• Mar 23, 2011
Saab PhoeniX Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

We're in Washington D.C. this week attending the embargoed long-lead event for the 2011 Saab 9-4X, but that hasn't stopped us from inquiring about other key new products from the House of Griffin.

We've already seen mules of the next-generation 9-3 range undergoing testing, but thus far, we haven't seen any production bodywork or learned much in the way of specifics. A purist's return-to-form hatchback model has been rumored for some time now, and thanks to Magnus Hillerborn, Saab's Vehicle Validation Engineer, Autoblog can now confirm that a five-door is indeed headed into production along with the expected convertible variant. Interestingly enough, what isn't yet confirmed for the 2012 9-3 is a sedan bodystyle.

The next 9-3 was nearly finalized when Spyker purchased Saab last year from General Motors, but Victor Muller and Co. felt that there was so much work to be done that new chief designer Jason Castriota set immediately to work on making the new car more 'Saabish.' The changes are so significant that Hillerborn says he imagines GM executives will be "very surprised" when they see the production car, which is tipped to take design cues from the PhoeniX concept car that debuted earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show. Hillerborn says that the hatchback will likely be five-door only (presumably a SportCombi wagon variant will follow), though we imagine there are some three-door renderings knocking about in Trollhattan. Hillerborn promises a very sleek and unique hatchback, one that should appeal to traditional sedan buyers as well (read: not bulbous and overtly hatch-like, but more streamlined).

A modestly retouched 2011 9-3 range debuted in Geneva alongside the PhoeniX showcar, but it will only have to hang on for about a year before the all-new generation appears. A traditional 9-3 sedan is under consideration and would likely help move some units in the U.S., but it apparently has not yet been signed off on, meaning that the five-door will form the heart of the range. With Saab's sales in a slump in nearly all of its world markets, one thing is for sure: the new 9-3 can't arrive soon enough.

Live photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      here's a rendering of what would be a NG 9-3 with styling cues from the new 9-5 and the PhoeniX concept:


      sorry, dunno who's the author, saw it at Saabs United. and loved it!
      • 3 Years Ago
      So what is going on with the crazy spoilers over the doors?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hope they do more than just take styling cues from the PhoeniX design and actually base it on the concept cause that's one great looking car.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Stop tempting us and show us the car already!!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      In the video Jason Castriota confirms there will be a hatchback and a cabrio. And he adds that "there WON'T be a 9-3 sedan!". If the hatchback is sleek and stylish (think Audi A5 sportback) then it should satisfy most sedan buyers as well. There are 3 body styles signed off, but JC doesn't confirm the 3rd. Supposedly it's a wagon, since they are crucial in their home market Sweden. JC adds that he wants 2 additional body styles, but doesn't reveal which. Perhaps some sporty "PhoeniX" type and/or a 3 door hatch and/or crossover. Interesting times! =)
        • 3 Years Ago
        Here's hoping for a slick 5-door sedan, a convertible, and an even sleeker 3-door coupe.

        But somehow, I think it is slightly more likely that it will be a touring wagon or CUV, rather than a 3-door coupe.

        Only because the auto industry is hell bent on preventing me from having a truly nice 3-door AWD GT coupe with manual or dual-clutch shifting, that I can afford. :-/

        And holding the Porsche Targa 4S way out of my fiscal reach.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hope to high heaven the front of the new 9-3 doesn't look at all like this PhoeniX concept car. The rest is fine but that front is so bland and generic with those narrow upturned headlights like EVERY Japanese car. It almost looks like a Subaru concept. Certainly nothing from Sweden!
      • 3 Years Ago
      SAAB!!!! I'm SO excited about his 9-3!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Do you guys still have Saab dealers near you? I seriously haven't seen one in forever now and I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw a new Saab on the street. I think the Saab dealerships actually took Saab out of their names during the meltdown and renamed their dealerships.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Where do you live? I'm in NE PA and there are plenty of SAAB dealers left. There was a lull in sales during the GM dithering, but I'm a 9-3 owner that has gotten plenty of marketing materials in the last year or so.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How did you put the SAAB logo on your post? I'm jealous.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll take a Laser Red 5-door hatch Aero or Aero-X version please! Where do I sign?
        • 3 Years Ago

        It will be more "Saab" than Saab has been in years.

        Two words sum this up. Oh. Yes.
        • 3 Years Ago
        but is it a Saab?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'll have what Alex's having, but in Steel Gray, please.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If Saab builds an AWD coupe, that looks half as good as the the PhoeniX concept, minus the flying buttress wings...

      Subaru will lose my future business.

      When the 9-5 sedan came out, I loved the new dash, which reminds me both of saab tradition, and the wrapped dash on my SVX.

      The PhoeniX concept minus the wings (just black canopy) reminds me of the SVX two-tone black-roof treatment, with horizontal headlights, and generally sleek looks. 1992 fast-forward 20 years, plus some.

      If Saab builds me a new SVX successor, I'll miss the boxer engine, but that is more than Subaru seems willing to do to build an AWD coupe.
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