• Jan 8, 2008
click above for more high-res images of the Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept

The doors have been unofficially thrown wide open on the Saab 9-4x BioPower concept after a Dutch media outlet spilled the beans earlier today. The 9-4x is badged as a concept, but the reality is that we will see new CUV probably sometime in 2009. The 9-4x and a new Cadillac that will likely look almost exactly like the Provoq Concept and are expected to be based off an updated version of the Theta platform that's also used for the Saturn Vue will be based on an entirely new CUV architecture not connected with currently sold GM models like the new Saturn VUE. Unlike the Trailblazer-based Saab 9-7x, the 9-4x actually has some real Saab styling cues that tie it to the rest of the lineup as well as the heritage of the brand.

During the preview of the 9-4x, it was stated that Saab has tremendous support from the corporate overlords to be stewards of a niche brand. Saab has avoided the quirky aspects of its heritage while bringing forward elements like the shape of the forward sloping D-pillar, which reflects the contours of the classic Saabs like the 99 and 900. Similarly, the blacked out A-pillars recall the wrap-around windscreens of those classic Swedes and the Aero X concept. They've focused on the clean, crisp aspects of Scandinavian design while eliminating any fru-fru like cladding or imitation fender vents. When GM Design VP Brian Nesbitt talked about the 9-4x, he spoke of the design language being the look of Saab going forward. Read on after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

click any image to enlarge

One of the most important elements that Nesbitt highlighted was the face. Most of the great brands have a distinctive face that immediately identifies them as what they are. Think Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Rolls-Royce. Saab wants to do the same with the three-port grille as seen previously on the new 9-3 and Aero X concept. The ducts below the front bumper reflect some of Saab's aviation heritage invoking images of the air intakes on fighter jets.



On the inside, Saab has kept the usual cockpit design going with all the gauges and controls tilted toward the driver. While the flush mounted controls on the center stack look cool, clean and uncluttered, it looks like it has the potential to be really difficult to use while driving.



Mechanically the new cross-over retains the Haldex designed Cross-Wheel-Drive setup that's available on the 9-3. It's a torque vectoring system that works in conjunction with the stability control to send drive torque to wheels that have traction, but also biases the distribution to help the vehicle follow the course requested by the driver. The drive torque is provided by the latest version of Saab's BioPower engine.

Saab has been a major proponent of ethanol, particularly in its home base of Sweden where two thirds of all sales are now flex-fuel engines. It makes sense for Saab to promote ethanol since it can help enhance the performance of its predominantly turbocharged engines. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine in this new CUV is optimized for use with E85 and gets 300 hp from it's 2.0L displacement along with 295 lb-ft of torque from 2,600-5,100 rpm. Truly impressive numbers for such a small motor. The aluminum block engine also has direct injection and variable valve timing, all helping it get the most out of every drop of alcohol.


PRESS RELEASE:

INNOVATIVE 9-4X BIOPOWER CROSSOVER CONCEPT
SIGNALS SAAB PRODUCT EXPANSION

DETROIT – The Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept, revealed today at the North American International Auto Show, confirms Saab's plans to enter the growing crossover segment with a dynamic, driver-focused vehicle inspired by Scandinavian design values and respect for the environment.

The concept's progressive design features are combined with a responsible, fun-to-drive appeal based on BioPower engine technology and a cutting-edge all-wheel-drive system.

"This concept is a clear statement of what our brand is about," said Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile Managing Director. "It is also an important next step in our plans to enter new market segments with distinctive product offerings."

The design of the Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept reflects a Scandinavian principle of simplicity of form, with clean and uncluttered lines, free of any cladding, moldings or roof bars, and defining "ice-block" surface and lighting themes. The progressive frontal styling and interior design elements also draw inspiration from Saab's widely acclaimed Aero X concept. Innovative load-carrying solutions include a unique ski equipment stowage system, developed with mountain sports specialists Salomon. (Please see accompanying Salomon release.)

Optimized for bioethanol (E85) fuel, t he four-cylinder, 2.0-liter BioPower turbo engine demonstrates Saab's commitment to "rightsizing" – achieving sufficient levels of performance with a smaller, more efficient engine – by delivering 300 horsepower (221 kW) and strong torque of 295 lb.-ft (400 Nm), together with substantially reduced CO 2 emissions on a source-to-wheel basis. (Please see accompanying Powertrain release). The key enabler for rightsizing is turbocharging technology, which Saab pioneered 30 years ago.

Mated to the industry-leading Saab XWD ("cross-wheel-drive") system, this advanced powertrain promises to make driving to a destination as enjoyable as the adventure itself.

The Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept was developed by a team headed by Anthony Lo, GM Europe's Director of Advanced Design, in cooperation with designers and engineers from the Saab Brand Center in Sweden. "We focused on incorporating design themes from the Aero X in a crossover execution, adding functional, lifestyle features to support the activities of customers using this type of vehicle," Lo said.

The driver-focused cockpit in the sporty, four-seater cabin features an Aero X-inspired "clear zone," with a flush-mounted starter button and infotainment controls, that sweeps up from the central console to the main display screen. Signature green lighting is used for all instrument illumination, while other subtle references to Saab's aviation heritage include the "altimeter" speed read-out scale and aircraft-shaped trim on the steering wheel. The panoramic glass roof is in harmony with a car designed to deliver the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits.

Saab designers worked with top Saab Salomon Big Mountain skiers to devise an innovative storage system for stowing skis and equipment inside the car. The rear cargo deck features a sliding floor with a fold-out aluminum ski holder, through which up to three pairs of skis and poles can be slotted. Boots are stowed in an underfloor, heated compartment and, for maximum practicality, the entire rear cargo area is covered in a waterproof and scratch-resistant rubber skin.

The compact, all-aluminum, four-cylinder BioPower engine combines the benefits of turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing for the first time with high-octane E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). It's a green, rightsizing formula that gives strong power (300 horsepower [221 kW] and 295 lb.-ft. [400 Nm] of torque without the additional weight, size, fuel consumption and higher emissions of a larger, naturally aspirated engine offering similar performance.

Driver involvement is taken to a new level by the innovative all-wheel-drive system, Saab XWD, already available in the 9-3 range. Active management splits torque delivery between both the axles and the rear wheels, via an electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD). This responsive system rewards the driver by giving an enhanced, "positive force" chassis balance. Overall, the Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept is a vivid demonstration of Saab's commitment to customers with outdoor leisure interests who seek a sporty driving experience that is in harmony with nature.


Saab 9-4X Concept: Technical Specifications

BioPower engine

1998 cc; four cylinders; 86.0 / 86.0 mm bore / stroke; aluminum cylinder head and block; DOHC, chain-driven. four valves per cylinder; twin counter-rotating balancer shafts; forged steel crankshaft; steel connecting rods; aluminum pistons; oil spray cooled; direct injection; VVT; inlet and exhaust sodium-filled exhaust valves; Saab engine management system; twin-scroll turbocharger; intercooled

BioPower engine data

* Max. boost pressure at maximum torque: 1.2 bar
* Compression ratio: 10.5: 1
* Max power (E85): 300 hp (221kW) @ 5400 rpm.
* Max. torque (E85): 400Nm (295 lb.-ft) @ 2600-5100 rpm
* Max power (gasoline): 245 hp (180 kW) @ 5300 rpm
* Max. torque (gasoline): 353 Nm (261 lb.-ft.) @ 2500- 5250 rpm
* Fuel consumption (combined): 10.5L /100km (22.4 mpg) on gasoline

Transmission

* Saab XWD ("cross wheel drive") all-wheel-drive system, electronic rear limited-slip differential (eLSD)
* Six-speed automatic transmission, steering wheel controls

Suspension

* Front: MacPherson struts, aluminum control arm and knuckle, anti-roll bar
* Rear: Multi-link, aluminum H-arm and knuckle, anti-roll bar

Steering

* Rack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance

Wheels, tires

* 21inch, 245/55R21

Brakes

* Hydraulic, dual circuit, vacuum booster
* Discs front / rear: 378 mm / 378 mm (all ventilated)

Performance data (preliminary)

* 0 - 100 kph: 8.0 sec
* 0 – 60 mph: 7.9 sec
* Top speed: 235 kph ( 146 mph)
* O 2 51 g / km (gasoline)


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  • 23 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      mostly love it, but from head on, it looks like a next gen nissan frontier/titan/pathfinder. should've just copied and pasted the new 9-3 face (it's similar, but all the differences are bad ones).
      • 7 Years Ago
      It looks nice, I just hope it gets better fuel economy than other GM Triplets.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The overall shape of the interior -the flush-mounted controls especially, reminds me a lot of the xc60 concept.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This and the Caddy version both look good. Pricing will be interesting, but I don't think most people will cross shop them. The Caddy is more in your face this is much lower key. I think the interior is very well done. GM has done a 180 on their interiors, every car in the last year has an exceptionally well done interior. What a turn around! Hopefully this will translate into more sales. A profitable GM, not matter their size, is good for consumers and our economy. Kudos to Ed Welburn, another good design from his team.
      Herb Hirsch
      • 6 Years Ago
      If only Saab would consider a diesel powerplant for this vehicle. That would be the icing on the cake.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Needs:
      * A slightly less racy windshield angle
      * A little more bulk off of the rear and (especially) the front.

      Otherwise this is nicely done. I especially like the front grille's airplane look, especially in light of the travesty of the first B9 Tribeca's attempt at the same.

      I can't say I think it's a good thing if Cadillac is going to sell essentially the same vehicle. I think the luxury truck (Escalade) should be the domain of Cadillac (and possibly Buick) and crossover of Saab and Saturn. If they must sell it under both brands, at least drop the Saab's ride height an inch or more.
      • 7 Years Ago
      dont like how the dash swings over to the center consule, its to 90's for me
        • 7 Years Ago
        That's a Saab thing--they all do that.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think SAAB would do good to position it's vehicles as Sport Utility Sports Cars.Make 'em beefier than their sedans but not as tall as ,say an Edge or X5.They'd be a natural to rich young ski-bums who want sports car performance but not a mommy style CUV/SUV ride.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I feel sorry when I see people driving a re-badged GM suv with a Saab emblem.
      • 7 Years Ago
      How come Saab's (and Caddy's) treatment of the Theta platform looks ten times better than the Vue?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Its nice to see a turbo charger boosting the power from
      245hp to 300hp on E85. But it takes toll on Gas Mileage.
      Can't SAAB reduce E85 fuel flow and produce same 245hp as gasoline without affecting the gas mileage ?

      Also direct injection allows higher compression ratio (11.3) for regular gasoline. Not sure why SAAB settled for 10.5. 2008 Cadillac CTS has 11.3:1 compession ratio on regular gasoline for more fuel effciency.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm not trying to be rude, but the exterior of this car looks dated, and it's not even out yet!! It honestly looks like it came out in 2003.
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