The Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept is a vivid vision of what a future compact car from Saab could look like. It is designed to reflect the priorities of youthful customers who seek progressive looks, responsible performance and high-tech communications, all in a sporty, fun-to-drive package.
Exploring design themes from Saab’s award-winning Aero X and earlier 9X concepts, the 9-X BioHybrid also demonstrates the potential for ultra-efficient power from a 200 hp (147 kW), 1.4-liter BioPower turbo engine backed by GM’s next-generation Hybrid system. Projected combined cycle CO2 emissions of just 105 g/km on E85 fuel are testimony to the promise of this package (see separate release for details).
The interior showcases an entirely new expression of Saab’s driver-focused cockpit design, together with innovative, seamless connectivity for personal nomadic devices and a rear cargo deck with a ‘low friction’ loading system.
“This car is all about efficiency in design and performance,” says Anthony Lo, Director of Advanced Design at General Motors Europe, who led the 9-X BioHybrid design team in co-operation with the Saab Brand Center in Sweden.
With its ‘turbine’ wheels placed at all four corners, minimal bodywork overhangs and an extended roof line, the proportions of the three-door Saab 9-X BioHybrid bring a dynamic, new dimension to conventional compact ‘hatchback’ looks.
The smooth ‘fuselage’ bodywork, now without any visible handles or door mirrors, the bold ‘wraparound’ window graphic and deep front grille are all themes inspired by the Aero X coupé concept shown at Geneva two years ago.
The car’s distinctive ‘shooting brake’ silhouette and rear functionality are developed from the 9X multi-role concept shown at Frankfurt in 2001. “You could say we designed this car from back to front, “says Lo. “The shape of the 9X is right for a car of this size, and the longer roof line helps the aerodynamics as well as providing more rear headroom and interior space.”
Echoing Saab’s roots in aircraft design, the 9-X BioHybrid also explores the potential for using active aerodynamics to reduce drag – and fuel consumption – at cruising speeds. Above 70 kph (43 mph), the upper and lower bodywork is reshaped as the roof spoiler automatically extends to further lengthen the roof line and an underbody diffuser is deployed from the bottom of the rear bumper.
The four-seater cabin introduces an entirely new execution of Saab’s driver-focused cockpit design. The central, floor-mounted console, with its angled controls and displays, is now eliminated. Instead, the driver- focused layout incorporates a main instrument panel that sweeps out from the top of the door moulding, arching across the driver. The embedded 3-D graphics appear to be ‘frozen’ in ice, continuing a Scandinavian design theme first seen in the Aero X.
Reflecting the needs of youthful customers, who expect easy access to multi-media both inside and outside the car, Saab has co-operated with Sony Ericsson in providing seamless in-car connectivity for a range of nomadic devices. The result is a wireless interface for streaming data, entertainment and satellite navigation functions for display and use. The interface also allows the simultaneous use of multiple devices when passengers are in the car.
At the rear, the cargo deck features an electrically-powered slide-out floor, which is activated when the bottom half of the split tailgate drops down The floor, and the back of the folding rear seats, is covered by ‘high friction’ rubber carpeting, which ‘grips’ items and holds them securely in place. For easy loading and unloading, aluminum bars automatically rise up and down as the tailgate is opened and closed.
The treatment of light is an important part of Scandinavian design and this is evident in the use of variable, white ambient lighting inside the cabin. The level of suffused illumination can be changed in intensity from bright, cold to warm and soft. It’s a personalized feature that could even be programmed, for example, to reflect the pattern of the changing seasons
“This car shows how our concept work can be carried forward into a compact format,” adds Anthony Lo. “It has a number of features which we will be developing further, such as the new driver-focused design theme, the importance of clean, uncluttered surfaces and the easy, seamless connectivity inside the car.”
Saab 9-X BioHybrid Drivetrain
Rightsizing with Saab BioPower and Next-Generation GM Hybrid System
The Saab 9-X BioHybrid demonstrates the potential of partnering bioethanol fuel with the next-generation GM Hybrid system to deliver exceptional levels of efficiency and performance.
Optimized for E85 fuel, the small, 1.4-liter BioPower turbo engine generates a substantial 200 hp/147 kW on E85 and an even more impressive 280 Nm (207 lb.ft) of torque, as well as reduced CO2 emissions compared to gasoline. With a full flex-fuel capability, it is a rightsizing formula backed by hybrid technology, giving projected fuel consumption when running on gasoline over the combined cycle of just 4.9 l/100 km and 117 g CO2/km. When running on E85, CO2 emissions are projected to be even lower, at just 105 g/km, with estimated fuel consumption of 6.4 l/100 km.
Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with an automatic clutch and steering wheel controls, it is a sophisticated powertrain tailored to meet the environmental and energy-saving priorities of modern day motoring.
Saab already leads the automotive industry in applying its turbocharging expertise to enhance the performance and environmental benefits of E85 fuel (85% bioethano/15% gasoline). Saab BioPower models are the top-selling flex-fuel vehicles in Europe and produce more power with E85, as well as less CO2 emissions compared to gasoline.
The Saab 9-X BioHybrid now takes this proven BioPower flex-fuel technology further by using an engine that fully exploits the high octane benefits of E85 fuel. It uses a higher compression ratio (10.2: 1) and turbo boost pressure (up to 1.6 bar) than would be possible with a gasoline-only engine. This is because E85 has a higher octane rating (104 RON) than pump gasoline (95 RON), which makes it more resistant to harmful pre-detonation, or ‘knocking’, as the fuel/air mixture is compressed in the cylinder.
Whilst optimized for E85, the engine retains a flex-fuel capability and will still run on gasoline, although it will not produce as much power. The engine management system is able to adjust the ignition timing and boost pressure to ensure there is no pre-detonation due to the higher compression ratio.
Running on E85 fuel, this lightweight yet sophisticated BioPower engine delivers the power characteristics of a much larger powerplant. That impressive torque of 280 Nm (207 lb.ft), for example, is available all the way from just 1,750 to 5,000 rpm. It’s another demonstration of Saab’s rightsizing engine strategy – offering exceptional power without the greater weight, size, fuel consumption or emissions of a larger, naturally-aspirated engine.
The advanced specification of this engine also includes direct injection (DI), with centrally-located fuel injectors, and continuously variable valve timing (VVT) on both the inlet and exhaust sides.
DI delivers fuel directly into the combustion chamber of each cylinder, instead of the intake port. . VVT then manages airflow by opening and closing the intake and exhaust valves to improve combustion, and allow the use of a higher boost pressure. The result is greater low-end torque and improved fuel consumption. The central location of the fuel injector, at the top of the combustion chamber, allows further optimization of the intake ports for improved engine breathing.
Next-Generation GM Hybrid System
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced still further by the addition of the next-generation GM Hybrid system, which features a lithium-ion battery and a significantly higher power capability to capture more energy and more electric boost than the current GM Hybrid system. An electric motor/generator, belt-driven from the engine’s crankshaft, replaces the conventional alternator. Electrical power is delivered and stored by the compact lithium ion battery pack, located under the rear cargo floor.
The electric motor reacts spontaneously and complements the torque of the boosted engine. With this combination of turbocharger technology and a hybrid propulsion system, the dynamic behaviour of the downsized powertrain is improved still further.
At take-off from rest and during overtaking manoeuvres, the electric motor adds accelerative power. It is also used to re-start the engine, supporting the automatic fuel-saving function whenever the car is stationary. To further improve efficiency, the hybrid system enables a longer fuel cut-off during deceleration and braking.
The electric motor also acts as a generator. It can be powered by the engine to charge the battery pack and support vehicle electrical loads. Or it can be used to capture the vehicle’s kinetic energy when decelerating, storing that energy in the battery pack. This second type of charging is commonly known as ‘regenerative braking’. Sophisticated electronics manage AC/DC and all voltage interfaces, including the 12-volt in-car supply.
The combination of GM Hybrid and Saab BioPower technologies has significant synergies. The hybrid system adds accelerative power and, in effect, improves throttle response. This allows further rightsizing of the engine with additional fuel consumption benefits. Engine rightsizing and hybridization complement each other, the combined benefit being greater than that of the individual technologies.
The 9-X BioHybrid also harnesses power from the sun. The large solar cell in the glass roof takes advantage of this free energy by adding charge to the hybrid battery pack while the vehicle is parked and also when it is being driven.
Apart from saving fuel and energy, responsible performance means ensuring high standards of safety. In addition to a full arsenal of electronic stability and braking systems, the front seats of the 9-X BioHybrid are fitted with 4-point seatbelts to help hold occupants firmly in place. The seat-mounted belts are extended electrically from the sides of the seatback over each shoulder and are connected together by a central buckle.
Active safety measures are taken a step further with the Lane Departure Warning (LDW) function. A front-mounted camera scans the road ahead and warning messages are flashed on the driver information display if the car veers across lane markings. The same camera is also used to monitor light sources at night. Small shutters automatically ‘hood’ the high headlamp beam when on-coming traffic is approaching.
Saab 9-X BioHybrid Technical Specs
Transversely-mounted, front wheel drive
1398 cc. Four cylinders Bore/stroke: 73.4/ 82.6 mm. Aluminum cylinder head, cast iron block
DOHC, chain-driven. Four valves per cylinder.
Forged steel crankshaft, steel connecting rods. Aluminum pistons, oil spray cooled.
Direct Injection with centrally-mounted injectors. VVT, inlet and exhaust
Sodium-filled exhaust valves
Compression Ratio: 10.2: 1
Intercooled turbocharger. Max. Boost Pressure: 1.6 bar
Dual-mass flywheel. Saab engine management
Max power (E85): 200 hp (147 kW) @ 5000 rpm.
Max.torque (E85): 280 Nm (207 lb.ft) @ 1750-5000 rpm
Max power (gasoline): 170 hp (125 kW) @ 5200 rpm.
Max.torque (gasoline): 230 Nm (170 lb.ft) @ 1500-5200 rpm
Electric motor/generator with lithium ion battery pack.
Electric power boost, regenerative braking, fuel cut-off, automatic engine re-start
Transmission: 6-spd manual gearbox, automated clutch, sequential gear selection, steering wheel controls
Front: Damper/coil struts, aluminum lower A-arm. Anti-roll bar.
Rear: Torsion beam, two trailing links, coil springs and dampers. Anti-roll bar
Steering: Rack and pinion, Electrical power assistance.
Wheels, Tires: 21inch, 245/35R21
Brakes: Hydraulic, dual circuit, vacuum booster. Discs: 345 mm / 345 mm (all ventilated)
Performance Data (projected figures)
0 – 100 km/h (0-62 mph):
7.9 secs (E85)
8.3 secs (gasoline)
80 -120 km/h (50-75 mph), 5th gear:
8.8 secs (E85)
11.2 secs (gasoline)
Top Speed, 6th gear:
216 km/h /134 mph (E85)
192 km/h / 119 mph (gasoline)
Fuel consumption (combined cycle):
6.4 l/100km (E85)
4.9 l/100km (gasoline)
105 g/km (E85)
117 g/km (gasoline)