The great SU design debate – shaping the new small Saab: Part Two

Lance Cole is a writer living in England and has penned several books on automobiles and aviation. Saab enthusiasts would know him best for the book Saab 99 and 900: The Complete Story, which is an excellent and essential volume and available for sale at the SU Bookshop.


Lance Cole draws up some new ideas

In my first post of the discussion about a small Saab, (see photo) I rashly presented my design for a new, smaller Saab. The design was not a total retro pastiche, yet it is clear from the the 360+ comments, that even the element of retroism and curves found little favour with our readers.

Saab 91s

I still stick by the Saab 96 inspired rear end. Personally, I like it, but I have to accept that it was not on the target in marketing terms. Make it sharper, move it on, kill the retro – I think these were the messages of the amazing debate that followed. The designs presented in the comments section were great, even if some of the shapes were far from small! Having said that, Jeff came up with a small gem of a baby sporty Saab – a touch too concept coupe for a wider market possibly, but a stunner nonetheless.

I went away and thought long and hard about the whole thing. Here then is my reply, and no, it is not a copy of any of the themes that emerged in comments. This is not easy – as we are all trying to incorporate old and new Saab design elements into our work. My main need was to create a new look that had Saab elements, but which does not make me think of a Saab concept car from recent years- even if some see that as the way to go.

So here it is in three and five door forms (both on the same wheelbase).

Small Saab main side view.cole.jpg

5 door and 3 door Saab.jpg

You will note the domed roof – which apes that of the current 93 wagon and older Saabs. Picking up on a theme I first used in a futuristic Saab idea (see the red car, below) there is a rising hockey stick graphical window that runs up into a side window motif. I am quite proud of getting the side window line to rise up, and curve around and run back into the upper edge of the window graphic under the domed roof – it seems to work – perhaps even more so in the five door version?

Saab Style idea.jpg

The front part of the cabin turret has black A posts and a curved windscreen – an element I tried to avoid but which everyone wants – so let us have it then… Yes the side door remains long- another Saab 3 door tradition. And despite the looks, the 5 door version is not longer, the wheelbase is the same. The clamshell is there, but it’s a fake – a simple swage line running through the wing/fender up into the window graphic – this is much cheaper to make than a real clamshell…

Saab front.cole.jpg

The front end design builds upon the current Saab concept sharp edged grille and lamp assembly shapes, but which I have curved up a bit. To be frank, I do not like big grilles and bejewelled headlamps – it is a copyist theme that everyone from Jaguar to Citroen are using and it is hardly a new design language. But it is clear that for this car- designed for now and not 2020, a derivation of this fashion, may be appropriate.

The front has a definite face- and yes, a touch of retro about the grille- which no doubt some of you will dislike… I wanted to hint at a sort of Saaby curved snout.

At the rear, the high tail, and Kammback cut off, gives far more luggage/hatch space than in a Volvo C30, and provides excellent packaging, aerodynamic, and structural solutions. The risk is that the tail angle is one seen in other cars – you cannot avoid that with the Kammback. But no, it does not look like a Prius or an Insight – it is smaller, sharper and comes with a unique rear window glass and lamp motif.

SaabRear Cole.jpg

I kept the long doors and doomed roof from my first proposal, but this news shape is smaller, sharper, and more contemporary. The back end might do with some re -working, but the coupe-wagon cabin with its domed roof and rising side line is where it is really different from other proposals.

I hope this design gives a feeling of a car that is less ponderous than my first attempt, a car that is ‘chuckable’ and a touch cheeky – perhaps. It is not a Mini copy, but it is, I hope, more relevant than my retro idea. Does it say, Saab? I hope so, and you will tell me if you disagree…

I based this new design on the current shared production GM Opel Corsa – Fiat Grande Punto floor pan and dimensions: Now there is a thought for Victor……

So, here goes with another page in the Saabs United small Saab debate. Comments are open, try not to be too unkind. After all, this is supposed to be fun and nobody is getting paid for it, ok…

Small Saab main side view.cole.jpg

5 door and 3 door Saab.jpg

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