I’ve just been poking my head around the various tubes that make up this wonderful thing called the internet, and found an article that gives an insight into the Saab that we could have been looking at now.
I’m a firm believer that Saab does have a bright future ahead of it, but when you read this you might realise the degree of change that’s had to take place in the organisation in recent years.
This is from an interview conducted with Saab’s previous CEO, Peter Augustsson, back in 2002. To put things in context, the 9-3 Sport Sedan hasn’t yet been launched.
Q. What kind of variants will we see in the new 9-3 family?
A. Today in the 9-3 range we have three entries. Going forward we will have more than three entries. We will for sure have a convertible. But then the total range will cover what we have today but will also add variants.
Q. What elements from the concept 9-3X will make it onto the production 9-3?
A. Maybe 30 to 40 percent of what you see you will see in production cars going forward. You will see one entry (in the range) coming as a crossover type vehicle. One entry will have AWD but otherwise (the vehicles will be) traditional front-wheel cars.
The three variants in the original 9-3 were a 3-door, 5-door and convertible. Augustsson confirms here that there’d be at least three variants once again, being the sedan, SportCombi and Convertible that we have today. When I was in Sweden earlier this year, one guy confirmed to me that there was a number of 9-3 variations, including a hatch, that were canned. There was also the ‘soft-roader’ with AWD, quite possibly a production version of the 9-3x, albeit a tamed down version.
It’s now a known fact that Saab did a complete personalisation of the electronics of the car to such an extent that they couldn’t be used on any other GM models – a no-no in the GM world.
We’re now 10 years into a 9-5 that was planned for replacement at least a year ago. We got the facelift instead because GM weren’t happy with the 9-5 that had been developed in Sweden.
Michael Mauer resigned not too long after the 9-3 Sport Sedan’s introduction and Peter Augustsson resigned in 2005 after the decision was made to move 9-5 and 9-3 production to Russelsheim. All of the plans they made for Saab in the preceding years were shelved completely in 2005 to accommodate the direction that Saab is heading in today.
A good decision, or a poor one?
In abandoning the Augustsson-Mauer design plan, Saab missed out on the crossover market all together, and the expansion of the 9-3 range. Who knows what else might have been on the table. Saab certainly lost a portion of their individuality.
The new age started with the Aero-X and has continued with the refreshed Saab 9-3 for 2008. The new 9-5 will follow in 2009 along with the 9-4x SUV and the smaller Saab a year or two later. The quality and Saab-ness of these cars will either make or break Saab as a marque within the GM range.