CAR Magazine on the Saab PhoeniX concept

CAR Magazine are generally pretty reasonable when it comes to Saab. They, like the rest of us, tend to think that the automotive world is a much more interesting place with companies like Saab in it. That’s why one of their roving reporters was busy getting a good spot at the Saab stand while Opel, next door, were running overtime with their Geneva press conference.

Back again to Hall 2, where I should be seeing a presentation from the brand that will not die. However, it’s GM Europe, Saab’s old owners, working their way through the presentation of the new Zafira Tourer. I’m keen to see the new car, but try to get a better location to view Saab’s presentation instead.

This traditional affection is why I’ll be very keen to read their April issue and see how they explain this headline about the PhoeniX concept. It’s fair to say that early signs from CAR are not looking promising.

From their online digital preview:

A harsh assessment?

I know I’m biased, but I’d say decidedly so. Alfa Romeo would want the “Right Car” assessment because the 4C is actually slated for production. Nobody wants a “Wrong Car” assessment, so it’ll be interesting to read what the assessment is based on – some controversial flying buttresses, or the use of a real-world new platform, a new hybrid turbocharged drivetrain and a real-world communication and control system that’s made massive waves everywhere. I hope CAR bore point 1, below, in mind.

We’ve covered plenty about the PhoeniX on this site and there are a few things of note that came out of that discussion:

  1. PhoeniX is a design concept (my emphasis) and the one thing you don’t want a design concept to be is boring. You want it to create discussion, which PhoeniX has certainly done, with the vast majority of it in the motoring press being decidedly positive.
  2. Given that it’s a rather radical concept in terms of looks, it’s going to divide opinion, which is fine. The trick is to look deeper than what you see at first glance.
  3. The importance of PhoeniX is not confined to it being Jason Castriota’s first statement as head of Saab design. The looks are deliberately Jason with deliberate Saab cues, and some of that look will carry through to the next 9-3. The importance of PhoeniX, however, is not just how it looks. It’s also concerned with what’s underneath. The PhoeniX platform that it’s based on is real – and when the next 9-3 is only 18 months away, that’s an important thing to know – and the PhoeniX concept showcases some of the vehicle proportions that will be possible with that architecture.

I guess I should hold my tongue until I get a chance to read the article, but I have a feeling that CAR may have only looked at the surface to judge the validity of PhoeniX and made a bold headline out of a subjective assessment.

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Yes, it’s OK. Tim’s given me the OK to continue to write here occasionally. This is one piece of subject matter that I couldn’t resist.

Tiago do Vale
Guest
Tiago do Vale

πŸ™‚ Nice to see you!

Let’s see when I’ll get this number of CAR… but it doesn’t look great.

74stingray
Guest
74stingray

Saab…. always behind the 8 ball with the motoring press.

GerritN
Guest
GerritN

So, Alfa’s Lotus ripoff is the ‘right’ car? Huh?
Suddenly I don’t care what they are saying about the PhoeniX anymore.

Saabulon
Guest
Saabulon

+1

Jeff
Member

Very disappointing, CAR. It’s one of those auto magazines I used to love. Unfortunately for them and many others, Car and Driver has improved so much that it’s now my go to site, their writers and editors are humorous but respectful, and their design work is even better than CAR’s has ever been. Once I’m done reading their article, I’ll happily write a response to Phil and Guy and then move onto sites that actually get it right.

Dan
Guest

They also seem to have purposely chosen a photo that makes the Saab stand look deserted.

Swade
Guest
Swade

Indeed. Part of their story telling. Commented on this further, below.

Kroum
Guest

IIRC, CAR were in love with the Aero X. So I don’t necessarily think it’s got anything to do with negative bias towards Saab.

The Alfa is pure hotness. Better looking than the PhoeniX just like the Aero X was better looking than the 8C.

@GerritN: allow me to respectfully disagree. The Alfa’s rear is no more a Lotus ripoff than the PhoeniX is a Pontiac “ripoff”.

100%Saab
Guest
100%Saab

“A harsh assessment?” – No, just a wrong assessment.

My wife’s comment about the Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Auto Issue: “Why are cars so boring?” The PhoeniX is anything but boring.

Just a thought.

maanders
Guest
maanders

So I take it your wife is not impressed by VW…..”Das boring”. πŸ™‚

montahue
Guest
montahue
As much as i learned to love the PhoneiX the rear end of it doesn’t exactly talk Saab as the Alfa rear talks Alfa. To be honest, even if i love most of the car i’m not a big fan of it’s rear end. There is nothing there that makes me think “Saab” even now when i spent a considerable amount of time starring at it. I think thats why its so convenient for CAR magazine to “duel” the the rear end view of this both cars. If the photos pictured any other angle of the cars i’m sure their… Read more »
MeanSabean
Guest
MeanSabean

Maybe they are just saying the the PhoeniX is a BAD BOY’s car!

just a thought.

montahue
Guest
montahue

Yes, of course. They (the press) wants to create drama and conflict, thats their livelihood. One should not trust the honesty of what is in car magazines any more then whats in the next Sylvester Stallone movie. Whatever i mean with that. I did not notice that lack of attention at the Saab stand myself before you pointed it out though.

Swade
Guest
Swade

I wouldn’t read anything into the lack of legs in the photo. The stand was quite busy for the whole two press days. Much busier on day 2 than I anticipated, actually. They could have taken the photo very early in the morning or very late in the evening (Saab had a function on night 1, at the dining area of the Saab stand, that last until around 8pm).

montahue
Guest
montahue

I think the legs was photoshopped out of the saab stand:)
Its hard enough to be funny in ones own language but that’s nothing compared to try being funny in a language ones mother did not support. In my head i’m kinda funny but in .txt of course my great humor isn’t as obvious.

Nice to read something that is very balanced but also very emotional at the same time again.

Carl-Henrik
Guest
Carl-Henrik

My impression of what I see here is that I also come to the conclusion that they have modified the image free from people.

zippy
Guest
zippy

IMO that Alfa is butt ugly. Looks like someone rearended an 8C and decided they’d call it a 4C. I have read CAR for over 25 years but they seem to have turned every issue into a review of the Veyron or some car from BMW. And their attitude to the 9-5 sucks!

Bravada from GMI
Guest

I would tend to agree with the statement I can see (I also didn’t read the article, just saw the headline centerfold as pictured above). I am not that keen on the Alfa 4C, but it was the right car for the brand to display at the show. The PhoeniX, for all its merits, was the wrong car for Saab to display in Geneva.

Saab won’t die and everything will work out just fine. But Saab still tend to be misallocating their resources for optimal effect. I hope they realize that sooner than later.

SpinM
Guest
SpinM

How can it be wrong when it’s on wallpaper on both of my computers??? πŸ˜‰

saaburheim
Guest
saaburheim

Well, I do not understand why Saab bothers to make a concept car like this. If they want publicity, the sure should put their PR efforts to the cars they actually can sell. If they want to test reactions to a new direction of design, that can be done in clinics or through reseach.

Besides, I find it to be the ugliest car I have seen in a long time. And I cannot see what is Saab-like about it, either. Why can’t Saab make a car that people desire?

Ken H
Guest
Ken H

CAR has their opinion, and the PhoeniX is after all polarizing as few others.

But declaring the rather awkward looking 4C as the measuring point seems a bit default. “Oooh… an Alfa, what a beauty!”

I stopped subscribing to CAR and EVO long time ago, as they both seemed to have hit the “repeat” button. Guess it’s status quo.

Saab 9-3X
Guest
Saab 9-3X

At Automotive News they understand the importance of the PhoeniX. One of the best pieces on the car: http://www.autonews.com/article/20110311/BLOG06/110319982/1503

Robert P
Guest
Robert P

Didn’t Jason say something like: Some will like and some will hate it? Well, guess Car, or one of their editors, didn’t like it. At least Saab is back in the picture, it appaerantly got great coverage over here… everyone can see Saab is still alive.

Nils
Guest
Nils
The PhoeniX is polarising, I was not pleased when I first saw the pictures. But I went to the Geneva car show and in real, it looks far better. Although the design is pretty loaded, it grows on you and some of the features like the front and aerodynamic windscreen would be welcome on future Saabs. Automotive News is right saying that it fullfilled its mission. Having said that, personally I believe the 9-X bio-hybrid was a concept that better matches the Saab philosophy. Now some thing I regret with the Saab stand in Geneva was that the electric 9-3… Read more »
RS
Guest
RS

In my opinion the only clear mistake JC did on the outside of the car was the rear lights. I guess lack of time must have been a big factor but the scattered ‘American’ LED cluster does very little justice to the over all design.
If visible -Saab like- turning and reverse lights had been in there it’s possible no one would have anything to complain about.

Lasse
Guest
Lasse

I get tired when reading stupid “right”/”wrong” headlines.

Cerulean
Guest
Cerulean
In my opinion the difference between these two cars is the the fact that the 4C is obviously an Alfa Romeo with cues that can be directly linked to the gorgeous 8C. The fact that it will be in production next year, utilises carbon fibre to keep the weight down, and will allegedly be sold for less than Β£40,000 must also go in its favour. The Phoenix concept however is not at first glance a Saab, unlike the Aero-X which successfully carried forward the Saab DNA. The technology to be used (IQON etc) sounds fantastic but I think to be… Read more »
StefanH STHLM
Guest
StefanH STHLM

And how can they show a picture of OG9-5 as an example of the current 9-5??
Choose all brands and then Saab.

MarkS
Guest
MarkS

I guess it’s okay if they don’t like the design, but I’ll have issues with them if they put Saab in the spotlight in a negative way. I guess we’ll have to see the full article to find out what these silly boffins are up to…

Bernard
Guest
Bernard
To me, the real question is “which car is the more significant?” Let’s face it, the automobile is very likely to return to the status of being a rich man’s hobby, and the Alfa is a step down that path. The Saab, on the other hand, addresses some (though not all) of the issues facing the automotive industry. It’s economical and practical without being bland. 200 HP and 120g/km CO2 in an affordable 4 seater is not a bad thing, especially if they can keep the price reasonable, the weight down and the lifecycle long. I would love to see… Read more »
Steve in CT
Guest
Steve in CT

I still believe that the PhoeniX did exactly what a concept car is supposed to do – like it or hate it the PhoeniX created buzz for Saab. Some would say even negative attention or press is good, but I wish the automotive press would find another brand to bash and recognize how much Saab has accomplished in just about a year of independent ownership.

My fire and passion for Saab won’t be diminished by any article that misses all of the great things Saab has to celebrate.

Fred in Maryland
Guest
Fred in Maryland
I think your vision of CAR is from former years, their current bias against Saab could not be more obvious. Their list of top 100 motoring events from 2010 did not mention the purchase of Saab and its rebirth as an independent company (but included the death of Pontiac, not even sold in the U.K), their GBU section has not updated its 9-3 section in years except to lower the overall rating to two stars and drop any reference to the 9-3x, and their reviews of the new 9-5 always conclude with a remark about how much better some BMW… Read more »
M Frid
Guest
M Frid

The more I look at the PhoeniX…the more I like it!!!!!

Yuros
Guest
Yuros
I need to say something about SU posts on PhoeniX…. come on people! Stop dismissing looks as not the most important aspect of the car. OF COURSE looks are important! That’s what concepts are all about! Maybe the engineering community is interested in the platform and the engine, but everyday consumer sees skin-deep. Let’s face it, and stop sugar-coating it. The goal of the concept is not to be “polarizing” but to wow the public and create vision for the future, not make people scratch their heads and go “huh?”. If it needs to “grow on you” its a fail.… Read more »
CraigSu
Guest
CraigSu

You don’t speak for me, Yuros. If you don’t like the PhoeniX, that’s fine; you’re entitled to your opinion. But don’t generalize and project your feelings for the concept on the rest of the SU community.

yuros
Guest
yuros

CraigS.
I did not mean to project my feelings. I think the posts on SU speak for themselves. So far all articles are attempts to find something positive about it. All I am saying is that it reads like a community is trying to justify this concept to itself.

T.M.
Guest
T.M.
Yuros +1000 point, that`s exactly how I feel about it too. And to be honest I`m very concerned about the future of Saab, this is like a great music artist selling out to mainstream music and letting its past behind, trying not be “boring”, who said Saab was ever boring? Saab doesn`t need this change, not as dramatic as this, Saab always had beautiful concepts and beautiful road cars, I don`t see how you can have ugly concepts but beautiful road cars, I can`t name a brand who ever achieved that, so stop say`n that this is just a concept,… Read more »
T.M.
Guest
T.M.

I`m sorry I meant so say “leaving its values behind”, not past ,sorry about that.

Swade
Guest
Swade
Yuros, Can’t help but disagree, and not just because I wrote this post or a lot of the other coverage on PhoeniX, or other cars over the years. Let me explain why, point by point. OF COURSE looks are important! True, but the fact that PhoeniX doesn’t make you fall in love with it at first glance doesn’t mean that it’s “idiot ugly”. It took me a while to get used to it, too. I first saw it on a computer screen in Los Angeles and my first reaction was very reserved but I held off because that wasn’t a… Read more »
Sebbe
Guest
Sebbe

The veredict is “Wrong Car” because it’s ugly and a retro-futuristic-Saab pastiche.
And it also looks like shite.
Would love to know what Sniff Petrol has to say about it. Probably the same.
“Let this be a remainder to all motor enthusiasts not to pretend to be a real car designer. Over and out!”.

Jason Powell
Guest

My only thing to comment on this one is how long did Alfa spend on getting this car completed? My point being, Jason has been at Saab for a very short time and in that time was able to come out with the PhoeniX and get people talking, hell look at BMW concept from the show???? what was that? I think we are an easy target because of low sales and I really think it’s just cheap writing.

Jon C
Guest
The title may worry some, it worried me when I saw it last week, but the article is more than fair. It concentrates on the reaction of the design community for a paragraph before letting JC answer his critics for a large portion of the article. What they do focus on (and I am surprised that there was not more comment here) is the interior and are full of praise for the red lighting (some food for thought for the green light addicts) and the android OS for the car. Why they like the Alfa (and so do I) is… Read more »
saabup!
Guest
saabup!

Well the automotive press again is projecting their own insecurities on the automotive industry onto one of only a handful of innovative (and not das boring as Swade would put it) and unique manufacturers such as SAAB at the show SAAB is willing to take risks and stir up less (das boringness) amongst the group of car companies unlike the VW group, BMW, GM (snore), Toyota (catatonic), Mitsubishi (Rumple Stilsken sleep), Mazda (snooze fest), Cirtroen (oye vey). The only other companies that are happening are SAAB, Renault, Alfa, and possibly Koenssing(sp?).

Aero
Guest
Aero

Who cares – there is only one of them who starts every morning in minus 20c and can take a crash with a moose anyday with the driver walking away. Italian cars should have V8 engines and have drivers as Alonso to impress me.

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