8 April 2005

The future for Saab is looking considerably brighter. According to inside sources, the next 9-3 and 9-5 models – both due in 2008 – could move exclusively to four-wheel drive, giving the brand a performance edge in the hard-fought premium car market.

Carl-Peter Forster, chairman of the Saab board and president of GM Europe, gave broad hints about the new plan. ‘Front-drive is no longer a core Saab value, but agile, predictable handling definitely is.’

The new Saabs will be based on GM’s Epsilon 2 platform. Sources say the structure will be offered in two widths, the wider of which would underpin larger cars such as the next Saab 9-5.

There is some confusion over the form the new 9-5 will take, however. Forster has promised that Saab will build a ‘global crossover vehicle’, but sources say this could also replace the 9-5 estate.

Saab’s plans for its own version of the Subaru Tribeca crossover vehicle look close to collapse, too. A concept version of the car scheduled for the New York Motor Show didn’t appear. However, sources have confirmed to Autocar that a Saab rival to the Audi A3 is likely to be launched later in the decade.

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