Saab has abandoned plans to adopt and update the existing 9-3 platform for its next generation of models, Autocar sources in Trollhattan have revealed.
Instead, Saab has embarked on a more costly plan which will see it create an entirely new architecture and components set that can be stretched from a 4.2m long ‘9-2’ to a 5.5m-long ‘9-7’.
Despite this ‘future-proof’ approach, concrete plans only currently exist for the new 9-3 and replacements for the 9-5 and 9-4x. Plans for a Mini-rivalling ‘9-1’ will require a different structure, say insiders.
The so-called ‘Phoenix’ architecture, first revealed by Autocar last summer, will use a unique McPherson strut design and a new ‘race-car style’ five-link rear axle which will be made by supplier ZF at a new factory in Sweden. The next 9-5, however, may also get a HiPer Strut front suspension.
Autocar can also reveal that the Phoenix architecture has been inspired by the philosophy of Swedish truck-maker Scania, which is also providing assistance to Saab. Scania’s approach sees ‘fixed’ interfaces between the platform’s various components, allowing individual parts and systems to be easily upgraded over future generations of car without the need for major re-engineering of the platform.
One source compared the philosophy to Nikon’s F lens mount, which has stayed fundamentally unchanged for decades, despite huge advances in camera body and lens technology.
Saab sources have also revealed that the firm’s recent PhoeniX concept at the Geneva motor show was a deliberately wild interpretation of the all-new 9-3 hatchback, which is due in October 2012, although the concept’s frontal treatment is close to the form of the production car.
The PhoeniX is built on the Phoenix platform and the show car was fitted with the production car’s 200bhp 1.6-litre BMW/Mini engine and Saab’s new electrically driven hybrid rear axle.Hilton Holloway