Bold concept previews design direction and tech that will underpin the next 9-3

This is the dramatic new Saab PhoeniX, a concept that gives clues to the shape of next year’s new 9-3 hatch and previews the technology that will underpin it.

Jason Castriota, Saab’s new design director, calls the latest design language “aeromotional”. The show car is influenced by the 2006 Aero-X concept, complete with ‘butterfly’ doors and roof-mounted ‘winglets’, a nod to Saab’s roots as an aircraft manufacturer.

“It ushers in a new era of Saab design, adding passion and emotion to cool Scandinavian design,” said Castriota.

See official pics of the Saab PhoeniX concept

The 2+2 cabin hosts Saab’s new IQon infotainment and communications set-up. It’s based on the Google Android operating system and is likely to appear first on the next 9-3. The dashboard is dominated by an 8in touchscreen.

The PhoeniX is conceptually based on the new Saab platform that’s earmarked for the 9-3, as well as a future 9-5 and 9-4X. It has MacPherson struts at the front and a Saab-designed five-link independent rear axle.

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This concept also reveals what’s expected to be the range-topping all-wheel-drive hybrid version of the new 9-3. Up front there’s a 200bhp, 185lb ft version of BMW’s 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, equipped with the full range of Efficient Dynamics technologies and driving a six-speed manual ’box.

This is combined with a new Saab-designed eXWD “electric rear-wheel drive system”. It uses a 25kW (33bhp) electric motor/generator and 11kWh lithium ion battery to power the rear wheels. Differential driveshafts allow torque vectoring to be applied to the rear wheels.

Saab claims a 0-62mph time of 5.9sec, a top speed of 155mph, 56.5mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 119g/km.

Hilton Holloway

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