, is as far as they should go for the foreseeable future. I know a lot of you think of Saab as more premium than that, but I think that’s just an impossible dream right now…

  14. i’d based on the last few day’s worth of comments, the 9-1 should be Saab’s highest priority! there’s room for numerous configurations; 3 door coupe, 5 door hatch and 3-door convertible, ffordable FWD flex-fuel and flex-diesel models at one end to play in the kinda-premium hatch market (Citroen C4, Alfa 147, Volvo C30, base model 1 series), a fire breathing 2.0HOT AWD at the other (aimed at the GTi/R32, A3 3.2/S3), and a hybrid in the middle. Saab might even consider a lowish-spec electric-only model for large city markets, like Rome, London, LA, etc.

    the model could play within the AU$30,000-AU$60,000 range and cover a LOT of bases.

    i agree with the 9-9 comments… it would be nice to have but it would be the lowest of priorities for Saab over the next 5-6 years. ctm is right on the money with the VW Phaeton too. certainly if Saab want to compete in that space, they need to lay down the foundations with the 9-5; bigger, roomier, more luxo. no reason why a new 9-5 range couldn’t play in the 5 series space with 7-series/S-class technology.

    as for the CUV/SUVs, the 9-4 should definitely be the initial target, but in time i reckon two SUV models could work; the 9-4 aimed at the premium softroader market (X3, X5, XC90, Q7, MDX, R330, Cayenne maybe) and the 9-6 at the somewhat more serious luxo off roader market (Range Rover, Touareg, Landcruiser Sahara).

    could be just wishful thinking on my part though 😉

  15. This article is total rubbish and so is the artwork!!! Not one mention of the cup-holders in any of the models, I can’t believe it!!

    Swade, don’t let them get away with this!

  16. Back to the reality, guys.
    Saab would never able to develop 9-9 or even 9-6x.
    Saab (I mean the swedish car manufacturer, not the GM owned brand) has no technology and resources to build these kind of cars.
    9-3 and 9-5 obviously ok, 9-1 too, maybe 9-4x too, using the experiences of 9-x or 9-3x.
    If there ever would be 9-6x or 9-9, they surely wouldn’t be Saabs, just badge engineering.
    I agree those who refuse 9-9. The highest class needs different brand image then Saab. Furthermore, it sad, but true: the quality and reliability of Saab cars are always below Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Accura, Nissan/Infinity and even BMW, Mercedes/Benz and Audi in the same class. I mean the interior styling and quality of used materials (look those crappy silver alu-style plastics on the steering wheel and other parts in Saabs).
    Saab has no AWD tecnology which is a must have in the highest class. Saab has no other petrol engine but the traditional 4 cylinders and the Holden made V6. Saab has no adaptive tempomat, DSG, and many other hi-tech features which are standard in the upper classes.
    Let’s forget it!
    Saab should concentrate it’s resources on the development those features which are its strength: the BioPower, morever the BioPower Hybrid, the excellent safety, the relatively small yet very powerful and economical turbo engines, moreover the SVC engine, and to increase quality and reliability. Some innovative features of Aero-X should be also included in future cars.
    Of course, they need a model lineup extension, 9-1 and 9-4x, maybe 9-6x. Even 9-7x was quite succesful in terms of sale the way how it was built is a wrong way: selecting an out-of-date GM SUV and masking it to Saab… the same dead end was the 9-2x.
    GM should stop to bugger around.

  17. Exactly, get real people. As logan and others have pointed out saab is and has always been a niche market car maker. One day when and if they are cashed up they may want to take on the luxo or big SUV market, but the reality is that there are lots of established players there. Choose your own playground methinks.

    The current priority should be consolidation by getting some good product into production. 9-3, 9-5 and 9-5 clearly. Even though profit per unit may be lower at the lower end of the market a 9-1 is the obvious next priority. Getting some cars out there on the road driving about must surely be crucial to saab. Not badge engineered (9-2), or even mildly molested (9-7), ones though.

    Selling a 9-9 or 9-6 means talking a BMW, lexus or merc driver out of their car. Selling a 9-1 simply means talking a former C900 owner out of their cash. You know it makes sense!

  18. We have to notice that Saab always was a relatively small car manufacturer brand with limited model lineup.
    The mentioned wide model lineup is an unreal daydream.
    Practically, I can imagine only one or two more models: 9-1 and 9-4X/9-6X, however, I think, 9-4X have more chance to be real Saab, while 9-6X should be a badge engineering again. Everything else is beyond Saabs development capacity and doesn’t fit in Saab’s image.

  19. AWD ( & other technology) are no longer required to be proprietory technology these days. Haldex & Bosch are two companies who sell thrid-party AWD systems to plenty of people. Its not that different to headlights or window panes anymore.
    For better or worse, thse days you can take a design and assemble all the required parts to make it real. The sheetmetal capability, engineering and quality control are the issues. no point having a beautiful car if its a pig to drive. But anyway, to make my point, if Richard Branson decided that building a range of cars was the thing to do, he could probably do it within a year. Its a question of money & commitment. Most of the rest is just guns for hire these days.

  20. Hello All.
    I’ve been a continuous lurker here for quite some time. I’m also one of the staff members that assisted on Saab RIA on GMI.

    I’m also the one who fought for the inclusion of the 9-9 in the RIA lineup.

    And if you’re interested, check out my commentary on it here:

    http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40017

    Ultimately, if the 9-9 is done correctly by GM, they could do a serious end run around some of these larger premium sport sedans like the XJ and Quattroporte.

  21. The 9-9 doesn’t have to be a big 4+ seat luxury boat to be the “halo” of the brand … it could be the direct descendant of the Aero X. A Euro “performance car” that would challenge GM’s Corvette in the US — as well as (some of) the top European brands. If Caddy can have a $100k XLR v series, there’s no reason why SAAB can’t have something in that category or better. I’m not looking to have them challenge the Ferrari Enzo or the whatever is the latest rocket out of Stuttgart, But they should certainly be able to land a top model that beats 99% of what is out there.

  22. At the moment, I think the ‘large luxury GM sedan’ should be left Cadillac territory (DeVille/DTS or whatever) to prove if they are able to do it(anything?) right.

    However, what GM is missing is a mid-size sports car/roadster between Vette and Solstice. As a Saab it would fit nicely in the Z4/TT/350Z/Boxster/SLK/Brera-category. (- On an extended Solstice-platform with turbo V6, perhaps ?)

    Oh yes, and the name ? Sonett 4, of course and not 9-something.

  23. Nothing challenges the Vette. The XLR-V 0 – 60 is 4.5 sec with a 14.4 quarter mile. A Corvette makes 3.8/11.5 (also, on a side note, a twin-turbo 02 Vette made 2 sec/9.25 sec. That’s better than a Bugatti Veyron). Just wanted to put that all out there :p I don’t think Saab needs a super hi-po roadster, it doesn’t really fit with its image. I do agree with riku about the midsize sports car. GM doesn’t really have any Euro sports cars, and a new Sonett would be the perfect place to get one.

    But it would never challenge the Vette, and if it tried to, it would lose badly 😉

  24. Jeff you Vette lover you 🙂 🙂

    The biggest problem with the Vette and the XLR is their interior, both are woeful, the XLR especially so. The XLR is more cruiser than sports car as well.

    The Vette is an awesome hardcore beast of a car 🙂 A Saab roadster wouldn’t and shouldn’t be that type of hardcore car. GT sports car yes, but hardcore sports car? Don’t think it would fit personally.

    Something along the lines of the Z4/TT/SLK’s already mentioned would work wonders for the brand if done well, and would sell loads! The TT is what really kick started Audi back to greatness, before that things were quite boring over there.

    And please, NOT the current Kappa platform the Solstice is on, it doesn’t come in Right Hand Drive, so we wouldn’t get it in the UK or Austrailia. A new Kappa platform perhaps?

    The last rumour I heard regarding the solstice was that it was going to be based on the extremely capable Corsa chassis, which can be engineered for all wheel drive. The current Corsa is the best handling small car in the class, and is getting rave reviews everywhere, so the platform would most definitely be capable of sprouting a two seater sports car.

  25. Jeff you Vette lover you 🙂 🙂

    The biggest problem with the Vette and the XLR is their interior, both are woeful, the XLR especially so. The XLR is more cruiser than sports car as well.

    The Vette is an awesome hardcore beast of a car 🙂 A Saab roadster wouldn’t and shouldn’t be that type of hardcore car. GT sports car yes, but hardcore sports car? Don’t think it would fit personally.

    Something along the lines of the Z4/TT/SLK’s already mentioned would work wonders for the brand if done well, and would sell loads! The TT is what really kick started Audi back to greatness, before that things were quite boring over there.

    And please, NOT the current Kappa platform the Solstice is on, it doesn’t come in Right Hand Drive, so we wouldn’t get it in the UK or Austrailia. A new Kappa platform perhaps?

    The last rumour I heard regarding the sonnet was that it was going to be based on the extremely capable Corsa chassis, which can be engineered for all wheel drive. The current Corsa is the best handling small car in the class, and is getting rave reviews everywhere, so the platform would most definitely be capable of sprouting a two seater sports car.

  26. My money is on GM dropping a four cylinder for the 9-5 entirely, and that would be THE deal breaker for me.
    Unfortunately, the dimwitted public believe bigger is always better, so I see the next gen 9-5’s base engine being a VVT equipped, turbocharged 3.6 liter high feature V6, with the top of the line being propelled by a Northstar V8.

  27. You know i honestly like the line-up, except the 9-1. Love the 9-9!
    I believe the potential for Saab is greater than that of even Cadillac. Saab does not come with all the baggage that Caddy has of being a old person’s car or a boat-mobile or American greed.
    Saab represents something different and somewhat unique. Plus it is a European vehicle which is generally recognized as a good thing.

  28. I’ve sat in a Corvette, and I loved it, so I think your assessment of the interior is all taste, Kaz. Of course, I don’t think Saab should have a BEAST of a car, but something quick would be nice. Personally, I hate TT’s, so I’m hoping for something more Z4-ish. As for the platform…the Kappa platform is derived from the underpinnings of the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220. Since Vauxhall is RHD, I’m sure GM could whip up a RHD Kappa variant eventually. Kappa II, perhaps. ‘Course, I don’t care at all, what with living in the US and all 🙂

  29. Jeff, I think the Kappa platform is entirely new. It was designed to replace the underpinnings of the VX220 and Opel Speedster, which themselves were based on the Lotus Elise.

    The VX220 Turbo is a car I’ve had my eye on for a while, and with the new baby on the way in October, the Saab convertible may have to be swapped over for Combi’s for practicalities sake. If that happens, I could see myself buying a VX220 Turbo (best handling car I’ve ever driven, 200bhp in such a little car = 0-60mph in under 5 seconds, and a go kart of a chassis which tackles corners and calls you a wimp for not driving faster round them 🙂 🙂 ).

    The ‘vette interior is better than the horrid XLR interior, yes, but it is still very plasticky and feels extremely cheap inside. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the image of the car, as the ‘vette is an awesome machine, especially the Z06. I do enjoy our debates Jeff, but I think we have taken it a little off topic 🙂 🙂 :).

    Back to the Kappa platform, which, when created, was not engineered for right hand drive. It was a little embarressing for GM as this was one of the first platforms they were touting as being a ‘global’ platform. It is the reason the VX Lightning never made it to production, you can get hold of Opel Speedsters in the new Kappa based form, but not with a Vauxhall badge as they refuse to sell it.

    The UK is, I believe, Europes biggest market for sports cars, (it may sit just behind Germany actually, but if not, then defenitely equal for sports car purchases and convertibles), so the exclusion of RHD for this chassis was a big dissappointment :(.

    I used to have a previous generation TT roadster, was a great car to look at and sit in, but to drive it was a little underwhelming, understeered a lot and almost zero feedback.

    Drove a Z4 3.0, great noise, decent enough handling, but didn’t feel special enough. The SLK on the other hand, it was lovely, felt good inside the cockpit and handled just as well as the Z4. The new TT is supposed to be a much better handling car, but I think if Saab do finally launch a Sonnet, it would clean up. Many people are fed up of the default German choices, the only other option at the moment is the Alfa Brera Spider roadster, but even that cannot come close dynamically to the German cars, it is too fat and heavy (250bhp engines in the TT and Brera, performance? TT – 0-60mph = 6.0, Brera Spider – 0-60mph = 7.5).

    If Saab launched in this segment, it would be a breath of fresh air, and will bring a much needed new air of kudos to our beloved brand 🙂 And before anybody mentions the Honda S2000, it’s too old to really compete with the German cars either now, and I do not think Honda are planning a replacement.

  30. Yeah, I tend to ramble about American cars on here a lot, sorry :p

    “Jeff, I think the Kappa platform is entirely new. It was designed to replace the underpinnings of the VX220 and Opel Speedster, which themselves were based on the Lotus Elise.”

    You’re probably closer to right than I am…derive, replace, same difference :p

    Hopefully GM was embarrased enough to make Kappa II a truly global platform, which I guess was my point. Obviously, for Saab to use an extended Kappa, they need to be able to make a RHD variant.

    ANY new roadster would be a good thing…affordable new sports cars are few and far between. If it’s a Saab, then even better. Personally, I would hope for a relatively inexpensive new Sonett, starting at about 32k (to match the TT and undercut the Z4).

  31. Okay, So I got slapped down … I wasn’t necessarily meaning that SAAB needed to build a car to outperform the Corvette (although I contend it could be done with more elegance than the Dodge “brute force” entry.) But as far as price, styling and exclusivity, they could create a model that would compete for some of the same buyers.

    If numbers like top speed and 0-60 were the only true measures of a vehicle, we’d all be on motorcycles … there are many things that factor into the sales equation, and being a well-rounded, safe vehicle that is finished nicely with attention to detail — and is fun to drive — is a step up from 90% of the cars on the road today. (And pretty much out of character for GM as a whole.)

    Also, did anyone else see the irony in the comment about the “plasticky” interior for the Vette? 🙂

  32. 1. the sportcombi is killing any chance of a hatch coming back;

    2. i can’t see gm being bored enough to do both;

    3. unfortunately, some think a wagon/sportcombi is a hatch.

    4. if one of the things gm’s squeamish about is using the term “hatch,” it (like audi) can ease its conscience by calling it a “sportback.”

  33. I designed these cars and I can tell you that they have mostly areo-x parts used and no parts from current saab’s what so ever (as far as the body’s go), they were not 9x or 9-3x based etc.
    although I tried to keep them looking saab even it may appear that look like they were based off those models.

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