The Saab 9-3x was a concept car overseen by Michael Mauer and an evolution of the Saab 9x concept that was shown before it.
Following are the press materials for the Saab 9-3x concept
Saab 9-3X concept creates cross-over coupe niche
The Saab 9-3X concept unveiled at the 2002 Detroit Motor Show breaks new ground by taking Saab off-road for the first time.
A unique fusion of sporty, coupe bodystyling and off-road functionality, the bold 9-3X follows the philosophy of last year’s 9X concept in offering multidynamic features, the essence of Saab’s brand appeal.
It is most accurately described as a cross-over coupe, demonstrating that a four-wheel-drive vehicle with off-road capabilities can also retain a strong, sporty on-road appeal. It is the first time Saab has shown a car with off-road abilities and promises to inspire a new, ‘sub-SUV’ niche in the market.
Within its coupe format, the 9-3X offers spacious accommodation for four adults and a versatile load-carrying ability. An all-new, 280bhp, 2.8-liter V6 turbo engine, linked to an ‘intelligent’ four-wheel-drive system, is designed to deliver sporty performance whatever the road surface.
The 9-3X has been developed from General Motors’ “Epsilon” mid-size vehicle architecture, and aspects of its design language, as well as a number of its technical features, are likely to be seen in forthcoming new Saab products. Major Saab 9-3X highlights include:
- Advanced ‘infotainment’ system with twin display screens
Adaptable cargo-management system with automatic sliding floor
All-new 2.8-litre V6 turbo with first application of Saab Combustion Control (SCC)
Saab semi-automatic transmission
“This concept is a sporty interpretation of the cross-over theme,” says Saab Executive Director of Design, Michael Mauer. “It is a blend of coupe and off-roader, bringing together a sporty image and real functionality. It will be fun to drive, whatever the occasion.
“The 9-3X is the next step in the establishment of Saab’s new design language, which started last year with the 9X concept. I am confident this car will be an important inspiration behind future Saab products.”
Saab Automobile’s President and CEO, Peter Augustsson, says: “We are seriously considering the right sort of product with which to enter the off-road segment. It must be innovative and sporty and must have multidynamic properties, much like the 9-3X concept. You can also expect to see a number of features from this car in our coming products.”
The announcement of the 9-3X is the latest step in Saab’s aggressive new product plan, which began with the unveiling of the Saab 9X at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. At least one new product or concept is to be announced every year for the next five years, and annual production volumes are expected to almost double to about 250,000 units in the next five or six years.
Saab 9-3X – On the move
The Saab 9-3X is designed to deliver levels of performance and a ‘fun-to-drive’ experience that fulfils the promise of its sporty looks. The advanced powertrain features an all-new, lightweight 2.8-liter V6 turbo engine, designed to incorporate Saab Combustion Control, a semi-automatic transmission and a state-of-the-art, ‘intelligent’ four-wheel-drive system.
The ‘Ecopower 2’ all-aluminum-alloy, 2.8-liter V6 engine is benchmarked to set new standards in efficiency, refinement, packaging and emissions control. Saab Automobile is GM’s global center of excellence for charged engines, and Saab engineers have been directly involved throughout the engine’s design and development program.
The slim, 60-degree configuration features double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, direct ignition and variable valve timing. Maximum power is 280 bhp at 5,500 rpm but, in Saab tradition, torque is of more importance and is with this engine extremely generous, with almost 400 Nm available throughout the operating range from as low as 1,700 rpm.
The engine is very light and, in view of its compact dimensions, is ideally suited to a transverse installation. The single turbocharger is mounted on the transmission alongside the engine, feeding through the central intake manifolds. Main features include:
This revolutionary technology from Saab improves fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent and cuts emissions by as much as 75 per cent, all without impairing engine performance. Direct injection, variable valve timing and a variable spark gap are the key features, allied to a spark plug injector which provides air-assisted fuel injection and turbulence for better combustion, as well as a high-energy spark.
SCC allows exhaust gases to comprise up to 70 per cent of the combustion mixture, a far higher proportion than conventional exhaust-gas-recirculation systems. Carbon monoxide and hyrdocarbon emissions are reduced by almost 50 per cent and nitrogen oxides by 75 per cent. The Saab Ecopower 2 V6 is the first production engine designed to incorporate this technology.
The turbine wheel is made from a titanium/aluminum alloy for lightness, durability and low inertia. ‘Twin scroll’ management of the exhaust-gas flow to the compressor speeds up airflow at low engine speeds to give an improved throttle response and engine pick up.
Oil quality sensor.
This feature allows for extended change intervals, depending on how the engine is driven. If it is used relatively lightly, the driver can expect to cover up to double the usual 30,000 km between changes.
Double-skinned exhaust manifolds.
Both are made from hydroformed stainless steel for improved heat management and quicker ‘light off’ for the catalytic converters during engine warm-up.
New Saab Transmission
The Saab 9-3X is equipped with Saab’s newly developed semi-automatic transmission. This allows the driver to enjoy both the benefits of an adaptive, five-speed automatic transmission and the close control of manual gear shifting.
The automatic transmission adapts its gear-shifting pattern to match the style of driving or prevailing road conditions. It can sense changes in road gradient to avoid ‘hunting’ between gears and will engage neutral during an emergency stop.
At any time, the driver can override the automatic ‘drive’ program and enjoy fingertip control by manually changing gear via buttons on the 9-3X’s steering wheel.
Advanced Chassis and Four-Wheel-Drive System
To achieve its ‘fun to drive’ goal, the Saab 9-3X utilizes sophisticated chassis, suspension and drivetrain technology. The car’s performance, handling and ride quality in everyday use should not be compromised by its off-road capabilities.
Chassis and suspension.
The four-link rear suspension has been adapted for four-wheel drive and incorporates a passive steer feature when cornering, allowing the rear wheels to more closely follow the path of the front wheels. This improves steering feel and helps to limit both oversteer and understeer characteristics. A bottom toe link also improves stability under heavy braking at high speed.
An Electronic Stability Program (ESP) further improves maneuverability, the Saab system being particularly ‘driver friendly’ by avoiding harsh interventions. In addition to wheel-speed sensors in the ABS system, the ESP also includes sensors to measure steering angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration. Each wheel can be braked independently, allowing excessive oversteer or understeer to be controlled so smoothly that the driver may often be unaware of any intervention.
As a further refinement of the Saab 9-3X’s agility, Saab engineers are also developing an adaptive damper program for optimized body control according to off-road or on-road conditions.
‘Intelligent’ Four-Wheel Drive.
The integrated Saab system is ‘intelligent’, using inputs from the ESP and ABS wheel sensors as well as the electronic throttle control to distribute power in the most efficient way. The system is being developed to ensure predictable and consistent handling in all road conditions, in addition to maximizing off-road traction.
Drive is taken from the front transmission via a propshaft to an electronically controlled, hydraulically operated, multi-plate clutch, which is located immediately ahead of a differential housing and driveshafts within the rear suspension unit. Messages from the various sensors are constantly interpreted in order to distribute power most effectively. In this way, the front/rear torque split is infinitely variable.
Saab engineers are currently fine-tuning the system to establish a ‘baseline’ torque split and to ensure that the clutch mechanism executes power shifts between the axles smoothly and progressively, without any sudden surprises for the driver.
The Saab 9-3X project team was led by the Head of Advanced Design, Anthony Lo. His task was to ensure that the unusual application of a coupe format did not conflict with the ‘real world’ requirements for such a vehicle. “The car had to look desirable as a sporty coupe for the road,” he says. “But this is not a cosmetic exercise – the looks had to be backed up with true functionality. That is the Saab way.”
That Saab signature, wraparound windscreen; the high, wedge-shaped waistline and strong, curving C-pillar instantly identify the 9-3X’s lineage. The disguised A-pillars, the clean, smooth lines and bold frontal styling are also characteristic of the 9X concept.
“We wanted to create a look that clearly links the two concepts,” adds Lo. “The lines of the 9-3X are extremely clean and uncluttered and, despite the relatively high ride height required for this type of vehicle, we wanted to disguise the higher stance. Having a relatively long 270-cm wheelbase helped.”
Conventional features denoting a vehicle’s all-terrain credentials would have no place in the design language of the Saab 9-3X. Three pre-requisites were therefore essential for the Saab 9-3X to achieve its exterior styling goals. There would be no roof bars or bumper appendages of any sort, no extra cladding down its flanks and no unsightly wheel-arch clearances.
The higher ‘command view’ stance of an off-roader is also effectively disguised by the adoption of sporty, 20-inch alloy wheels shod with relatively low-profile tires. The increased wheel movement required for off-road work is accommodated by the carefully shaped, flared wheel-arches. These are body-colored and defined only by a satin paint finish.
The front of the car is dominated by a bold interpretation of the traditional Saab grille. As with the 9X concept, the headlamps are located within the two outer openings. Powerful gas-discharge lamps are preferred this time to fiber optics. The robust sump shield is neatly integrated within the color-keyed front bumper assembly.
At the rear, the coupe silhouette is accentuated by a steeply raked rear screen and ‘C’ pillar profile. The rear light clusters are mounted high for good visibility and appear to merge seamlessly into the smoked-glass rear screen. The close-coupled roof spoiler effectively stretches the lines of the car even further.
“This car is intended for people with active outdoor interests, so the interior is designed to reflect this by being versatile, roomy and light, giving the cabin an airy feel,” explains Lo.
There is ample seating for four adults and the feeling of spaciousness is amplified by the twin glass panels that extend the entire length of the roof. The airy feel is complemented by the choice of pale green leather upholstery for the sports seating and interior trim, contrasting with the dark seat inserts and upper surfaces of the fascia and doors.
Ventilation and soft interior lighting are provided through narrow openings in the front fascia and door trims, a theme first seen on the 9X concept. This contributes to the clean interior layout, dispensing with the need for separate air-vent mountings and light fittings.
Stepping inside the 9-3X via its keyless entry, the driver immediately notices there are few visible knobs or buttons, because one of the design team’s priorities was to eliminate ‘visual clutter’ from the interior, echoing the clean lines of the exterior styling.
The dashboard breaks from Saab tradition by dispensing with a wraparound, integrated center console. The twin-dial instrument display is set in a gently curving, relatively narrow fascia panel flanked only a by a rotary lights switch and the main display screen. The speedometer and rev-counter dials, illuminated in light blue, are digital but use an analogue-style presentation. A small oval display for warning information also sits atop the fascia, close to the natural eye-line.
The elegant aluminum and leather-trimmed steering wheel carries buttons on its twin spokes, controlling the entertainment system, phone and gear changing via the semi-automatic transmission.
A long console over the transmission tunnel accommodates a starter button set in the side of a small ‘pop up’ tower and the selector lever for the transmission. The four electric window controls are located immediately aft of the starter button between what appear to be two grab handles. The one nearest the driver is, in fact, an electrically powered handbrake with a disguised button. A second display screen, for rear-seat passengers, is located at the back of the console.
The advanced ‘infotainment’ functions of the 9-3X are based on an extremely powerful electronics network using fiber-optic technology with a capacity of 25 Mbits per second. In terms of multiplicity, this system already leads the automotive industry and will serve as a platform for use in the next generation of Saab cars.
A large, three-position knob – an ‘automotive mouse’ – is positioned alongside the gear selector and provides access, via the main display screen, to the entire ‘infotainment’ system.
The menu for the first position covers settings for all in-car comfort features, such as the automatic climate control, front seat and interior illumination. The second position activates ‘media’ functions, including satellite navigation, radio, CD, TV and DVD systems. The third position governs ‘office’ functions, such as e-mail, internet and WAP facilities.
A large storage box at the rear of the console includes a socket to connect a hand-held PC, allowing the driver to access information, such as diary dates and appointments, via the main screen.
A small, drawer-like panel can be pulled out from the lower fascia to allow extensive ‘customization’ by programming a number of default settings for the automatic climate control, anti-theft alarm, rain sensing, clock/radio and other information displays.
The Saab 9-3X fulfils its mission as a platform for pursuing a variety of outdoor interests and sports by offering an adaptable load-carrying ability, as well as a number of useful storage facilities. “This car should become part of its owner’s lifestyle, so we have tried to provide really useful features, not just gimmicks,” explains Lo.
An innovative refinement is the ability to store and charge up a mini camcorder and batteries in a customized pack mounted in the driver’s door pocket. 9-3X users would not need to get home first to view the day’s activities on screen! The Saab 9-3X includes an instant playback facility through both front and rear screens.
To give full scope for the enjoyment of outdoor activities, the Saab 9-3X also features further developments of the sliding floor and cargo-securing tracks, first seen on the Saab 9-5 Wagon.
Both front and rear seatbacks fold down into the seat cushions, giving flat, level surfaces for easy load-carrying. In addition to four cargo-securing tracks running longitudinally down the rear floor, all four seatbacks are also equipped with a pair of tracks each. Apart from increasing the means of securing loads safely when the seats are down, this allows a custom-designed rucksack, for example, to be easily mounted for additional stowage when the seats are up.
The floor-mounted door of the split tailgate features a neat, mechanical linkage which automatically extends the rear floor when it is lowered. This facilitates loading bulky items and the floor is easily pushed back into position before the tailgate is closed.
As an alternative to unsightly roof bars, the Saab 9-3X further extends the use of cargo-securing tracks. A pair of tracks is mounted in the central roof spine between the two glass sections so that custom-designed roof boxes, ski holders or cycle carriers can be securely located as and when required.
Facts 9-3X: Technical specifications and performance
Two-door cross-over coupe with floor-mounted rear tailgate, steel body
Lightweight “Ecopower 2” 2.8-liter V6 turbo engine with 60-degree configuration, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, direct ignition and variable valve timing. Saab Trionic engine management. Front, transversely mounted
Maximum power is 280 bhp/206kW at 5,500 rpm.
Max torque is 400 Nm (available from 1,700 to 5,500 rpm).
Adaptive, five-speed. semi-automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted manual gear shifts.
ESP-controlled Haldex AWD system.
Front: Struts, lower A-arm, separate gas-filled shock absorbers, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: Independent, four-link, gas-filled shock absorbers, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rack-and-pinion, power-assisted. 2.5 turns (lock to lock).
Front: 350mm, ventilated/drilled steel discs, 4-piston Brembo calipers
Rear: 330mm, ventilated/drilled steel discs, 4-piston Brembo calipers
20x 8.5 inch, five-spoke alloy
Front and Rear: 245/40 R20 Michelin Sport Pilot
Curb weight (projected):
Track width (f): 1580mm, (r) 1566mm
Volume: 320 liters (rear seat up),
950 liters (rear seat folded)
Length: 690mm (rear seat up)
1550mm (+ rear seat folded)
2335mm (+ front and rear seat folded)
1395mm (+ tailgate down / rear seat up)
2255mm (+ tailgate down / rear seat down)
3040mm (+ tailgate down / rear and front seat folded)
Top speed: 250 km/h (limited) 0 – 100 km/h: 6.2 sec. (figures are projected).