Currently reading: Nine cars that defined Saab
With the brand finally dead and gone from the motoring industry, we look back at some of the best cars to come from the Swedish car maker
Autocar
News
3 mins read
23 June 2016

Saab cars is no more now that NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden) has agreed to not use the name on its upcoming all-electric models.

You can read about the news here, but below, we remember nine of the now defunct Swedish car maker's best creations.

Have we missed any key cars off our list? Let us know in the comments below.

Ursaab

This is where it all started for Saab. In 1948 the company, which was until then solely an aeroplane manufacturer, made its first foray into the motoring industry. It did so with four interestingly-styled Ursaab prototypes, which had a lower drag coefficient than any other car at the time. The Ursaab (which translates as 'original Saab') eventually evolved into the manufacturer's first production car, the 92.

Saab 96

Successor to the 93, the 96 was first launched in 1960 with a two-stroke, three-cylinder engine that produced just 38bhp. The two-stroke motor was later replaced by a V4 four-stroke engine that produced 68bhp in its most powerful form.

The unit gave the 96 enough grunt to secure two wins in the World Rally Championship, one in 1973 and the other in 1976, helping to shoot it and its maker’s name into the limelight.

Saab 99 Turbo

One of the first popular turbocharged cars, the technology behind the 99 Turbo went on to define Saab as a manufacturer in the late 1970s.

Decent build quality means there’s still some around on the used car market, but this pocket rocket is only for the brave.

 

Saab 9000 (1984-1998)

The 9000 was Saab's first executive saloon, designed to battle it out with more established models from German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It was created in conjunction with Fiat and shared parts with the Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema. In total, the 9000 was produced in its various guises over 14 years before it was succeeded by the 9-5.

Saab 9-3

Built between 1998 and 2014, the 9-3 appeared in convertible, hatchback, saloon and estate guises over the years.

It helped to cement Saab's reputation as a safety innovator, featuring side impact airbags and active headrests. It was also the first car to feature a 'night panel'. This turned off most lights on the instrument panel, meaning fewer distractions for the driver.

It came in for some criticism during its long life: the early drop-top versions were known for having pretty poor handling and it was derided for basically being a Vauxhall Cavalier underneath. Therefore, the 9-3 never really lived up to the 900 it replaced.

Saab 9-5

The second-generation 9-5 was the first Saab to be produced under Spyker ownership. Unfortunately, it came at a time when the company’s future was in question after General Motors abandoned the project. Supply chain issues halted production in 2011, after a total of 11,280 units were sold.

Saab 9-X concept

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Read our review

Car review

Pre-production drive of early Saab 9-5 estate shows it's a car with real promise

Back to top

The 9-X concept was a forward-thinking demonstration of what Saab thought future cars could look like. It was designed to combine the design and practical qualities of a coupé, roadster, estate and pick-up truck, and was expected to influence a production model badged as the 9-1.

However, the project was shelved in 2008 and never resurrected.

Saab Aero-X concept

This shapely concept was revealed in 2006 with an ethanol-powered 2.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine. It was claimed to be good for 395bhp and a top speed of 158mph.

The car was created as a design demonstration and said to mix futuristic design with traditional Swedish value, and its look influenced later versions of the 9-3, 9-4 and 9-5.

Saab PhoeniX concept

A dramatic-looking 2+2 coupé, the PhoeniX was a preview of Saab’s future platforms for the 9-3 replacement, among others.

Ironically, Saab never managed to rise from the ashes and the PhoeniX - first unveiled at the Geneva motor show in 2011 - remains a tantalising glimpse at what might have been.

Saab claimed a 0-62mph time of 5.9sec, and a top speed of 155mph.

 

Join the debate

Comments
15
Add a comment…
kboothby 23 June 2016

No News Week,,,,

Lazy journalists filling a "no news week". Next week the nine cars that defined British Leyland:

1. Issigonis 9x
2. Rover P9
3. Rover Sd2
4. Rover P6BS
5. Alvis Gloria
6. Austin AR6
7. Triumph Fury
8. MG EXE
9. Leyland P76

Never mind, the August Summer Special reveals that Land-Rover has four wheel drive and Jaguar is back (along with Alfa-Romeo), VAG's new platform to be shared with the UP! and the Panamara in a cost saving move to benefit customers (ahem, meant shareholders).

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Leffty 23 June 2016

Long Live Saab

Regardless, of the accuracy of the key models listed in the article - my personal preference would be to include the 2nd gen 9-5, not the 1st gen GM model, even though it was short-lived - I will truly miss the company that made the only model car I have owned and driven as an adult. Started with a '78 900, graduated to a '88 900 S, then a '93 9000, followed by a '02 1st gen 9-5, and currently my favorite of them all, a 2nd gen '11 9-5 - by far the best Saab I'll ever own and drive. Sad to think it's the last. Hoping that it's not true.
typos1 24 June 2016

My preference would be to

My preference would be to EXCLUDE ALL GM based Saabs - they were all sh*te. You are deluded if you think the car you own is a Saab, its nothing more than a 1988 Vauxhall Cavalier in a Swedish dress. Saab really died in the late 80s when GM bought them.
Mikey C 23 June 2016

Surely...

The SAAB Sonett deserves to be in this list, rather than two concept cars that never remotely got near real world production?

Find an Autocar car review