Opinion: Why we shouldn't call the next Saab the "9-3"

Saab’s next all-new vehicle to be unveiled to the public is a little way away at the moment, but I’d like to talk about one aspect of it here today. This post might not win me too many friends, either at the factory or out there in enthusiast-land, but be that as it may….. I’d like to put forward some personal thoughts about nomenclature.

Saab’s next vehicle release will be the most important vehicle release in the company’s history. Why? Because it will replace the current Saab 9-3. This is Saab’s bread-and-butter. Traditionally, it’s the vehicle size that we sell the most, and it’s the vehicle segment that our customers spend the most time shopping around in. I don’t want to sound too dramatic about this (though I’m not sure I can be too dramatic about it, to be honest), but if this vehicle fails, we’re toast.

Given those dire, all-encompassing consequences, I think it’s worth a little extra time thinking about every aspect of this vehicle, including something that can set the tone just right, if it’s done correctly – the vehicle’s name.


Saab has used a couple of different nomenclature schemes over its history. The common thread is that all but a few of them have involved the number 9. We started with an ascending two-digit code in the Saab 92, got all the way up to the Saab 99 and then went to three digits. Then four digits.

Finally, in a bid to do something new for a new generation of vehicles, we went to our current nomenclature, which is written 9-3 and 9-5 but badged rather cleverly with a to-the-power-of look. It’s modern, it places our vehicles in segments that are logically ordered, segments that can be compared with other manufacturers.

But is it right?

Personally speaking, I’d say both yes and no. I don’t have a problem with our current nomenclature at all, except that I wonder if it’s going to set our new vehicle, our most important vehicle, apart from the rest like it should.

Can we do better? Well, after watching a video a few days ago, an idea came into my head and personally speaking, I think we can.

Some have accused Saab of going too much into BMW territory by naming our vehicles with similar names to the ones that BMW use to segment their vehicle series (3, 5, etc). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As I said before, it’s logical, clean it looks great on the cars.

But I think there’s another German manufacturer that we can take a look at and perhaps learn something from. Check out this video from the Frankfurt Motor Show……

The particular part that you’re looking for occurs at 1:51 in the video.


Right there, you have legendary Porsche driver Walter Röhrl saying the following:

For me, if I talk of Porsche, I talk of 911.

And what he says is absolutely true.

Porsche have made a range of outstanding purpose-built sports cars over the years but the one that traces a line through the last four decades of the company’s history is the 911. When they tried to replace it with the 928 in the 1980’s they learned very quickly, and it almost cost them their very existence, that the 911 was what their fans wanted.

Porsche now have different names to differentiate the generations – 993, 996, 997, etc – but the over-arching name that I can guarantee they’ll never let go of again is 911. And with that, I can also offer extremely short odds on them ever changing the basic formula that makes that car – boxer engine hanging out the back, race breeding, etc. Porsche now make a full line including a sedan and SUV, but I’ll wager those high-profit vehicles are primarily built to finance the cars that the company stakes its reputation on – its sports cars.


So what of the replacement for the Saab 9-3?

After reading the section above, you shouldn’t be too surprised to hear me say that I think Saab should bring back the 900 name.

Note: I’m not talking about rebuilding old 900s here. What I’m talking about creating a new legend and then attaching Saab’s most iconic name to it.

So why bring back the 900 badge? The reasons are many:

  • The 900 badge still has plenty of currency. Poll after poll asking people what their favourite Saab is has shown that the 900 is still the people’s favourite after all these years.
  • Saab made their early reputation on rally wins in Europe. They gained a worldwide following in the showroom because of the 900. Take my home market in Australia, for example. In Australia, you’ll find a handful of Saab 96s and a larger number of 99s. It was the 900, though, that saw the company get real brand recognition downunder. And that story would be the same for many markets around the world. The 900 is the model that really globalised Saab Automobile in a big way.
  • Perhaps the biggest reason of all is to create the expectation of excellence. The Saab 900 is a vehicle that people loved for a number of reasons. It’s going to be up to our engineers and designers to recreate those experiences in a modern vehicle that fulfills the expectations of Saab customers in this segment. There can be no higher or more worthy expectation or goal than the Saab 900.

Basically, what I’m suggesting here is that we rebuild, preserve and hang on to one of our icons. I don’t even think they’d need to change the other badges in the range to do it, either. Porsche has the 911 and then it has a range of badges for other vehicles. Granted, those badges are alpha names rather than numerical, but I’m not sure it would make that big a difference.

Companies around the world pour millions into branding and trying to build iconic imagery for themselves. Saab had an icon in the 900 that it was forced to abandon, to some degree, but has a genuine opportunity to reclaim – and it’s an icon that’s still got plenty of value. I’d be happy to argue that the 900 badge still has as much currency as the 9-3 badge we use right now.


There’s one thing that must be present for Saab to do this. It’s non-negotiable and Saab shouldn’t even consider this without the following condition being present.

It has to be the right car. The Saab 900 became a cult hero because it offered so much to its owners:

  • It had curious styling that forced people to have an opinion. It wasn’t a classical beauty, but a functional beauty that could end up looking damn hot in the right clothes.
  • It had the typical no-compromises approach to safety that Saab was famous for.
  • It had fantastic equipment, wonderful interior design and materials.
  • It had a combination of practicality and performance that was unmatched by any regular sedan in its time. You could take it to the track in the morning, the hardware store in the afternoon and the opera in the evening – and it wouldn’t be out of place in any of them.

The replacement for the Saab 9-3 has to offer these qualities as well as a few new ones that the modern age allows for. If it does these things, it’s a chance to win those customers we need, and it’ll also be a worthy inheritor of Saab’s most famous name.


I can hear the protests now…… WE CAN’T GO RETRO!

And I agree.

But this is talking about a name only, and a name that symbolises Saab for many people like the 911 symbolises Porsche for many others. The key, once again, is to get the car right. If the car is thoroughly modern and delivers an outstanding driving and ownership experience, then any concerns about being ‘retro’ will go out the window.

Again, we’re not talking about rebuilding old 900s here. Or even cars that look like the 900. We’re talking about creating a new legend, with the real and intangible qualities that made the 900 outstanding, and then attaching Saab’s most famous name to it.

Instant warmth. Instant recognition. An icon that has currency built-in from the start. And for Saab’s own creative types – it’s one hell of a reputation to live up to.


Your thoughts are welcome below…….

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  1. Actually, before I even went to the jump, I what you were going to say. I agree 🙂

    900 is to SAAB, as the 9-3 was to GM. Going back to SAAB post-GM is going back to SAAB’s roots. And yes, this will be the make-it or break-it car for SAAB so it has to be heard…. and in a BIG way!!

    1. Very valid point, Saab should do everything to rid themselves of any/all GMness. The only thing I am not keen on is how the 9-5 was kept. They should have started a new badge architecture with it’s release. 

          1. Concerning the 9-5, I’m guessing that sometime after the 9-3 replacement’s debut, the 9-5 will receive a substantial mid-life face lift that will try to bring it closer to the new car and at the same time,  try to distance it further from it’s GM heritage.  That would be the time to rename it.  Who knows, if the new Saab’s hatch is really successful, perhaps they’ll add a hatch to the 9-5 range.  Supposedly there was a hatch concept car made.

  2. In the related poll I expressed that having released the next generation of the 9-5 (retaining the 9-5 badge) cemented the notion of the next 9-3 keeping the same name as well. There has been the numerical consistency of smaller/faster VS bigger/practical [900/9000] [9-3/9-5]. Especially with the addition of 9-4 and proposed 9-2 so forth, there was a concise and easy labeling. I fear that a new 900 may not be as wise because there is no promise it will win over prior 900 fans. Conversely, Ford had to bring back “Taurus” after the 500 flopped so there is precedent. Names and badges aside…. With Jason at the helm and hatchback availability feel free to call the car “HorseShit” as I will still be in line to buy one regardless. 

    1. Bringing back the “Taurus” name was going through my mind too but since most if not all of Ford’s models have names, this didn’t have other complications for how it fit into Ford’s line-up. 

  3. 900 would be awesome!  And a Cabrio would be icing on the cake.  

    Currently Mercedes runs a bunch of ads, with the SLS and the 300 SL Gullwing in it, Saab has a similar opportunity.

    But to make it a bit more modern, I’d call it the Saab Phoenix 900, assuming it’s going to look like the cool prototype we’ve all seen and love!

    1. I love it too.. but i would rather call it Saab 900 Phoenix..to me it is the most logical name and a more classy when the Phoenix addition is hook up behind the 900 name.

    2. Using Phoenix is awkward as the modular Phoenix platform will eventually be used for most of Saabs new cars.  Not to mention most Americans will think of Arizona!  I guess we could have a P900, P9000 etc..  The actual Phoenix name could be used on the 9-4X replacement when it becomes Phoenix based, but what would you call the bigger SUV that the Chinese want Saab to build?  That would likely use the Phoenix platform too.

  4. Hi Steven,

    I agree on one thing; the 900 is the SAAB-icon… My love for the brand started with the first look at a 5-door Turbo in 1980!
    Where I see a difference with the 911 is that Porsche never changed that name. With that in mind the name is as much an icon as the car itself. SAAB did change the name and I think that the 9-3 name is well accepted by the current potential buyers. In the case of changing to 900 again it feels like we are trying to hang on to something that only the first 900 can represent. Hade the name never been changed than I would have liked to see a new 900 in 2013. For my part do we stick with the 9-3.
    All the best,

    1. Edwin part of me agrees with you but names are very useful in connecting with those who do not share our passion for cars – rennaming the car as the 900 is a great link back to an icon. To me the only draw back is tying the range together.

      Potentially it could run 90, 900, 9000 with 90x, 900x, 9000x for awd

  5. The modern 911 is not retro. The styling links neatly through every generation, preserving the sense of purpose of the car while updating the things that need to be updated. I think calling the new car the 900 is a great idea – but to succed it MUST have the key 900 elements but at the same time evolving the styling of the car and the driving experience.

  6. The biggest problem with the 900 was the short wheelbase which made the doors for the 4- and 5-door versions very narrow. Too narrow for my long legs.
    It also gave the car a very special look with the wheels so concentrated to the middle of the car, so to speak.
    But our black 3-door 900 looked marvellous until the rust-monster ate it.

    But Porsche are slightly confusingly using two number series for the 911, as the current 911 is also called 997. Or the other way around. 🙂

  7. I don’t see it..  If the new 9-3 is going to be 900, what are the 9-5 and 9-4X going to be?  9000 and 90000?

    You can create a new legend without going back to old names.  It’s also is confusing with internet searches.  How would you differentiate searches between the old and new model?  Will it be called the New 900 like VW did with the Beetle?

    Saab is not Porsche so stick with the 9-3 name.  Most of the younger generation in the market for a vehicle like the new 9-3 won’t even know what a 900 is or have any association with the name.

    The 900 was before GM.  The 9-3 was during GM ownership.  Saab after GM is not going to be the same as Saab before GM and the immediate future of Saab isn’t even know yet.  Let go of the past and look to the future.

  8. One practical way would be a mix of the tradition and something new: You could call it a 930! Then the possible wider model-line could be eg. 920, 940X and 950 where 950 would naturally be the replacement of the current 9-5.
    As a previous 9000-owner i never liked the idea of i big Saab 90000 so this all-three-digit line-up is my idea of the future model numbering!

      1. I know but it is a long time since V***o had the numbers 940 and 960 in production so I don´t think that is going to be a problem in years to come!

    1. Sounds very good, especially since it is consistent throughout the range! As long as ovloV don’t mind, I would choose that nomenclature and rename the current models when doing a facelift. 🙂

    2. I think you’re on to something. Before the GM era, Saab never reused model numbers. Naming the models 930 and 950 would keep some familiarity while not being retro. Using 931 and 951 would also give a natural succession order, but it may seem a little too much Peuguot inspired (but it’s also one of more logical naming systems).

      Reusing the 900 number as is seems a bit too much retro for a Saab. There should be some innovative twist. “Nine3”? But that may give succession problems as well later on.

  9. Saab 900 is a good name and the OG900 was an amazing car, but I don’t think it is suitable to resurrect that nomenclature now. I find it very important with consistency throughout the model range both name-wise and design-wise (1998-2005 was the golden years in this aspect). If the next 9-3 would be the 900, the 9-5 had to be renamed to the 9000 which works perfectly fine, but what about the 9-4X and the future 9-1 (a new Saab 90?) or the 9-6 (the 90000?). My suggestion is either to keep the 9-3 name or come up with a completely new consistent nomenclature for the whole range (which will be expensive to market…). Are my points valid?

  10. I don’t think naming it an “old” name is a good idea. The 900 was a legend, let it remain so and let this new car become a new legend! 

    For me the 900 is just an old car which I love for what it was and what it represented but still an old car, a relic.

    The reason for that is because I might be of a newer generation of Saab owners. My first car was a 9-3 and the first car I ever drove was a 9-5 so to me those names are SAAB! The older names are something that belongs in the past!

    I think Saab should stop looking backwards and start looking forward, embrace the past but aim for the future! In all honesty it wasn’t GM that created the current line, it was SAAB who did that! Saab was still Saab even though it was owned by GM!

  11. Maybe a combination of the present and historical names? 9^00 for the new 9^3, and maybe 9^50 (9^5) and 9^4X for the other SAAB models.

  12. I say let’s forget the past as Audi did during their 4000 5000 era, Audi is doing pretty good now with their A2, A3, A4, A6, A8, Q5 Q7 and R8. Let’s keep the S for Saab just like Audi kept the A and name the new Saab S3 and the next 9-5, S5 and so on. The 9-4x we can call SX4 the new 9-2 we can name it the S2 and always keep the Aero and Viggen names.

  13. I used to think I wouldn’t be happy without the griffin, either, but a 900 with the SAAB name as the only logo?
    That would work for me.
    Just build the thing!

  14. I was all on board with Swade’s logic on this, until reading some of the other comments.   I can see good points for going back to the 900 but also points for letting the new car become it’s own legend.

    So….what would a new Saab legend be called?



  15. I don’t really like the idea of going back to an old name. For one thing, it’s too contrived, it’s trying too hard to reclaim a lost era. Saab should go forward, not back. A completely new name would be appropriate, I think, in order to mark the beginning of a completely new era. And another, perhaps more important reason not to use the 900 is that there’s no good way to make that name part of a coherent lineup. Would you call a smaller car 90, and a bigger one 9000? And if you expand or shrink yet another size, then what?

    I guess you could combine the 900 and 9-3 nomenclature by calling the cars e.g. the 903, 905 etc. But it doesn’t really appeal to me (and sounds too Porsche).

    Instead, I’ll go out on a limb (and most likely get booed off the net!) and suggest that Saab stop using 9-based names altogether. The 9 serves no purpose. The point of model names is to differentiate one model from the other, so a number (or name) shared by all models is completely redundant. To identify the car maker as such is what the name “Saab” is for.

    Thus, to keep it simple and logical, I would use the numbers 1 through 9 to define the size or class of the car, and then add the year of release to identify that particular incarnation of the class. An X to indicate cross country capability is acceptable too, I guess. Thus, the “new 9-3” would, assuming it’s released next year, be called the Saab 3-12. If the current lineup was to be renamed (which it shouldn’t be, of course) then it would be:

    9-3 -> Saab 3-02
    9-3X -> Saab 3-09X
    9-4X -> Saab 4-11X
    9-5 -> Saab 5-10

  16. I like the sophisticated quality of the 9^3 style names, that is truly original, and in a way truly Saab to me. 
    If Saab, after surviving all current affairs, shows the new car Swade talks about, Phoenix would be an extremely appropriate name.
    From the past, 900 was definitely a great name, but personally I like the 99 name better, far more original and unmistakably Saab.
    Where does this lead me? I see that Saab not has had a consistent naming during the years. I don’t know how the process of naming is executed, but it feels clumsy from a long term marketing point of view. You cannot change the past. Also comments are divided just as the past.

    We might just as well start all over again. In a creative way.
    So why not start with the “Saab1”? As a hint to the past we might write it as SAAB^1.
    The next car will be, well you guess it, the Saab2.
    Make and brand are integrated in each other and the numbering begins where The New Saab begins. At the start. And this way all will understand that Saab is reborn.

    Refrain from putting the name on the car. Be different, dare to be different. Let everybody guess, and let those who know enjoy it.

    Like I use to. Enjoy!

  17. I’ve voted for keeping the 9-3 name in prior polls but when I’ve commented on various forums about this issue, I allowed for something that might be different from 9-3 or 900 depending on how it fits into Saab’s larger perspective.  I can see 900 used in marketing to portray the new “9-3” (e.g., the 900 for a new generation).  The name won’t ultimately matter to me personally since I’m already part of the chorus and interested in the bigger impact for Saab’s success. 

    Frankly, if I got to see the 9-3 replacement, I could give a better opinion as to how applicable the 900 name would be (couldn’t we all!).   With Swade’s status as an employee, I’m assuming he has seen more details of the design.  Perhaps he sees something that we can’t yet appreciate.  The bullet list of conditions is great but is predominatly a Saab thing that could also be applied to a 900.  And the level of equipment in today’s Saabs makes the 900 appear sparse in that department, even when accounting for a different era. 

    I do like the tradition of starting the name with a 9.   That may be Saab’s legacy that is akin to Porsche keeping the 911 moniker for so long. 

  18. Hmm I propose: Saab 001
    Its a new beginning and the first Saab was called Saab 92001
    Other proposals: Saab 900-X, Saab 9-X,
    Also. You could follow Ferrari and have the first letter of your company name in the name of some of your cars, for instance: Saab S900 (a bit like F430 etc)

  19. Swade –

    Please also keep in mind the comment made by Jackie Ickx (at 1:20) “I
    am amazed to see through 7 generations of 911, the incredible
    and it still looks like a Porche.” That is something that I feel has
    been missing these past several years of GM-inspired styling. 

  20. Just last week I too brought up the notion of going back to the 900 name. I do think it should have at least a minute resemblance to the original. That could possibly be done with something along the lines of the 9X appearance. Not necessarily retro, more modern, hatchback, and most important, bring back that turbo exhaust note that those cars had. You could tell a Saab a block away without even seeing it. Keep it roughly the same cubic feet in total volume. A little more for the masses, and not an over the top price. We need to connect and sell.  

  21. Naming is a tricky business, especially when you expand the product portfolio. Let’s keep this in mind: the 9 in Saab car designations started when Saab was ‘only’ an aircraft manufacturer. It was the company’s way of naming the civilian products launched when WW2 came to an end. The first was Saab 90 (Scandia) a twin-engined small airliner similar to the DC-3, the second was the Saab 91 (Safir) a four-seater training and business aicraft,and the third civilian Saab product launched was the start of the Saab Automobile as we see it today – the first car Saab 92.
    To mee this is a ‘holy’ story. The 9 connects with the heritage. What we put after the 9 is to me more a qustion of making it understandable what kind of size or type of car it is.

  22. I don’t think going back to 900 is a good idea, 900 is a strong name to most of the current Saab owners, but not to the younger generations.
    ‘9-3’ is a smaller car which target more young people, imagine a young guy drive a “900” out and all the uncles saying “it is a good car, i got one 20 years ago”, but all his friend just have no feeling on the name “900”….
    A new name to symbolize the re-burn of Saab is much better, forget about the past, what Saab needed now is a totally new life with new image, it has to be updated, don’t associate to the past so much, that only makes it ‘old’

  23. I think the 9-3’s replacement deserves a new name.  It will be the first Saab of the new (post GM) era, and with it Saab has to show this is “here we are and what we are about”.  I have a certain fondness for the 900 name.  I owned a C900 for almost ten years and it was the most characterful car I have ever owned.  As to whether Saab should use that name for it’s new model, I’m not sure.  If the new Saab evokes strong memories of the halcyon days of the classic 900 and it is a car that’s definitely in that spirit, I’d say go for it.  If it is something else altogether, then I say a new name would be more appropriate.  In fact if that was the case, I’d personally prefer a name than a number this time around.  Anyway calling the 9-3’s successor 900 doesn’t automatically mean the 9-5 has to be renamed 9000, at least until th nest generation (if at all?).  One thing for sure, it’s time for ‘9-3’ to go.

  24. I like the basic idea. But the design of the new car must surely be fairly well advanced by now, so the question is whether or not the new car will actually be a worthy candidate for a 900 badge.

  25. why call new Saabs by their old names? like  ‘9000’, as many people don’t see that model as a true Saab (which is the biggest BS i’ve ever heard). in that case, old names on new cars don’t work.

  26. As long as it gets built and I can buy one in another few years (I just bought a 9-3 about a month and a bit ago, my first car; my first Saab), you can call it whatever you like, although I do like the 9-3 nameplate. 

  27. The design of the new 9-3 generation will be so far from the GM design that it will be a good idea not to name it 9-3. I would prefer to see something with Phoenix in the name , maybe a P or PX (like 900PX).

  28. why not changing to names?
    an alfa romeo giulia, a volvo amazon and a lancia fulvia were still in the head of the people, better than combinations of numbers.
    saab has a great history and to that history, the numbers belong to.
    it´s a new start of saab now and the history will be the background for this, but it will not be the future.
    i love my 900 turbo – but it´s from a time, that has passed – and i love it also for that.
    new time, new people and a new thinking would be better i think.

  29. It’s not the name that’s important….it’s the continuity and heritage….a change only upsets that…. It takes 3-5 years for a big brand to establish a name in the average consumers head (no that’s none of us here) For Saab it would take even longer…..

  30. Back in ’82, my driving licence was just two years old and daddy’s 900 Turbo was the car I was every day struggling to drive. Then came 9000s, 9-5s, 9-3s and my actual 2011 9-5, but I still have a special place for 900 in my heart.

    To me “900” is THE name.  🙂

  31. Current
    SAAB nomenclature is a mess. You have 9 to the power of 3 or 5 on the cars,
    while pretty much everywhere else (including some SAABs media) the
    same cars are called 9-3 and 9-5. And if you are an owner of one you’ll often
    have to explain to people not familiar with the make (majority) that your car
    is not ninety-five with a slightly skewed badge. So in my humble opinion these
    have to follow dodo.

    900 for the
    new model? Hmmm – It makes some sense. If you look at Germans, like Porsche
    (911), VW (where do we start: Polo, Golf, Passat, even Transporter), Audi, BMW
    and Mercedes – they all have a naming convention, they stick with it and in
    this way they build a brand within brand and constantly keep raising its awareness over years. Golf and 911 today are
    household names that possibly carry more attachment than VW and Porsche
    respectively. But for SAAB, going back to 900 may be risky. Firstly cause the old 900
    has a certain following and reputation. The new model with the same name would naturally
    be compared to the old one and in order to succeed, it would have to at least
    mach the old 900 in every respect both in technical sense as well as emotionally.
    While the first is achievable I am not so sure about the second on the basis
    that this is something that builds over time. Secondly, there is a
    risk in re-using 900 brand after so many years that public may perceive it as a
    cheap marketing trick as the maker tries to cash on the original 900s status
    with the new model. So unless the car is something spectacular quality and
    technology wise, looks like a natural progression of the old car and follows majority
    of the principles on which the original one was created, I would not re-use the
    old badge. And TBH, I am not 100% sure that SAABs own people can be impartial enough
    to decide themselves yet I would not trust a marketing company to provide me
    with these kind of answers.

    At the same
    time I believe that SAAB should adopt a new naming convention and stick with it
    in the same mold German brands do. How should it look like? Well, it
    should certainly start with 9, be clear enough to the point that it doesn’t need explanation and hopefully not be too long. I can imagine 90, 900 and 9000 if
    the company is to have a range of three models. Different styles like estates,
    cross-overs etc can fit around the three main numbers either with additional
    name a-la ‘A6 Avant’ or by playing with numbers, though I imagine Peugeot would
    have something to say if the range was to consist of 901, 902 etc. In the end
    this is something people within the company should have to have a look at in
    order to create a convention that would leave enough space for all possible versions
    to come over let’s say next 20 years.

  32. The badges 9-3 and 9-5 already are a hint to the past… going back from 900 to 93, but in a modern way. Going back to 900 is going back to the future.
    I would go for a SA1 SA3 SA5 …
    SA from Saab Automobile and then the model number.
    They can be extended by adding a version as SA1X or SA3R 😉

  33. My words exactly Swade! I´ve been saying this for years, the “900” needs to return. No retro, nothing like that. But bring the name 900 back. It´s exactly like 911 to Porsche. That´s what people think when you say Porsche or (900) when you say Saab.

    Of course, on the otherhand it´s confusing when we have 9-5 and 9-4X. But that would suit perfectly to all new design by J.Castriota. Also text “Turbo” should not be underestimated. Even though today everyone has turbo engines in their cars, Saab was one of the originals. So they should  be proud to let it show. 

    So perfect name IMO, for a new model would be Saab 900 Turbo. 

    Special edition like Viggen, could be named PhoeniX.

    But whatever the name, I know I´m going to love it! 🙂 Btw, it would be really great if we could see some of JC´s 9-3/900 scetches here on some time!

  34. Before even getting to the the end of your first paragraph, the model name that imposed itself in my mind was the legendary 900. The SAAB 900 emphasizes all the qualities, virtues and DNA that make us choose SAAB as our favorite car brand. There is nothing wrong in doing so, many manufacturers in the industry did and do so (think VW Beetle, Fiat 500 and so on). I’m definitely for such a change. This is telling to the customers: “we’ve heard you, we know why you love us and what you want to buy from us.”

    1. The VW beetle and the fiat 500 resemble the original. As log as saab is not building a new 900, they shouldn’t use the name 900. And I don’t want them to build a new 900 Don’t get me wrong. I love the OG 900, but that is car from the past. I think that the phoenix for instance, has all the necessary Saab DNA. Would you call the it a 900??

  35. I have to agree with the 900 name. 
    New generation, freshly designed and truly modern cars with that iconic name are needed to evoke an emotional response. It’s hard to argue with that from a marketing point of view. Let’s hope that some decent market research surveys are done to get this right. Nothing like calling a car the ‘Edsel’…or ‘Cedric’ to kill off a decent machine. BMW tapped into this for decades with the epic “320i” model and sold millions. Just check what ‘900’ sounds like in Chinese before you do anything rash though. ‘McDonald’s’ is not all that palatable a sounding name to the Chinese as it can suggest something quite distasteful to them…just my two cents.

  36. I forgot: to me “900” is THE name…. provided that attached to that badge there must be THE CAR having the not easy  task to be the 900 successor… 😉

  37. I agree with this Steven…it’s not about going retro! The 900 name isn’t something from Saab’s archives, it represents a concept or a way of doing something that is unique to Saab. I would love to see the 900 badge return! It would be Saabs first declaration of independence!

  38. A car type name should be short yet powerful & clear. It should stick.
    9-3 (nine-three) and 9-5 (nine-five) perfectly match this.
    The “9” has been with Saab since birth so the question rises if it should be ditched or not.
    Well, Audi ditched the 100 and 200 style in favor of A and S models. Short, clear & powerful.

    *deleted model type propositions, ask if you really want them*

    But really –  9-3, 9-4 and 9-5 with Aero and/or X subversions already sound very good to me and I see no real reason for changing them – especially since they are well-known and carry a reputation of quality and trustworthyness (even if they have a GM-stain). IBM still uses the name AS/400 for purely that purpose!

    Personally, I’d concentrate on surviving and recognition first. Changing model type names now risks pushing the car in the unknown corner and we can’t risk that (“A Saab *what* ? Don’t know, don’t like… Oh, a 9-3 ? Yeah, those are awesome!”).

    Saab *needs* recognisable model names now. Even if the car has absolutely no relation with its predecessor. IBM already proved this concept.

    Anyway, this is just my €0.02 – don’t shoot me if you disagree.

    1. Reading up on the new article by Swade I might feel OK if there’s a “new” name for a Special Edition version of the 9-3 successor. Something like the 9-3 AeroX Black Edition with the original turbo gauge of the old 900 a few years back. Nostalgia !
      I’d stick with 9-3 for the moment, at least until Saab re-earns its credit and is solid in the market again, but I’d have no objection if a Special Edition Saab 900X or AeroX was to be built.
      OK for a Limited Edition as a link between “then” and “now”, but not for the main model.

  39. After reading all those posts ( so far – lolol ) I came to the conclusion that “900” is a powerfull name but it have to stay in the past.
    1st – As you see the new car, you will never know if this will be the one to be iconic and preserve the 900 name… Will you risk it?? Not sure?? Don´t use it! It´s a too important name to the brand.
    2nd – WE HAVE TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING ( sorry for the CAPS ) Dare to do it!
    We have to keep the “9” because it´s OUR number… so… why not 009 ( duble-O-nine )
    Something diferent, letting the past in our story and moving on!
    It´s not necessary to think to expand the lettering just yet… this new car have to deliver!
    One step at a time.
    The sucess of the 900 range was the enormous line up with all the configurations… 2 door, 5 door, 8 valve, 16 valve, turbo, CD model and all the combinations possible… If that was used in the 009 ( i like it … ) and the price have to be VERY competitive in the base model, we have a guaranteed sucess.
    I think that´s the right direction…cheap base model, new name and a large line up possibilities with the 009

    Now you can shoot me….

    Saab Portugal Clube – Portugal

  40. The 900 tag is a keeper. Though I would like to see it together with a real name like I’ve seen sugested down this thread. 900 Phoenix (or any other cool bird for that matter) has a nice sound to it. Otherwise I don’t see any problems experimenting with other additions to the 900-tag.

    Like: 900-3, or why not go twitter-saab with #900 😉
    Cheers / @fieramente:twitter

  41. “Again, we’re not talking about rebuilding old 900s here. Or even cars that look like the 900. We’re talking about creating a new legend, with the real and intangible qualities that made the 900 outstanding, and then attaching Saab’s most famous name to it.”

    Fully totally enthousiastly ok with your point, Swade! “900” is THE name for this exciting challenge!

    [speaking about significant details : don’t put the electric windows buttons on the driver’s door nonsense for a Saab driver ! 😉 ]

  42. Dear Swade. I thought this was a non discussion now with all the voting about the subject here and there when the result always came out favorable for the current naming model that is more practical and consistent than having a 99 model and a 9000 model no matter how cool that would be.

  43. I’d stay with 9-3 but add a name (with more punch that the old Linear, Arc!). that indicates a new generation.  It could be 9-3 Phoenix (+ Vector, Aero, or whatever).  Then people can call it the 9-3 or the Phoenix and in a few years see what sticks.  It really is important to situate it in the range.  We need to remember that when the original 900 appeared there was no “range.”

    I think Peugeot has a trademark on three digits with a zero in the middle (except zero at the end because Chrysler, Fiat, Saab, and others have used those)


  44. Lots of good points in there… to be honest I don’t mind either 900 or 9-3 for the new gen car.

    However, I feel like the new generation has ALREEADY begun with the launch of the new 9-5, and switching to “900” for the new smaller car seems a bit like changing / abandoning the naming principles half way through the re-launch of Saab.

    Could we have BOTH perhaps?

    9-3 for the new sedan and sportcombi… Saab’s new 4 door platform.

    900 for the new hatch, convertible or coupe versions…. Saab’s new 2 door platform.

    That makes a lot of sense to me,  as I’ve always thought of the 900 as a hatch anyway

  45. The 900 could work well with the general audience, who probably connect “900” more than anything to the brand name Saab. One more thing, “900” slides easier off the tongue than “nine-three”, “nine-five” etc. Exception maybe french and the other latin based languages… 
    For the other models, well Porsche is using names so why not Saab? 

  46. For most potential Saab buyers who are not among the cognoscenti posting here, I suspect that the perception of the “9-3” name is associated with the decline of true “Saab-ness” under GM (for example, Edmund’s capsule summary of the 2011 9-5 starts, “After years of stagnation, Saab is reinvented…”)  So, while respecting the thoughtful and creative comments here, I agree with Swade that perhaps a new name is needed — not only to try and grab the cachet of the “900” name, but also to just have something different that is free of the current negative association in buyers’ minds.  But, as Swade also says, if, and only IF, the car is right.

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