Well, what a day it’s been already (and it’s only 9.45am).
Personally I’ve had a server crash and a resulting phone call with my hosting company who tried to tell me nothing was wrong. I’ve been confused about if and where images were going to appear and I’ve a darn good chat with various people about the Saab 9-X BioHybrid. I’ve been mad as hell (at Saab) and as happy as a clam (with Saab). I need sleep.
So what about the Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept?
The first thing you’ve got to note about this car is that it is, in every way, a concept vehicle. I suppose it had to be, given that the car is still 3 years away at best. But I think many of us, me included, were hoping for something a bit closer to a production vehicle, especially after the 9-4x appeared to be so close to production standard in many ways.
With the possible and remote exception of the exterior shape, this doesn’t seem to me to be even close to production. I’ll go so far as to say that from the few photos we’ve seen so far, bits of it don’t even look close to show grade, even for a concept car. The cgi of the interior looks very interesting, but the one close up photo that I’ve seen made it look like a high school project. It’s quite possible that this car should have been held over to Paris later this year so as to be appropriately finished prior to going on show.
Saab’s own press materials say that this is the sixth real concept car they’ve done in the 00′s (not counting pseudo concepts like the BioPower100 and BioPower Hybrid Convertible etc). By my count there’s only been five new production cars in that time, and that’s if you count the 9-3 as three different models (sedan, combi and convertible) AND include the 9-2x and 9-7x.
Saab needs to put something on the showroom floor. The dealers need it, the buyers need it and I even think the company itself needs it in order to believe that they’re capable of doing so once again. It’s time to either s#!t or get off the pot.
Now having said all that, the signs are very encouraging. Personally, I love it.
One of the most encouraging signs is that so many people don’t seem to like one part of it or another. Some don’t like the front. Others don’t like the back. I don’t like what I’ve seen of the interior.
Traditionally speaking, Saab design has always polarised some. I welcome the fact that there’s elements of this car that make some people uncomfortable. They’re not ugly in any way, but there’s some tension there. There’s some unexpected lines and developments. There’s some innovation. Whether or not things like the transforming aerodynamics in the rear make it to production is another thing, but for now, they’re there.
I haven’t seen it illuminated in a photo yet, but the signature lighting from the 2008 Saab 9-3 has been extended right across the hood line in this car. The wheels represent an evolution of the turbine wheel from the Aero-X and I like them a lot – I just wish they were on the right way. We’ll have to look for comparison photos once the show starts for real.
Most of all, I just love the exterior shape and the proportions they’ve put into this car. It recognises Saab’s past with the rear accessibility etc, but the shooting brake design just seems to sit really well with me.
This is the photo of the day for me, so far. Congratulations, Marcel!
That looks like something I could own. Given that the Aero-X won’t be produced and that I’m not into SUV’s at all, this is a very heartening development from Saab. The next step is to get it into production, which raises the big question of what we’ll finally see when that happens.
I don’t think we’ll see an interior like this one. I think we’ll possibly see an adaptation of the interior in the 9-4x concept along with inclusion of some of the connectivity features they’ve talked about with this car. But I’m not sure that the development of everything they’re talking about with this car will proceed at a pace quick enough to see it in the next few years.
I think we will see an exterior fairly close to this one. Just how close will be governed by the limitations of the Delta platform it will be produced on.
And the drivetrain? It’s an encouraging conceptual statement they’ve made. Those of you wondering about top speed etc needn’t worry. The performance for fuel economy trade off is more important in this configuration than the top speed. A 0-100 time around 8 seconds isn’t exactly a neck-snapper, but it isn’t shabby either – especially in a car that can sip E85 at such a teetotaller’s rate.
Remember too, that this is the conceptual engine, the one simulated in a lab to show off what the engineers can do. On release, this car will likely have a range of engines and I doubt they’re going to stop at 1.4 litres.
I think that there’s a lot to be gained from this concept car. I think the designers have done an extraordinarily good job under what was quite possibly an undesireable deadline.
All that remains is for Saab to actually build something saleable that captures the essence of what they’ve shown here – and to do it sooner rather than later.
Something I’m flagging here for follow-up.
The naming convention really has got me thinking. Previously, all uses of ‘X’ in either a concept or production car has denoted the presence of all-wheel drive. That’s not the case with this concept.
The re-use of the 9-X moniker is a deliberate decision, as is the use of it on a non-XWD vehicle. All this means there’s either something strange in the coffee over at the Saab Brand Center, or that Saab are introducing change to their naming conventions.
I’ll let you know when I know.