It was one heck of a nail biter for Saab lovers watching GM shed brands as it restructured. Fortunately Saab was cleared for a safe landing in the arms of Dutch supercar automaker Spyker. Spyker employs about 100 people and sells fewer than 50 vehicles a year – quite a departure from GM – but will carry the Saab brand forward. Even though GM will continue to provide Spyker with platforms and powertrain technology for Saab vehicles – at least in the short term.
We did have a chance to spend some time behind the wheel of Saabs latest offering – the 9-5 XWD Aero. In a sentence the experience could be summed up as being analogous to driving a Scandinavian Audi A6 Quattro with hints of GM lurking here and there. Some traditional Saab qualities have been left in tact such as the ‘night panel’ button that shuts all interior illumination OFF except for the speedometer instrumentation. The HVAC vents are traditional Saab as is the ignition being located in the center console – only with keyless entry, it’s now a push button keyless ignition.
Though the future of Saab is very uncertain at the moment, the company does continue to work on new products. While we wait to see when new cars like the 9-4X might arrive, Saab gives the 9-5 a last special edition (a new 9-5 is also under development). The Griffin edition gets a fresh face, rear spoiler, specific 17-inch wheels, and two-tone interior with special stitching and high-gloss trim. The special edition is being offered on the wagon and sedan 9-5.
Follow the jump for Saab’s official press release.
Saab Shows off Future of Convertibles with 9-X Air Concept
We noticed that many of the introductions at the 2008 Los Angeles show could be categorized as efficient or fun, with some falling into both categories. Saab 9-X Air is one of those.
If the 9-X Air looks a bit familiar in the nose, it is because you’ve seen it before. The Geneva/New York concept, 9-X BioHybrid, introduced this face, itself an evolution of Saab’s prior concepts. Saab first showed this concept at the 2008 Paris motor show, with U.S. buyers getting their first look in Los Angeles.
Instead of the three-door wagon look of the 9-X BioHybrid, the Air brings us Air, in the form of a flat-folding roof. Called the Canopy Air system, Saab takes their twenty-five years of experience with convertibles and goes for a new approach to open-top motoring.
Are we nearing the end of Chrysler? Or the beginning of a new blended family? Or just another day at the rumor mill?
Late on Friday, the first stories began appearing about GM and Chrysler in possible merger talks. And at least in Detroit, dominated the weekend news cycle. GM’s stock went up this morning, but given that the Dow was up 5.6% and GM went up only about 3%, the stock bump might have happened without merger talk. GM closed on Friday at $4.89, a number some say is actually less than the company would be worth in capital assets alone.
All of this merger talk, whether these deals are realistic or not, does nothing good for public perception. The economy is weak, last week’s events on the stock market don’t reassure anyone, and talking about GM and Chrysler perhaps needing to merge to survive only further erodes confidence in American business. While GM and Chrysler LLC, as well as any other maker in trouble right now, needs to consider even unthinkable options and test our common assumptions as they get out of this trouble, this merger does not inspire hope.
Wanna see the most ‘80s short film EVER? Depending on your affection or distaste for the decade of white suits, popped collars, saxophone solos, keyboard riffs, high waistlines, and Aquanet, you might find the following the best…or worst…six minutes of your life.
This little movie could be solely responsible for the creating the image of Saab drivers in the ‘80s as pompous, self-absorbed jerks (who might be overcompensating to make up for certain insecurities). But hey, it was the ‘80s, and we could afford to dream big. Who wouldn’t want to simply snap their fingers to not only make their dreams come true, but also get rid of people you don’t like (to quote the movie), or make it big with hot blonde Swedish models?
After a lovely 4th of July weekend, doing my best to focus energies on anything not related to work (something I hear is easy for most people to do, but I’ve never quite got the knack of), I started my usual workday morning routine at my local Bally Total Fitness. And, sure enough, as soon as I get near the gym TV, there’s the news, dragging me right back to 5:15 am Monday morning reality.
The 5 am scoop in Detroit was the rumor GM is considering dumping more brands, one way or another, and firing more mid-management white-collar employees. (No, UAW, you do not have the corner on losing jobs. I swear.) Of course, by time I was in the office and caught up with e-mail, GM has flatly denied that any brand, other than Hummer, is up for review. We’ll only know the truth of that if GM manages to hold onto the seven remaining brands, and assuming Hummer is sold. Here’s the thing: If GM is not considering reducing their brand count, they should be.
Rumors actually surfaced on this subject last week. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was on my way home to enjoy said holiday weekend that I heard an automotive journalist being interviewed for his opinions on the rumors and what GM should do opine that Saab and Saturn are the likeliest brands to go. Monday morning and it’s groundhog day again. Between that interview and Monday morning, it turned into “news” that GM is considering selling those two brands. Says a lot about how quickly (and recklessly) rumors and speculation fly in this industry, but that’s a story for another day.
The World Has Caught Up to Saab…Or So Saab Hopes
For years and years, Saab has been struggling to find a happy medium between maintaining its unique and renowned character and possessing enough mainstream virtues to appeal to an audience big enough to sustain profitable volumes. It’s lucky for them that consumer values may be shifting in ways that make traditional Saab values suddenly more relevant.
What has made a vehicle uniquely a Saab? This has generally meant unique (and sometimes quirky) style, rejection of excess, and small displacement engines with high output, often through turbocharging. Consistent with these values, Saab has rejected many attributes that were up till recently a given for success, such as big and beefy engines and SUV bodystyles (on both those counts, we’ll forget the Saab Bravada…er 9-7X ever existed).
Today, however, those Saab values might be a little more relevant. Ford and others are touting small displacement direct injected turbos, and small premium multi-use vehicles are popping up all over the place. Hmm…has Saab’s time to shine finally come?
Slow-Selling 9-7X Range Adds Aero Model for 2008MY
Saab borrows the 390HP 6.0L V8 that Chevrolet used to create the TrailBlazer SS for a 9-7X Aero for 2008MY. With the power, the Aero gets polished aluminum twenty-inch wheels, a specific paint color (Carbon Flash Metallic), and Aero embroidered leather seats inside. The Aero also takes a heavy-duty rear axle with a limited-slip differential and increases braking power with larger rotors, iron twin-piston calipers, and high-performance brake pad lining. These mechanical differences are the same changes applied to the TrailBlazer to create the SS, though the Saab 9-7X already had a lowered suspension compared to the Chevy. (Aside from adding the Aero model, there are only color and wheel changes to the 9-7X range for the 2008MY.)
The Saab 9-7X is on its way out, and losing what little relevance it had. The product gave Saab a quick and inexpensive SUV, but one so un-Saab-like that it did not help brand image. Joining the club of offering excessive power from an already thirsty product, especially in the midst of media and public concern over fuel economy and “global warming,” seems misguided. Luxury entries from brands with performance history like BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne offer high-output performance-oriented models to help keep brand image up, but adding a 390HP Aero 9-7X does nothing for Saab’s overall brand image. Saab cannot disguise the fact that the 9-7X Aero is an American-mindset product. Even as Saab used jet references in announcing the Aero, describing the Aero’s performance as “jetlike” and the 9-7X Aero as taking off and TV commercials play on the jet theme, they can’t make this round product fit into Saab’s square product hole.
Still, putting image and brand personality aside, our experience with the Aero’s mechanical twin Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS gives us confidence that the Saab variant will be an entertaining drive. The Aero may bring in a non-traditional Saab buyer, but Saab has nothing with which to keep them, nor are they developing new products in the same vein.
IIHS released the results of its 2007 Safety Pick Awards on November 20. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific feel that these results are important to communicate to our readers. Along with other awards for quality, satisfaction and performance, safety awards can and should be among the information sources a buyer uses when deciding which new vehicle to buy. After all, the Internet gives us almost perfect information.
While we do appreciate the safety value of electronic stability control, it will take years for the entire fleet to be equipped with ESC. For IIHS to eliminate all vehicles lacking ESC eliminates many otherwise safe vehicles from their analysis. This is too simplistic an approach.
2007 TOP SAFETY PICK award winners: award criteria are tougher; SUVs eligible for first time
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announces 13 vehicles that earn TOP SAFETY PICK awards for 2007. Winners include 4 cars, 7 SUVs, and 2 minivans. This award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute tests. Winners also have to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC).
Audi A6 manufactured in Dec. 2006 and later
Subaru Legacy equipped with optional electronic stability control
Mercedes M class
Subaru B9 Tribeca
Subaru Forester equipped with optional electronic stability control