• Mar 1, 2011
Saab PhoeniX Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's been about one year since Saab and General Motors parted ways, and the automaker is hellbent on showing the world what it's capable of creating on its own means. In addition to an Independence Edition of the 9-3 Convertible, Saab is showing off a major concept for the brand at this year's Geneva show – a design that will preview the future face of the automaker, penned by famed designer Jason Castriota. In case you haven't been paying attention, Castriota has created such pretty creations as the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and Bertone Mantide.

Castriota's latest creation, the Saab PhoeniX, is a sleek hatchback concept that uses the automaker's new 'aeromotional' design language. Saab describes this as "a visual evocation of the aerodynamic design principles and passion for innovation that inspired the creators of Saab's first car, the iconic Ursaab." Long story short – absolute gorgeousness. The concept uses butterfly doors that reveal a two-plus-two seating arrangement, and the modern interpretation of the Saab teardrop shape is seriously attractive.

Under the shapely metal is Saab's 200-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four mated to the automaker's XWD all-wheel-drive system. Inside, the PhoeniX uses the new Saab IQon infotainment platform that uses the Google Android operating system. The car itself may be totally conceptual, but we'll see IQon make its way into Saab products in the coming years (stay tuned for more details).

Follow the jump for Saab's full press release, and see the sleek new PhoeniX concept in high-res glory in the image galleries below.

Live photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

[Source: Saab]
Show full PR text
Saab PhoeniX concept: The Future is Already Here

* 'Aeromotional' design inspired by Saab's aviation roots
* Design and technical features to shape next generation of Saab cars
* Minimalist cabin with ground-breaking Saab IQon infotainment system
* Rightsized turbo engine and innovative Saab eXWD for electric rear drive
* Showcases technologies in all-new vehicle architecture

Sleek, innovative and exceptionally efficient: the Saab PhoeniX concept car showcases design features and technologies which will shape the next generation of cars from Saab.

Based on an new architecture which will empower the next Saab 9-3 model, the PhoeniX introduces 'aeromotional' design: a visual evocation of the aerodynamic design principles and passion for innovation that inspired the creators of Saab's first car, the iconic Ursaab.

The PhoeniX embraces teardrop, 'liquid metal' forms and a dramatic jet canopy-inspired glasshouse that gives fresh expression to Saab's signature 'wraparound' and translucent ice-block design themes.

The clean, muscular shape enables an exceptionally low drag co-efficient of just 0.25 and also explores the potential for airflow management through the use of distinctive, side-mounted 'winglets'.

Butterfly opening doors give easy access to a 2+2 cabin that blends simplicity with technology. It has a minimalist, 'stripped out' feel, including a new expression of Saab's driver-focused layout and a world debut for Saab's innovative IQon infotainment and communications system. In true Saab tradition, there is also a surprisingly versatile cargo deck.

"The PhoeniX establishes a new reference point for the future of Saab product design," says Jason Castriota, Saab Automobile's Executive Design Director. "It symbolizes a renaissance of the innovative spirit and passion that drove Saab to build its first car. We're now taking the visual DNA forward with what we call 'aeromotional' design, adding emotion, power and fluidity. This design aesthetic will shape and differentiate future models in the Saab portfolio."

Under its rippling bodywork, the Saab PhoeniX deploys an innovative driveline, with an electrically-driven rear axle mated to a sophisticated 200 hp, 1.6-liter gasoline turbo engine. The result is an intelligent, hybrid all-wheel-drive capability that enhances driving pleasure while reducing fuel consumption. Combined cycle fuel economy and CO2 emissions are projected to be just 5.0 l/100 km and 119 g/km.

Aeromotional design

The PhoeniX's 'aeromotional' design theme is inspired by Saab's aviation roots and draws expression from Ursaab, the prototype designed by aircraft engineers that spawned Saab's first generation of cars.

The entire form of the PhoeniX is seemingly molded by the wind. Tightly-wrapped by a liquid-like skin, the teardrop cabin resembles a dark ice block and appears to erupt from the center of the muscular bodywork. Two prominent ripples flow along the hood into the disguised windshield pillars, as if barely able to contain a powerful structure underneath.

At the rear, the dark screen also bursts through the outer skin of the rear deck, The tapering form hints at the teardrop rear styling of Ursaab, while the 'sawn off', kamm tail echoes a form from Saab's first coupé, the Sonett.

The low, frontal styling features a stretched interpretation of Saab's signature three-port grille. A body-colored central wing is now dominant and, in keeping with the car's minimalist design, LED headlamps are almost invisibly located at its tips. The new grille and hood forms are among the styling themes likely to be seen in future Saab production cars.

Butterfly-opening doors provide enhanced access to the low-slung cabin. There are no visible door handles or mirrors to disrupt airflow, and small cameras on slim stalks provide rearward vision.

Roof-mounted 'winglets' enable PhoeniX to cleave the air as efficiently as possible. They channel airflow from the side of the car and direct it across the rear deck, reducing lift forces for greater stability without increasing drag.

Minimalist interior

In true Scandinavian tradition, the 2+2 cabin adopts a clean, minimalist look. It has the 'stripped out' feel of a competition car, with shell-like seats and metalized interior sections that mimic the exposed network of a rollover cage.

Fresh expression is given to Saab's traditional, driver-focused instrument layout. A circular pod in front of the driver, shaped like the afterburner of a jet engine, presents data in tandem with the head-up display.

Angled at 45º to the driver, a separate module accommodates Saab's advanced IQon infotainment and communications system. For good ergonomics, the 8-inch touch-screen is as close to the driver's finger tips as the steering wheel.

Saab IQon (see separate release for full details) is a ground-breaking car communications platform using Google's AndroidTM operating system. Based on pioneering 'open innovation' with third-party service providers and applications developers, it comprises an embedded computer platform which seamlessly connects to the internet when the car's ignition is switched on. The touch-screen provides access to audio and entertainment streaming, online navigation, on-board music storage and smartphone-like downloading of applications.

Red illumination for all instrument and ambient cabin lighting brings warmth and emotion to the cabin. This includes the floor, where LED light tubes are exposed by perforations in the black carpeting. It is all part of the new 'aeromotional' design strategy, incorporating 'fire and ice' effects.

The PhoeniX's curvaceous rear deck disguises a deep-opening tailgate. It gives access to a flat cargo deck, including fold-flat rear seatbacks and a cargo track for adaptable load carrying.

Efficient propulsion

Under its sculpted hood and beneath its cargo deck, the PhoeniX advances Saab's rightsizing powertrain strategy. Its propulsion system combines a highly efficient, 1.6-liter turbo engine with innovative, electric rear wheel drive technology.

The compact, all-aluminum gasoline engine packs 200 hp (147 kW) and includes variable valve timing and lift control, as well as start/stop functionality, minimal parasitic losses and a fuel cut-off function. A stainless steel tank is fitted, which is lighter and less expensive than a conventional plastic design.

The engine is supported by Saab's innovative eXWD system. It comprises a rear drive unit housing a 25 kW (34 hp) electric motor/generator powered by a small battery pack. Regenerative braking is used to sustain the battery's charge.

Now under development for the next generation of Saab cars, this hybrid propulsion system enables the benefits of all-wheel-drive while also reducing fuel consumption. Using a six-speed manual transmission, projected combined cycle fuel economy and CO2 emissions are just 5.0 l/100 km and 119 g/km.

The driver can select one of three eXWD operating modes. The default Eco mode delivers optimal fuel and CO2 efficiency with power assistance to reduce load on the gasoline engine at low speeds; Sport mode includes maximum power assistance with torque vectoring across the rear axle for greater chassis control; and Traction mode enables optimal grip at take-off and in slippery conditions.

Inside and out, the Saab PhoeniX showcases new design directions and technologies that will be part of forthcoming Saab products.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      This car really speaks to the heritage of Saab's brand. NOT

      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh.. yes forgot to mention.. love the 2005 Pontiac Trans Am rear tail lights.
      • 3 Years Ago
      hey, in fact the engine is borrowed from the Mini Cooper.

      liked the concept, and we all know no real car will be exactly like this - they will only borrow style cues. the NG 9-3 could borrow the front end while the hatchback could take the rear (courtesy of the Saab Sonett III) as well.

      since Saab is Scandinavian and Scandinavian design is all about simplicity, the side creases could also make their way into production if softened.

      as the concept is teardrop-shaped both on length and width, it could base the 9-2.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like the nose of the this concept. I'll have to think about the rest of it. They still need a 9-5 coupe...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here's what Id fix: first to go would be the "winglets" or whatever you call them dang things. Second, Id re-do that 1980's Pontiac-ish rear light display. Other than that, this concept isnt half bad. If SAAB would deep six all the tacky bits, its a pretty stunning design. They just went a bit overboard with the whole thing, thats all.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's not bad. They basically took the old concepts they've been showing and threw a bunch of Mantide crap all over them. If you peel off the stupid godawful wings and tone down the creases just for the sake of creases and make the rear lighting a bit more realistic and get rid of the weird layering effect at the tail a la Mantide, you've got a pretty nice looking car. And there are some really nice bits, like the bringing back the old airplane logo for the center brake light and the wheels. If they turn this into a production car, getting it to a decent price point and making it practical for the road should solve a lot of the problematic design bits (like the stupid godawful wings)!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've said it before and ill say it again. Jason Castriota, as popular as he is, IS a stylist not necessarily a great designer (he's highly successful so one can't say much). This concept looks childish and frankly unappealing. Concept cars are supposed to draw excitement to the brand, that's really their only job. If they're not going to preview something or excite then they fail. Saab's Aero x was one of my favorite concept cars of all time and as a designer (who can analyze and find something i like) I'm just having a hard time finding something nice to say about this vehicle.

      It is full of Jason Castriota crap. Random wings, thin lights through texture, etc... I love this application on one or two designs but Im tired of seeing the same "pieces of flare" on all of his applications.

      Saab you disappoint
      • 3 Years Ago
      AWD turbocharged coupe? Build it. Now.

      I wonder if you could fit Mitsu's 4B11T in this thing for ~300hp instead of 200?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Minus the flying wing stuff on the greenhouse

        Plus a 6-cylinder or pressurized 6-cylinder engine with AWD.

        I realize this is probably built on a FWD chassis, but a longitudinal layout would be fantastic.

        if it has to have electric-assist AWD... make the front wheels electric assist, with regenerative braking, and the rear wheels mechanically engine-driven. Do it right.
        • 3 Years Ago
        i thought the same thing when i read the article....the car is awesome minus the door things up top. people need to remember that this is a SAAB and they need stuff like this. 200hp? that low hp number is almost obsolete these days. that car needs 300-350!
        • 3 Years Ago

        Longitudinal drivetrain is not rocket science, and is very easy. The most common layout in automotive history.

        Saab had longitudinal FWD for a while, with the transaxle in front of the engine. THAT is unique.

        If they already have mechanical AWD, which they do... they have the infrastructure for a prop shaft and rear differential and driven rear axles and hubs.

        The Saab 9-2X was a longitudinal driveline car. They could take Subaru lessons from that on how to do longitudinal drive.

        Electric front drive with mechanical rear drive would allow a front-mid layout, and would not require redundant electrical components for both regenerative braking (front wheel brake bias), and electric drive (which this concept supposedly has electric rear drive).

        Electric motors are generators, and generators are motors, depending on if it is electric out and kinetic in, or reversed for electric in, and kinetic out. Having just one electric drive for the front wheels minimizes the redundancy of having electric motors at both ends of the car.

        There is a reason that the Ferrari FF is RWD, with front-assist.
      • 3 Years Ago
      So yes, it is a little over-the-top, but there are a lot of really amazing details that, if brought into a production model, would look pretty amazing. It has a lot going on, but I think it is just right to give some great styling direction to the brand.

      I personally love it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just in case it wasn't clear who owns Saab now...

        • 3 Years Ago
        I see where you're going with that and while I don't disagree, I think it's helpful to remember that the C8 and its Aileron brother both themselves borrowed Saab cues, namely the Sonnet. Here's a more accurate family portrait to place the PhoeniX in context:


        While I enjoy the vestigial aircraft wings as pure fantasy art and concept, I don't want to see anything like that on a future Saab (and I'm sure they'll remain just that, art). I'm really loving the proportions, aerodynamics, and absolutely loving the new front end of this car. If that's the new face of Saab, I'm sold. The taut lines over the fenders and the smooth curves of the body blend really well for me, beautiful job.
      Rich Benjamin
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah!!!!!! Thank Goodness SAAB has been removed from GM and is rising again, born a new from the ashes. I love Love- Love the car. I have owned 2 GM built versions of SAAB- it was like driving a Chevy Malibu with a SAAB sticker on it. Radical lines and the departure from the norm are Brilliant design elements. The absolute best time to build and sell an innovative car is during deep recession. every other car company will be skimping to just get by ... go the extra mile and the consumer will love you for it. Your Brand will be catapulted to the top. Consumers WANT more. Keep going guys
      • 3 Years Ago
      if you honestly think this looks good but the Wiesmann isn't.... you must be smoking something real good. i would agree that they both lack beauty, heavily
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