Coupes are making a comeback

That headline hurts when one considers that several years ago, Saab had a full range of 9-3 variants in the pipeline prior to GM turning off the funding tap. Costs had spiralled out of control during the 9-3’s development and GM decided it was time to actually take control of the entity it had owned for a couple of years.

I spoke with a designer in Trollhattan back in June and he confirmed that this was the case. Saab had the sedan, coupe, sportwagon and convertibles all ready to go when the extensive program was killed. Stopped dead, and these were all very close to production standard at the time. The sedan and convertible made it on schedule and the Combi followed some time later. But we’ve never seen the coupe.

Saab 9-3 Coupe

OK, that wasn’t it, but I couldn’t resist.

Gripe shot me this link to the Wall Street Journal, where they’re forecasting that coupes are on the rise:

Over the next four years, forecasters at J.D. Power & Associates expect 31 new or redesigned coupe models to hit the U.S. market, including 16 from luxury brands. Among the coupes J.D. Power sees coming are a two-door version of the Cadillac CTS and, maybe, coupes from Italian brands Alfa Romeo and Abarth (an offshoot of Fiat), that currently don’t compete in the U.S. market.

BMW have had coupes in their 3-series range for some time now, and they’re about to slot their award winning twin-turbo engine into the smaller and rather ridiculous looking 1-series in coupe form.

Audi have debuted their A5 coupe this year, which has predictably made the journos drool whilst attracting the ire of the guys at Sniff Petrol (funny stuff).

The current Saab 9-3 won’t see a coupe variant. I’m 99% sure of that. But in its sedan form you can see that it’s a shape that would have lent itself to a coupe variant quite easily. Here’s one I managed to find in the archives and more recently, Ivan photoshopped one as well.

Saab 9-3 Coupe

I guess the question is whether or not a Saab 9-3 coupe would attract new buyers, or just steal sales from the Sport Sedan. I tend to think there’d be a bit of the latter, but that set up properly with the right performance package, a coupe variant could be a really attractive option for may shoppers.

Jacco shot me a link to this one, from a Dutch Saab forum. Looks like it’s been put together by “Cheyenne”. Whilst I’d like to see bigger doors, it’s still some nice work….

Saab 9-3 Coupe

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  1. Well, this confirms all out theories and other facts we’ve exchanged in terms of the GM factor. One thing is for sure, if investors and other key Automobile gurus continue to point at Saab running at loses, why these don’t simply look at the range options to see clearly why sales are not higher. If a sedan was there to be had I would estimate as a minimum that global sales will increase by 1/3 of the current levels as a minimum.

  2. Devil’s Advocate chiming in here… BMW 1-series is hot, that is all.

    Saab needs to make a snub-nosed little 2-door like the old 99, shoehorn in that SIDI 2.0T from the Solstice GXP and win some hearts. I’ve been helping get a ’75 99LE back on the road for Swedish Car Day the past couple of weeks and finally got a chance to drive it last night. There is nothing like that series of car in the world.

  3. Just to inform you guys there was a ongoing coupe project based on Saab 9-3 couple of years ago. Same as you know there was a SUV variant planned as well. i have seen the model and it looked really nice.

  4. Dutch and Ivan C-pillars have my preference above the black-photoshopped one. But why a coupé with more or less the same dimensions as 4- or 5-foor variants ? I would prefer a smaller sportscar, 9X-wise.

  5. I have a size-problem myself with my deamcar, especially at the pedals. As shortening my feet isn’t a option and i’ll have to figure out some smaller financial aspects first the caterham 7 has to wait and the saab is doing fine meanwhile…
    The lenght of 194 cm isn’t a issue, that is where convertibles come in to solve those problems.

  6. wilfried,

    Have you looked at the Elfin? Soon to be in UK dealers and maybe elsewhere in Europe. Aussie built lotus-style racer now owned by Walkinshaw with a Chevy 5.7l V8.

    Check it out if that sort of thing is your bag, baby.

  7. Yes, bring back the coupe! My favorite version of both 900/9-3 models is still the 3-door one, and I would definitely buy a 3-door version of the new 9-3 if there was one. It just looks so good! 🙂

  8. Please tell me you meant to type “Gripen” in the post, not “Gripe”, though sometimes admittedly that name would be fitting… 😮

    Being a member of Generation X and living in the U.S. I was brought up on Sesame Street. They used to have this segment where they show several related objects and one that isn’t. It was accompanied by a song,

    “Two of these things go together, two of these things are kinda’ the same, but one of these things just doesn’t belong here. Now it’s time to play our game”

    at which time you had to guess which thing didn’t fit. I heard that song in my head in the photo of the Saabs in this post. Couldn’t Cheyenne have used his/her Photoshop experience to edit out that thing that just doesn’t belong there? 😉

    As I mentioned in an e-mail exchange with Swade on the subject, our group at the 60th Anniversary Media Event in San Diego this past February was told by Jorgen Nylen, of Saab Sweden that within four years Saab would double the number of body style variants on offer. He wasn’t counting the 9⁷X, and explained that currently there’s the 9³ sedan, combi, and convertible, and the 9⁵ sedan and combi for a total of five body variants.

    I guess a coupe being introduced to the 9³ line would qualify as another, then you figure the 9⁴X crossover is another, and the 9³X (or whatever they’re calling the jacked-up 9³ Combi with XWD and plastic cladding), is yet another. That leaves two new body variants. I’m guessing the 9¹ body styles will round out the ten?

    wilfried: I would think that the 9³ could be quickly and inexpensively modified into a coupe variant before the 9¹ comes out. That way Saab isn’t late to meet a market trend once again. Like Audi’s doing with the A5, Saab could call the 9³ the “9²” and have a whole new “model” on offer. Look at this picture of the A5’s light pipes surrounding the headlights. Look familiar?

  9. I used to drive a 3-door 900S MY91 and I really loved that car. Good style, phantastic load capacity and easy to get in and out of. Yes please bring back the coupe and the Hatch, Saab definetly needs a broader line-up. A coupe could be added relatively easily one would think.

    Unfortunately, GM is run by bean counters and not by car people so I see no hope. We can be lucky if we see the models that have been promised.

  10. Turbin, thanks for the link.
    Saw the Elfin before in a comparsion test at 5th gear or something.
    Sorry not my piece of cake. It’s about the ugliest sportscar ever. In those, as in other cases, i’m a lover of the most spartan and purest principles, so the caterham 7 or a elise/exige/europa-variant will be favored above anything else. V8 is a bit to heavy (not only in mpg, but also in corners an similar situations like that).
    Altough the ’60s & ’70’s original elfin racers just look fine to me.

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