IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Report from Saab’s Spring exhibition in Stockholm – pt 1

This weekend I was in Stockholm to visit Saab's Spring Exhibition at Nacka Strand. For me it's somewhat unusual to travel four and half hours by train to see some Saab cars. But when I decided to go I didn't know if this would be my only chance to see the cars. After all, with all that has happened the past two weeks, one could never know if the 9-5 SportCombi or the 9-4X would see the light of day. Now it looks like Spyker Cars and Saab will find a solution, but that doesn't mean that I regret going to Stockholm. On the contrary, after I saw the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi, the new Saab 9-4X and the new Saab PhoeniX concept, I believe more in a future for Saab than I ever did.

So over to the car exhibition. I arrived around 11 o'clock and there was no risk of entering the wrong building. Outside there were new Saabs parked side by side, just waiting to be test driven.

Inside the exhibition hall I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people gathering around the cars. The most popular cars were the new 9-5 SportCombi, the 9-4X and of course the PhoeniX. On display was also a 9-3 convertible Independence Edition, 9-3 Griffin in both Sedan and SportCombi versions, a tri-fuel 9-3 SportCombi, two 9-5 Sedan, of which one was a police car, a 900 convertible and a 1961 Saab 95.

The car that seriously cast a spell on me was the Saab PhoeniX, but more about the PhoeniX in part two of this report that will come in a couple of days.

Except for the PhoeniX, the big crowd drawer was of course the Saab 9-5 SportCombi. And what a car it is! I have to admit that after seeing a lot of pictures of the car, I felt that it looked awkward from certain angles. There was something about the line of the roof and the line of the body from the C-pillar and back that look a bit awkward from a side view. But I am pleased to say that in real life it looks absolutely stunning from all angles. It looks very different than any other wagon, see my previous post about the SportCombi vs. generic design. And it looks very elegant, exclusive and extremely modern. The cabin space is huge, just like in the Sedan, and the trunk is also very big. The new interior dashboard panel looked nice, but I am not sure if it's my cup of tea. I liked the panel in the 9-4X better.

On behalf of faithful blog reader J Fan, I took an extra critical look at the rear visibility from the driver's seat. And it was quite obvious that the D-pillars take away much of the rear visibility, both compared to the 9-5 Sedan and the 9-3 SportCombi. It is good that Saab offers a rear view camera with the SportCombi. It will be useful! Check this picture for a compare.

Over to some pictures.

First, to one of my other faithful readers who just ordered a 9-5 SportCombi. Oistein, I hope you remembered to specify that you want a 9-5 model and not a 95 when you placed your order!

A 1961 Saab 95:

And 50 years of evolution and some development, and you get the 2012 Saab 9-5 SportCombi.

For all the pictures you should visit my flickr photostream.

Enough of the 9-5. Another star at the exhibition was the Saab 9-4X. I first saw the 9-4X in March 2008 as a concept car at the New York Auto Show. But I don't remember too much, I was too busy staring at the 9x BioHybrid concept instead. This time however, there was no 9x to steal my concentration. And this time I could even sit in the 9-4X! And so I did, and I discovered two things. First, if you are familiar with the new 9-5's interior, then you will be familiar with the 9-4X. They have more or less identical interior with the same switches and buttons and steering wheel. In other words, very nice. But there was one thing that caught my attention. The dashboard material. It was a plastic dashboard without the carbon like film as on the upgraded dashboard of the 9-5. But this 9-4X dashboard had kind of a glittering effect. Very cool and very stylish. I actually liked this dashboard better than the upgraded 9-5 dashboard. Unfortunately no picture could catch the nice effect of the dashboard. You just have to take my word for it until you see it for yourself.

 Stepping out of the 9-4X and looking at the overall design, I have to say that this is a nice looking SUV. It looks powerful and robust, but also elegant and stylish. The rear light strip is looking great . One thing that surprised me a bit was that the head light LED strips seemed less bright than those on the 9-5. I would have liked them to be a bit brighter like on the 9-5. Maybe they turn brighter when the engine is running. I hope they do, because the front and rear light strips are more or less the Saab signature at dark.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy. Also more pictures of the 9-4X at my flickr photostream.