My 2 cents on the Saab PhoeniX concept

I takes me a little while to get used to new things. I bought Radiohead’s new album The King of Limbs when it came out a few weeks ago and I still don’t like it much. I had the same reaction to In Rainbows, their previous release, a few years ago. This week, I’ve been listening to In Rainbows constantly and I absolutely love it. That’s just how I roll.

So when TV4 from Sweden put a camera and microphone in my face around 5 minutes after the Saab PhoeniX concept had been unveiled and asked for my opinion on the car, I felt a little awkward.

Like many of you, my eyes went to the most controversial element of the car – the flying buttresses – and the only thing my mind could process in those first few moments was the question “Why?” I think my response to TV4 was that I immediately liked around 95% of the car but that I was having trouble getting my head around the rest.

I wasn’t alone, either. Watching the comments come through here on the site, it was pretty clear that the initial reactions were around 50% each way – positive and negative. I was approving a lot of first-time commenters who were coming on site to share their messages of doom about how they’d never buy a Saab if this was the direction they were heading in, etc etc.

That trend changed pretty quickly, though, and by the end of the day people seemed to be getting used to the car a lot more. The day ended at around 80/20 positive. The walkaround video with Jason Castriota sealed the deal and comments to that have been indicative people coming to understand the vehicle a lot better.

Here we are, a few days later, and I’m feeling extremely good about the Saab PhoeniX concept.

The main complaint I’m continuing to hear about the PhoeniX goes something like this – how is it recognisable as a Saab? I think that’s a pretty fair question, too. There’s no doubting that there’s a fair bit of Jason Castriota in this design, as well as all the cues to Saab’s design history that he pointed to in that walkaround video.

My response to that question is this: The visual links to Saab are there if you listen to the explanations and look for them. But the important links between this concept and Saab aren’t just visual. The links are also present in the design philosophy behind the car (aerodynamics, use of technology, use of space, etc). To put it plainly – the links to Saab are not just skin deep. They extend beyond simple visuals and go to the reasons why things are done a certain way.

Let me put it this way – the new Jaguar XJ doesn’t look at all like a Jaguar XJ in my mind. But it is a Jaguar XJ because it interprets everything the XJ that I’m familiar with from the 1980’s in a modern, contemporary way. It’s a big, luxurious and elegant British vehicle.

So, philosophy aside…..

There were two other elements to the release of this car that were extremely important, one of which has been covered pretty well here already whilst the other has flown under the radar a bit.

The one that’s already been covered pretty well is the publicity for Saab that the car has generated. Eggs n Grits has covered the initial press reactions to PhoeniX and I’m pleased to say that they continue. I can tell you that Saab are very pleased with the feedback they’ve received on the car.

That message of continued life and development is so critical to Saab’s awareness mission at the moment. I’m sure dealers would prefer equal attention on the 9-5 SportCombi, the sub-120kg models and the 9-3 Griffin, but I think that will come as a flow-on effect.

Here’s just one example of the turnaround of the press coverage regarding Saab. TV4 weren’t just there to get reactions to the PhoeniX. They also had a crew there who were working on a documentary feature about Saab and the company’s resurrection (I did an interview with them, too). That feature will show later this year. Those of you who are familiar with the treatment that Saab has received from the Swedish media in the last few years will recognise that this is a massive turnaround and very positive for the company.

The other element of this car’s release that hasn’t been covered that much is the significance of the PhoeniX name with this car. It’s not just a fanciful image of a company rising from the ashes.

Most futuristic concept cars that like PhoeniX, are intended as design studies only, are purely for show and aren’t built on anything that’s necessarily linked to production models. They are a chance for designers to shake off the limitations imposed by production requirements and regulations relating to production cars.

The significance of PhoeniX is that it is actually built on the PhoeniX platform that will underpin the next generation of Saab vehicles. The proportions that PhoeniX shows – the wheelbase, front and rear overhangs, etc, are all actually attainable in new generations of Saab cars.

PhoeniX is indeed a flight of the designer’s fancy, but it’s based on very real engineering. And that’s very exciting for Saab because what people are seeing here is something that could be done for real, from an architecture and engineering point of view.

And that’s quite Saabish (moreso than the much-loved Aero-X, in fact).

——

As for the car itself?

Once again, it’s something that you’ll have to see to for yourself to fully appreciate. If you’re reading this from the north-east of the United States then mark the New York Auto Show down on your calendar as it’ll be there. You have to see this for yourself.

The car is quite raw. They were still attending to some details as they bought it into the venue at Geneva and that shows if you look closely enough. It’s still not finished, to be honest. But if you take a more macro view and look at the shapes, the face and the ideas behind it, I think you’ll see something that’s absolutely fantastic.

The great thing about this car is that it forces you to think. You can’t be ambivalent towards it. I’ve grown to absolutely love it, even if I’d still like to remove those flying buttresses just for appearance sake.

The liquid metal finish emphasises the curves and the musculature of the car beautifully and I look forward to getting more accustomed to that face as it’s production representation flows on to more real Saab models in the future.

I think Jason Castriota’s done a great job for Saab here and I can’t let this post finish without pointing out what an asset he’s been for the company in terms of his presentation of the car. He’s a great spokesperson for the company.

bk-aero
Guest
bk-aero
5 years 6 months ago

Ha! Finally I know what the tail reminds me of:
Pagani Huyara

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago

I’m okay with Saab owning Aero. The Huyara’s top speed is close to 220mph apparently. Giggity.

Red J
Member
5 years 6 months ago

No way!!!
The Huyara has a fat as, the PhoeniX is sleek in the back !!!!

bk-aero
Guest
bk-aero
5 years 6 months ago

I only mean the narrow center part. I like this.

Bruce
Guest
Bruce
5 years 6 months ago

The way the rear glass tapers looks reminiscent of another JC design, the Maserati Birdcage

Lars Jorge
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

From the front I could recognize Saab immediately.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago
Can’t wait to see it in New York. This car turns heads, and for a company that most people tease for being weak with wimpy sales, this was a giant stake in the ground shouting that Saab isn’t going anywhere. It’s also a reminder that Saab is a company willing to take risks to not always do what might be popular, but what they believe is right. And for that, I couldn’t love those wings more. Bits I’d love to see in production besides the stuff we know we’re going to get from the face: 1. Full LED headlamps 2.… Read more »
Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago

Just for laughs, here’s the whole family portrait with a new baby that will never exist, but I wouldn’t mind if it did…

Richard
Guest
Richard
5 years 6 months ago

Fascinating progression from UrSaab to PhoeniX. Slot in a 99 Turbo near the top and we can see those similar lines in the new 9-5. Great stuff Jeff!

KeemoSaabi
Guest
KeemoSaabi
5 years 6 months ago

Where is the 2001 95 Wagon in the line up? I think ours has the same side view tail light your speak of. 🙂

Arild
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

I would like to see the good old aeroplane logo on the next Saab. “Everybody” has a round logo. It would be very cool and different if Saab went back to the aeroplane logo!

Romac
Guest
Romac
5 years 6 months ago

me too, but “Born from Props” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it?

Imagine if the “wing” feature on the front grill was PhoeniX-like but actually the old logo!

Jake
Guest
Jake
5 years 6 months ago

I shall be in NY as well… I wouldn’t miss any opportunity to miss the car that leads Saab into the future!

Curvin O'Rielly
Guest
Curvin O'Rielly
5 years 6 months ago

I’ll be at the NY show. Can’t wait to see JC’s work in person.

Curvin O'Rielly
Guest
Curvin O'Rielly
5 years 6 months ago

At first glance, I’m not a fan of the winglets or the airplane logo.

Bryn
Guest
Bryn
5 years 6 months ago

I’d love red seats- the red leather interior on the C900 was the best ever.

Also, customisable instrument panel. Should be one big OLED display that the iQon system can place “gauges” on wherever you want :).

Lasse
Guest
Lasse
5 years 6 months ago
I also need some time to get used to new things. Indeed even in this case I needed some day to be able to fully appreciate the concept. In the beginning, I was a bit shocked. I had expected a more simple design, and I thougt that the car was way to overdesigned. I usually don’t like cars with too many small parts attached. This is even the reason why I don’t like Spyker cars that much. And I missed some saabiness in this new design language. But the more often I look at this study, the more details I… Read more »
saabluster
Guest
saabluster
5 years 6 months ago
“I was approving a lot of first-time commenters who were coming on site to share their messages of doom about how they’d never buy a Saab if this was the direction they were heading in, etc etc.” Well I most certainly am not new around these parts. Been here from day one as far as I can recall. I specifically did not give any messages of doom because that kind of talk is almost always quackery. In fact I reckon they would do much better going this route as it is clear the non-SAABer loooves this car. I can however… Read more »
Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago
Look back at many of the commenters here. I loved it from the start, wings and all. As Swade said, it was about 50/50 here. I also don’t think it’s healthy for Saabs to only crib off their old styling cues. You say the rear isn’t tied to any particular Saab design, but I completely disagree. I love that as a concept it pushes the boundaries for what an expressive Saab could be. If you wanted an ultra-restrained Saab, go look at the last 6 concepts that came out of Saab. While beautiful in many ways, if Jason had done… Read more »
saabluster
Guest
saabluster
5 years 6 months ago
Didn’t say it wasn’t 50/50. But if you look back the thing that kept coming up was “The car is beautiful but where’s the SAAB?”. Then Jason says well it’s like the SAABs because it was put in a wind-tunnel and we blew mercury over it. Seriously? He points to specific examples where he says there is a tie-in. There’s the teardrop (that isn’t a teardrop by the way). The line of the hood and a few other things. It seems to me like someone who just doesn’t get a SAAB and thinks that making a SAAB is just checking… Read more »
Indian
Guest
Indian
5 years 6 months ago

That is the same I feel. I think SAAB-Design can not be some Elements. It#s the hole thing. And that ist only to name with “SAAB-Spirit”. Something that I can not say in some words. And that SAAB-Spirit can only express somebody that lives this brand, that know what scandinavian Design is. Can somebody who don’t live in sweden really know this?

The Phoenix has no SAAB-Spirit in it.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago

It’s super aerodynamic, space-efficient, and technologically advanced. How is it not a Saab?

I mean, to me, that’s what makes a Saab.

For the record, I love it, and I saw Saab in it before watching the Castriota video. The winglets and whatnot threw me off until I watched the video, but once I learned they were functional, I thought they were super cool.

Ted Y
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

I agree. As Swade discussed, it’s the philosophy, including also safety, fun, and responsible performance that makes a Saab a Saab, not specific design cues. I’ve read that many Saab dealers were in an uproar when the 99 was introduced — it looked nothing like a Saab (i.e. 96), I nearly puked when I saw the first leaked images of the PhoeniX, but I really love it now, and it’s a true Saab to me.

Rune
Guest
Rune
5 years 6 months ago

Too funny… I was about to mention Björn Envall, and Mark already beat me to it.

I think Sasson would be ok with PhoeniX. Saab needs to be a bit daring now, and this fits the ticket.

The JC designed 9-3 will put everything right I’m sure.

saaburban
Guest
saaburban
5 years 6 months ago
An important aspect when discussing the Saab PhoeniX, should be what kind of concept it is? The most previous Saab concept was NOT the aeroX but the 9x biopower (the car with the extendable rear spoiler, and hockeystick tilting in opposite direction, and the 9x Air with the ingenious patented convertible technology. The 9x looked production ready in its resolvement, and it won the award for the best concept car. Back then it was described by Saab (designers?) as being a concept that was not a wild designers fantasy, but realistic hint of future model typologies. Especially the 9x air… Read more »
saabonaut
Guest
saabonaut
5 years 6 months ago
The phoeniX is a wonderful design, even the controversial flying buttresses are awesome – although at first sight, the first image was an “oh no-reaction”, but as soon as it was presented as a walkaround from various perspectives, they turned out GREAT ! They don’t look just attached to the car, they are really folding out of the volume, getting in shape playing with forces of the wind and folding back again into the volume. From a design-perspective this is one of the hardest achievements – the supposition of volume and flat surfaces and make them look coherent, homogeneous. The… Read more »
BTG88
Guest
BTG88
5 years 6 months ago

There are many out there – non-Saab drivers – who would say that the current 9-3s are aggressive looking cars from the forward perspective. Some even call them ‘angry-looking’ and ‘Darth Vader’ automobiles. So to say all Saabs have always been benign in appearance is not absolutely correct.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago

There’s an old ad that I used to have taped to my wall that showed a 9000 flying over a hill with about a foot of air under it. It said “A rare act of aggression from Sweden.” I loved that picture, and I lost it, and now I can’t find it, but Saab has pushed the aggressiveness of their cars since the 80’s. I think 900s and 9000s look very aggressive.

MarkoA
Guest
MarkoA
5 years 6 months ago
I agree fully what Swade said. Except for the one thing.. Which is those flying buttresses!! Okay, of course at first I ws shocked by them. But now after some time I´ve started playing with the idea of seeing them on real production car. Yes. If Saab is going to build 3 door 9-3 ( 900? ) and offer Aero version as we can assume, what if those (or something similar, functional) flying buttresses could be a part of optional Aero package? Just like there was Aero kit available on Saab 900. I still think there might be quite a… Read more »
saabonaut
Guest
saabonaut
5 years 6 months ago

flying buttresses could be a part of optional Aero package

I totally second that – what a great idea !! but only, if they would really lower the c-value by let’s say 0,02.

Red J
Member
5 years 6 months ago

As JC has already explained in some videos, the buttresses replace a rear spoiler, increasing the rear down force like a rear spoiler without increasing the drag.
So, if you don’t want a first gen TT kind of car, you need a drag generating rear spoiler or the flying buttresses, which really look more refined.

So it doesn’t actively reduce the drag, but it doesn’t increase it either while increasing the rear down-force.

saabonaut
Guest
saabonaut
5 years 6 months ago

Thanks RED J for the info, I was very aware of that and is one of the reasons I appreciate the buttresses, I just related it to the optional “real 9-3 aero-package”. 🙂

Hans H
Guest
Hans H
5 years 6 months ago

I think the buttresses – ugly or not – are so much better than an ordinary wing. Everybody can (and usually does) put a wing on their car to pretend it is a fast car.
But the buttresses are a) for real and b) definitively different and that is Saabish to me.

And we shall not forget that this is a show car. Show cars are always more spectacular than the production cars. I don’t expect to see the buttreses or the lambo doors on the new 9-3.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago

Quick question- does the Phoenix only have one wiper? Just noticed that. I love those single wiper designs, my mom had one on her Mercedes. Can’t see that making production.

Also, I just realized that the wings remind me of hair. Really awesome flowing hair. It’s the first car that’s not bald actually. Pixar should give it a spot in the next Cars.

Red J
Member
5 years 6 months ago

Yes, it has only one wiper.

And regarding to Pixar; people that use the Gremlin in their movies are not allowed to use the PhoeniX. 😉

S
Guest
S
5 years 6 months ago

…those flying buttresses…
Aren’t they just an extension of the C-pillar ventilation covers on the original 96?
While for an aerodynamic purpose, rather than ventilation…?
And they reduce/eliminate the need for a huge rear spoiler…
In any case, they are part of the controversy and caused a lot of needed discusion – GREAT!

Troels, Denmark
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
I have never had any things against the wings. Not against provocative elements or elements being different either. On the contrary I think the courage to be different – for a reason – is an important part of the Saab-values. Actually my critics is more that the car is not different enough. What everybody (cars as well as narcissistic people of our time) does is screaming; “Look at meee!!!”. An design-wise adding more and more details in a meaningless fight for differentiation which make them all alike! In that light, I see the future for Saab in staying true to… Read more »
Red J
Member
5 years 6 months ago

Troels,
you have done as always very sharp comments about the design, which I respect as I like your design, but JC has designed 4 Saab cars this past year. This one was meant to cry out loud: LOOK AT ME!!!, and I think he has done it quite well.

The clear Saab lines have to be in the other 3 cars, imho, and JC has repeated it a couple of times since Monday that the other three will have clear Saab lines.

Time will tell, since then, I love the Alien.

Troels, Denmark
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Thank You, Red!
I see your point, and actually, what I meant, but maybe not expressed so well – due to my weak English – was exactly that I am looking forward to see a well balanced, yet “provocative” new 9-3 design . (filled with new Saab-technology, as we have heard 🙂 )

Robert P
Guest
Robert P
5 years 6 months ago
it’s not just you… Good music has to come to you by time. When you love a song from the minute you first heard it, it’ll be boring after listening to it 10 times. I look at the PhoeniX every day and begin to see the pure beauty of it. By the way: I noticed that the PhoeniX is exceptionally well received by the press and most comments at ‘non-saab’ websites are positive to very positive. So, is it just us Saabies that need to get used to the design? Are we too conservative? Do we really want to have… Read more »
Jeff
Guest
Jeff
5 years 6 months ago
The first time I heard Rites of Spring, I knew I’d be listening to that album for the rest of my life. It’s been 7 years, and I still play it at least once a week. I know pretty much every drum roll and cymbal crash, every word and shriek, and every chord, yet every time I listen to it I notice something different. Sometimes, you hear something, and you just know. I felt the same way about the GM900 the first time I saw it. I’d never seen a car like it (or at least never noticed one), and… Read more »
Talladegan
Guest
Talladegan
5 years 6 months ago

“Sometimes, I get out of my 9-3, and turn around to lock it, and I stare at the hatch for 10 minutes because something caught my eye.”

Jeff, don’t worry, you can get replacement rear wipers quite easily 🙂

Thylmuc
Guest
Thylmuc
5 years 6 months ago
Something that weirdly has not been discussed is the length: 4.42 m, iirc. Based on Poenix, a platform intended for the new 9-3 (4.7 m?) and the next 9-5 (5m again?). So on first sight, it appears that the platform would cover three car classes, and could also be used for a 92. If that 92 would be raised a bit to let’s say 1.5 m, it might offer enough space for a compact car. Then there is the question of cost, of course…. Design wise, as I said, the basic question whether to openly show technical features like buttresses,… Read more »
bk-aero
Guest
bk-aero
5 years 6 months ago

It has been said that the 9-2 can’t use the Phoenix platform. So it’s only 4.6x m (9-3) to 5 m (9-5) with the next 9-4X somewhere in between.

Thylmuc
Guest
Thylmuc
5 years 6 months ago

Well, it evidently is 4.4 m. Maybe Saab made some progress in developing the platform. Considering what goes on at Saab lately, I would not be surprised.

Saabulon
Guest
Saabulon
5 years 6 months ago
“To put it plainly – the links to Saab are not just skin deep. They extend beyond simple visuals and go to the reasons why things are done a certain way.” I actually think that’s rather refreshing. It seems as if EVERYBODY is trying to bring past glories to life through looking in the rear view mirror. Yes, I think VW’s new bus is just laughable – however, people seem to love it. Was it awarded “best in show”? Anyway, car buyers seem to be of the same breed as music listeners. You go for the instant kick, the instant… Read more »
MarkoA
Guest
MarkoA
5 years 6 months ago

On a Finnish forum we discussed about the PhoeniX´s driveability. I don´t see a reason to doubt JC´s word about the driveability. He says it´s fully functional car, driveable. I had to grab a screenshot from a PhoeniX presentation video where they show the engine without covers. just in case some of you have not seen this video, here´s the shot:
http://tinyurl.com/6dwxpfp

Indian
Guest
Indian
5 years 6 months ago
OK – For me the car is also after some time and looking at more Fotos a disapointment. For me it is not a SAAB-Design. Why? I don’t see much of old Design. Where are the Teardrop? I can’t see it. And if we talk about SAAB-Design. What is it? For me is it not the URSAAB, not the 96, not the 99 and not the 900. If we say that not the Hockestick, not the teardrop, not the frontshell, not the windowcurve are the elements it is clear for me: a realy SAAB has to be outstanding, timeless with… Read more »
Ck1x
Guest
Ck1x
5 years 6 months ago
Jeff: I totally agree with u 100% on this! Saab needed to do something of this magnitude to stand up and be noticed. What’s gets me is that people are saying that it has no Saab DNA whatsoever! Which if u look at the UrSaab and the PhoeniX side by side. Its clear where JC took inspiration from. As well as this car being to agressive and no other Saab’s having agressive looks really means that people haven’t taken a closer look at one coming in their rearview mirror at night before. Between the 08′ refreshed 9-3 and the new… Read more »
Millerman
Guest
Millerman
5 years 6 months ago
“the sub-120kg models” Mate, I know the 9-5 could go on a diet, but that’s just radical 😉 I had the same process when i saw the pictures. At first I didn’t think it was as Saab as a Saab should be. Then I saw the explanation behind those wings and I realised that it’s the thought behind the design that’s very Saabish. End it with the press interview by Jason where he says the new 9-3 will be more Swedish in design, less flamboyant, and I was sold! Jason is truly a great asset for the company, I can… Read more »
turbokalle
Guest
turbokalle
5 years 6 months ago
Well spoken as always Swade. Your comment on the turnaround of the Swedish press I fully agree on. My general feeling is that they are treating Saab with more dignity and respect once they finally understood what Saab has gone through and what amazing things they have acchieved during the last year. I feel they are atarting to belive. Whether this is typically Swedish i do not know, but it made me think of something that happened about 20 years ago. We had British visitors and we went to watch the local bandy* team play. Things did`nt go well for… Read more »
North Toronto Punter
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
I’ve never thought of Saabs as milquetoast metal for tree-huggers — au contraire (that’s OvloV’s brief) ! That they may (or may not) have a comparitively benign environmental affect ( after all , Saab is an automobile marque not a wind-chime) was secondary (tertiary even) in my purchase decision of the Turbo X and assessment of The PhoeniX. Those who suppose a beyond left field ‘aggressiveness’ in this Concept would do well to listen to Simon Padian’s unveiling of the latest 9-3 (captured on YouTube somewhere — I have the DVD) at the 2007 Festival. Or peek in Bjorn Envall’s… Read more »
saabonaut
Guest
saabonaut
5 years 6 months ago

thank’s so much for the hint, i guess you meant this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEF3xBGwNNQ

there’s no word of aggressive but dynamic – distinctive -PROgressive -> that’s exactly the key: saab’s progressive – not aggressive….. so SAAB please please, don’t become “audi-ish” but dynamic and progressive !! 😉
I truly love the new awesome 9-5-design and as for the 9-3 JC will push it further and this is great…

North Toronto Punter
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Watch the video from 2:50-ish on: ‘sinister’ is used ….leading to Simon’s statement : “whether day or night you know that it is a Saab coming up behind you”.

[Translation: BMW Hunting 🙂 ].

MariusGTV
Guest
MariusGTV
5 years 6 months ago
Swade is spot on again! I agree totally with what he is saying. There are things about the PhoeniX I love and things I hate and that is what car design should do. Divide and inspire discussion. I can definately see SAAB in this car. The side profile I think says SAAB as does the front. In fact, the front reminds me a lot of the good old 9000. The lights are quite low and narrow and really look great. My first SAAB was a 9000 and I loved that car but again the looks were not to everyones taste… Read more »
David
Guest
David
5 years 6 months ago

Swade – nice way to put it. Overall, I think the most important aspects of the car – the platform, length, overhangs, and front end are quite good and I’d love to see on future Saabs. The wings, rear end, and modular styling is just concept stuff that hopefully was just for show.

Romac
Guest
Romac
5 years 6 months ago

Anyone else see a similarity to my favourite non-SAAB – the Bristol Fighter?

Thylmuc
Guest
Thylmuc
5 years 6 months ago

Right you are!!

If they had come up with that design, nobody would have complained, except for Bristol. But maybe, also nobody would have noticed.

saabluster
Guest
saabluster
5 years 6 months ago

Hilarious. I bet if you just put SAAB on the front and the airplane logo on the back JC could sell that as a SAAB to the crowd here and they’d fall for it hook line and sinker. Ask me how I know.

bejaks
Guest
bejaks
5 years 6 months ago

Too bad for you since Bristol just went out of buissnes.

Romac
Guest
Romac
5 years 6 months ago

Yeah! Gutted about Bristol. Can’t see there being an international “Save Bristol” campaign. Wonder if VA has still some spare cash?

MarkS
Guest
MarkS
5 years 6 months ago
I have to admit I had mixed feelings about this concept after the wraps came off. At first the overall design seemed visually cluttered for my tastes…but there were definitely some very attractive elements there. After looking at it for a while, I began to appreciate it a bit more. For instance, I think the spoilers were a great idea, and very Saabish. They got people thinking about an old concept in a new way, which is something Saab has been doing for decades. I think it really made the concept a standout at this show from a conceptual perspective… Read more »
Ed K.
Guest
Ed K.
5 years 6 months ago
Swade, Thanks so much for your thoughts – a very interesting read. Like you, I only really started liking this after a little time passed to let the design sink in. But this is also a true blue characteristic – the designs only get better with time (I like the OG 9-3 better today than I did when it was a current car). What I truly appreciate about this car is that it is not retro in any way, but stays true to Saab. So much Sonet in this in my view – both the nose and the back (Sonnet… Read more »
Bernard
Guest
Bernard
5 years 6 months ago
To me there are two key engineering points to this concept. First, Saab seems to have moved the transmission output and driveshafts ahead of the engine. That may seem like a minor thing, but it brings with it a lot of consequences for packaging, weight distribution and polar moment of inertia. The Citroën Traction Avant used this architecture almost eighty years ago, so it’s not a new thing, but it is something that almost no one else is currently doing. Second, the car is under 120g/km CO2 with a gasoline engine. That’s the best of both worlds. I’m confident that… Read more »
GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 6 months ago

I think you’re right about the engine and transmission placement. This would make it a front mid-engined design. I wonder what the weight distribution is? Lately I have been able to enjoy a rear mid engine design (Boxster) and come to realize that you loose a lot of high end driveability with the over-the-front-axle engine design. The understeer on my Viggen really limits its cornering capability.

DAVID
Guest
DAVID
5 years 6 months ago

I LOVE IT! I even like the wings, though I doubt they would ever make it into production. I look at it daily as it is my desktop and iPhone wallpaper. Now I have to sit and wait in agony like a dog looking at an unobtainable treat for signs of the new 9-3!

Ck1x
Guest
Ck1x
5 years 6 months ago
I think what probably threw most people off more so than anything was the “Liquid Metal” paint scheme. Because when the same car was photo-chopped a bit and painted black it stirred lots of interest in what can come out of this design language in this concept! The color was bolder than the actual design of the car in my opinion… That was the most Un-Saab like thing that I saw. Other than that I love the energy and freshness that Jason brings to Saab. Because the old way wasn’t working anymore, let’s face it people. Even Volvo knew when… Read more »
charlie
Guest
charlie
5 years 6 months ago
Big picture: can anyone see GM approving this design? The forward opening hood, the nose, the paint (which is amazing), are all very very good. The rear? The slash lights, ok. nice to be back. the kamm back is efficient and UGLY — so you have to give JC a love of credit for making it look good. The buttress and/or wings, well, as I said, to have aero-roof racks like that might be interesting. The engine see through? don’t get that. I remember hating the 900NG when it came out saying SAAB had lost it. I thought the 9-5… Read more »
saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 6 months ago
How many times does this have to be said…THE CAR IS A STYLING EXERCISE…PERIOD. People here for YEARS have been whining about the lack of refreshing of the entire model line at the hands of GM. SAAB finally break away from GM…hire a top notch designer…put out a 21st century show car…and you clowns STILL aren’t happy. Fine…you don’t like the “direction” SAAB are going in? Then vote with your feet…and go to GM. They’re still producing crappy looking cars…so you all should feel right at home. So…buh-bye folks. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the… Read more »
GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 6 months ago

Cool it Dude!

If you listened carefully to Jason you would understand that the discussion here is exactly why he made the PhoeniX the way it is.

saabdude
Guest
saabdude
5 years 6 months ago

Actually…”dude”…turning people OFF to SAAB isn’t what I think he had in mind…”dude”.

hughw
Guest
hughw
5 years 6 months ago
My first reaction was pretty negative, but I’m warming to it. Especially as a show car that can generate some buzz for Saab, but I do see things that can be carried over into production cars that will “move the marque” even if they get rid of the view of the engine real quick. I think Jason has truely done his job in creating a car that symbolized Saab’s way into the future. I loved the coverage of the 9-5SC, but I would love to see some more. Any test drives yet by selected media? Any equipment lists? Pricing? Shipping… Read more »
Sieaero
Guest
Sieaero
5 years 6 months ago

Swade,

To quote a euphemism, however innapropriate, it looks like SAAB has “served cherry delight” and has become vulgar… we will all of us grieve. lol

gpg
Guest
gpg
5 years 6 months ago

In my opinion the PhoeniX looks great. The proposed mechanicals sound very interesting.
If, they would build it; I would buy it to replace my 99 Viggen. I would prefer to find my own road
then to follow the masses.

James
Guest
James
5 years 6 months ago
I find it hard to get overly excited about concept cars (though I understand their value as a marketing tool). I’m more interested to see how this shapes the real thing. Like SWade, I am slow to accept change (I still drive 2 c900s!)… That said, aside from initial amusement, the winglets (especially once explained by Jason) were not a problem for me. Like the ursaab, it is an aerodynamic concept, which I think is valuable + speaks to SAAB’s roots. That it is a running car on the new platform is also fantastic! Some visual elements are stunning, others… Read more »
James
Guest
James
5 years 6 months ago

I just wanted to add… I didn’t realize Jason managed to pull off a “properly” opening clamshell hood! That is freaking awesome!! I thought it was just another one of those quasi clamshells like on the 9-3 or 9-4x (as opposed to the very defined clams of the c900 or og9-5)… though I don’t love the seemingly superfluous bulges in the hood, the inclusion of this design cue is very very cool!

James…

GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 6 months ago

Could someone explain why everyone is getting so excited about the forward opening clamshell? I owned a 1992 900 before and I liked how the hood slid back and vaulted shut, but opened it was just making it more difficult to access the engine bay.

BTG88
Guest
BTG88
5 years 6 months ago

I found the opposite to be true. When working on my 99 and 900s, I found the clamshell offered much better access than my current Viggen.

Troels, Denmark
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Good observations!

Peter, Sweden
Guest
Peter, Sweden
5 years 6 months ago
I totally love the car. I was skeptical for like an hour, but then it all fell in place. I’ve said this before, but after reading comments in this post I want to say it one more time: “… it isn’t a design study, it is a conceptual statement about future Saabs […]: – The return of the hatchback – Innovative technology – Driver-oriented cockpit – Aerodynamic focus – Power through efficiency If all that is not Saab-DNA, well, then nothing is.” — Btw, if the PhoeniX now is a fully drivable car, why are all performance and fuel numbers… Read more »
zippy
Guest
zippy
5 years 6 months ago

Swade, you nailed it yet again. Great thread. Taking the car to the NY Auto Show is probably the smartest thing Saab could do to raise a few American eyebrows. I just wish we could see it at the Vancouver Auto Show at the end of this month.

Saab Up!!

Ck1x
Guest
Ck1x
5 years 6 months ago

Case in point! Most people here were on the fence when they first saw the new 9-5 as well and a lot have come around on that…

Dan
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

I rather like the buttresses. They’re super unique and I think, more than any other part of this car, will serve to bring an end to “Saab? Didn’t they go out of business?”

Tiago do Vale
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
I can’t say I didn’t miss that unique scandinavian design economy and clarity. I was actually scared when I saw the PhoeniX. But now I understand the purpose of the concept (it’s a scream) and that JC doesn’t plan to negate those scandinavian design ideas: he’s trying to establish a range of shapes within we can work. We now know both extremes of that range. I’ve grow to enjoy the philosophy of the PhoeniX, the brilliant PR exercise the concept is, and its detailing: I like this car. What I still haven’t overcome is some odd proportions (wheels-wheelbase-fuselage-canopy-very low front… Read more »
maanders
Guest
maanders
5 years 6 months ago
I also had mixed reactions initially to the PhoeniX and have grown to like it a lot as I better understand what Jason and design team were trying to do. Jason has also said point blank in one of the videos that, of course, the new 9-3 will not be as exaggerated as this and the rear half will be more “iconic”. What would be really interesting to know is what kinds of debates went on over the design inside Saab with the employees. My guess is that the opinions and discussions were as varied and intense as they have… Read more »
Steve C.
Guest
Steve C.
5 years 6 months ago
Swade did his usual great job wrapping up the discussion of PhoeniX. I’ve felt similarly and and expressed such in prior post’s comments. The following excerpt from Swade was a key takeaway to consider and I find it worth repeating… But the important links between this concept and Saab aren’t just visual. The links are also present in the design philosophy behind the car (aerodynamics, use of technology, use of space, etc). To put it plainly – the links to Saab are not just skin deep. They extend beyond simple visuals and go to the reasons why things are done… Read more »
Curvin O'Rielly
Guest
Curvin O'Rielly
5 years 6 months ago
I’d say JC earned his pay (and then some), if only because his radically different PhoeniX design generated so much PR for Saab. No doubt a somewhat more sedate but nonetheless exciting production vehicle, possibly even a full range of them, will emerge from his design studies. All in all, you have to give VM, JAJ and others at Saab a lot of credit for letting JC push the envelope as far as he has and also giving him the resources to get the job done so quickly. For Saab to achieve complete success, a “bias for action” is absolutely… Read more »
Nate 9-3
Guest
Nate 9-3
5 years 6 months ago

JC has forced we saabnuts to do a gut check. Do we like the principles of SAAB design such as:

– The return of the hatchback
– Innovative technology
– Driver-oriented cockpit
– Aerodynamic focus
– Power through efficiency

Or do we like the results of SAAB design such as:

The reverse hockey stick
The SID
The Night Panel
The Griffin

I think that he took us deeper than a surface-level valuation of our supposed ideals and I think that he shook our collective tree. Well done, JC.

ehallii
Guest
ehallii
5 years 6 months ago

The PhoeniX gets better looking every time I see it, although I would probably leave off the wings (handles?). But looking at it now, all I can think of is that it would be unbelievable as a Sonnet, sitting in the Saab showroom. Also a perfect platform for the 92.

(db)
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Look at this breath taking concept http://www.pininfarina.com/index/eventi/Special-2010-Geneva-Motor-Show/2uettottanta.html and then look at the PhoeniX. Nuff said?

Tiago do Vale
Guest
Tiago do Vale
5 years 6 months ago

That’s a good design (though not up with Pininfarina’s best, in my opinion).
And it’s a brilliantly appropriate design… for Alfa.
I’m afraid that italian flair would never translate in any useful or correct way to a scandinavian car brand..

(db)
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

What I wanted to say: this is a good, clean design with clear, elegant lines and with appropriate brand-DNA (Alfa-DNA in this case)

Troels, Denmark
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

A very beautiful, even sensual, car-design.

saabluster
Guest
saabluster
5 years 6 months ago
You hit the nail on the head. That car is just stunningly beautiful. Take all the badges off and there is still no doubt what brand the car is because they stayed true to the DNA. It sure would be interesting to strip the PhoeniX of its badges and throw it in the middle of the car show with a ballot box asking what brand the car was. I doubt very many people would guess correctly. VM is constantly talking about DNA this and DNA that. Maybe he is a genetic scientist on the side as he has inserted some… Read more »
Jörgen Trued - SUHRT
Guest
Jörgen Trued - SUHRT
5 years 6 months ago
Remember a conversation I had with late Saab head engineer Gunnar Ljungström. He was driving the Ursaab and I asked him when coming out of the car what he felt driving the old machine. Gunnar was very disappointed almost angry to the point that he said the design was a total disaster. “- It was Sixtens Sasons fault he had got the idea that the car should be teardrop designed (crosssection of a aircraft wing), I tried to convince him that it should have a rear end according to the german aerodynamist Kamm. Just look at the Honda Aerodeck (mid… Read more »
saabluster
Guest
saabluster
5 years 6 months ago

“Just look at the Honda Aerodeck (mid 1980ies), that was my design proposal. ”

Sounds like he would have been quite proud of the Biohybrid;)

You are also correct that the PhoeniX is not a teardrop. I’m sick of hearing it described that way. You can’t make something teardropped just by calling it teardrop.

GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 6 months ago
There IS a teardrop! It’s the glass canopy that is shaped like one. Although I have some reservations with respect to the overall design I do think that Jason found a very clever way to get a teardrop shape in a Kamm back car. When Victor Muller started talking about going retro with teardrop shaped cars I was very much afraid that Saab actually would make a teardrop shaped car. From aerodynamics point of view (lack of down force!) and usability (lack of interior space in the back) this would have been a disaster. In this sense I’m pretty happy… Read more »
Ted Y
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Funny, I just remembered the sneak peak article from Feb 12 here: http://saabsunited.saabklubben.se/2011/02/geneva-press-invitaion-and-jc-concept-peek.html
Everybody was asking questions like: horn “thing” what is that?
— or speculating that it was a rear spoiler
Well, now we know. Amazing how well they camouflaged the rest of it. 🙂

c-dub
Guest
c-dub
5 years 6 months ago

This design is baffling. Ostensibly, it’s meant to evoke the Ursaab (which was a genuinely groundbreaking car). Where the Ursaab was taut and restrained, though, this thing is festooned with fins and folds and curlicues from tip to tail. It’s as if Castriota completely misunderstood the fundamental beauty of the Ursaab – and perhaps, unfortunately, the entire Saab legacy.

Carl-Henrik
Guest
Carl-Henrik
5 years 6 months ago

I do like the PhoeniX but there are only two things I don’t agree with in the design. The two bulbs along the hood sweeping backwards. And the dotted tail light. I would prefer a smother slick line of ice-block/led-thing.

rodmylon
Guest
rodmylon
5 years 6 months ago

I completely agree on the tail lights. (And the interior should be green).
The hood is, intentionally, a bit exaggerated. But somebody pointed out that it resembles the sonett closely:

But yeah, I hope they tone it down a bit for the next 9-3, and JC confirmed that

Carl-Henrik
Guest
Carl-Henrik
5 years 6 months ago

The thing in the middle of the hood on the Phoenix I don’t have so much to say about. It’s the two longer “horns” that flow from the grill backwards to the A-pillars. Those are the ones that has to be dropped. But I do like the new grille. It’s clearly more aggressive than the current one.

It will be interesting to follow this work.

saaburban
Guest
saaburban
5 years 6 months ago
If the main reason for making concept cars is to test certain design ideas, the phoeniX is surely is testing everyones patience. Its easy to believe that Jason is arrogant when he dimisses almost all the design clues that Saab has buildt up for the last 60 years when making the phoeniX. Whithout throwing insults, im starting to wonder that these are the signs of inexperience. The phoeniX is a joke to many of the people I shown the images to. My question is, why throw it all away. This was the moment when Jason, could have proved to world,… Read more »
North Toronto Punter
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
“american musclecar ambitione” [sic]– from a 4 Banger Bimmer? Who’s pulling who’s funny bone? Concern rather that The Concept gets dumbed down where the ‘knock your socks off’ elements (winglets especially) are neutered…that we miss an opportunity to distinguish ourselves from The Quotidian Dross. There’s too much competition to do otherwise…this isn’t a chess game. People’s Livelihoods are on the line. Surely the experience of borderline bankruptcy — in North America especially, still touch and go — is reason enough to shed any pretense of Safe and Boring Middle Ground. The Arrogance to suggest otherwise Galls me . There is… Read more »
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