Chi­nese maker builds new ver­sion Saab 9-5

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWLING

US ac­tor Ni­co­las Cage, Fer­rari de­signer Leonardo Fio­ra­vanti and Aus­tralian de­signer Peter Ar­cadi­pane have com­bined with Chi­nese car­maker BAIC to launch a re­ju­ve­nated ver­sion of Swe­den’s Saab 9-5.

BAIC has brought in Cage as a brand ambassador, join­ing Brad Pitt (China-made Cadil­lac XTS), Barcelona soc­cer star Lionel Messi (Ch­ery Ri­ich cars) and Hous­ton Rock­ets player Jeremy Lin (Geely-Volvo) in pro­mot­ing cars in the Chi­nese mar­ket.

Multi-cul­tural as the play­ers are in cre­at­ing the BAIC Sen­ova, it’s des­tined — at least ini­tially — only for the Chi­nese mar­ket. Bei­jing Au­to­mo­tive (BAIC), one of China’s big­gest and most prof­itable pri­vate car­mak­ers with pro­duc­tion forecasts of 2.1 mil­lion ve­hi­cles this year, this week started sell­ing its 9-5 based Sen­ova D in China.

BAIC — which al­ready joint ven­tures with Mercedes-Benz’s Daim­ler AG and Hyundai and is gear­ing up to build an­other fac­tory for Hyundai — bought the first-gen­er­a­tion 9-3 and 9-5 tech­nol­ogy from a de­cay­ing Saab in 2009.

The Sen­ova — called Shen­bao in China— sits on a mod­i­fied Saab 9-5 plat­form and uses the same driv­e­train spec­i­fi­ca­tions that in­clude tur­bocharged petrol en­gines in 1.8, 2.0 and 2.3 litre ca­pac­i­ties teamed with five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

It will com­pete with the Mazda6, Kia Op­tima and Hyundai i40/Sonata. BAIC this month ap­pointed Ar­cadi­pane — de­signer of the Mercedes CL, CLS and ML and pre­vi­ously em­ployed by Chi­nese elec­tric-car maker BYD on the Denza pro­ject — to head the de­sign stu­dio.

Ar­cadi­pane is also known as the de­signer of the In­ter­cep­tor car from the Mad Max movie.

BAIC also con­tracts the Fio­ra­vanti de­sign stu­dio in Turin. Headed by fa­ther Leonardo — who penned the Fer­rari Dino, F40, Day­tona , 308 and 365 — and with sons Mat­teo and Luca, the stu­dio showed two BAIC con­cepts at last year’s Bei­jing mo­tor show.

Fio­ra­vanti also built the run­ning cars — a C90L sedan and Con­cept 900 SUV — and is now work­ing on fu­ture pro­duc­tion projects for the com­pany.

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