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The Future of Saab?

chalkpiechalkpie Member Posts: 21
What is your opinion of the future of this unique Swedish automobile company?
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Comments

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 21,896
  • chalkpiechalkpie Member Posts: 21
    Yeah, I've been following that thread. But there is much more than the 9-2x Subaru-built vehicle at stake here (which seems to be the predominate focus of discussion there). With the upcoming 9-7x, first production of a Saab in the U.S., increased US market shares, Saab being called the fastest growing European can brand in North America, the 9-3x and 9-3 sport hatch concepts, the (supposedly) firing of 1,200 employees in Sweden, chief designer Michael Maurer leaving Saab to work for Porsche, etc.

    There seems to be a *lot* on Saabs plate right now.

    Wondering what take some of you have on the *whole* picture?
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 21,896
    I give Saab's future prospects a 4. As a three time Saab owner I see a big pickup in component reliability since the GM takeover that is offset by a drastic diminution of the brand's essence.

    In other words Saab may become a victim of Oldsmobilization.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    Not to say who cares about Saab as a car company but who cares who owns them? Saab, Volvo, Jag, Mini, Nissan all belong to someone else and those companies have every right to do with them as they wish. It is after all their money. GM has a history of buying a company and over the Years that company becomes GM. right or wrong that is how they always do things and I doubt if Saab will escape the fate of other companies. So what has Saab lost? A quirky car that only quirky people ever bought in the first place. Not that many quirky people bought them to keep them independent and not they are considered more dependable than they ever were as old Saabs. Ford has made Jag a car worth buying even if it is your only car. Before Ford you better have a backup car if you had a Jag. I just don't see anything GM has done to Saab as being a negative if we simply look at a car as a machine.
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    http://www2.saabusa.com/concepts/

    I've read in several places that the Saab Hatch in the lower right corner is a done deal. Unfortunately, I've seen no formal launch announcement.

    Volvo had to increase productions plans for its V50 compact sport wagon. A lot of people want little wagons. The auto makers seem not to have figured the existing little wagons do not sell because they are low end.

    I also like the two door hatch on the concept page as well. I understand that the next 9-2 will be built on a platform shared with the Opel Astra. The concept may be a form the new 9-2 will take.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 21,896
    I don't care who owns Saab, but I do care if the owner disrespects the brand to the point of making it irrelevant.

    Slapping the Saab name on a Trailblazer is just such a step towards the typical GM philosophy of having something for everyone for each brand. That's the opposite of what Saab has been.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    Maybe that is what Saab stood for. But with sales the way they were their stand would only lead to extinction. Some in the past have suggested that going out of business would be better that becoming something mainstream. But that may be because we as enthusiasts tend to anthropomorphize cars to the point we lose sight that they are toasters we ride in. Yes, I enjoy vehicles as much as the next guy but with very few exceptions can manufacturers have to answer to stock holders and those people don't care how the profit is made, they only care how it is lost. I may not agree with the direction a company might take, as is the case with old time Saab enthusiasts, but I understand the reasoning behind it.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    Nope. Took Isuzu's superiority in Diesel engine's and managed to suck the life out of Isuzu for their own benefit. Took away an excellent IMO Trooper, and stuck them with the Rodeo, Axiom (Based on Rodeo) and ascender (yet another Trailblazer clone). Look where they are now...

    SIDE NOTE: I don't know what options are at the local Isuzu lot's now, but back in 91 or so I could've bought a Trooper with a Isuzu 4 or a GM 6-cyl (2.8 i believe) And I'm about 95% sure that the 94 - current Rodeo shares alot of components with the last generation Blazer/Jimmy, including the motor.

    Give it a few more years, I believe the same thing will happen to Saab. GM will reap the benefits of Saabs safety experience (Since they show little intrest in passenger safty on their own) and just keep them on support with there re-bageing methods that are GM. "Minimal effort for maximum profit" Proof is in the current mix: Trailblazer clone (9-7), a WRX clone (9-2), a Pontiac GP clone (9-5) and a Quasi Malibu/Vectra clone (9-3). Take away the trademark hatchback and your left with a glorified Chevy.

    Oh, and just so I'm not charged with making random/irrational bashings, my wife and I had an unfortunate accident last Monday, and she ended up with a 9-3 as an Enterprise rental. Has 9000 miles on it and already radio dies intermittently, check engine light comes on and stays on at start-up, and just today, all dashboard lighting died twice after driving through rainsoaked New England (Came back on about 10 mins later when electrical dried out???) Match that with some really cheap bits on the interior, and I'm reminded that Yes, this is a GM product.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    Nope. Took Isuzu's superiority in Diesel engine's and managed to suck the life out of Isuzu for their own benefit. Took away an excellent IMO Trooper, and stuck them with the Rodeo, Axiom (Based on Rodeo) and ascender (yet another Trailblazer clone). Look where they are now...

    SIDE NOTE: I don't know what options are at the local Isuzu lot's now, but back in 91 or so I could've bought a Trooper with a Isuzu 4 or a GM 6-cyl (2.8 i believe) And I'm about 95% sure that the 94 - current Rodeo shares alot of components with the last generation Blazer/Jimmy, including the motor.

    Give it a few more years, I believe the same thing will happen to Saab. GM will reap the benefits of Saabs safety experience (Since they show little intrest in passenger safety on their own) and just keep them on support with their re-badging methods that are typical GM "Minimal effort for maximum profit". Proof is in the current mix: Trailblazer clone (9-7), a WRX clone (9-2), a Pontiac GP clone (9-5) and a Quasi Malibu/Vectra clone (9-3). Take away the trademark hatchback and your left with a glorified Chevy.

    Oh, and just so I'm not charged with making random/irrational bashings, my wife and I had an unfortunate accident last Monday, and she ended up with a 9-3 as an Enterprise rental. Has 9000 miles on it and already radio dies intermittently, check engine light comes on and stays on at start-up, and just today, all dashboard lighting died twice after driving through rainsoaked New England (Came back on about 10 mins later when electrical dried out???) Match that with some really cheap bits on the interior, and I'm reminded that Yes, this is a GM product.
  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    are as bad as all that they must have been horrid when they were 900s. Edmunds review indicated that now they are better cars. But to the point, so what if GM bleeds them for profit? That is what products are for. Saab was in a death spiral and all that was left was to pick the bones. Same with Isuzu. If you would have bought a Trooper you would still have been stuck with a vehicle very few people wanted. They stopped making cars in the US because people simply didn't buy them. In the case of companies like Isuzu and Saab you simply take the bones and make soup, they were dead anyway. Sometimes car companies die, that is part of the fact of industrial life. All that is left of Alliance is Jeep and Chrysler has used them for all they are worth. They are still remembered and even enjoyed in this country, can the same be said for renault?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    this was a smart move for GM - they deleted an old-people brand, Oldsmobile, which had been irrelevant for years and totally populated by badge-engineered clones, then they bought a younger-person's brand, Saab, to replace it. And Saab even has a little bit of premium-brand cachet to the ten people out there who don't know that GM now owns it and runs the show with other car companies' models...

    If they keep any of the Saab design and engineering staff more than a few years I will be very surprised. What is more likely is that rather than letting them all go they will merge them all with the Opel people into one grand GM design studio Europe, where they will badge-engineer all the models for that side of the ocean, bringing the Saabs stateside as well, along with the Opels to be rebranded as Saturns here, in one last desperate attempt to keep Saturn alive.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    at Isuzu. Isuzu shot itself in the foot.

    In fact, Isuzu's mistakes were what allowed GM to rework its share stake in the company taking full control of the diesel facilities and letting Isuzu have the rest.

    I rented a Mazda6 with 9.5k miles over the weekends. There were several things not working in it. Do I blame Mazda or Ford? No, after that many miles with careless renters, I blame Hertz and the renters.

    The new 9-3 is the best thing out of Saab since the Sonnet. The 9-2x and 9-7 may be stop gaps, but were necessary to fill holes that years of Saab/Opel neglect had dug. With the planned closer realignment of Saab and Opel, you will see more European high end product under the Saab name here in the States.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    "rented a Mazda6 with 9.5k miles over the weekends. There were several things not working in it. Do I blame Mazda or Ford? No, after that many miles with careless renters, I blame Hertz and the renters."

    While I respect your opinion that rental cars don't get the same treatment as one's own vehicle, I don't know how much a customer can do to affect electrical gremlins in a vehicle.
    I haven't seen a vehicle's electrical system blink out since my dad's old Cutlass Ciera back in '87. Wouldn't expect it to happen on a late model vehicle, much less a 30k dollar Saab.

    The new 9-3 is the best thing out of Saab since "the Sonnet."

    Well, I'll have about a month to a month and a half of seat time with the 9-3 and that should be a good test to me of whether it's all that great. As of now, I'm not too impressed.

    I really wanted to like the vehicle. It looks sharp on the outside, the interior is warm and inviting at first glance, and the engine has some real power for a 4 cylinder. But there's some chintzy controls, vague steering, and all the electrical issues that have plagued the car which have really soured the experience. Unfortunately, checking with the consumer ratings/writups on the 03 vehicles here at Edmunds, the issues I have are not limited to just our vehicle. We'll see what happens over the course of the month.
  • chalkpiechalkpie Member Posts: 21
    >With the planned closer realignment of Saab and Opel, you will see more European high end product under the Saab name here in the States.

    A few questions here -

    a) Does Saab share any platforms with Opel currently?

    b) Are the 9-5 and 9-3 the only two models that will continue to be built in Sweden?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    the 9-3 and 9-5 will continue to be built in Sweden? GM already reportedly has plans to move 9-3 production stateside and use Saab's former facilities in Europe for something else.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    First, the platform, seats and base engine for the new 9-3 are pure shared GM components.

    The platform is the epsilon with slight modifications to the suspension than on the Vectra or new Malibu. The seats are from the same French maker that supplies Opel and the Malibu. The engine is the 2.0 ecotec.

    The dash components are pure Saab. They clearly continue the fighter jet theme Saabs have always had (the former parent making fighter jets and all) The turbo and the electronic trionic engine management system also are updates of pre-GM Saab technology. The rental is a base model if the steering is vague. The steering is pretty good for a FWD in the sporting Aero model.

    The prior 9-3 was built on a very modified platform Opel stopped using long before. The current 9-5 uses a very modified version of the platform that based the prior Vectra and the now discontinued Saturn L Series.

    Nippon is correct. Trollhatten is a very expensive place to make cars. GM will probably move base 9-3 production to the huge Opel facility in Belgium or possibly even to Spring Hill in the US. GM will then use the Swedish plant to make the upmarket Saabs like the 9-3 hatch, luxe Opels, and maybe even a European Cadillac.
  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    Oh I agree there. Saab needed a new market and GM will use the name if nothing else to get some of that market.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAMember Posts: 9,403
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  • chalkpiechalkpie Member Posts: 21
    Any word on when ( or if) the 9-3 Sport Hatch will see production?

    Will this be the next newest vehicle produced by Saab after the 9-7x?
  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    the 9-3 Hatch will be around sometime next summer.

    I've not seen anything firm about it anywhere else.

    I am hopeful that Saab is starting to act like the rest of GM and keeping the big announcement under wraps for one of the autoshows.

    Maybe Geneva or the NAIAS?

    Saab really needs it to bring the doubters back to the fold. (plus, it would be a great way to keep Volvo honest on pricing the V50)
  • dcurtis1dcurtis1 Member Posts: 2
    Like it or not, Saab had to clone or die. Most of this cloning is stop-gap until Saab can put its own products on the market based on GM platforms. Anyone who thinks the rest of the automotive world doesn't do this is a fool: Ford/Mazda-Volvo, Volswagen-Audi, Nissan-Infiniti, Toyota-Lexus. IMHO the turn-around that Saab is seeing will continue, and GM has purchased a sport/luxury brand whose qualities will hopefully ripple through the conglomerate.

    http://www.mississauga.com/mi/insidenews/story/2175583p-2521061c.- html
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    "Anyone who thinks the rest of the automotive world doesn't do this is a fool: Ford/Mazda-Volvo, Volswagen-Audi, Nissan-Infiniti, Toyota-Lexus."

    Not one of those examples comes close to GM's use of the GMT-360 which has spawned the latest of Saabs:

    - Chevy Trailblazer/Trailblazer EXT

    - GMC Envoy/ Envoy XL

    - Isuzu Ascender

    - Buick Rainier

    - Saab 9-7

    - Olds Bravada (gone after 04')

    Minimal effort for maximum $$$, GM's Trademark. Once again, with a WRX, a Malibu, and yet another Trailblazer in the lineup, GM has created yet another clone of itself. "The State of Independence" is more like "The Return of Oldsmobile".
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    like GM clones. A splash of plastic here, a fresh badge there, and voila! We are expected to believe it is now a totally different vehicle worthy of the new brand name on the front of the car.

    Not the same as Focus/S40/Mazda3. Not the same as A4/Passat either. Toyota does clone the Camry V-6, the LC, and the 4Runner for Lexus, so that is a fairer accusation in their case. The only truly cloned Nissans are the Maxima for the Infiniti I35, which is about to go away, and the Armada for the QX. All of those companies have multiple other models that are unique to each brand. What does Saab have?

    I was prepared to believe the line that the current models are a place marker until new Saab-developed models can get to market, at least until I read that GM is folding Saab engineering into a larger European design center in common with Opel, that Saabs will now be built in America while they use Saab's factories for something else, and that the "all new" 9-6 will actually be a rebadged Subaru Tribeca, the 7-passenger crossover Subie is developing for release next year.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • logic1logic1 Member Posts: 2,433
    Isuzu is not GM

    Isuzu buys a platform from GM but GM otherwise has nothing to do with it. Your including Isuzu there would be like saying Honda made the Sterling.

    As you point out, Olds is gone. That leaves 4 variations.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAMember Posts: 9,403
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  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    Not even in part? GM has some say don't you think?

    http://www.cis.wayne.edu/mcopper/gmisuzu.html

    http://www.miru.com/supergroups.htm

    The date of the second site is found by clicking on the home page.
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  • rdaiutordaiuto Member Posts: 8
    Let me begin by saying that I am a former owner of a Saab 9-5, which was very good to me.

    I believe that Ford and GM models are too similar. Let me put it this way, the Ford Five Hundred and the Mercury Montego, like the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable, look practically the same. The Chevy Tahoe looks pretty much like the Caddy Escalade.

    What these companies need to do is make their cars more Toyota/Lexus like. When you sit in a Lexus, you don't think "Toyota". One cannot say the same about sitting in the Escalade, you think "Chevy". GM needs to create greater diversity within its products.

    Saab could be the Swedish Lexus, but Volvo is going to far. Saab needs to be turned around. The first thing they need to do is stop this Saabaru nonsense. They need to take the 9-5, redesign it completely, but still with Saabness in it, and then put it in the market as a Cadillac STS type large car for midsize price. It should fall in between Lexus ES and GS in form, but should price closer to the ES.

    Then, GM needs a flagship to compete with the Mercedes S Class or BMW 7 Series. Why not put a Saab badge on it. I see a Saab 9-9. An ultraluxury car. It would do Saab wonders.

    After that, Saab needs to make the 9-3 more 3 series like, with a larger size and more luxury. Then, you need a sedan in between the 9-5 and 9-9, a CLS-type vehicle. This needs to be value oriented ultralux, a new term.

    Saab could be the next jewel of that automotive kingdom. GM can make it happen.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    To make Saab become an automotive jewel that actually is compared with BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi, Saab needs to find a distinct personality and create world class cars. Few ways:

    Redesign the Saab 9-2X to become more like an Audi A3, with a 4 door hatchback and a convertible, and with loads of great optional and standard equipment like an optional navigation system, heated/cooled seats, etc.

    Redesign the Saab 9-3 to become more like a 3-Series. The current generation is a step in the right direction, but GM needs to add on to its current formula with more features, a better interior, better rear seat space, a hatchback version possibly too. Navigation Systems should be standard accross the board for the 9-3 and up cars to make it a great value.

    Create a new Saab 9-4, a crossover that's about 9-2 sized but taller with AWD, etc.

    Redesign the Saab 9-5 to become a 5-Series competitor with more room, a better price, more equipment, a better driving experience and better quality.

    Create a Saab 9-6, which is kinda like a 9-3X crossover. Could be called 9-6. Could be called 9-3X. This name might be reserved for the Subaru Tribeca.

    Drop the Saab 9-7X. The 9-6/Tribeca fills the niche of the 9-7X. We don't need a Tahoe sized Saab.

    The need for a 7-Series competitor is questionable IMO. But if they do build one, it has to just blow the 7-Series away. This one could be a lot harder than the other projects, but if GM really put $$$$ and brains to it, I can see it happening.

    Keep the 9-3 Convertible. It's holding its own against the Mercedes CLK and Audi A4. But redesign it to be better. Read comments on 9-3 for the convertible.

    And keep the ignition on the floor. It adds to the character of all Saabs.
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Member Posts: 626
    What is with perception, in the last 2 posts, that the 3 series has more room than the 9-3? It doesn't

    Exterior 9-3 3 Series
    Length 182.5 in. 176 in.
    Width 69 in. 68.5 in.
    Height 56.8 in. 55.7 in.
    Weight 3240 lbs. 3285 lbs.
    Wheel Base 105.3 in. 107.3 in.

    Interior 9-3 3 Series
    Front Headroom 38.9 in. 38.4 in.
    Rear Headroom 37 in. 37.5 in.
    Front Shoulder Room 56.3 in. 54.4 in.
    Rear Shoulder Room 55.1 in. 54.2 in.
    Front Leg Room 42.3 in. 41.4 in.
    Rear Leg Room 35.1 in. 34.6 in.
    Maximum Luggage Capacity 14.8 cu.ft. 10.7 cu.ft.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 21,896
    that a 9-5 has more room than a BMW 5er as well. Saabs have always been known for delivering a lot of interior space for cars that aren't big outside.

    Saw a 9-2X Aero with dealer loaner livery on it and realized I have seen very few around, that's not a good sign considering that Saabs and Subies are both popular in this area.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Member Posts: 626
    I haven't seen any 9-2x's on the road. Not one. The sales figures have been a few hundred a month, which is amazingly pathetic. They just cracked the 1,000 barrier in October, after release in June
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    Both cars seem to be a bit short on rear seat room compared to the Acura TL.
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Member Posts: 626
    I think that may be a common misconception because the TL is a bigger car. Seems to me that that Acura did not maximize the space. About the same size back seat, much smaller trunk than Saab

    Exterior 9-3 TL
    Length 182.5 in. 189.3 in.
    Width 69 in. 72.2 in.
     
    Interior 9-3 TL
    Rear Headroom 37 in. 37.2 in.
    Rear Shoulder Room 55.1 in. 55.7 in.
    Rear Hip Room Not Published 53.8 in.
    Rear Leg Room 35.1 in. 34.9 in.
    Maximum Luggage Capacity 14.8 cu.ft. 12.5 cu.ft.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    That misconception fooled me. The Saab just seems that much smaller than the Acura. Seems like the Saab has more room, which leads me to my next question: Why does CR harp on their opinion that the 9-3 has a very uncomfortable backseat, when it has more room than the TL, its top rated entry level luxury sedan?
  • 210delray210delray Member Posts: 4,721
    Well, without looking to see what Consumer Reports actually said, my guess is that the seat isn't shaped properly or is too low.
  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    that the future of Saab now that GM has it will be less quirky cars and a few more sales. while some my not care for the loss of "character" it was that character that put their head on the chopping block in the first place. Yes, I freely admit that if you were part of the Saab faithful you got a different kind of car. But the Saab faithful weren't numerous enough and they simply didn't buy enough to stay true to the family tree. So today Saab is becoming something different again, but not the way we were used to it. GM is like Microsoft. They absorb other companies so it is only natural to see more GM and GM partners in Saab.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTMember Posts: 15,686
    we leased a 9-5 for 3 years. i thought it was a great looking car, and pretty efficient. basically the dealer screwed with it whenever i took it in for service, so it wasn't a good experience. this had turned away a lot of potential repeat customers for saab. in other words, i'm not the only one.
    2020 Ford Explorer XLT, 2019 Lincoln MKZ Reserve 1
  • mrblonde49mrblonde49 Member Posts: 626
    Well, without looking to see what Consumer Reports actually said, my guess is that the seat isn't shaped properly or is too low. <<

    Isn't the height of the seat related to leg room (where Saab is slightly higher?)
  • saab9xsaab9x Member Posts: 12
    //

    the only saab i see in my future is the
    9-3x, but not if it's that "paddle"/
    sequential-shifting "business." (if
    there's no manual transmission option,
    "no deal." i'm jumping ship.)

    meanwhile, i have to deal with 9-2x/9-7x
    nightmares.

    kthxbye.

    b.

    //
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    how long has it been since Saab has had a platform that was unique to Saab? ten years? fifteen? twenty?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 187,485
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    Saab does need newer models. How long has the 9-5 been on the same platform? For seven years almost?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    has pictures of 9-6x test model doing the rounds. Looks about right, will have Subaru's 250 hp flat-6 and 5-speed auto, and seven seats. This model should sell well, although I did note that the article mentions that the new Subaru model known as the OOX (also Tribeca) is being co-developed with the 9-6 on the GM Lambda platform. So the day has arrived when Subaru is building new models on GM platforms. The day will come soon when ol' Subie is just another 72-month 0% brand.

     

    There is a "five minutes with Bob Lutz" interview too, where he is talking specifically about Saab. The quirk is gone intentionally (no news there), and he hopes to build Opels and FWD Euro-Caddies at the same factory that builds Saabs. He also expects to consolidate European GM-brand design, and move the Saab designers out of Sweden for good and all.

     

    He does say (this is the first time I have seen him say it so boldly, but maybe he has before) that the 9-2x and 9-7x are nothing but crude stopgaps designed to avert the loss of a bunch of U.S. Saab dealers last year.

     

    He is not sure where the 9-5 should go from here - it is an aged model at this point. Dare I vocalize my fear that the next 9-5 will be a stretched Legacy GT with a new nose and standard leather? Oh, I hope not.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    Dare I vocalize my fear that the next 9-5 will be a stretched Legacy GT with a new nose and standard leather? Oh, I hope not.

     

    I see that as a possibility for the 9-3, not the 9-5. The 9-5 might be a sedan version of the larger Subie B9X.

     

    I'm also not a fan of the Subie/Saab hookup. Not because it will ruin Saab, but rather, it might ruin Subaru.

     

    Bob
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 21,896
    as seen by Michele Krebs of the NY Times

     

    I figured it'd be OK to print this in it's entirety, since the Times and Edmunds are partners. If not, Host, please delete.

      

     

    "GREGOR MENDEL, the Augustinian monk known as the father of genetics, cross-bred peas in his monastery's garden so he could observe patterns in how features are inherited. General Motors seems bent on a similar course of research as it cross-breeds cars and trucks from its farflung operations and affiliates.

     

    For old-timers with Saab, the Swedish automaker now under the G.M. umbrella, it must be startling to discover that their latest offspring seems so, ahem, Japanese. Who's the father? Well, that would be Subaru, the automotive operation of Fuji Heavy Industries, of which G.M. owns 21 percent.

     

    Saab, a two-model car company for decades, desperately needs a larger footprint in today's ultracompetitive market. So G.M. looked across its global empire for an existing car that could be transformed into a Saab to compete in the premium-compact market. That booming segment includes the Acura RSX, Volvo S40 and Mercedes-Benz C230 (with the Audi A3, Mercedes B-Class and a smaller BMW yet to come).

     

    G.M.'s geneticists settled on the Subaru Impreza, an all-wheel-drive compact. Restyled and lightly revamped, it has been transformed into the 2005 Saab 9-2X and is being built alongside Subarus in Japan.

     

    The 9-2X brings some assets to product-hungry dealerships. It is the first Saab with all-wheel drive, and with a starting price of $23,685 it becomes the least expensive car in the showroom. Two versions are offered: the Linear, which is similar to the Impreza 2.5 RS and shares that car's 165-horsepower flat-4 engine, and the Aero, which is equivalent to the sportier, faster Impreza WRX, with a 227-horsepower turbocharged flat-4. Saab does not get a version of the hottest Impreza, the 300-horse WRX STi.

     

    While the 9-2X is heavily based on the Impreza wagon - there is no Saab equivalent of the sedan - it received a distinctive and attractive nose job. No Subaru sheet metal remains from the windshield forward, and the front end truly looks Saablike, despite a hood scoop that feeds air to the Aero's turbocharger.

     

    The cosmetic surgery fooled at least one onlooker. When I wheeled the 9-2X into a parking spot outside a baseball tournament in a small town north of Flint, Mich., the dad parked next to me took just one look before asking, "That's a Saab, right?"

     

    His next question was one that Saab enthusiasts routinely ask: is the ignition switch between the seats in the usual Saab fashion? The answer is no, it's on the steering column. (Saab says moving the ignition would have taken too much time and money.)

     

    The Saab interior's character is only slightly more Scandinavian than the Subaru's. While Saab uses higher-grade materials, including plastics with a metallic finish, the cabins are not starkly different.

     

    Saab has long been known as a innovator in safety features. But while all 9-2X's come with side air bags and antilock brakes, they don't offer side curtain bags, stability control or the "active" head restraints that help to prevent whiplash injuries in other Saabs.

     

    Beneath its skin, the 9-2X has good bones and, at least in the Aero, a pounding heart. Car and Driver magazine ran the Aero from a stop to 60 m.p.h. in a very respectable 6.1 seconds. Still that is less brisk than the 5.4 seconds recorded for the lighter Subaru WRX.

     

    The Aero carries a fuel economy rating of 20 in town and 27 on the highway with a five-speed manual transmission, and 19/26 with a four-speed automatic. The Linear has a rating of 23/29 with the manual and 22/29 with the automatic.

     

    While the Subaru fundamentals are largely unchanged, Saab added sound-deadening material to quiet the cabin and tweaked the suspension with the goal of softening the ride.

     

    My test drives included treks to my son's out-of-town baseball games. Despite the suspension adjustments, the ride was quite similar to what I remember of the Subaru's. The Saab also retains the WRX's responsive handling; the car is delightful on winding country roads.

     

    One marked difference between the Saab and Subaru, at least so far, lies in their popularity. While the WRX has sold very well, the 9-2X has had a slow start. Through November, just 1,350 of the Saabs had found owners since they went on sale in June. The company has lowered full-year sales projections to 5,000 from the original estimates of 7,000 to 8,000.

     

    While Saab attributes part of the sluggish start to the summer debut of an all-wheel-drive car with winter appeal, price may be a factor. The Linear starts at $23,685, including delivery - more than $4,000 above the Subaru equivalent. At $27,645, the Aero seeks a premium of $2,675 over the WRX. There are few significant differences in features, though Saab includes two years of free maintenance and a 4-year, 50,000-mile limited warranty, a year longer than Subaru's.

     

    The 9-2X is by no means the only Saab that shares major parts with other cars. The midsize 9-3 is based on G.M.'s global Epsilon architecture, also used for the Chevrolet Malibu and Opel Vectra. Early next year, Saab will bring out the 9-7X, a sport utility based on the G.M. line of S.U.V.'s that includes the Chevrolet TrailBlazer. For 2006, Saab plans a seven-passenger car-based utility developed with Subaru. (The Subaru version, the B9X, will make its debut next month in Detroit. Saab says it will reveal its version, which may be named the 9-6, later in 2005.)

     

    Since the 9-2X was created from an Impreza that was already halfway through its life cycle, its future may be in peril when the Subaru is redesigned. Will the Saab's replacement be based on the next-generation Subaru or the next Opel Astra? In any case, the car will surely share components with some other car from G.M. or an affiliate. The days of purebred Saabs are over.

     

    Company officials say all this parts sharing and crossbreeding is an economical and timely way to expand the product line. And they promise to inject more Saabness into future models. For those of us who are Saab fans, such a move can't happen too soon.

     

    INSIDE TRACK: The face may be Swedish, but Japanese genes are dominant."

     

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

     

     I've gotta say I agree with Ms. Krebs' statement, I for one hope they put the Saab back into Saabs and soon.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    for the unwashed masses they don't put that much Saab back. Saab was a niche car in a niche market driven by educators and guys with patches on their sweater sleeves. The Saab faithful were indeed faithful but there simply aren't enough people interested in being a Saab owner to make the old "quirky car" popular enough to make them profitable. GMs has improved sales and that has breathed new life into a vary sick manufacturer.

     

    Some may have said earlier that it would be better to let the company die. I believe GM is the best thing to happen to Saab ever. Quirky is fine for a year or two. After a while the vehicle needs to evolve into something people can feel comfortable about. At least GM has introduced Saab to people that would never have darkened the door of a Saab dealership before. Even if the only thing they get is the Saab badge.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 21,896
    in the survival of Saab as a brand than as a distinctive choice. That's your privilege but many of us do not think that Saab dealers will benefit in the long run as peddlers of expensive Subarus, Trailblazers and the like.

     

    GM needs to give us a reason to choose Saab over Audi, BMW, Acura, Infiniti and even upper level VWs.

     

    I've owned three Saabs (no patches on my sweaters, sorry) but I'm not sure I'll buy another when the time comes. I know it won't be a 9-2X or a 9-7.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • boaz47boaz47 Member Posts: 2,751
    You know my "patches" comment was hyperbole. But you also have to admit it was close to the image Saab had to the rest of the automotive world. In real life there was nothing to recommend Saab over any car let alone the ones you mentioned. It had a great past but "quirky' is out in the automotive world. At least in the US.

     

    There are times I ascribed anthropomorphic values to a car, like any enthusiast. However the practical side comes through when I see a name plate circling the bowl. No offense to you but you sound more like the traditional Saab buyer. If that is the case it was GMs decission to leave that customer base and move on to more fertile fields. They also wanted to do that as quickly as possible. However we feel about it the method is working. Saab sales are better than they were even if they aren't stellar. And when all is said and done, sales are the only thing we can measure a successful business by.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,726
    about the new Saab is it gives the appearance of offering more variety and choices to the consumer, when in fact it does nothing of the kind.

     

    The market had spoken with the old Saab, which is why it was foundering heavily when GM came along. What they should have done is let the market take its course, and out Saab completely. Maybe Saab could have taken the approach some companies like Isuzu and possibly Mitsubishi will be doing shortly, and retreat to their home base to regroup, and leave the hypercompetitive U.S. market to its own devices for a while.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

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