Photoshop Fun: How Would You Customize a 9-4X Interior?

One of the constant issues brought up by Saab fans and reviewers has been the interior material and color choices of the new 9-5 and 9-4X. While I think that in person they come off much better– and the new 9-5 Sportcombi dashboard panel upgrade is fantastic in my opinion– it’s always fun to speculate how changes might look in real life.

Today’s focus will be the 9-4X, as I’ll be eating my lunch beside one today near the East River with Tim Colbeck. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask him in person, let me know here in comments, otherwise I’ll be focusing on the insanely long US pricing thread and constructive dialogue mentioned there. As a jumping off point, see the changes I’d make to this 9-4X’s interior after the break. Then comment on how you’d change it yourself if you could.

I’m using the top of the line Aero as my canvas, though I might address the base model in a future post. I’m focusing on the #1 complaints reviewers have had of the 9-4X: it’s a sea of black plastic, and it’s too dark.

One of the reasons for this is obviously to reduce glare. I purposely left the dashboard surface black to avoid this. Also the steering wheel stays dark. From there on, there’s definitely some changes at hand…

  1. Brushed Aluminum Dash Surround: Whether or not this is plastic or not isn’t crucial to me, I just think it would go a great way towards brightening up the cabin. I actually am a big fan of the texture and metallic effect dash panel in the 9-4X, in person it’s much better than in pictures. However I still think it’s 3 shades too dark. Lightening the pigment wouldn’t add much cost if any but would really help. Cost: Assuming the supplier can just lighten the paint mix, $0
  2. Aluminum Dash Vents: These would be the same exact plastic as the gear lever surround, and help to tie in the shiny bits around the car and brighten up the whole look. I’d put them all over the interior, not just the dash. Anywhere a finger is going to touch or an eye is going to be glancing, get some better lighter textures. Cost: Repainting the dash vents to match the gearbox plastics, $0-$500
  3. Light Seats for Aero and Premium Versions: While Parchment Leatherette is an option for the absolute base models, as soon as ventilated seats are specified, light leathers are out in favor of dark grey or black. At the same time, Parchment is available on the Aero 9-5 and even on the Cadillac SRX which is built side-by-side with the 9-4X (and shares suppliers with too). Again, the light seats contrasting against the dark carpets almost entirely solves the darkness problem in my opinion. Cost: Assuming they’re just substituting the same leathers Cadillac uses and charges no more for, $0.
  4. Light Leather Wrapped Dash Panel: One of the best details in the 9-4X to me is the french-stiched leather wrapped dash panel– it’s so nice I wish that the 9-5 had it too. While I enjoy the dark dash’s functionality in bright light, the vertical surface on the dash leather panel could be lighter without distracting the driver. It would also add a nice tactile look for the driver, and call out this luxurious detail. Cost: Assuming they’re just substituting the same leathers Cadillac uses and charges no more for, $0.

And here’s the special top of the line edition for RedJ (hope you like it man!)

While the wood would certainly add cost, I think the premium effect it has really adds a lot. RedJ sounded off in comments and I added this for him. I will literally photoshop any ideas you have together as I have time and post them in this article for debate. Keep cost in mind though.

That’s my take on it. Sound off on your own after the break. If you hate what I’ve done, you won’t hurt my feelings. 🙂 One thing that I’ll always remember about my parents buying their first European car was that my Mom was willing to wait an extra three months just for the lighter beige interior one that she wanted to come into port– the black was just too dark. While I still love the 9-4X’s interior, having a low cost solution that will bring in more customers otherwise turned off by the sea of grey/black (probably many women) would be a pretty easy and painless solution.

As a quick refresher, here’s what the original concept looked like over 3 years ago. Note the light details.

This is not an ultimatum or a “I think Saab is doomed if they don’t thread,” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think the 9-4X is brilliant. I’m just opening up a dialogue on what no to low cost options you would choose if you could. SU can be fun when we try to think creatively as a community and bounce ideas off each other.

Mark
Member
5 years 3 months ago

The 9-4x’s interior does look good especially in some colours, but the steering wheel is bad and always makes me think of this:
I know the thing is built by GM but it still deserves a better wheel. Actually the 9-5 deserves a new steering wheel even more.

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I personally prefer wood rather than metal. Birch veneer could look nice. But it would then be too expensive for some tastes.

Toby K
Member
5 years 3 months ago
+1 in the UK wood is seen as a bit Old Man (golf clubby-old fashoned etc) but I am not old well I am 37 but I still love wood-it maybe old fashioned but it is synonymous with luxury more so than carbon or alluminium. I have thought for a long time after seeing a volvo with light wood almost like beech or pine beautifully detailed-that Saab should do that-it looked clean fresh and scandinavian-a beech marquestry dash would be very cool Another option I have seen which looks good if done well is engine turned steel. like the old… Read more »
Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Toby,
I was searching for a picture of that Volvo interior and found that Volvo has very dark interiors and the wood is now also very dark, so if you want something less dark you have to choose brushed aluminium. 🙁

bk-aero
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Have a look at this and this. I don’t like the overall interior styling but the wood is very nice.

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

bk, those are old pictures.
But yes, I did forget the XC60, which now looks slightly different. 😉

kenthebeardman
Member
5 years 3 months ago

+1……Birch veneer with some light leather and light carpet would be just soooo great, and soooo scandinavian. Excellent.

Toby K
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Exactly-really fresh looking.

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Comparing production with prototype I can only say, the ashtray must disappear !!!!

And put the NP-button left of the steering wheel !!

Bravada from GMI
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Please do ask Tim how is he going to mobilize the dealer base to reach out to local current and potential customer bases and build local Saab communities. I believe this is absolutely necessary to sell a brand a like Saab. How will he leverage resources such as SU and Swade. Will we see a “Saabbook” portal for cars and their drivers?

nickX
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Very nice!! the only thing, I really don’t like, is the steering wheel. not too far away from a certain german mass product…

Ken H
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Nor aluminium or wood seem to trickle my senses, I think I’d rather see some of the concept car materials sneek in. And the steering wheel needs to change. It’s the thing the driver always is in contact with, and it should not be a GM-looking thingie.

kenthebeardman
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Thanks for addressing this issue, since I can’t understand why we have to be stuck with dungeon dark interiors in the Aero versions. For ME – in the 9-4X – I would love to have a variety of the 9-5 Vector parchment (seats / carpets / lower dash), together with properly accentuated doors. The upper dash and steering wheel may be black, if necessary. The instrument / button cluster should have a nice scandinavian wood – at least as an additional cost option. As for the 9-5 Aero, I can’t for my life understand why we are not able to… Read more »
Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

My 2 cents on the steering wheel.

Saab can change the steering wheel from a 3 spoke to a 4 spoke, but as long as the knobs and buttons stay the same everyone will see a GM steering wheel, no matter if the original design was from Saab or not.

This said, I don’t think the steering wheel is the (or a) major problem, so it could justify the costs.

ryanonsrc
Member
5 years 3 months ago
I actually have a big problem with the steering wheel design. It has a bit of a rental car look to it, which doesnt fit with the wonderful dash design. But, what I *really* dont like is the fact that the griffen has been removed from the streering wheel. I just recently purchased a 2007 9-3 2.0T and seeing that Griffen as I sit behind the wheel is something I don’t want to give up. I seriously hope they rethink their steering while design in future versions, because I think it is the weakest link in their otherwise beautiful cars.
Dannii
Member
5 years 3 months ago
I recently made a decision to forego the Volvo V60 in seashell metallic with parchment type leather interior simply because I had to wait until September 2011 for this to become available but settled for the S60 sedan in white but with a birchwood/veneer color leather interior. Apart from lighter interior colors being a smudge too quick to get dirty, it is difficult to fathom why people in this country specify vehicles in dark interior colors, i.e. black when we have 40 degrees searing heat and 365 days / year of sunlight. Oh, I chose the closest thing to a… Read more »
Baracuda
Member
5 years 3 months ago

In Germany you can get the Aero 9-4x with parchment interior and also with gray. So Europe seems to have a better way to customize the 9-4x than the USA?

m.i.b
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I like the concept interior a lot 🙂 Like glass look, aluminium buttons, hmmm 🙂

Vector-SS
Member
5 years 3 months ago
What really could brighten up an interior is changing the color of one of the biggest parts in any cars interior – the seats/door panels. Saab needs to introduce at least 3 different seat leather colors.They need a more lively color such as saddle/cinnamon/light brown – something along those lines. With matching carpet trim, interior door panel changes, glove box, plastics, etc and things would look completely different. Add a long a few aluminum accents such as the vents, etc and the car’s interior will change dramatically. It looks extremely dull because the interior is mainly grey, the leather is… Read more »
Bernard
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Let’s establish a baseline: no Saab plastic should be painted to look like metal. Fake metals look cheap when new, and they start to flake within the first year. I like the all-plastic Saab dash. I used to think it was too plain, but then an architect friend pointed-out to me that wood, metal and carbon fibre inserts are just dead weight with no structural purpose. That’s when things started to make sense. I can see either going with two tones of plastic (like in my 2002), or using a different material in a structural way. What doesn’t work for… Read more »
Jarkko
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Agree, Bernanrd. Do not paint plastic to look metal. Use metal instead.

Jarkko
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I am more worried about the outside colours. There are usually about five different greys (they call them silver, of course), one white and a couple of black versions. Why don’t they give us greens, yellows and a few blue versions for exterior paint? So COLOURS! I know there is a new blue introduced so it was nice.

And I hate black interiors, too. Mainly as they all look the same and are hot in summer. I now drive a 9-3 with interior in Parchment of Vector form.

Nick9-3
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Anyone have an idea when we will be able to build & price a 9-4X on Saab USA’s web site? I like the idea of having the parchment interior available throughout the range.

Steve C.
Member
5 years 3 months ago

As I’ve thought about Saab’s move to parchment, black and gray interior colors, I keep thinking about the days when Saab offered the beige/tan interiors. My 9000 and ’01 9-5 had that color – one might say the more natural color for a leather seat. The top of the 9000 dash top was even in this light color. I hope it comes back.

Börjesson
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Maybe the idea is absurd (I’m useless at design, and I know it!), but I can’t help thinking that Red J’s nice birch dash surround would look really good against a dark moss green panel. I mean that the whole shebang, the “sea of black plastic”, would be moss green instead of black. Add leather seats in the same birch colour as the surround, and we’d be in business. A green interior would limit the suitable exterior colours, of course, but in the current palette, I think the dark blue and the red are the only ones that wouldn’t work… Read more »
SVX92
Member
5 years 3 months ago
I’d like to see something unique. Something SAAB, not a me too of what everyone else is doing. I’d rather a mother of pearl effect that gives us an iceberg look. If the multiple shades can’t be molded into the plastic piece then I’d like to see it done like those antique reverse paintingswhere the back side of glass was painted to create clouds w depth. ( sorry if I’m redundant I’ve mentioned this before) and yes Id love to see saddle brown leather as an option. Saab needs to be fashion and trailblaze. ( GM reference too easy not… Read more »
ajknut24
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I’ve always liked the “glass” dash surround since the 9-4X concept debuted, and I think it would look great in the production 9-4X (and 9-5). If I remember correctly, it was originally to be included in production 9-5s, but supplier issues prevented this from happening. Does anyone know if SAAB can get this surround produced for reasonable costs? If so, it would go a long way towards lightening the interiors of SAAB vehicles in an elegant and tasteful way, IMHO.

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