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Q&A re: Saab 9-4x in Sweden

December 11, 2010 in Saabology

Much has been made of the fact that there’s no diesel engine for the Saab 9-4x in Europe. Those who wish to bring their dissatisfaction to the surface again with the advent of this post – please save your keystrokes. It’s a regrettable situation, but everything’s been said already.

With that out of the way, Vi Bilgare in Sweden threw a few questions about the Saab 9-4x at Saab’s Swedish PR Manager, Hans-Jörgen Brandt, in their November 30 print issue.

The resulting article has been translated for us by JH:

Q: – Will there be differences between the 9-4X and the SRX in terms of the engine and gearbox? We drove the SRX with the 3-litre direct injection V6 engine with 260 hp and an automatic gearbox.
A: – The engine will be upgraded.

Q: – Will there be differences between the 9-4X and the SRX in terms of suspension, springs, shock absorbers, four-wheel-drive systems etc.?
A: – Yes, it will be customized for the Saab 9-4X.

Q: – What type of four-wheel-drive systems is it in the SRX and the 9-4X?
A: – Haldex.

Q: – Will there be a diesel engine? When? Where does it come from?
A: – Currently the engine lineup consists of the two engines that has antecedently been announced.

Q: – Are the prices for the 9-4X in Sweden finalised yet?
A: – No, they are not finalised yet.

Q: – Which is the target group for the 9-4X in Sweden?
A: – The target group is the customers who wants a different experience in the exciting and growing crossover segment.

Q: – Does Saab have the opportunity to cancel the 9-4X-project if it is not possible to find a diesel engine?
A: Saab has no plans to break signed contracts.

——

Of course, the interesting quote there is that the 3.0V6 will be upgraded in some way from the engine in 9-4x’s ugly sibling, the Cadillac SRX.

Outputs listed in the 9-4x press material indicate that the same power will be produced from this engine, so what form this upgrade will take remains a mystery. Perhaps it will be an emissions difference a-la the work done recently on the Saab 9-3 TTiD. Vi Bilgare called the SRX’s 269 g/km “planet-warming”.

I guess we’ll find out more when the model comes around for European launch.

37 responses to Q&A re: Saab 9-4x in Sweden

  1. 9-4x are not coming in à diesel version, because the GM V6 diesel not hit the market.
    I have heard by a friend in the automotive world that Saab Will come With à 9-5x late 2011.
    The 9-5x will come in diffrent diesel versions.
    Anyone Who have heard the same?

  2. Really looking forward to see the 9-4x hit European markets, but indeed, with 269g/km, the price of this car will be sky-high over here (in Holland at least, where taxes are added over the CO2 exhaust).

    Off topic, but great for Saab Diesel drivers I think: We heard from several sources -amoung which the Saab importer over here- that the 2012 9-5 Diesel manual can be ordered without the sport-chassis. Solves one of the often heard drawbacks of the entry-level-fleet-owners 9-5. Not having to drive in a kidney pulveriser, but in a comfortable (yet sturdy) car makes us consider leasing this car again.

  3. The case is quite simple. They want to sell the most units in The US/Canada, China and Russia. Then there will be some RHD Units for the Australian Market, and if they sell more that thousand in Europe on top of that, they will be quite happy.
    There is a market for the 9-4x in Europe, as there is a Market for the non-Diesel Cayenne. Furthermore Cadillac is also returning to Europe with the SRX, so GM does also think that there is a market for such a car in Europe.
    The Cadillac SRX will cost in Europe from 52.950 €, and they are only offering the 3.0L V6 engine. The Porsche with 300hp will cost you from 55.431 €. So if Saab manages to get similar prices as the 9-5 (Aero V6 from 52.500 €), they will have a very competitive offer.

    My 0.04€

    • The Cayenne base model needs to be compared to the 9-4x 2.8T, as they both have 221 kW power and the same topspeed (230 km/h). To me, it is evident that Saab will have a hard time selling those if they ask a similar price. They need to be below 50000,-€, and presumably below 45000€ for the 3.0. At 53000€, Cadillac will sink once more.

  4. Perhaps the upgrade will be to convert the 3.0l engine for ethanol E85….that would also give the marketing department a good selling argument here in Europe despite the lack of a diesel engine and the otherwise horrific co2 output of this engine ….

  5. Good news that the engine will be upgraded! :)
    Probably they have reprogrammed the engine management system to lower the fuel consumption and emissons. Maybe Trionic is on its way back? :)

    However, I still don’t understand why the 2-litre 190 hp TTiD engine from the 9-5 can’t be put in the 9-4X as well…

  6. Heh nice and positive Swedish press as always “can you still cancel it”.

  7. New question: What type of all wheel drive system does the new Buick LaCross have?

    I wonder if it has the same XWD with eLSD as the new 9-5.

    • David, I do not know and hopefully someone will answer.

      Meanwhile, while googling a bit around, I found this website: http://www.haldex-xwd.com/

      What struck me is that the timeline entry dated 2007 says that Saab started using XWD. However, eLSD is not mentioned until 2008 where they write about the Opel Insignia. There was a time when it was doubted that the Insignia would even have eLSD and now they’re too shy to tell people that it first showed up in a 9-3…? :(

      Are Haldex upset now that Saab are cooperating with someone else?

      • Rune,
        the Insignia was car of the year, thus it is a better option from the marketing point of view. And there is already one Saab i that list, Haldex wants to show that many car manufacturers are using their systems.
        But on the other side, they may be upset, as the Saab team that worked with Haldex on the XWD and the eLSD are now in the e-AAM joint venture,

    • David, everything based on Eps II or Delta II uses XWD, and some times even with eLSD. Saab developed it with Haldex for GM.

  8. I had a conversation with the people at SAAB in Oslo today. During the conversation it turned up that several people was interested in the 9-4X, even though it only will be delivered with gasolin engines. These are people who normally would consider a Mercedes ML or BMW X3 or X5 with gasolin engines. So, despite the tremendous taxes on cars in Norway, and gasolin in particular, there are still people who want the 9-4X here.

    Another good thing is that SAAB in Norway are selling around 100 cars a month now, mostly to private persons, and the trend is positive. Selling to private persons also give them the best cashflow, so good for them. There is still work to be done on selling to companies, and even though it’s not as lucrative in terms of cashflow, its important as part of marketing.

    Oh yeah, there will also be a minor upgrade of the interior in both 9-3 and 9-5.

    Every year when the new model-year starts, SAAB in Sweden and Norway drives around the country to all the dealers with the different models they can offer, where people can try the different cars and configurations. This have been a success, and should really be copied by SAAB in the rest of the world.

    • Rune (lovely name btw), did they say anything about green license plates?

      I guess the 9-4x won’t fit a 1m tall crate in the back?

    • Oh yeah, there will also be a minor upgrade of the interior in both 9-3 and 9-5.

      But not so much on the inside. Mostly on the outside what I have heard.

      • The 9-3 will get an upgrade / facelift both inside and outside, yes. However, to what degree, I do not know, or if the exterior facelift will be more substansual than inside.

        Anybody who knows if Castriota have had time to play a part in this facelift? Would be interesting to know if this would give a clue to the next 9-3 to arrive in 2012.

  9. Could someone explain to me why such a big stink (pardon the pun) is being made about the 9-4x not having a diesel engine? WHY are diesels so friggin’ popular in Europe?

  10. My guess is that anyone who wants a TTid would go for the 9-5SC anyway.

  11. Any inclination if there will be a 2.0T gas engine in the 9-4X or is that just wishful thinking on my part? I have seen it mentioned but not with the fervor or frequency of the diesel conversation. I for one would love it with a 2.0T. Better MPG, less emissions, better engine I would say, a good unique selling point in this class, and more ‘Saab’ to my eyes. Am I alone in the wilderness on this one?!?!?!

  12. http://www.corren.se/ostergotland/linkoping/?articleId=5460575&date=&menuids= It says that this is the second new 9-5 on a short period to burst put in flames :S thats not good

    • Well I think you should hold your horses. I read about that and rumor has it was caused by the dealer in Linköping (a badly setup engine warmer). This is what happened to the first car, and the second car was also bought in Linköping. So.. two cars from the same dealers…?

  13. I do not think everything has been said here. The big trends in global car sales and production are quite simple. The percentage of Diesel engines will rise further worldwide, and the percentage of clean diesels – engines with ulta-low sulfur emissions – will jump. The future preferred engines will be diesel-hybrids – the electric engine for the city, the diesel for the highway. Diesel engines benefit from much lower fuel consumption, substantially lower prices at the pump in most European countries compared to gasoline, from taxation and regulation impacts with regard to CO2-emissions, and finally, from restrictions in fleet sales. Particularly in China, India, but even in the US, the percentage of Diesel engines will rise quite substantially over the next few years. Russia already is mainly a Diesel market. These trends might accelerate in a rush, if oil prices in reaction to the ongoing global recovery, led by energy intense emerging markets, with tight capacity constraints for years to come, and due to structural dollar and eur weakness, should spiral up. That risks now to be the case, where oil prices are back close to 100$ per barrel, even after only one year and a few months of global economic recovery, and a sluggish one in the US and in Europe. Consumers confronted with falling real incomes for many reasons, will have no choice than to switch increasingly to diesel engines.

    Compare Saabs planned engine supply to these trends: There is one model with an outstanding diesel engine, the 9-3, but no combination with xwd. With the exception of the new 163 hp 1.6l engine, the gasoline engines – though rock-solid – exhibit poor consumption figures. Similar the new 9-5, with the exception, that the 190 hp diesel is now combined with xwd, and if first reports are true, represents a fine combination. For a premium car, a six-cylinder diesel is lacking. The 9-4x to be introduced in Europe in 8 months, just lacks a diesel at all, with only the 2.8l turbo engine being a serious alternative.

    No discussion, it is not Saab’s mistake, but the result of GM heritage. What is a concern to me, however, that the top-management and the new owner seem to lack a strategy how to come up with these deficiences. At least what has been publicely said, points to that. The announced improvements later in 2011 with respect to interior and other points will make both the 9-3 and 9-5 competitive on hopefully many aspects, but the engine line-up remains an unresolved issue.

    The only strategic leap forward I can recognize is the planned hybrid-solution for the new 9-3, which – hopefully – will be repeated for the the 9-5 or 9-4x. The issue is how to lower consumption on the 2.0l and 2.8l turbo gasoline engines, and how to cover the diesel gap.

    With respect to the latter, I think there are three different steps:
    a) Use the technology already available
    - a no-brainer to adapt the 2.0l 190 hp diesel engine to the 9-4x. No convincing arguments not to do it. To say the 9-4x is planned mainly for the US, and for Russia, China and so on is ridicolous. Up to now Saab not even has sales organisation in Russia or China, but a dying one in several European countries, which lacks competitive products.
    - would be nice to have the 9-3 xwd and 9-3x with the same 2.0l diesel engine as well for the next two years. There may be convincing technical evidence, why that should not be possible, but it has never been explained in detail.
    b) quickly identify a 6-cylinder diesel, which might be adapted to the 9-5 and 9-4x as well. For this, in my view, just two engines are real choices.
    Either the VM motori now 3.0l diesel with 250hp and 550Nm. It has been initially designed for the 9-4x and the 9-5 or their respective platforms, it is a relatively light engine, very flexible, EUR-5 compatible and EUR-6 capable. Chrysler / Fiat group will use it for the refreshed Jeep Jerokee and for the 300m in the model year 2011, and probably for future Lancias and Alfas as well. This is maybe not the best engine, but a good one, and that fits into the Saab platforms. Fiat, a carmaker with some of the best diesel engines in the market, would never choose it, if not competitive. It is an engine from the GM universe moreover.
    - The alternative is to switch to BMW diesels. That really puts technical doubts, as Beamer engines probably will not fit into existing architectures. But: To choose BMW as engine supplier for one future engine (the 1.6l turbo) up to now, just makes a sense, if it is part of a much broader cooperation. That engine chosen btw is not such a superb rocket, and would not justify the choice of BMW in itself.

    Unfortunately, the news is not in any of the two directions. With a stalemate going forward, the risk is that sales again will substantially shortfall against the ones outlined in the business plan. To survive, Saab needs more cash, probably more equity right now and substantially more sales for the next 2-3 years. To opt for a cost saving solution on all levels is absolutely scary. Substantial investments into product improvements, the dealer network and marketing should be done instead. If the company should be so much overleveraged that it cannot even allow to develop a completed engine line-up for its three main products, and lacks competitive diesel engines, that risks to become a flop in a much bigger sense. Saab due to the GM failure missed the train in the last ten years with respect to diesels. The signs on the wall are all there, that this could continue – missing sales, ugly situation of country organisations, marketing and dealer network even in the US, the only important non-diesel market. The potential of new products, really good ones, not translating into sales – what happened with the 9-3 xwd, the 9-3x, the 9-5 sedan up to now, and now the 9-4x potentially will be like that as well – is simply frightening.
    Before even thinking about additional models like a 9-2, Saab should get rid of the weaknesses in the existing model line-up, and complete above all the engine shortfalls. The perspective, that Saab, traditonally the producer of small compact engines with turbo technology, both very powerful and low in terms of fuel consumption, has some of the worst engine line-ups in the marketplace exactly, when fuel prices skyrocket as never before in history, is a joke. .

    This is a

    think Saab should take some decisions quickly. It is not true, that there are no competitive Diesel engines on the offer for the European market. Funnily, Chrysler, thus FIAT, will bring the 3.0l VM Motori engine in its 2011 300m and

    • Michaelb: Spot on in most aspects but as much as I would like to see a diesel in the 9-4x in order to be competitive in Europe I think it would be wiser to spend your money on hybrid/electrical solutions. I hope that SAAB will spend all its money on getting the true electric stuff to the market instead of spending money on fitting new diesels in existing cars. If they succeed in doing so in say the next 2 years the need for big six cylinder diesels will vanish. The tourque is in the electric motor and you will need only a small diesel och petrol engine to recharge the batteries. Both the 9-5 and the 9-4 will sell in great numbers with that solution… I just hope the enginers in Trollhättan will work its magic. It cant be that hard can it, you just need to put your mind to it, and the Trolls have great minds!!

    • Michael,

      The real medium-term solution is HCCI, which is a combination of compression ignition with gasoline. We know that Saab was working on this in the GM days, however things have been very quiet on that front.

      I really don’t think that diesel will make much headway in the US (which has low-sulfur fuels by the way).

      VW sells a few to the high-mileage crowd, and the German luxury brands offer them on their SUVs. Nobody else even wants to enter the market.
      The reason that Audi/BMW/Merc offer some diesels is to meet CAFE (average fuel economy) standards and avoid monetary penalties. It costs them a huge amount of money to meet US emissions standards (which are much stricter than Euro 6), but it also means that they get to sell more high-margin V8s. What that means is that for each X5 diesel that they sell (at little to no profit), they can bring in one more X5M, which probably nets them $40,000 profit. Needless to say that this business model does not apply to Saab.

      All of the other main players in the US market happen to sell smaller cars as well, so they don’t need to worry about CAFE.

  14. In Europe we have low sulphur fuel (gasoline and diesel) which contributes to lower raw particulate emissions. A direct injection gasoline engine does without no doubt have bigger problems with upcoming particulate legislations than equivalent diesel equipped with particulate filter. The only draw back of the diesel is the nitrogen oxide emissions compared to a gasoline engine.
    + Very fuel efficient
    + High torque at low speed => great driveability
    + New diesels don’t have the characteristic diesel rattle noise
    - Cost, somewhat more expensive
    - Weight
    - Nitrogen oxides (can be taken care of, there are 50 state legal diesels)

    If SAAB were to launch a diesel in the 9-4x it would require an immense amount of work, engine calibration, gearbox calibration, aftertreatment, engine mountings and much more.
    - Probably a couple of years work.

    • You summed it up, Smurf,

      If SAAB were to launch a diesel in the 9-4x it would require an immense amount of work, engine calibration, gearbox calibration, aftertreatment, engine mountings and much more.
      - Probably a couple of years work.

      …and that’s exactly the point that Michaelb fails to see in his comment above.

      I’ve said it a million times on this website. There are no fingersnap solutions in the car industry. Everything takes a long time and a lot of money.

      With regard to the 9-4x, what are Saab’s priorities?

      a) Working on a replacement 9-4x that can be built on the Phoenix platform, a car over which they’ll have greater control of the final product and better use of their factory? or

      b) Working for two years on fitting a V6 diesel – if they can secure an appropriate one – in order to get another 1 or 2 years sales in marginal markets where CUV’s are not a mainstay and slow down the development of the Phoenix based 9-4x in the process (remember, they have limited funds and spending on a 9-4x diesel will mean reducing spending on another program)?

      ——

      With regard to the 2.0 TTiD or even the 2.0T in the 9-4x……

      The #1 criticism of the 3.0 petrol V6 in the Cadillac SRX is that it is slightly underpowered. It makes 265hp. How are 180hp and 210hp engines seen as a solution to this problem?

      They are not seen as underpowered in the 9-5, which weighs a similar amount to the 9-4x but this is still seen as a problem. Why? Because the 9-5 is a vehicle that has several markets available to it, one of which isn’t a likely starter for the 9-4x – the fleet market.

      The 9-4x will be sold primarily to private buyers who have the need for such a vehicle and the budget to run it. This is not a vehicle aimed at those who are sensitive to the price of fuel or registration costs (it’s no coincidence then, that the prime market will be the US, eh?).

      The 9-5 will be bought by private buyers and business buyers, the latter especially are looking for a comfortable executive cruiser, but remain more sensitive to these issues.

      • Point a) this might be true for a new V6-engine, cannot be true for the 2.0l diesel, which works with the same gearbox, transmission and xwd already in the 9-5 and without it in the 9-3. Source it out to somebody, who does not need 2 years for that.
        b) Just explain to me why then Audi with the Q5, BMW with the X3, Volvo wit the XC60 make most of their sales in Europe with a similar or even less powered diesel engines as the 2.0l diese from Saab, not with a big V6. Audi has a 143 hp and a 170 hp 2l, BMW offers the new X3 up to now just with a 2l 4-cylinder diesel with 184 hp, volvo has a 163 and a 205hp 5-cylinder. Sorry Swade, this point is plain wrong, there is no way, that just big diesels sell in Europe for that kind of crossover.

        • michael,
          but this “Stammtischgerede” is just full of wrong facts and unproven future projections. Furthermore you are projecting the German case to the rest of Europe.

          Sorry mate, but your case is none at all.

        • Michael,

          This is the second time I’ve tried to relate a point that I discussed with people from Saab whilst in Los Angeles. The point is suitability for purpose and it’s one of the points that the person I spoke to made about the TTiD.

          If you think I’m wrong, or lying, or that Saab are wrong or lying, that’s fine. I can’t do anything about it except try and communicate the point that was made to me.

          I wish Saab had a suitable diesel for the 9-4x as well. I really do. I bet they really do as well. But they don’t and like it or not, the costs and time involved in doing so are prohibitive.

  15. I must say that I agree with Swade! Stop talking about the diesel!! I know for the fact that SAAB tried there best!! But you also need to stay with your contracts and not do stuff just because!! You need to make money on the products your selling and I know from the facts that SAABs only option was a poor 4cyl diesel or scrap the 9-4x completly! So let it go once and for all!!

    • True.

      The only time that type of engine will be included is when the production of the 9-4X is moved back home to Trollhättan for a 2:nd generation and it is based on a new standard platform from Saab themselves. Now they are confined by an agreement with GM that rules out the diesel, but so what, it is still a great car.

  16. And Volvo goes with small engines too achive 119g/km and SAAB doesnt! One of the SAAB core values is a fun car to drive and a small engine isnt fun.

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