Jorrit doesn’t live in Belgium, but that didn’t stop him from heading on over to Brussels anyway, to be one of the first Euro-dwellers to get a peek at the Saab 9-4x.
This is what he saw, and what he thought of it.
My thanks to Jorrit for sending it along…..
Saab has a truly great stand. It supports the Scandinavian feel that Saab is all about. It’s very clean looking and a nice place to be. The curved LED wall stands out and gives the stand a modern and technical advanced image. Also, I got the impression that the Saab employees were proud to be there and enjoyed the show. Of course, it’s very exciting to present a new Saab to (potential) customers after all that Saab has come through during the last months.
Although Belgium is a relatively small country, it’s responsible for a lot of Saab sales. So it was not strange to see many people checking out the Saab stand, especially the 9-4X and 9-5 of course. I got the impression that people were positively surprised by the 9-4X. I heard people saying that they liked what they saw.
This is the first time we got to see the real life 9-4X. At the last AutoRAI (2009), the Dutch motor show, we saw the concept car of the 9-4X. It’s great to see that there are a lot of similarities between the concept car and the production model. Something that struck us were the green/blue tinted head lights. They look quite good, but perhaps due to the lighting at the stand, they seemed to be more colored than the head lights of the 9-5. As this is the US version of the car, I think the orange part of the head lights won’t be there in the European version which makes it look more clean.
The 9-4X features a typical Saab dashboard which is angled to the driver. The interior looks great, no doubt about that, but sand color leather might make it even better. It’s easy to see that the 9-4X and new 9-5 are from the same family, which is great. One thing that is not very Saab like in my opinion is the look of the audio and navigation system. The interface on the screen features obtrusive colors and strong gradients on the buttons. In my opinion that doesn’t blend that well with the clean and uncluttered design which Saab stands for. It has probably to do with costs, but if it’s possible for Saab to change the interface theme, that might be a good idea to do. Give it more of a clean Saab feel, include the Gill Sans font, etc.
The boot looks great and the cargo rail looks useful. Also, this car was fitted with two DVD screens in the back which children will appreciate for sure. This is the Aero version, but there was no Aero badge at the back of the car. By the way, both the front and back seats were good and the leather looked nice as well. Overall it’s an outstanding car.
Car shows are a great way to compare cars. Next to the Saab stand was Land Rover. They showed their new Range Rover, the Evoque. By the looks of that car you would say that it’s a concept vehicle, but it’s really a production car. If you ask me, it looks quite Saaby (funny thing that the Evoque and 9-4X were very near to each other (it was a similar arrangement in Los Angeles, too, and the Evoque was well received by people at the Saab stand – SW).
For example the black A pillars and the sporty stance are shared by both cars. I think I would choose the 9-4X as the Evoque looks a bit too aggressive, but I have to say that the Evoque looks more modern than the 9-4X (in fact it makes the Freelander look older than it actually is, in my opinion). I hope Saab could do something like that with the all-new 9-3: make it look very modern and special so it stands out from the crowd, actually what the classic 900 did in its days.
Greetings from Holland!
34 thoughts on “One man’s thoughts – the Saab 9-4x in Brussels”
Outstanding write up and great pics! I feel as if I was there! Thanks for taking the time to go to the show and sharing the experience with all of us.
Thanks for the nice review and it is good that there was good interest for the car in Belgium, considering the size of the market.
Another thing, by looking at picture 16, you could see that there is no protection what so ever in the front of the car. In my garage, I have to drive very close to the wall, and occassionally I touch the wall. Nothing happens, as the bumpers are taking the impact, but what happens here is that you will get a scratch at the front of the car. I have noticed that the new BMW 5 series has the same problem (top of the hood will touch the wall first) and by their shark-like design, they have larget trouble than the SAAB which touches in the middle of the front first.
Yap, I had the same problem in my garage and I fixed some Polystyrene boards to the wall with some silicon
Modern cars with no black bands around the bumpers are very prone to expensive scratches …. as you have to repaint the whole bumper
Well, if your car does not have sensors in the front to assist you and you don’t feel able to judge how close the wall is, why don’t try the cheap version? Tie a ping pong ball in a string from the ceiling and when it hits your front wind shield the car is perfect position. When I grew up we had neighbours doing that. We thought it was lame not “know where your car ends”.
Often, but not always, the car is designed so that the number plate is the first point of contact if you are coming straight on.
I get the impression, that the lower “grey” part of the bumper would touch the wall first. (see picture 13)
I fully understand your concern. When I look at photo 25 it looks to me as the greyish bumper extends out so it is a bit more in front than the painted bodywork.
is it only me that thinks that THIS is how it would have looked? the classic OG900 5 door look.. they should give it a new flatter glass to the rear hatch in order to saabify it a bit more.
+1. When the first concept came out 4 years ago almost (crazy long time, thanks GM), I said the same thing. What’s interesting is the 9-5 Sportcombi has the same kind of rear hatch, where the glass and blacked out D-Pillar form this bulbous hatch thing. I understand that it needs to be there for extra cargo volume, but I wish the designers had been a little more daring and gone with a more raked approach like you’re saying. Not quite as bad as a BMW X6, but more Saaby.
Love the 9-4x. But it’s too expensive for me though if the Belgian prices is a guideline, and still no decent engine for Europe. :/
Are there no colourful cars in Belgium? Every car is either black, white or grey.
Haven’t had time to read the article yet, but just want to post this here:
According to Swedish news agencies right now (16.50 in the afternoon) 55 of the 200 employees (that wasn’t offered employment before Christmas) will stay at the factory. This is because Saab has to be able to keep up the production.
And If I got it right, 30 out of those 55 people will get a non-temporary contract.
I think, the people that told Swade that the low production rate would only last a couple of weeks may have said the truth.
Yep, I also agree on that point!
Correction. 25p get a regular employment. 30p continue a temporary employment. The name of the different employment are a bit confusing, even for swedes. :$
Viss tid = certain time, specified time
Tills vidare = so forth, until the end of time………..
Strange, eih? 😀
I wasn’t sure, nor was google 😉
The luggage space looks quite big, and very well accessible. Was there a spare tyre, and if so is it hanging underneith, like many other SUV’s? If so, that would make a nice place for a LPG conversion, which might bring back some of the potential 9-4x buyers, that would have opted for a Diesel, at least in the NL.
Very good point, Jos. It would be nice to find out from Saab if the 9-4 engine(s) is/are already configured ex-works to cope with LPG (stellite valve seats and such) as fuel or if adaptation is needed. Even better would be if Saab supplied the 9-4 with a factory-approved LPG installation already built in. It used, I believe, to be specifiable on the 9-3 and OG 9-5. If the car is LPG-capable then it has much better chances to become a succcess in Europe, or the Netherlands in any case.
I comfortably sat in the 9-4x at the brussels show tonight. I am 6″7′, to give you an idea of legroom The review by Jorrit is accurate as to how I perceived the car.
To answer your question, there is no spare wheel. There is however a space beneath the trunk floor mat. I would say that it would be a bit less than half the size of the space you would have was there a spare wheel. I ask the question of LPG but the representative coud not answer.
My wife ( LR Freelander) went to the expo today with her father for the new Evoque 4d.
To my surprise she phoned me that she really liked the 9-4X ( I never asked her to have a look at it, since I don’t wanna bore her with my “Saabness”). I really was surprised that she find the car ” beautyfull”, as she always refers to my terrific 9-5 SW as “your ugly car” ( yeah I know….beats me too :-/ ).
Good thing that the 9-4x appeals to women also. Didn’t expect that.
Sadly the higher price tag and engines don’t fit her needs/possibilities. But her phonecall is overall a positive sign regarding Saab novices I think.
Off topic, sorry. But I just got the February edition of Car Magazine – on page 112 they drive the Spyker C8 Aileron through Arizona. Looks gorgeous. Doesn’t seem to be on line yet but I’ll look out for it.
Great write up Jorrit. I’m with you on everything you said, and can’t wait to see the 9-4x myself in a few weeks for the first time. Your thoughts on the Land Rover Evoque are spot on, and I wonder what Saab can do to be even more true to concept in future production cars. I really think that the only thing holding back the 9-4x from looking as sharp or clean as the Evoque is a solid sport package with body colored plastic moldings (as opposed to the grey), sportier wheels, removing the orange lenses, and a carbon fiber effect interior treatment. Do that and you’d be set, agree?
Having seen the all black base 9-4x at the Boston auto show, I agree that it needs a bit more aggressive package and wheels. I’m not sure that all body-colored moldings would help… The design might appear a bit plain if they do that…
This is an old one I did pretty quickly that was posted here a few months ago, I wouldn’t put all the LEDs on, but definitely some.
I’d forgotten how good you made things look, Jeff! How wheels (at least) can transform a car so…No reason we should have to wait more than a few months after launch to see those superior edge-style rims.
The wheels they chose make the car look 5 years older than it should.
The car hasn’t even been released and it’s not aging well (in the pics…I hope to get my chance to see it at the Toronto Show live before I make my final decision).
Also: I wouldn’t be using interior shots 14 nor 21 in any sales literature…
Problem is, Gm is using 6 bolts for the SRX/9-4X and 5 Spoke rims with 6 bolts look pretty weird.
The double evo rims have 6 spikes and 5 volts. And that never bothered me.
9-4x vs Evoque: author says exactly what I have in my mind. 9-4x concept was supposed to mean more to to the automobile world, than it does in it’s final form
I think the design of the Evoque is a good sign that a smaller company with a dedicated owner might be more courageous in their decisions. The same holds for the Jag XJ. Hope the same will now happen to Saab. The 9-4x is still GM influenced, and a bit more common than it should be.
I think the dash of the old 9-7X looks more Saaby and ‘cozy’ than that of the 9-4X:
It also looks way better than the Trailblazer dash:
Not even close!
I mean the Blazers!
Can’t agree on that Tollblazers 9-7X-comparision above. This 9-4X has far more Saab-spirit compared to the rebadged trailblazer.
I had the oppurtunity to see the 9-4X in the flesh, yesterday.
Quite impressive designed. And rather a bit larger than I expected. More X5-sized that X3, comparing it with the stand next door at the Brussels presentation.
And with the rather unsensible 265-300PK petrol/ > 2000 kg/€ 50K-60K, I guess sales won’t be that much more than the already forgotten 9-7X.
Good review by Jorrit.
Compared to the Evoque, design-wise both cars do appeal.
But underneath, with a few more ‘plusses’ for the Baby Range Rover, just look at the motors available (2,0 240 PK petrol / 2.2-liter turbodiesel 150 PK TD4 & 190 PK SD4). The guys (& girls) at LR do understand the European market a lot better it seems, that TD4 will sell a lot. Certainly with that entry-price. No comparision possible.
On monday evening, the Evoques were crowded where as the 9-4X at the saab-display at the same time …
And rather it is the BMW X5 35i , the 9-4X should be compared, not the tiny Evoque.
On the other hand the 9-5 attracted more visitors,which must be a good sign.
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