In public image, Saab has moved to quickly distance itself from its rocky period of ownership under General Motors. A new “Independence Day” promotion celebrating Spyker’s one-year ownership of the brand, as well as a 9-3 Independence Edition are all part of these moves.
The reality though is that the lineup as it sits currently was developed under GM’s ownership. Work is now moving forward on the next-generation of Saab cars that will form the future of the brand. To show what is in store for new models, the company is debuting the Saab PheoniX Concept at the Geneva Motor Show.
The car has been designed by Saab’s chief designer Jason Castriota. Its name, PheoniX, is fitting for what Saab has been through. Stylistically, the car debuts a new design language for Saab dubbed “Aeromotional.”
The look is meant to draw from Saab’s aviation history with shapes that convey motion, emotion and a wind-driven look. For the most part, the design works well. The body-work does look “molded by the wind” and we love the nod to Saab’s past with the rear roofline and window design. Does it really stand out though as uniquely Saab? Saab needs a defining set of brand design traits and they need to work out what cues will set the brand apart when it comes to production vehicles.
Something that likely won’t be making it to production is the car’s “winglets” mounted on the roof. They aim to channel the car’s airflow and reduce lift, therefore creating greater stability.
Up front, the direction of Saab’s styling has taken a different tack, It is low and wide, with small headlights and minimalist look. Overall, we have to say we liked the Aero X Concept’s vision for Saab’s design future better. The interesting part will be seeing how the PheoniX’s style develops and translates to production.
For propulsion, the car utilizes – what else – a hybrid drivetrain. The system is used to create an all-wheel drive system, which Saab has named eXWD. Up front, there is a 1.6-liter turbocharged, all-aluminum gas engine making 200 horsepower. It drives the front wheels and includes start/stop technology. To save weight, Saab went with a stainless steel gas tank rather than the usual plastic tank.
Powering the rear wheels is a 34 horsepower electric motor/generator and battery pack. The system uses regenerative braking to maintain a charge. The system is geared to be highly efficient while proving the benefits of all-wheel drive. It’s good to see the PheoniX Concept making an appearance at Geneva – it shows the company is alive and well, and working n future products. We’re interested in seeing what the brand brings to the table with the next production model set to debut, the all-new 9-3.