Saab’s sleek future
9-X Air sets design benchmark, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY
TWENTY-FIVE years after it unveiled its first convertible, Saab will reveal its drop-top future — the 9-X Air concept — at the Paris Motor Show next week. A follow-up to the 9-X BioHybrid seen at the Geneva show earlier this year, the Air concept offers a further look at the styling future of the Swedish brand.
Though Saab is giving away no details, the 9-X Air is expected to join the Saab production line-up to sit underneath the 9-3 convertible and carry the 9-1 badge. It will probably follow after the production version of the BioHybrid that is due in 2010.
A production version of the 9-X Air would introduce Saab to the growing prestige convertible market. BMW and Audi joined in this year with the 1 Series and A3 Cabriolet respectively.
The new model is expected to be underpinned by the Holden Astra platform.
‘‘We don’t rule out anything,’’ GM Premium Brands spokeswoman Rebbeca Clout says. ‘‘Saab is looking at different segments and different groups around the world.’’
However, officially no decision has been taken to give the car a production go-ahead.
‘‘From a global perspective it’s being previewed as a design study,’’ Clout says.
The biggest stand-out is its unique ‘‘cano- py’’ roof with rear pillars and a wraparound windscreen.
The designers opted for a fabric roof rather than the more popular metal version to save weight and improve packaging.
The wraparound windscreen, high
rear pillars and retractable wind deflector mean the four-seater cabin is largely free of wind buffeting when the roof is stowed.
‘‘Like the 9-X BioHybrid, this car is all about efficiency in design and performance, and that includes the canopy top.’’ says the director of advanced design for GM Europe, Anthony Lo, who led the design team.
Power is from the 1.4-litre turbocharged BioPower engine seen in the BioHybrid.
It uses E85 fuel and emits 107g/km while producing 147kW.
Canopy top: the Saab 9-X Air concept is a long way from the original and the convertible, (below).