Saab 9-4x – Technical Highlights

Note: this press release is designated as being for Europe and rest of world, not for US. I’m not sure what the differences will be.

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Saab 9-4x: Car-like Driving Fun and Ride Comfort

  • Purpose-designed crossover body structure delivers car-like driving quality
  • Adaptive chassis technology: Saab XWD and Saab DriveSense
  • Advanced infotainment: hard disc storage, rear seat entertainment
  • Safety systems leverage more than 50 years of Saab real-life crash safety experience

The Saab 9-4X’s advanced chassis offers car-like handling characteristics, with sporty and responsive driving qualities that challenge the best in its class.

Sophisticated technologies include Saab’s DriveSense adaptive chassis, with real-time damping control, and Saab XWD, a cutting edge all wheel-drive system with an electronically-controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD).

Comfort and convenience features include a start/stop button, keyless entry and exit, a powered tailgate, adaptable cargo stowage, tri-zone air conditioning and rear seat entertainment packages. Satellite-navigation with an 8-inch touchscreen, Bose surround sound system and hard disc ‘jukebox’ music storage are among the infotainment options.

Behind The Wheel
The 9-4X has been developed to deliver a nimble, responsive driving experience that belies its size and height. Car-like and fun to drive, it is equally at ease on smooth roads or loose, slippery surfaces.

It benefits from a unique body structure, specifically designed for a crossover application. This has enabled engineers to establish key vehicle dimensions – such as wide front and rear tracks (1,622 and 1,623 mm respectively) and the suspension geometry – without being compromised by adapting an existing sedan or wagon format. While offering the security of a raised, ‘command’ driving position and a ground clearance of 200 mm, the 9-4X concedes little or nothing in its dynamic performance.

Extensive testing alongside competitor vehicles validated the 9-4X’s qualities for ride refinement, noise suppression and handling. In a variety of test configurations, its performance challenged the very best in class.

A stiff body structure, with a torsional rigidity rating of 31 Hz, is key to ensuring refined ride characteristics and good suppression of noise, vibration and harshness, as well providing a solid foundation for the location of suspension mountings.

Front suspension is by McPherson struts with hydraulic lower A-arm ride bushings and a hollow-section anti-roll bar. An independent, linked H-arm layout is used at the rear. This sophisticated system, with isolated sub-frame mountings, enhances ride comfort, reduces vibration entering the cabin and improves roadholding. Shear bushings in the damper mountings to the body further dissipate vibrations from the road and improve noise isolation.

To deliver an enhanced ride quality, unsprung weight has been minimized by the use of weight-saving aluminum for all brake calipers, the front wheel hubs, A-arms, steering knuckles and rear suspension links. The powerful braking system uses 345 mm front and 315 mm rear discs, both ventilated. ESP® is fitted as standard.

“This is a truly rewarding car to drive,” says Peter Dörrich, Saab 9-4X Vehicle Chief Engineer, who led the development team. “We are really pleased with its excellent handling and ride qualities. We can’t wait for the public and media to start driving it.”

Advanced driving technologies build on the capabilities of the 9-4X’s chassis. Chief among these are:

Saab XWD with eLSD
This advanced all-wheel-drive system offers a more rewarding driving experience and greater control in all conditions, dry or wet, on and off-road.

Already successfully launched in the Saab 9-3 and 9-5, this pre-emptive, active system has been integrated and optimized by Saab chassis engineers. It uses a multi-plate Haldex clutch unit which infinitely varies the delivery of drive torque between the front and rear axles. Careful programming enables the application of rear drive to balance oversteer and understeer characteristics, as well as ensuring optimal grip in loose or slippery conditions. The ESP® system is also tuned together with XWD to optimize the chassis’s sporty potential without reducing safety margins.

An electronically-controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD) can transfer up to 50% of rear torque between the rear wheels, to whichever has more grip. Under hard cornering on the open road, or when completing a high speed maneuver, the brief application of more or less torque to either wheel also helps the rear of the car more closely follow the direction of the front wheels. In loose or slippery conditions, traction is also further improved.

Saab XWD with the eLSD is fitted as standard.

Saab DriveSense
This adaptive system includes real time damping control with a range of adjustments that helps the vehicle adapt to the way it is being driven.. In addition to the default ‘Intelligent’ mode, two further settings, ‘Sport’ and ‘Comfort’, can be selected via a rotary knob next to the gear shift.

In real time, ‘Intelligent’ mode adjusts the car’s handling characteristics in response to driving style. It continually varies the stiffness rates of the electronically-controlled dampers, the action of the electronic throttle and the degree of power steering assistance. For example, when the car is being driven in a sporty style, the action of the dampers is automatically stiffened to improve body control and roadholding; the throttle pedal movement is shortened for a faster response and steering assistance is reduced for a more direct feel. At reduced speeds, the dampers are softened for greater ride comfort, the action of the throttle pedal becomes less aggressive and the steering feels lighter.

The ‘Sport’ setting introduces a firmer range of adjustment for the dampers, offering even greater body control. In addition to sharpening the throttle pedal response and enhancing steering feel, ‘Sport’ mode also raises the gear shifting points of the automatic transmission and sends more drive torque to the rear wheels.

By contrast, ‘Comfort’ mode, optimizes ride refinement by enabling a softer range of adjustment for the dampers and a smoother throttle pedal action. It provides enhanced compliance over rough road surfaces.

‘Eco’ mode, unique to the Aero model and activated via a separate button, is focused on optimizing fuel economy and includes the appropriate management of gear shifting patterns and re-mapping of the throttle pedal action.

DriveSense is standard fit for Aero models.

Variable Effort Steering (VES)
When maneuvering, parking or driving at low speeds, VES increases the level of power assistance in order to reduce steering effort. At higher speeds, assistance is automatically reduced to ensure a high degree of steering ‘feel‘ for the driver.

VES uses an electro-magnetic motor on the steering rack, controlled by a coil, to boost or reduce the level of hydraulic assistance. VES also adapts to the speed at which the steering wheel is being turned, providing progressively increased assistance the faster the wheel is rotated. VES is a function within Saab DriveSense and comes as standard for Aero models

Comfort, Convenience and Safety
Occupants of the 9-4X benefit from state-of-the-art features that enhance the travel experience. These are focused on ease-of-use and making the cabin of the 9-4X an enjoyable and safer place to be. They include:

Start/Stop button with keyless entry/exit
Standard throughout the range, a start/stop button replaces the conventional ignition switch. In Saab tradition, it is located between the seats next to the shifter. The engine control unit detects and authenticates a coded signal from driver’s fob and the engine can be started or stopped by simply pressing the start/stop button.

For even greater convenience, a keyless entry/exit system is also offered, which allows the car to be automatically unlocked when the door handle is pulled while the fob is still in the driver’s pocket or handbag. The car can also be locked when the driver leaves it by simply touching the lock area of the door handle. This ease-of-use feature removes the need to press the unlock/lock buttons on a standard fob.

Tri-zone air conditioning
In addition to the standard dual zone climate control for the driver and front passenger, the tri-zone option offers independent temperature control for rear seat occupants. Extended ducting feeds air from the main air conditioning unit to an outlet module in the rear face of the center console. The module includes a small fan to accelerate the airflow and two adjustable distribution vents. It is offered in combination with rear seat entertainment and available only with left-hand drive vehicles.

Advanced infotainment systems
The extensive infotainment choice offers a wide range of state-of-the-art features and two audio options: a seven-speaker or top-of-the-line, Bose system with true 5.1 surround sound reproduction. The 8-inch touchscreen navigation system includes a bird’s eye map view and hard disk drive storage for map data and music.

Audio selection is versatile. In addition to the AM/FM and DAB radio, the driver can play music directly from a CD, insert an MP3 player or memory stick into the standard USB socket, or even store 10 GB of favorite tracks on a built-in hard drive with the navigation system – all with full control via the faceplate and steering wheel. The USB socket is located conveniently alongside an AUX input and 12V power outlet in the center console. The USB ‘wires’ the device to the car and offers instant control through the audio system, the in-car display showing the song title, artist and album information.

Communication on the move is supported by an integrated Bluetooth hands-free phone system, which functions via voice command and steering wheel controls, as well as the infotainment faceplate.

In the rear, passengers can enjoy their own onboard entertainment through a dedicated unit in the back of the center console and two 8-inch screens which fold out, laptop style, from the front seatbacks. Passengers can select an alternative audio source to that being played up front, watch a DVD or enjoy entertainment from a stand-alone player, such as a games console or digital camera, connected to the video AUX input. Sound is provided by wireless headphones.

Rear-view camera
Fitted as standard on Aero and Premium models, a small lens is discreetly mounted in the deck lid to provide enhanced rearward vision when reversing. A 3.5-inch image is shown in the interior rear-view mirror, or the main display screen with satellite navigation.

Driving and crash safety
All occupants in the 9-4X benefit from Saab’s successful real-life safety philosophy. Crash testing and computer simulations are based on what happens in real collisions on real roads, using the findings of a database covering more than 6,100 real-life accidents involving Saab cars on Swedish roads over that last 50 years. Saab safety engineers are always aware that their ultimate goal is protecting real people, not only dummies in laboratory crash tests.

According to Saab’s real-life safety strategy, the structural design of the car, and the operation of its safety systems, is evaluated through a large number of in-house crash tests which are additional to those legally required or carried out by consumer test organizations.

The success of this work is reflected in surveys of real-life collisions by the US Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Swedish Folksam insurance company, where Saab cars have consistently scored well, several times being ranked best in their segment. The Saab 9-3 and the new 9-5 sedan are also maximum 5-star performers in EuroNCAP crash safety ratings, as is the 9-3 in US NCAP.

In addition to the full complement of occupant safety systems installed in all Saab cars, the 9-4X includes third generation Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR 3) as standard for the front seats, together with pre-tensioning and load-limiting for the outer rear seatbelts.

Driving, or active safety – the ability to avoid becoming involved in an accident – is also improved by bi-xenon adaptive lighting. This powerful system improves visibility for the driver and reduces night driving stress. At all speeds, the headlamps provide better illumination of upcoming bends by swiveling up to 15°, to the right or left according to the steering angle.

At speeds below 50 km/h, Town Light provides a wider, flatter beam so that pedestrians or potential hazards at the roadside can be seen more easily. At speeds above 100 km/h, Motorway Light is engaged, which increases the depth of the light beam from 130 to 170 meters. The cone is shaped so that on-coming drivers are not affected.

ESP® is fitted as standard across the range and the rear brake lights flash under heavy braking to warn following drivers.

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