Ivan Brings Back the Hatch!!!

UPDATE below!



Ivan, my T-shirt partner and fellow Viggen owner, has employed his photoshop skills to the new Saab 9-3.

Here’s his work in 3-door and 5-door guises.






UPDATE: Lots of comments on these and while I was sleeping, Ivan responded with a tweaked 3-door appearing in my inbox this morning.

The doors have been slightly elongated.



Jeff K has taken the updated 3-door and done some tweaking of his own, shortening some body sections, lowering the bumpers and adding an all-important Viggen badge, amongst other things.



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  1. I really like this photoshop! Those hatchbacks can hold so much ,and I really miss having it. Now, I can barely fit anything tall into my 9-3 sedan.

  2. That 5-door looks great! I think a 5-door hatch would really set SAAB apart again from its competition. Let the 9-5 be the sedan and the 9-3 be the hatch model.

    I also have to say that as much as I like the new front-end of the redesigned 9-3, I prefer the look of the 2003-2007 9-3SS door handles to those new door handles. I like the way the old door handles are slim rather than chunky. It’s a stupid little thing, but I think the combination of the new door handles and the removal of the side trim makes the 9-3 look kind of bland from the side – like a Jetta or something.

  3. The 3-door looks weird becaues the door is the same size as the 4-door.
    Make that coupe door slightly longer and it’ll look much nicer.

  4. In fact I would rather that Saab did a hatch along the lines of the 9X. It is time for the hatch look to evlove into something that looks a lil different. And I think that Saab is the perfect company to do so.

  5. OK, first voice of dissent, but I don’t see the point? This looks sooo like the old 9-3 it would be ridiculed. It is derivative, boring and out-of-step with the market. No-one in the real world wants a hatch nowadays – the exec-wagon is currently in vogue and the 9-3 SW fits the bill perfectly well. If Saab were to return to the hatch market, it should only be in 9-1 guise, and then with a much smarter and innovative design, not a 30 year-old design like this, IMHO.

  6. Nope, sorry Mark, I have to disagree with you.

    This is the point: it’s USEFUL. But it also looks better than some designs…many don’t like the look of the boxy hatch. I do agree that the 9-3 SC looks good though, especially compared with the coffin-toting Ovlovs and Mercs.

    Bottom line is there’s a solid group of Saabisti that would buy such a model variant (I believe Swade created a poll for this some time ago?), and when you have the core group behind you, you know you’re doing the right thing.

  7. Er, I meant to say boxy WAGON. The hatch is more aesthetically pleasing to many as compared with the squared end of the wagon.

  8. I agree with Mark – a step backwards, although I do like the look.

    But, can we put the rear wiper on the sedan, please? Why doesn’t it have it anyways?

  9. eww…fugly is so 90s. Why take such a regressive step in design? The SportsCombi is a modern masterpiece. Let’s embrace it!

  10. Building a hatchback variant of the 9-3 should not cost SAAB all that much money and it might move more product. I’m not saying to go strictly back to a hatch (there are those who prefer the sedan, but I don’t think it’s as many as who prefer the hatch), but at least offer it as a variant. Let the consumer choose.

  11. One of the complaints from people who prefer the sport sedan to the hatch is that the hatch doesn’t have as good handling due to that big opening at the rear and body flex.

    I’m told that this problem was addressed in the NG900 with that annoying brace across the bottom of the trunk that interferes with anything you try to load in the trunk. This is also the reason for the omission of the completely flat floor of the C900. In an NG900 you have that part of the back that sticks up you have to lift things over when loading and unloading. This added some cross bracing.

    Why can’t SAAB put in some sort of bar that connects the two sides of the car through the trunk for cross bracing? Most of the time the owner would have this bar in place, but when they want to carry a particularly large load in the trunk (and thus would be unlikely to be worried about cornering performance) they can remove the bar easily with quick-disconnector fittings? Wouldn’t that take away some of the handling issues with a hatchback?

  12. Like them or not, that’s some impressive photoshopping. I like the look of the 3-door myself.

    Good work! Now we just need to get Saab to build ’em!

  13. I think it is an excellent idea for a 9-1 rather than a 9-3. I agree that SAAB cannot graft an NG900 rear to the 9-3 but the concept is sound. I would love to see the 9-1 hatch being a little larger than the Golf and reflecting the 900 heritage.

    I think the mistake SAAB made with the 9-3 was not recognising the market for a premium hatch below the sport saloon category. I don’t think a 9-3 hatch will ever lift SAAB into the big league but the appetite for premium hatches is there. When my wife bought her 3 series she really wanted a Golf sized car but he A3 and 1 Series did not appeal. This to me is the core SAAB market. Below that we need to see a 9-0 competing with the Mini and as I said earlier, reflecting the URSAAB. FIAT have the 500 and now Alfa have a Junior model based on the Corsa.

    For me the 9-5 and 9-3 should be quality, medium to low volume alternatives to the Germans but the profit and volume should come form the 9-1 and 9-0

    But let me say loud and clear simply adding a hatch to existing models will not save SAAB – the twin turbo 9-4x and XWD will save them.

    Gripen – nice to see you finally admit torsional stiffness is an issue:)

    It is easy to make a hatch stiff with out cross bracing – it just adds a lot of weight. The cross bracing is also more to do with body flex and the squeaks and rattles that are created.

  14. Sorry, but I don’t see the appeal of the hatchback other than it can haul more stuff.

    It simply appeals to a very small number of vocal, “change is bad” people and is a low volume, niche market seller.

    Not to mention that looks sell and a hatchback is extremely ugly compared to a sedan.

    Count me as an anti-‘bring the hatch’ back type.

    There’s not place for it in SAAB’s lineup unless it’s in a lower price range and is meant to compete with cheaper brands. It’s not upscale.

  15. Wow. That is amazing. The 3 door w/ elongated door and the 5 door are superb. SAAB. Build this. They will come. Seriously you should make sure that color glossy printouts of these end up on the head of Saab’s design desk via fedex, like tomorrow.

  16. You know, this may be a settled issue around here, but I’m not so sure I want the hatchback. I remember being confused in the autumn of 2002, wondering what the hell Saab would make if not weird-looking hatchback. Slowly but surely, like a puppy licking my face, the happy, wedge-shaped 2003 9-3 has won me over (not so much its sinister face-lifted successor,) and while I can see how much fun a hatchback 9-3 would be, I think it should look like the sedan – wedge-shaped. Too egg-shaped (like the old 9-3) ends up looking chunky, especially in 3-door form, unless you give it a serious body kit (a la Viggen.) I would love the utility of the hatchback, back, but I think Saab’s styling has evolved past it. Let’s save the hatchback for the 9-1, and then we can crazy with the retro-tastic cues. Deal?

  17. I’d love a new wagonback from Saab, as long as it doesn’t look exactly like a 900/9-3 like this photochop does, because no one would buy it. Update the look a tad and it would be totally awesome. Nice work with the chop, though, it looks great.

  18. Jon: torsional rigidity is no issue for me, I’m just pointing out that it is for others. For those people, they can buy the sedan. For people who would rather own a hatchback they should have a choice in the matter.

    J.Kent Eckles: if you don’t see the appeal of a hatchback, fine. You can buy a sedan. And as for a hatchback being a “low volume niche market seller”, what do you call the current 9-3 and 9-5 sedans? Did SAAB’s sales numbers skyrocket when they dumped the hatch for an all-sedan/wagon lineup? You mention that a hatchback is not “upscale”. Are you saying that just because none of SAAB’s “competitors” offer a hatchback? I don’t particularly think a wagon is “upscale” either, though all the near-luxury car makers offer one.

    We should have a CHOICE, that’s all I’m saying. If you hate hatches, fine. Continue to buy a SAAB sedan as I’m sure you already have. If you want a hatchback you should be able to buy one from SAAB, IMHO.

  19. I’ll agree that it looks good, but I think all of you are just going crazy over the return of a familiar form factor. If saab is going to build a hatch, I think we are going to see a much more progressive design in that segment than we are currently used to, and I’m sure it will be controversial — but thats exactly what we need. It’s coming, but its not going to be like our familiar hatch that we know.

  20. Wow it does look rather impressive and i would shore buy one.

    i was glancing over the 9x rubber bound book last night (thanks sabby!!) and if they did build that car i recon i would be driving on now instead of my og9-3 Aero (COUPE).

    i did have a bloke sitting on my couch a week or so ago, and i asked him if the coupe would make a come back, sadly he said not in the near future, he then proceeded to rib me about ruining the locals dealers tyres at a track day..

    Swady you are a harsh felow!!


  21. its not perfect but its cool. Saab definitely need some hatches. They are everywhere else now except SAAB! Even the new 4 door Aston Martin & Porsche Panamera are apparently hatchbacks….imitiation is the highest form of flattery I guess.
    C’mon Saab, you know it makes sense.

  22. I had a couple of hatches (OG 900 and OG 9-3) and I really missed the utility of them when I purchased my 9-5. I just couldn’t do a wagon, though, at least not in the 9-5’s form, so I bought the sedan. But the new 9-3 combi’s striking design made me realize that I had a real choice in the future–and I didn’t have to compromise. The new combi, I think, has leaped beyond the old hatch in design. A cool hatch on the new 9-1?….sure. But the new 9-3 combi is just about the perfect car.

  23. As long as it’s got a slope to it (like the 900) and isn’t just a sheer cliff of a rear end (like a Volvo wagon or like a Chevy Aveo or the like) I’ll love it. Frankly, I don’t see how you can make a crazy controversial hatch design without it being overly weird…

  24. BOYYY am i glad i got my 9k aero. 9-5 size car, with a big ole hatch… if saab made a car like this again… i dunno what would keep me from blownig all my money on one :)…

  25. I really like the look of that… a little updating and I think some of the old-school SAABers might come back to the brand.

    I don’t know if it’s been said already, but to those who say the hatch is passe: Mazda (USA, not sure about the rest of the world) has a three-car lineup for the Mazda6 — sedan, 5-door, and wagon. I’m not sure of the sales numbers, but if you introduced the 9-3 5-door in limited quanities, I wouldn’t think there’d be a problem selling them (AWD, 280HP V-6, 6-speed manual).

  26. Chris, whilst I have a grudging respect for Honda, Mazda is the only Japanese car maker that I’ve ever truly ‘liked’. I read earlier this week how the Mazda 6 has driven them to rising sales here in Australia this year and they’re predicting continued growth for the next few years. The 3’s not bad for a smaller car, either. And the Mazdaspeed versions offer some pretty serious numbers.

    I wouldn’t get one myself, but I’d look over someone else’s.

    There’s definitely a hatch market out there. I guess the big question for Saab to answer is whether it’s a viable market for them and where they want to pitch their cars. I hope so, as I’d love to see a 3-door come back in something other than just the 9-1.

  27. Swade:

    I sold Mazdas for a while, and with their new entries to the lineup (CX-7 and CX-9) and the Mazdaspeed models, I have to say that they’re my favourite Japanese automaker by a mile/kilometer. They’ve certainly improved their image/quality in the last few years with the Mazda6 and Mazda3, and the MX-5 has always been somewhat of the benchmark for (relatively) inexpensive roadsters. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for SAAB to imitate Mazda’s lineup model…

    … now if only they’d bring back the RX-7 (and it IS supposedly in the works)… 🙂

  28. PT: Yeah, I guess I’m not the only one who thinks that Mauer took his sketches for a new 9-5 to Porsche and called it the Panamera.

  29. The 5-door is beautiful, although I would probably opt for the slightly uglier extended-door version of the 3 door. I had a 1980 GLi 3-door as my first car and still miss it.

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