Saab's future starts here, with the “defining moment” launch of the 9-X BioHybrid concept on the eve of the Geneva Show, according to GM Europe design vice-president Mark Adams.
Beyond the innovative powertrain technology under the skin of the car, the real story is the skin itself – a “dramatic reinterpretation” of the Saab design DNA, Adams said.
The Saab 9-X points the way toward a future compact Saab – a competitor for the Audi A3 and Volvo C30 in a fast-growing part of the European market.
The concept has evolved from the earlier AeroX concept, and features strong elements of the Saab “brand DNA”, including a wraparound front windscreen and a thick C-pillar incorporating an extending aerodynamic spoiler that automatically deploys once the car reaches 70kmh.
“Many of these unique design elements will be integrated into future production Saabs,” said Adams. He pointed to the 9-4X concept, effectively a prototype of a Saab crossover, to demonstrate the way Saab's new family look is starting to become obvious. “It takes the authentic Saab design language into the crossover segment.”
Saab is also stressing the environment and connectivity as major features of its new cars. The 9-X has a hybrid powertrain based around a small 1.4-litre flex-fuel engine that can run on E85 ethanol mix, giving 200bhp, plus an electric motor with Li-Ion batteries and a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox. Addition power is generated by solar panels in the car's roof.
Saab has teamed up with Sony Ericsson to create a wireless interface with mobile phones, M3 players and navigation systems. This allows multiple devices to be run at the same time.
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