New Saab crossover will share platform and factory with Caddy BRX
14 January 2008

Saab’s 9-4X BioPower concept was unveiled at Detroit, but it’s further away from the showroom than expected. Sources told Autocar to expect the car to arrive ‘sometime in 2009’.The replacement for the ancient Saab 9-5 is also scheduled for 2009, with Saab sources admitting that both cars will arrive very close to each other, providing the company with a product feast, after a few years of famine.

Sister of a Cadillac

The 9-4X is probably Saab’s first true ground-up co-development with another brand in the General Motors family. It will be built alongside its Cadillac sister car, thought be called the BRX, in a GM factory in Mexico.Senior Saab sources told Autocar that the company was ‘entirely happy’ with its input into the 9-4X project. We understand that Saab engineers were charged with development of most of the car forward of the windscreen.The monocoque chassis is a mix of ‘road car and crossover’ technology. In effect that meant that what is basically one of GM's 'Epsilon' chassis was modified with larger inner wheel arches and a new subframe to accommodate different engines.Saab has also executed its own exterior and interior. And while the distinctive and sophisticated cabin succeeds in taking Saab’s interior style into the future, the exterior is rather less dramatic. Although the 9-4x is slick, it’s also surprising strait laced for a market niche that is increasing known for distinctive design.Even so, the Saab is likely to succeed, especially in the America. The US market for these so-called ‘crossovers’ is booming and this type of vehicle is increasingly becoming the default family car, as the traditional body-on-frame SUVs start to fade away.

Other surprises

Saab sources told Autocar that the company would roll-out ‘a huge surprise’ this year. However the source would not be drawn on whether the concept was much discussed Golf-sized Saab 9-1. If it is, it seems that the 9-1 might not be the straightforward ‘premium hatch’ that had been expected.Saab sources also said that the company’s ‘next-generation’ sedans and estate cars – for which read the new 9-5 - would not be conventional interpretations of the breed. It was broadly hinted that the sedans may become coupe-like hatchbacks and the estate vehicles would get taller and ‘more crossover-like’.

Hilton Holloway

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