Saab 9-3X concept, circa 2002. Never made.

The fact that the Saab 9X was an even bigger shame, but I digress.


Hyundai aren’t going to make this vehicle, either, or so they say.

But they will unveil this small SUV, called the Curb, as a concept vehicle in Detroit next week. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a Hyundai that looks a bit like another car. It’s not the first time I’ve seen one that looks like a Saab, either.


I’m not contending that Hyundai stole this design language from Saab, no matter how derivative I find their work. I simply saw this Hyundai in a news article today and that duo of Saab concepts was the first thing I thought of. The 9X still makes me drool.

I’m just lamenting that one of my favourite concept families of all time, the 9X and 93X didn’t get to see the light of day. They could have been so good.


47 thoughts on “Lament”

  1. The only thing I wish they would tweek with the 9X concept before production is that they should widen the grill part – do it a bit more as the 9-5 Areo version of today. Then after that they just could start producing it.. 😉

  2. Saab+GM = huge potential wasted, especially axing of 9X and SUV project were huge errors, sad but true but past is past.

    Saab can only look forward now, I expect a quite good year.

  3. Simply another example of GM not wanting SAAB to outshine (a.k.a. outSELL) any of the other GM brands. There seemed to be a conserted effort on GM’s part to keep SAAB just barely alive, yet not bring new vehichles to the marketplace. Simply pimp them on the autoshow circuit. Why…who knows…but it was a shame.

    Hopefully, some of these “older” concepts can be refreshed for today’s market. Unless GM have exclusive rights to their existence…which I sure hope they do not.

  4. I must say that I see a lot of details of the 9X in the 9-3 SC. The tailights, the form of the C-pillar, the hood, the grill…

    • 9X?
      Or is it the Saab 9-3X concept You mean?
      The first picture in the post.
      In that case I agree.

    • I recall seeing all these concept cars when they made it to the NY Auto Show. But the best experience was seeing them all next to each other at the Saab Museum at the time of the 2007 Jubilee in Trollhattan.

      I’d like to add that the 9-3X concept was a driver for the 9-3 Sport Hatch concept that resulted in the final exterior look of the 9-3 Sport Combi. The 9-3 SC arrived in the US in 2005 when I first saw it in person at SOC05 in Vermont and I believe it was a 2006 MY new offering.

  5. @Jr. Exactly, it’s a concept design and it showed where Saab was headed. And look at the A-pillar compared to the new 9-5’s, too.

    The amount of negative comments Hyundai get in pretty much every automotive forum is astounding. Yet, they just get better and better – don’t think anyone could argue with that.

  6. I am in the minority here, but the 9-x was not as bad as people say. Corrected the big error of the 9-2x (did not change the interior) and they really tried to do some restyling. Waffle vents, wood dash in the Aero.

    I’d agree that very few traditional SAAB owners bought one, but it brought some customers into SAAB dealers in the US, and it was the US dealers who wanted a SUV.

    Would I buy one — no. But I wouldn’t buy a sedan based 9-3SS either.

    The 9-X concept, in person, was a lot more interesting than the pictures. Never liked the proportions or the interior. However, a lot of the details are superb and glad to see them evolve into the 9-3 and 9-5.

    Should be very interesting to see the next concept vehicle.

    I just hope the reverse opening hood can make it in….although I understand it isn’t practical in anything but a 900.

  7. Off-topic, but there is some really prominent Saab-advertising on one of the main Dutch newspaper-websites now:

    I saw some complaints about their prominence on Twitter, but I think it’s really good. For the non-Dutchies: it’s about the lottery that new 9-3 buyers will be entering: the three prizes are an Artic Adventure at the Pole Circle. Really nice. I even saw a few tv-adverts after the biggest late-night talkshow (Pauw & Witteman).

    Glad to see that Beherman, the importer, is working hard to gain momentum.

  8. Yes…everytime I see an Elantra hatch from the rear I think its a Saab 9-3SC. While the car
    can’t anything like a 9-3 you wonder who copied who.

  9. Hyundai may not make this exact car, but they will undoubtedly make a B segment CUV. Their are a large number of B segment CUVs either for sale or coming. For example, Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke, Mitsu Outlander Sport, to name a few. I do think that Kia has taken some direction from Saab as far as their interiors go, not that I blame them. Check out the new Optima, that car is going to do very well for them.

  10. The 9x was one of the most beautiful, perfectly proportioned cars I’d ever seen, and remains so today. The more one looks at it, the more beautiful it becomes. I wish Saab had built it, but at least the 2.8L turbo V6 and Haldex AWD wound up in production Saabs. I initially hoped the 9-2 would be derived from the 9x concept, but I seem to recall it may be incorporate design elements from older Saabs.

  11. The car that has been bothering me lately is the Ford Explorer. It looks an awful lot like the 9-4x from the side profile.

  12. Fit the new 9-3 front on that Saab 9-3X concept picture, and we have a great looking small car! Better looking than VW Golf and the Audi A3 without a dout.

  13. I see that much of the body has been inspirated for the current 9-3. I’m sorry, but those headlights really don’t work for me, the rest is pretty good. =)

  14. Oh… the 9-3X…

    This was the car that opened my eyes to 2 things: Mauer’s incredible (and underused, to this day) talent, and how a Saab could look like looking forward to the future and not obsessing about the past.

    Love it, still: it’s an amazing design in many many levels.

    • Agree! 9-3x BH: One of the very best car-designs ever!!
      I would really like to have the possibility to buy this car (or the 9-3X Air :-))
      Hyundai should be embarrassed. On the other hand: They are not even close to the consequence in the two Saab concept-cars.

  15. Hyundai’s designs are derivative. Absolutely.

    The new Sonata is a possible exception, although I see a lot of influence from a previous generation Toyota Celica.

    Hyundai will only get so far with that. Mark my words.

    On the other hand, they have stepped up and offered a LOT for the customer’s money. Sustainable? Again, I don’t think so.

  16. That 9X still looks fresh almost a decade later which is a sign that its DNA was riddled with ‘Saab-ness’. 🙂

  17. The 9-3X and the other concepts are still concepts and no productions cars – otherwise Saab was history. This concepts has no Saab DNA (nasty phrase). A Saab has a big storage room, a 4 cylinder turbo charged engine and form follows function 😉
    As this isn’t true any more with current Saabs – they lost their history/ DNA. The 93-II is a nice car, a sportive car and what else? The 95-II is nice and a sportive car…
    I can’t see any DNA from 95, 93-I/ 900-II, 9000, 900 classic. As with the change from 96 to 99 Saab is looking again for new customers.
    Sorry do disturb any concept hype/ dreams. Keep on the floor. Saab needs a dealer network worlwide and a real business case (no 92 or 91 money wasters). Think of Tucker, DeLorean and others. Saab is not the NSU under an Audi (Auto Union) umbrella, they’ve need to stand on their on their own feeds. They need to be the cash cow for Spyker. Saabs facilities and knowledge isn’t worth the money without revenue.

    Never made such a bad post here. Sorry for that!

    • Hi Oliver!
      I don´t agree with you. Saab must developed in terms of design and I think that their concept cars and the new 9-5 is on the right track. Heritage is importent but you got to develop your design as time goes by which I think Saab has ongoing right now in the right direction.

      But one thing I allways think is that the finished product is dimmed and not so sharp as their concept cars, It´s a pitty.

  18. Named in the right manner. Hyundai and VW are named to be the safest cars in the US – lol
    Wasn’t there be a nordic car company to be the safest car? On which facts this result (Hyindai and VW !!) is based on?

  19. I quite agree about the 9-3x and 9x concepts. They gave me hope that the fully GM owned Saab era would prove to be both exciting and interesting. It turned out to be quite the opposite.

    Lost opportunities GM. You had so many of them…

  20. What a beauty (9-3X concept). Extreamly good looking car, I have never seen it before. It´s a pitty they never produce this elegant vehicle. Just by modernize the front it looks “up to date” even more. still a beauty.

    Actually I think Castriota going to have it hard to “top” Saabs previous concept car. They all look so great. Only he is not over designing the new 9-3 or leave this superb design language.

  21. I think the Koreans like the SAAB, or at least like to copy it. I saw the KIA pro_cee’d in the flesh today and at least from the side it resembles the SAAB concept. As it takes SAAB such a long time to commercialise its concepts it will always be this risk of copycats from mass producers, that developes models in half the time. Pity

  22. I always thought the old generation elantra’s looked like the result of a reversed engineered Saab NG900. Hyundai has been using Saabs cues for quite some time.

    • To me the later 2008 9-X BH concept looked far more Gremlin. That and looking far too much like a 2006 Skoda concept, made that particular Saab design much less appealing than the original 9X and the 9-3X CC. It’s a great shame these earlier concepts weren’t acted on. Instead GM made Saab follow a very conservative and ultimately uninteresting path.

  23. I have to say i was wrong earlier. the 9x concepts is probably the best looking saabs ever designed. The 9x has the body of a shark and the face of a Saab unlike for example a beamer that has a body of a beamer and the face of a shark. its a shame this car never came alive but if it had -in the 90’s- it would have looked pretty plain compared to this concept. At least the interior design crew at volvo studied the 9x interior closely when designing for the new s60.

  24. Seeing these concept Saabs was really one of the highlights of our trip to Trollhattan this summer. Friends who saw my trip photos asked, “So, did you do anything besides look at cars?” (Yes, we did).

    This concept car, and the one with the integrated bike rack (I’m a cyclist) really got me. Inspiring to see what the Saab designers are/were working one, but heartbreaking that they’re not being made…YET.

Comments are closed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.