Editorial: Early days for Saab future directions

Last night I wrote the following:

It’s been a veritable Muller love-fest for the last four weeks – and rightly so because there’s been much to celebrate and he’s at the heart of it – but today, March 22, is when the rubber hits the road for the new Saab.

…..so it seems fitting that the very next day, we saw the first writeup of the new Saab 9-5 since the Saab sale went through.
It was only a quick review of a pre-production model, but the positivity from Edmunds in that article was undeniably good food for the Saab lover’s soul.
If there’s been anything more encouraging than that, though, it’s the sense of direction we can deduce from VM’s comments in recent interviews.

  • A bi-turbo ‘Viggen’ model in the 9-5 range.
  • Higher spec trim options for customers
  • Better interior materials across the board in coming models.
  • A change from 9-3 and 9-5 designations to 93, 95 etc

These are just small insights, but they’re indicative of the fact that the wheels have already started turning in VM’s quest to give Saab a bit more of the personal touch. It’ll cost you something, but I believe it’s absolutely essential that Saab go down this path and provide more ways for people to get exactly what they want.
I’ve always loved cars that are different in some way. It’s one of the things that drew me to Saab in the first place. But even within the Saab range, I’ve always gravitated towards cars that were special in some way. I don’t think I’m the only one who acts this way. I’ve had a 99 Turbo (x2), a 1985 Saab 900 Turbo 16, a Saab 9-3 Viggen and then a Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo (SE Sport in other markets).
People look to these special edition models as hallmarks in a range of vehicles. They get people excited, even if they don’t end up buying them.
The last really special car Saab released was the 9-3 Turbo X in 2008. Prior to that it was the Saab 9-3 Viggen, the last model year for which was back in 2002. That’s a six-year stretch without one of these really aspirational models in the lineup*.
I remember the first Saab I drove after moving here to Tasmania in 1995. I was at University for three years initially and in no place to consider a new car. It was around 1998 that I took a mid-1980s Saab 9000 for a test drive. It was finished in Rose Quartz paint with a dark red leather interior. I can still remember the overwhelming sense of luxury I felt in that car with it’s magnificent leather aroma and the sense of warmth that the interior gave.
As good as Saabs have been since then, that sense of pure luxury has been missing – for me, at least. The 9-5 has come close on the occasions that I’ve driven one, but not quite.
The good news is that Saab seems to be heading back to a place where they’re giving people that feeling once again. It’ll take more than some trim options to do it, but it’s a start in terms of bringing back to Saab something that’s been lacking a little.
A sense of occasion.
Some inspiration. Anticipation.
Something to aspire to.
If you want to talk about what the German car companies have over most of their competition, it’s stuff like this. Some of it’s genuine, some it’s marketing, but it all adds up to sales and that means money to invest in new models.
All I can say is that I like the direction Saab’s taking in these early days.
Make them individual once again? Make them move our mind?
Yes please.
* Perhaps you could count the 20th Anniversary Convertible (Cerulean Edition in some markets) as one of these aspirational models, but I’m not sure

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