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, May 9, 2011

SvD previews their Saab 9-4X test drive

Svenska Dagbladet's Karin Henriksson has test driven the new Saab 9-4X today and on they have a preview of the test. The full test will be published in Friday. Thanks to Tobias for the link.
Here's a translation of the preview:

As the first Swedish journalist SvD's U.S. correspondent Karin Henriksson test drives the new Saab 9-4X on the winding roads outside Washington DC. She believes it is up to par. The question is whether the Americans will remember the car brand Saab.
Saab's most important car ever. That’s what all the new cars from Saab has been called the last 30 years. But now Saab is seriously broadening its model range with a mid-sized SUV that will fight in the same class as the BMW X3 and the Mercedes GLK. SvD's U.S. correspondent Karin Henriksson test-drove the car during the late Monday afternoon as the first Swedish journalist on the back roads around Virginia's wine and horse district.
How does the new 9-4X feel like?
  - Overall impression is positive, it has much Saab-feel and the car feels stable on the road. It looks good, especially the rear, says Karin Henriksson on the phone from the test car, a white 9-4X with light gray leather interior and dark gray dashboard.
Even Saab's President Victor Muller, who had come from almost chaotic negotiations to raise money for Saab, was in Washington DC. 
 - He sits in the back seat of a white 9-4X in front of me and is waving so that the gold buttons on his blue blazer is flashing, says Karin Henriksson, laughing.
9-4X is important and is going to show that Saab is back in the U.S. market. Saab expects to sell about 12,000 cars a year, of which 10,000 in the U.S. and only 2,000 in Europe - the great weakness is that it lacks a diesel engine.
 - That's something Saab is honest about, even in the United States the diesel engine is starting to gain a little ground. 
How is the car compared with its competitors?
- Now I have only driven a few miles, but BMW's X3 rival feel quicker and faster while the Mercedes GLK feels more sluggish. The driving edge of the Saab 9-4X is somewhere in between. Solid, but not boring.
Quality impression?
- It is comparable to BMW and Mercedes.
About fifteen American journalists are there together with Svenska Dagbladet's correspondent. They now have Saab's U.S. fate in their hands when they can dismiss or hail the new Saab car.
 What are they saying? 
 - Most are positive. They think it's a good car with Saab-feel, which also has a high-quality feel. Some think that the GM background shines through a bit, for example, the navigation system. 
American journalists have also a different focus than Swedish.
 - It has not been written so much about the company Saab in American media and in a way it's good for Saab. Here my U.S. colleagues almost exclusively talks about the car - and not the Saab crisis. 
 Will it sell? 
 - It remains to be seen. Saab's problem is that they do not have such a great brand identity in the U.S. anymore. First, it has been smoothed out by GM and also, many believe that Saab is dead and buried after GM got rid of the brand. But there is a particular need for smaller SUVs and there should be a market. But competition in this segment is tough.