The 9-4x is widely believed to be due for unveiling, at least in a pre-production or concept form, at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2008 – around six weeks from now.
I’ve been covering the various bits of news as they pop up, so with the public debut so close I thought it high time I put all the info together in one place.
The Saab 9-4x was first mentioned in mid-2005. At that point, GM had just sold off it’s interest in Fuji Heavy Industries, with whom Saab were developing the Tribeca based 9-6x. There was some growing disquiet about this model, and when the 9-4x was first mentioned, officials were at pains to stress that this new, smaller SUV would be designed as a Saab from the ground up.
The 9-4x has been in development, probably since just before that time. Saab employees gathered in Sweden earlier this year for dealer conferences and were shown life-size models of the 9-4x and 9-5. Here’s what we’ve learned from those viewings and from various reports:
The car will be a 5-seat SUV, around the size of a BMW X3, which will be a competitive benchmark and the vehicle will be compete with the Volvo XC60 when it comes. It will have some prominent styling cues from the Saab Aero-X concept car. The car is rumoured to be built at Ramos Arizpe, in Mexico, along with the Cadillac sibling that’s being produced on the same platform.
Speaking of which, the platform is said to be called TE, taken to be a mix of the Theta and Epsilon platforms that underpin other GM vehicles. These Saab and Cadillac vehicles will be the first to use it.
Back in 2006, then-SaabUSA chief Jay Spenchian gave a keynote speech at the Saab Owners Convention in the US and showed a brief design image of the car. This was caught on film by Ryan of Saab History.
Tekniken’s Varld magazine also commissioned their own illustration based on descriptions given to them. Sources who have seen the vehicle for real have indicated that it’s a pretty good likeness of the real thing seen in Sweden earlier this year.
Djup Strupes (i.e. Deep Throat in Swedish, my code name for Saab insiders) have indicated to me that the interior will be quite modern, very driver focused and with “truly functional ergonomics”. The front is as per the above photos quite Aero-X-like in execution, with some cool blue mixed in the tail lamp section. The tail should, in the Saab tradition, open fully – right down to the load floor.
Jay Spenchian mentioned, back in August 2006, that US pricing for the vehicle would be fairly close to, or just above the current Saab 9-3 range there, which at that time topped out at around $43,000 for a V8 Saab 9-7x. I’d expect it to be at least this much. There’s a few indications around at the moment that Saab are perhaps looking to go more upmarket with new models. Jan-Ake Jonsson himself indicated this might be the case in May this year when he said that future Saab vehicles would be bought by well educated, fairly rich buyers.
Djup Strupe has also mentioned that 9-4x will be powered by a variation of the 2.8 litre V6 engine, possibly tuned up to around 300hp in some models. A 3.6 litre V6 was also mentioned recently in CAR Magazine (more recent than the bit mentioned below). There’s also talk of the vehicle getting a new V6 diesel engine, sourced from VM Motori and also for use in the next 9-5. A diesel will be essential for the European market – and this is considered a global vehicle.
CAR Magazine recently went as far to assert that the both the 9-4x and 9-5 would be powered by a new electric power assist unit. Then again, they also asserted that it would have a fold-down 3rd row, which witnesses are adamant it won’t.
All indications at this point are that after debuting in concept form in January 2008, the vehicle will still be at least a year away, being available for sale early in 2009.