Saab will launch five new models before 2013 as it plans to replace every model in its ageing range. The firm will also enter new market segments (supermini and medium SUV) in a bid to offer its dealers a fuller range of vehicles to market. Here, we look at what's coming when for Saab and rate what the model's chances of success are.
Saab 9-5 – 2010
Work on the new 9-5 only began in 2006 and it arrived almost too late to help save Saab from oblivion. The previous replacement car was cancelled after GM’s split with then-partner Fiat Auto. The latest 9-5 is an unusual concoction of typically laid-back Saab charms and distinctive design inside and out, and in a very lengthy bodyshell, which is because it’s based on the long-wheelbase version of GM’s Global Epsilon platform.
Saab is presenting the car in an unusual way too, with the base models using tweaked versions of the suspension and diesel drivetrain found in the Insignia, but ritzier models getting tastier engines and increasingly sophisticated running gear.
Range varies from competent to impressive, but an unusual mix of A6 pricing and A8 space.
Saab 9-5 Sport Wagon – 2011
If you think the 9-5 saloon is big, wait until the estate version is unveiled, probably later this year. The wrap-around rear-end styling is very dramatic, although the sloping tailgate ensures that super-utility comes second to sharp looks.
In any case, this will be one of the biggest estate cars on sale, which pitches Saab into an interesting position as the main market will be in Europe, rather than the wide-open spaces of North America. Expect class-leading ‘real-world’ safety, so don’t look for a third row of seats for children. Saab engineers ruled them out at the last minute in the previous 9-5 wagon, too.
Big, bold and impressive, but risks being oversized in urban Europe.
Saab 9-4X – 2011
Another project that has crept slowly towards the showroom. After three cancelled attempts at building a medium-size SUV (including a version of the original Cadillac SRX and the Subaru Tribeca), Saab will finally get this GM-derived car next year.
It’s absolutely crucial to the health of Saab’s US dealerships and will help in Europe too, because it’s in one of the market niches that’s booming in both Europe and the US. The 9-4X is based on a hybrid GM platform (mixing Epsilon and Theta underpinnings) and will be built by GM in Mexico, so it should be profitable in Europe. Saab has overseen the styling (the interior is very similar to the 9-5), driving dynamics and engine tuning.
Vital in the US and likely to be a decently successful money-spinner in Europe, too.
Saab 93 – 2012
Plugged as the rebirth of the ‘pure’ Saab, the new 93 family is supposed to start coming on stream in no more than 30 months’ time. It will use a platform Saab is developing from existing technology, which will also have to be flexible enough to spawn the replacement for the new 9-5 (which might come as soon as late 2016).
Saab bosses are planning to comb the automotive world for the best off-the-shelf technology, with engines from BMW/Mini rumoured to be a distinct possibility. A three-door hatchback will be added to the new 93 line-up, closely echoing the classic 900 model.
This is the most important future model for Saab, because it will have to properly bring the company back to life.
Saab 92 – 2013
A compact premium car in the mould of the Mini, the 92 is the brainchild of Saab’s new owner, Victor Muller. The car is supposed to invoke the spirit of the original, teardrop-shaped 92. It won’t be a very straightforward project, though.
Saab will need to find a donor platform of sufficient quality for the car and might even have to have any final product manufactured away from its Trollhättan HQ, in the same way that the 9-3 cabrio was built by Magna, Austria. Chief designer Simon Padian and his team will also find it challenging to translate a classic post-war aero shape into a modern car.
A tricky project, and charging “Mini plus 10 per cent” prices won’t be easy if the 92 is sub-Golf size.