Posted by: saabnuts | February 17, 2010

Saab future car designs

SAAB Retro Concept Car

February 17, 2010

There’s a lot of buzz at Saabs United and elsewhere concerning what future Saabs should look like.

There are some very interesting photos and renderings / drawings floating around which I will share a few of in this post.

Saabs United has culled a list of top things Saab enthusiasts would like to see in new Saabs:

  1. Turbo is a must.
  2. Combi Coupé is Saab’s hallmark – three or five doors with folding rear seats.
  3. Simple and stylish Scandinavian design with aerodynamic shape. Have a look at old Saab 92.
  4. Combine future with retro – build a small car like the Saab 96 in a modern version with Ultra Low fuel consumption.
  5. Take advantage of the heritage of Saabs rally time with direct control and safe handling, which makes four-wheel drive unnecessary.
  6. Saab is special – not a sports car or magnificently practical. Saab is a fast, comfortable and very personal car.
  7. Do not try to emulate BMW or Audi. A Saab should not resemble any other car.
  8. Safe, reliable and conservative looking.
  9. We need a Saab 9-1 or 9-2 – more basic with a focus on styling and performance.
  10. Do not be careless with Saab’s outstanding seats.

SAAB V4 Concept by Johan Wejedal, courtesy Saabs United

I think I’ve posted previously on this blog about hoping for new Saabs to include some or all of the above “wish-list” items. I’ve also suggested the idea of considering something a bit retro (similar to what BMW did with the Mini, Ford with Mustang, Dodge with Charger, and so on).

If Saab is to include retro aspects in new designs I am a firm believer that the place from which to do so is from the 99, classic 900 or even NG (next generation) 900.

I don’t mean to suggest that Saab designers should make foolish decisions on designing new cars, catering to the whims of old Saab owners like us. I DO mean to suggest that capturing some of the best elements of older Saabs might be possible to do, while offering modern, fresh designs, setting new Saabs apart from the competition.

To reiterate my list of things that I think might be beneficial to new Saab designs, here’s what I am thinking:

  • Efficient 4 cylinder engine option, with larger engines available.
  • Turbo charged
  • Large hatchback with capacity similar to the 99, classic 900 and NG 900 cars. These cars hold as much or more than MANY SUV’s… while getting better gas mileage, and providing superior handling on all road conditions.
  • Superior winter and dry weather handling.
  • Safety: no doubt this will be part of new Saab designs.
  • All Wheel Drive (AWD) option. I understand the desire of many to have AWD, particularly when more power is applied to the wheels and starting on surfaces such as sand, but I don’t think it must be on every Saab. Having driven in several snow storms recently with front wheel drive Saabs and watched those with AWD around me, become unable to climb hills, start at traffic lights on hills and take corners, I simply do not believe that every car must have AWD to handle bad weather, and I do not want to sacrifice fuel economy for it. My personal opinion is that AWD offers many drivers a false sense of security in bad weather and perhaps (again, my opinion) for drivers who don’t know how to drive in bad weather. We have 23 years of driving Saabs in all sorts of bad weather, and never an accident. I don’t need to speed away from every traffic light, nor do so on sand and ice (where AWD excels). Doing so defeats the concept of getting the mileage that we manage with our Saabs, and can be reckless, and the behavior of a testosterone laden 18 year-old. Is that a typical Saab driver? I don’t think so… but it’s surely fun and important to some of us. I don’t doubt the superiority of AWD and Saab, just the abilities of some drivers to know what they are doing on slick road surfaces. I think Saab MUST have AWD, but I would like the option NOT to have it on some models.
  • Fuel economy.
  • Superior aerodynamics and visibility.  Saabs are or were known for having excellent visibility from the passenger cabin, and often did not require a rear wiper, and under certain circumstances do not even require use of front wipers in bad weather. My drive in a snow storm today was one such example of not needing wipers while everyone around me struggled to keep their windscreens clear.

So, I remain a believer in the concept of Saab being able to capture some of the old design elements, even if not designing cars that look like old Saabs, but that can have some aspects of old Saabs and benefit from them (the cargo capacity, passenger space and comfort, aerodynamics, economy, and so on). If I had the talent, software, etc. I would try to draw some sketches demonstrating how I think that Saab designers and engineers might do so. Thankfully there are very talented people who do share their design ideas.

SAAB 9-3 Concept Car

I must also take a moment to say thank you to those taking the time to ask Saab enthusiasts what we want (SU and nyteknik.se).

I understand the need to attract new buyers to Saab, but don’t think those who poo-poo the idea of retro aspects, necessarily understand what some of us are suggesting. Design and build new Saabs, but perhaps bring back some of what was lost in recent years (see my list above).

In addition to attracting new buyers, doesn’t it make sense to attract former Saab owners? I’m sure Mr. Muller and the Saab employees will figure out how to make new Saabs and perhaps surprise us all – even if they don’t look like old Saabs in any way… they’ll be Saabs!

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