I’ve had several different independent sources, one of whom was totally unsuspecting, mention just this week that the next Saab 9-5 will be released some time during model-year 2009. The 9-4x is expected that year, too, and evidence is mounting that indeed both will be released, probably within months of one another.
That’s the good news.
Saab desperately needs to replace the 9-5 given that the current model is basically a 10 year old car.
Consider, though, the fact that Saab is now owned by General Motors. Even more, consider that General Motors are in the business to make money – as much as they can. And even more, consider that General Motors have recently committed to model developments for Saab over the next 5 years that include a new 9-5, a new 9-3, a totally new 9-4x and a totally new 9-1. There’s even talk of a second, bigger SUV after those are all done.
To cash in on this model development schedule they’re going to need to expand the range of product they offer – particularly in the US.
Now, considering that the US is so fond of their big thumping V8 engines (go on, admit it) what are the chances that the new Saab 9-5 will come with a V8?
And what will be the reaction if it does?
I’d like to remind GM of two words – Responsible Performance.
These words are being bandies around by Saab executives worldwide at the moment as they give speeches to introduce the refreshed Saab 9-3 for 2008.
Responsible performance hinges on safety and efficiency. In producing a spirited car, Saab always have to keep their commitment to safety. When I was driving the new XWD Saab 9-3 back in Sweden last June, one of the product development guys spoke to me explicitly about this question: Was is responsible and within the Saab ethos to produce a 280hp Saab with XWD that would encourage more aggressive driving? You can hear him say it in the video.
When it comes to efficiency, Saab have always tried to do more with less, though the “more” part of that expression has always had an implied limitation that the car would not go to excess. This has been the Saab way. The Swedish way. They built turbocharged fours to bring forth the power of a (1970s) V8, for example. As a result of building cars to a philosophy they built an identity and a loyal following.
Today, Saab have a pretty clean TTiD that gives great performance with great fuel efficiency. They have BioPower technology, stamping themselves in an emerging ethanol market and giving the capability to drastically reduce fossil carbon emissions. Both are part of the solution, not the solution itself, but Saab are players in those markets nonetheless.
So in the spirit of responsible performance – do Saab need a V8 in the Saab 9-5 of the future? Personally, I think not. But what will the market think?
Will GM consider that the Saab 9-5 needs this to be a true Saab flagship, capable of taking on the Audi A6 and the like?
There’s only one way to settle this, of course. And that’s with a poll. Or two.
Cast your vote and have your say.