Saab 9-1 – rumour and truth, including XWD

Hasn’t the internet just gone completely bonkers with the apparent announcement from Saab that the 9-1 will show at the London Motor Show in July 2008?

I’ve been asleep for the last 7 hours or so, and in that time some of the major US motoring sites have all written it up as fact that we’ll be seeing a Saab 9-1 mid next year and even better, that it’ll be on sale some time in 2009.

Some of them are forgetting the fact that they’re blogs and reporting it as verified fact…..

Autoblog – MINI-killa: Saab 9-1 headed for London Motor Show

Saab will unveil its Delta platform-based 9-1 at the 2008 London Motor Show and it will be available for purchase in late 2009. Nondefinitive descriptors provided by Saab assure us that the 9-1 will be dramatically styled with an iconic shape. There had been some attention paid to a high-roof small CUV idea, but Saab asserts the 9-1 will be sporty in that Saab way, though it will have the functionality younger buyers are looking for.

LeftLane News: Saab to unveil 9-1 at London Motor Show

Saab has announced that it will unveil its Delta-based 9-1 this July at the 2008 London Motor Show.

I’ve added the bold in there. These two reports are claiming some sort of announcement or assurance by Saab that this stuff is happening and is fact. I haven’t seen any sort of announcement by Saab at all. Maybe I need to double-check my feeds. Their reports are based on the same article that I wrote about yesterday, an article from Autocar magazine out of the UK.

Thankfully, Jalopnik seem to be taking more of a blogger’s line…

Jalopnik: Saab’s 1-series Mini fighter to debut in London

Thus we hear they’ll be introducing a concept version of the 9-1 entry level vehicle at London that will be “sporty enough to fit the Saab character” with the “functionality to attract younger buyers.” Whatever that means.

I wrote about this whole episode yesterday with a very cautious tone.


Well, first of all, Saab have rarely released more than one vehicle in a year, either in real or concept form, ever. In 2008 we’re going to see the 9-4x and a 9-3x – a XWD and raised version of the 9-3 SportCombi. Given that the 9-5 is all-but-officially-confirmed for release later in 2009 (with the 9-4x earlier in 2009) I’d envisage Saab will also show that vehicle in 2008, though a Geneva showing in March 09 may also be a possibility. That’s three possible new vehicles to be seen in 2008 already, and now a proposal for a fourth?

The 9-5 really is a key in all of this.

Whilst the Aero-X is a signpost in future Saab design, the 9-5 will be the true indicator of how that design language is applied to the bulk of future Saab passenger vehicles. Word coming through to me is that the 9-5’s design has been rejected and reworked several times since 2005 and that includes very recent times.

Why is this important? Saab have only started talking openly about a 9-1 being in the future model pipeline for real in 2007. Car design, when it’s going to apply to real production models, takes considerable time. With the 9-1 only being confirmed as a model recently and the production design language still somewhat up in the air, I just find it very hard to believe that a reliable 9-1 design concept could be ready for show by July next year.

And finally, all previous reports about the 9-1 have it appearing ‘during’ 2010 or later, rather than the 2009 launch predicted here.

I’m quite open to all of this happening and I hope it does. If the 9-1 comes in 2009 then a performance version of that car could well be my first ever brand new Saab. But I’m skeptical and I think the web’s got a little carried away here.


Reporting fact:

I use the name Djup Strupe as a cover-all name for the various sources who provide me with information about Saab’s model development. Naturally I don’t divulge names and try to keep some of the info fuzzy so as not to give away the possible source. Sometimes the nature of the information itself can point to certain sources, so you’ve got to be very careful with this stuff.

If I’ve heard something from a Djup Strupe or have constructed something from several known sources then it’s reported as such until it’s confirmed, hence my cautious treatment of this 9-1 news from yesterday. I’ve already had brief comments from one Saab guy who’s 99% sure that the report is incorrect, which I tend to agree with.

But there’s several facts about the 9-1 that are worth getting excited about:

Hybrid possibilities – reported here with names from Saab attached. Names of people I’ve met in person from Saab in Sweden, so when they were quoted by the Swedish news sources I had confidence in those reports being true.

XWD appearing on the car – here’s a piece of confirmed news that’s just happened today. Saab History did an interview with Steve Shannon at the New England Auto Show and in that interview Steve Shannon said the following:

“we would certainly envisage having cross-wheel-drive”

Now that’s reportable fact. He goes on to say that he expects all Saab cars across the range to have an XWD application in the future.


With regard to the Saab 9-1 showing in London, I’ve written to Saab Sweden asking for comment on this story and will get back to you as soon as I know something.

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  1. I would not be surprised if they show a *concept* in London. And following the latest trend in the auto industry, that concept could be close to what we will see in production. But it still a only concept showing of a design language and talking about new technology. I’m sure the 9-1 will be a hybrid and I doubt this hybrid thing together with a whole new car in a new segment will enter final field tests next year. Especially since there are zero spy shots of it. But sure, one can hope…

  2. I agree with ctm, concept for London. Toe-in-the-water exercise in a country where GM only makes Astras due to the strength of the small-midsize market. Can’t imagine a 9-1 as ever being particularly popular in the US.

  3. Ach Swade, your even keel slows my too-swift-beating heart. Two products in a year? Whoopee! You’re right, though. It’s never gonna happen.

  4. I’ve heard it’ll be presented on the Geneva motor show, which makes sense not only because I’m saying so but since it’s larger than the motor show in London.

  5. Everything we’ve heard from Saab up until now points to them worrying most about getting the next-gen 9⁵ out. That’s key. The 9¹ is predicted to be a big seller, but that it wouldn’t be seriously addressed until after the 9⁵ comes out in 2009 (as a MY2010) or 2010 (as a MY2011). That would target the 9¹ for production in 2011. That’s what I remember reading. If we’re to get a taste of the 9¹ in concept form in 2008, I’d be very surprised.

    Saab is trying to keep dealers happy by giving them some product to sell in the meantime (such as the 9³ MCE, 9⁴X and 9³X) before they come out with the cars they really think will sell: the next-gen 9⁵, then the next-gen 9³, then the 9¹, and possibly the mid-size SUV. What’s next? Why, the Saab minivan and Saab pickup truck, of course! 😛

  6. Well maybe GM feels that now is the time to break all the scarcity of info related to SAAB. if you notice people know alot about Audi products because every other day there is something in the news about Audi. GM needs to get people talking about Saab products again and maybe if they provide something of interest for everyone they can do that. XWD definately should come standard on all Saab’s from here on out. Not as an option but standard. Saab’s playing catch-up and needs to have some incentive for potential customers to want to jump ship.

  7. ck1x: I’m afraid if Saab were to make XWD standard it would put Saab out of the price range of most people they’re trying to market to. Everyone has a wish list, but it has to be noted that everything costs money and people aren’t willing to foot the bill.

    Personally, my dream Saab is an all-electric XWD-equipped small roadster Sonett 1 descendent, but in reality the car that best befits me practically is a comfortable FWD utilitarian fuel-efficient but fun car. I can’t afford a $50K car. $30K is pushing it for me.

    However, I could get a heck of a C900 or 9000 Aero for $30K! 😉

  8. OK, Mr. Swade brought back all saab dreamers with two feet on the ground. So it’s now wait&see-policy (as we are used to do for years already).

  9. To make the time line it would need to be a reskinned variant of another GM car … Can you say Saturn Astra? It even has a hatch!

  10. Just one note. After the dealer event in Sweden, my local dealer made a comment to “look for an announcement from Saab (USA)regarding a new product — or update to an existing product — every 60-90 days for about the next 5 years.” Nedless to say he was excited.

    At every 90 days that’s 20 “new” products in 5 years — from a company that essentially has had just 2 models for what seems like forever. That should get some notice …

    That’s already happening with the: 2008 9-3, 9-7x Aero, Turbo-X … we know that this time frame will also include new models: 9-4, 9-1 … and completely redesigned models: 9-3, 9-5 … we also are pretty certain that there’s a “soft-road” 9-3 in the offing … That covers 8 of the announcements … probably can mix in a BioPower announcement or two, and some anniversary models sprinkled in …

    Should be a very interesting period for Saab …

  11. 1985 Gripen: I agree with you on the whole pricing issue but since the new standard for GM is to share platforms and make each brand more universal. I can’t see why they couldn’t offer this as a shoe in. I love the Saab brand and have always owned a Saab but they need that take notice approach they once had. GM needs to define how Saab and Cady are different. If we are to go by the future of Saab incorporating design cues from Aero X then it seems that GM is putting Cady and Saab against each other a little to much.

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