About that “Saab 9-8x”

In the Saab 9-4x articles I posted yesterday, there were references in comments to a “Saab 9-8x” that caused a couple of small ripples. Some people hadn’t heard about this.

There hasn’t been a specific item on this vehicle up to this point because even if the plans do exist, there’s been very little mention made of it. It’s only been very recently that it’s been mentioned, and I can only find two references to it here on the site (though I’m sure there’s at least one more somewhere).

Back in September this year, Automotive News did a Saab vehicle timeline where they mentioned the Saab 9-4x, then in a separate part of the timeline, they mention the following:

Mid-sized crossover: GM tried to boost Saab sales by giving it the 9-7X, a mid-sized SUV based on the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, and the 9-2X, based on the Subaru Impreza. Both failed. But GM thinks a new crossover designed from the start as a Saab will help make the brand profitable. The vehicle is likely to join the lineup in 2009 or 2010.

At the time I figured that they had their wires crossed with the 9-4x, but on reflection, they refer to the Saab 9-4x as a “small” crossover, so it appears they’re talking about a separate and distinct vehicle that no-one’s heard about.

Secondly, Swedish newspaper e24 did an interview with Jan-Ake Jonsson. In the sidebar to the interview, not in the interview itself, they also mention rumours about a bigger SUV to replace the 9-7x and coming in 2010-11.

The 9-8x moniker hasn’t been mentioned in either of these articles.

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  1. That name just doesn’t have a ring to it. Nine-Eight. Say it with me. Nine-Eight. Unless it comes with an 8 cylinder engine, it just doesn’t sound the same as the odd numbered variants.

  2. If a larger SUV were to be introduced then a direct 9-7x has to be thought about very carefully.
    Either the vehicle should have true off-road capability or not. It seems that a lot of SUVs these days are designed for mounting side walks but look like they can tackle a mountain. There are very few SUVs that can be classed as ‘Go anywhere’.

    However Saab do need a 7 seater; I’m convinced of it, but a re-badged Zafira just makes me choke. So the best platform I can think of using would be ‘Lamdba’. But then you’re into a certain amount of canabalisation within GM and put’s this vehicle right in the face of the Audi Q7 and BMW X5; making it not exactly an off-roader.
    Read the blurb on the Enclave and you’ll know what I mean. However without going back to BOF, Lambda is about the largest of the new generation platforms I think GM have. It would certainly make a very big and comfortable vehicle. I’m sure with the right suspension and XWD setup Saab could make it capable of tackling some of the most harshest of terrains someone would ever want to take a $50/60,000 SUV.

  3. WooDz is right on the money with the Lambda platform, and the fact remains that SAAB doesn’t really need a *true* SUV. In fact, the “crossover” nomenclature would fit the SAAB mould quite a bit better, and I’m sure it could be reasonably “SAABified” — however:

    Buick Enclave
    Saturn Outlook
    GMC Acadia
    Chevrolet Traverse
    SAAB 9-8/6/whateverX

    The same problem exists there as did with the GMT360 (9-7x) — overuse of a single platform, and limited differentiation between the models. Granted, while the Lambda platform is light-years ahead of the body-on-frame GMT360, I tend to think it’s bad juju to have so many vehicles that are basically the same…

    … and that brings us to a whole new discussion on GM running itself into the ground, but we’ll hold off on that. 🙂

  4. Well, WooDz, at this point, every American GM brand either has a Lambda (GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave) or will have a Lambda (Chevy Traverse) except Pontiac, which (I think) is getting out of the SUV/CUV business save the new Vibe, and Cadillac, which doesn’t really need one because they have the Sigma platform already. I don’t think GM is too concerned about brand cannibalization when they already have 4 of them. How could a fifth hurt?


    Hey, as long as they Saabify the platform like they did with the GMT360 (but build from the ground up, unlike with the GMT360), it will be Saaby enough.

    Who would take a Buick offroad? That’s just dumb. It’s a Buick.

    Speaking of Buick, apparently there will be a Buick variant of the 9-4x along with the Cadillac variant. Exciting.

  5. I dont know where some people get the idea the 9-7X was a failure. Sales may not be stellar but the profit margin per car must be significantly higher than on all other Saab models even with any discounts.

    Somebody must like them as I have seen more 9-7X here in Vancouver than I have of the “Dame Edna” 9-5.

  6. I agree, I’d be quite surprised if Saab doesn’t actually consider going with a larger stablemate to the 9-4X. And what better existing platform to do that than the Lambda platform. It might go tete-a-tete against the Q7, upcoming X6, MDX, FX45, M-B GL, etc.

  7. Wasn’t the 9-7x Saab’s best-selling North American vehicle at some point? How is that a failure?

    Oh, right, it’s a Trailblazer with the key between the seats. I forgot about that. Yeah, definitely a failure.


    Also: I saw a DMC-12 on the road last night and I cracked up.

  8. Strictly from a sales standpoint, the 9-7x was not a failure by any stretch of the imagination. The platform was mature, solid, and easily “fixed.” We’ve had one since January of ’06, and the wife absolutely loves it (I converted her of course 🙂 )… needs a bit more room, however. From a general SAABness point of view however, that’s where it begins to be a “failure.”

    If SAAB does go with a Lambda-based crossover, I’d have to think we’d be first in line with our first born as a down payment.

    Hey, they’d give her back. She’s 3 and quite the hand full. 🙂

  9. There was an article in Automobilwoche some 6 weeks ago, where the chairman of the works councel in Rüsselsheim (Klaus Franz) said that there would be built a car like that in Rüsselsheim from 2012 onwards. He didn’t mention however the name.

  10. If the 9-4X is successful in USA, they will for sure build a larger Crossover (same plattform as next gen Cadillac SRX). It’s a pity though that the 9-7X must wait for a replacement for several years. I’m pretty sure that many 9-7X owners in USA will regard the 9-4X as too small and buy another brand when they trade their 9-7X’s.

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