We’ve come to the end of another fantastic Canadian holiday and I’m a little sorry that it overwhelmed content here in the last few weeks, but such is the way of these things.
Lance, I’ve got your emails and will get back to you as soon as I land in Oz.
So, on to some Saaby topics before I pack up the laptop and head upstairs to pack my bags and leave the northern hemishere.
Normally, when a new Saab concept or new Saab model shows it’s face, I end up writing a column here explaining my thoughts and feelings about the vehicle. I haven’t done that with the 9-X Air for a couple of reasons.
a) On the day it was released, I had one hour to get the press material on the site before we loaded the Buick and headed for Vancouver Island. Consequently, I’ve probably seen and read less about the car than anyone.
b) One of my main points of interest is with the convertible mechanism, which we still haven’t seen yet, as far as I can tell. I’ve seen it with the top down (stunning) and with the top up (wearing the toupee), but I haven’t seen the journey from one to the other. It seems Saab are holding that back for the car’s debut in Paris.
My one overriding hope is that with the adjustment in the size of the 9-3 in the future, this will be the template for the convertible version of the car. I think it looks fantastic over all, and it’d be a shame if the entire “noughties” decade yields little more than a number of concept cars for Saab that never got built.
Further to cars and motor shows, several news sources are reporting that the production version of the Saab 9-4x will not be shown in Detroit early in 2009, as originally assumed. Rather, both Autoblog and AMS in Sweden are hinting that it’ll show late in 2008 at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
I haven’t updated the Saab Future Model Timeline in a while now. I’ll look to do so with the most recent information when I get back to Australia.
Saab will also show the 9-3x SportCombi at the Paris Motor Show. I can’t wait to see it. Having just spent a bucketload on fuel in a Buick Rendezvous for a week, I can tell you that the trip would have been just as well travelled (in terms of load carrying) in a Saab 9-3 SportCombi. The addition of XWD and some extra rugged bits should make it a genuine SUV alternative.
Forbes announce that the Saab 9-5 is apparently the worst selling car in the US, though I’m sure they have deliberately discounted high-price low-volume marques such as Lamborghini when they tallied the numbers.
Fortunately for Saab, they consider the 9-5 very much worth a second look for anyone looking for a safe, well equipped four door saloon.
If you, like me, are a little down on Saab’s current development and loss of heritage and character, then please remember that things can always be worse. You could be a fan of the storied, race and rally winning marque that is Lancia.
Fiat have done some great things in the last few years (Alfa 8c, Fiat 500) but the latest from Lancia must make an enthusiast tremble.
Consumer Reports have been driving the latest Eurodiesels and predictably, they find them to be a great alternative with smooth, torquey engines.
Of course, the cars they drove were samples provided by Audi, BMW, Mini (think BMW) and Chrysler (think ex-MB). The emergence of the diesel car in the US will really come to the fore in the next couple of years and it will be synonymous with a rise in the US perception about European vehicles.
If GM wants to (quite rightly) raise Saab’s profile as a European manufacturer selling vehicles in the united States, it should be preparing Saab’s excellent TTiD engine for release there. The spoils will go to those first into the market.
As mentioned earlier, I recently drove the family around for a week in the Buick Rendezvous. I won’t do a full review of that car here as it’s pretty much irrelevant to the Saab demographic.
A few quick thoughts, though.
1) It got us there and back, covering just over 1,000 kms with no problems whatsoever. Kudos for that.
2) It had plenty of space for us three and all our gear for a week-long trip. Kudos for that.
3) If I were to identify a negative about the car (and you know I will) it’s the car’s complete lack of identifiable character. If I had to take this vehicle as a representation of what Buick is, then I’d have to ask “what’s the point?”
They have a reputation as an old guy’s vehicle and as such, I assumed it would be well appointed, comfortable and quiet. It was definitely quiet. The appointment level and comfort, though, were what I’d expect from a base level brand and a base level vehicle. Cloth seats, column shift auto, climate controls that were reminiscent of a 1980s Toyota……
In short, the Buick Rendezvous is quite possibly symptomatic of the identity problem facing GM right now with eight brands to manage in it’s US portfolio. There just aren’t enough distinct vehicles to go around.