Saabs we can expect to see this year – but when?

The Detroit Auto Show is out of the way for 2011 and Saab used their unofficial attendance outside the show hall to announce the introduction of Hirsch Performance parts in the United States.

That’s one show, one announcement, but there’s plenty more due for this year. The fun part is trying to figure out when we’ll see all the new things that Saab has to offer.

There are plenty of auto shows around the world every year, but there are only a few big auto shows each year. I think we can expect to see a lot from Saab at each of those big shows (and a presence at plenty of the smaller ones, too).

The big, “debut-worthy” shows remaining for this year, in my estimation, are as follows:

  • Geneva – March
  • New York – April
  • Frankfurt – September
  • Los Angeles – November

The big debuts that Saab could make this year, with my guesses as to when, are as follows….

Saab design concept – Jason Castriota’s stamp on Saab design will show at Geneva. We heard as much late last year. No doubt this poured the pressure on the Saab design team, as they’re also working flat-out on the replacement for the Saab 9-3.

Contrary to what some might think, this design concept is not a lead-in to the 9-3, nor is it a look at what Saab’s small car might look like if they find a partner. This concept is intended to be a bookend to the Aero-X – a design exercise only. It’s Castriota’s baby where Saab is concerned and it will have plenty of Saab in it, but plenty of Castriota in it as well.

MY2011.5 9-3 – A mid-cycle enhancement is expected for the Saab 9-3 that will see the exterior re-shaped to look more in line with the new Saab 9-5. The car has been referred to as the Griffin Edition and is intended to carry the 9-3 through until it is replaced late in 2012.

The 9-3 is expected to get the 2.0T engine with direct injection from the Saab 9-5, said to be available in both 163hp or 220hp variations. Whether there will be enhancements to the interior is as yet uncertain, but they may be restricted to some minor trim enhancements (silver strip around the dash to become grey, and some other grey trim, too).

Geneva would be a good candidate for this to be seen, too. Given that the model is a mid-year refresh, it would make sense for them to show it in March and have it go on sale shortly thereafter.

Saab 9-5 SportCombi – I don’t know exactly why Saab release their wagons a year after they release sedans, but they do. The Saab 9-5 SportCombi will hold massive interest for Swedish customers, as well as much of Europe and a few outside as well.

It’s expected to go on sale around mid year, so I’d expect this to be the third and final big announcement for the Geneva show. I know that’s a lot to expect from one small company, but these are big debuts and Geneva’s the biggest stage available prior to them going on sale.

Saab 9-3 SportCombi TTiD with sub 120g emissions – It would be nice to have a Swedish show to launch a sub-120g/km range of diesels in the 9-3 SportCombi range but the Stockhom show for 2011 has been at best, postponed, and at worst, cancelled.

As it’s not relevant to the US market (the NY show is in April), this one might be done via a press release and drive event in Europe only.

Saab 9-3 Independence Edition Convertible

This car will use the mid-cycle enhancement that I expect to see in Geneva. The Saab 9-3 Independence Edition will be a limited edition, with just 365+1 units available worldwide for 2011, in convertible body style only.

It’s expected to go on sale in May, so a debut at the New York International Auto Show might be appropriate.

2012 Saab 9-3 and 9-5 – I don’t know how different the 2012 Saab 9-3 will be from the 2011.5 Griffin Edition, but if there are more changes, they’ll be marked as a 2012 model.

I think we can expect enhancements to the Saab 9-5 range for 2012. There is room for enhancement in the interior of the car and the possibility, however near or far, of a sub-120g/km model (tangent – I think Magnus Hansson’s “smile” in response to questions about a sub-120g 9-5 might be over-interpreted here. The good news is he didn’t rule it out).

The obvious timing for this is at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2011.

Saab 9-3 replacement concept vehicle – This car is due in the last quarter of 2012. Would they dare show a concept a year early? I know it’s been mentioned already, but I think it’s far from certain.

If they do proceed with showing this vehicle, then Frankfurt or LA are the end-of-year big shows. My tentative bet would be LA in November, contrary to previous reports about the vehicle showing in Frankfurt. It gives them something big to talk about in the United States, as well as much-needed extra time.

Showing this vehicle could give them a good reason to showcase new technology from eAAM, too.

But all that’s a very big IF.

86 thoughts on “Saabs we can expect to see this year – but when?”

  1. I wish Saab would have a display for the Philadelphia International Auto show later this month. I would guess this is a pretty sales heavy region for Saab and getting the name out at such an event would be helpful. However, I understand Saab budget constraints. Perhaps money needed to be funneled into slow sales regions and shows that bring bigger press coverage.

    • Jim, they might well have something on there in Philly. I’m not sure.

      This article’s just covering the big announcements. They’ll do plenty of other shows in between these, but these are the shows where I think they’ll announce new vehicles or enhancements to existing vehicles.

  2. Swade, I checked the Philly auto show website before posting my comment, nothing 🙁 If you hear of anything in Philly, let me know please. meanwhile, Ill keep checking the website.

    • Ah, OK.

      I just wanted to make sure people didn’t think I was proposing that the shows listed above were the only ones Saab will be at this year. They’ll be all over the place at different times (though seemingly, not in Philly 🙁 )

    • I don’t think so. Their cars are arriving very soon (might have already landed). The new thing amongst them to begin with will be the 9-3x.

      The 9-5 will come around May, I believe.

  3. I´m hoping that the 9-5SC comes as a 2012 spec car, as soon as it´s available, as I´m about to order one as soon as the order books are open. 🙂
    Right now I´ve got an OK to continue to run my soon 3 year old 9-3SC company lease car, until the 9-5SC is available.
    With 3 kids (2, 3 and 6 years) I hope the boot space is BIG! The 9-3 was leased with when we only had two kids, and is rather small. However, I still think it´s a really gret car, which gives it´s driver lots of fun behind the wheel!

    I have heard a rumour that the price of the 9-5SportCombi will add SEK12.000 to the price of the 9-5SportSedan… Sound resonable to me.

    • That would indeed make sense, so I would not be surprised to see the 9-5 SC with the upgraded interior allready in Geneva. Wow, that’s only some weeks away!

    • The all new SportCombi will be very interesting and I sincerely hope that the Swedish police force will also use it as soon as possible.

      Some images, photoshops:
      I, II, III, IV.

  4. Given that MY11 started delivering in September (orders placed in July)… Isn’t Frankfurt a tad late for MY12?

  5. One interesting announcement, which I think many persons are awaiting, but might not be appropriate to announce on an Auto Show, is the (hopefully) upcoming “small” SAAB together with some partner. Now that Antonov is “free” to invest or help with getting partner, it is hopefully easier to modify the business plan to include the small SAAB. I don’t know if anyone heard anything more on this, but in recent comments I could sense that this might be announced during 2011 and then possibly with BMW as the platform donator.

  6. There aren’t a lot of yet other confirmed auto-shows I can find where Saab will be present. I saw the Amsterdam International Autoshow (AutoRAI) is one of the confirmed on – taking place april 14-23. but I don’t think the <120g/km CO2 sportcombi will be announced there, since this value is too high for the Dutch market.

    • I guess you meant… A 119g/km CO2 sportcombi won’t have much value for the Dutch market as you won’t have any tax benefits above 116g/km CO2.

        • When the SC goes down to 119, the SS would possible hit 116 g/km and that might be relevant for the Dutch market 🙂

  7. My oracle says:
    In Geneva we will see the 9-5 SC (I think people at Saab (VM ?) have already said so) and the 9-3 Griffin Edition, as you will be able to place an order for the later one from march on (at least in Germany).

    Although Geneva is mostly about design (AeroX, 9-X BioHybrid) the JC design concept with some technology demonstration will be presented in Frankfurt.

    New York will host the American presentation of the 9-5 SC and the Independence Edition 9-3. And maybe in LA we will see the first peek of the next 9-3.

    I think the 9-5 Sedan MY 12 will have the same updates as the 9-5 SC, so in Geneva we will see if the 9-5 becomes any interior/exterior updates.

    Engine updates will be introduced in a ASAP manner.

    • Is anyone from SU going to be in Geneva to document the new concept? Would be a good opportunity to talk with the Saab team and see first hand what’s going on. If Swade isn’t going I’m guessing Red J you would be the best one to do it?

        • Very cool! That would be sweet to get some SU detail oriented photos and coverage. I should be able to take off work for a day and get to the New York show, and was hoping for someone else from the site to come with to help take pictures and to talk/interview with the executives, I know Brett volunteered a while back. I think we can all agree there’s a sense of connection to Saab whenever Swade or anyone reports directly from the shows, it would be great if someone can cover them if he can’t. Jorrit did a fantastic job in Belgium and it was great to see the production 9-4x getting so much buzz on European soil. Where are you again J?

  8. VM did an interview this morning at newspaper De Telegraaf. Here are some of the questions and answers:

    Four years ago we’ve seen the Spyker Zagato. Does sister brand Saab has something similar in store?

    “The Spyker Zagato, an incredibly beautiful car, is not yet in production. Do not expect Zagato model based on a Saab,” Victor Muller told Autovisie. “There will be a sporty Saab. I invite everyone to come to Geneva show in early March. Then we talk further,” told the Dutch Saab CEO.

    An MPV for Saab, which one reader of Autovisie would like. We ask his question to Victor Muller, CEO of the Swedish manufacturer.

    Muller is short: “In my product plan no MPV is present before and I do not think it is for Saab with a model in the segment of the Renault Espace to come. If you look where the last few years our customers to have gone, it’s Audi. If they come with an MPV, we will certainly think about it. ”

    If the Saab 92 is built, there certainly will be a stationwagon and a convertible version.

    Victor Muller showed again that he desperately wants to introduce a Saab 92. “If we re-release the 92, then it enters a market segment that is currently the fastest growing. Therefore, it is obviously interesting, but also because the 92 really has the Saab DNA in it. In addition, I also emphasize that this entry-level Saab absolutely no retro model. The DNA of this car should be translated to today. “on the engine Muller to the deal with BMW. “Mind you, the Saab 92 does not exist yet. But the BMW engines do obviously.” In anticipation of possible variants Saab 92, with the Mini as a rival, Muller responds: “It is therefore indeed very obvious that we have a convertible and stationwagon version in the market.”

    • I know that VM spoke with swedish leading car magazine Auto Motor och Sport a week ago alwell. To all swedes; look out for ne next (or perhaps the following) number.

  9. Exciting sign. According to today the Saab prototype workshop is ramping up an extra shift, hiring in 30 extra builders.

  10. Interesting times ahead for sure and hopefully the prescence at these shows will help to get SAAB back on a lot of radars.

    One point I would make though is that if they are going to do a mid 2011 update of the current 9-3 then they have got to do something with the interior. This is seriously letting the car down IMHO and is the main reason I am not currently driving a new 9-3. I like the exterior look of the car, I think it is modern and a little different when compared to most ‘euro’ boxes but the interior is just way too old and out of sinc with the refreshed exterior. Changing the silver trim for grey trim just won’t cut it for me. I am hoping to get back to SAAB with the ‘refreshed’ 9-3 and can’t wait to see it but if they are basically going to leave that inerior the way it is then I will be holding out another couple of years to get hold of the all new 9-3. I just couldn’t live with that interior.

    • IIRC, he mentioned in an interview (I think it was Swade’s) that he had not been involved in the MY2011.5 9-3 refresh, but that he thought it was really nice. 🙂

  11. Bad press for SAAB today when they got a lawsuite against for unpaid rent. Why cant they manage this better so this bad press can stop! People keeps wondering if SAAB can manage money when this pops up! And this doesnt mean that I say SAAB are wrong about there case just that its bad management!

    • Henke:
      …it concerns rent from before the reconstruction. Which happened two years ago.

      That is ancient history and does not reflect the current status of Saab at all.

  12. Swade, I think you are downplaying the importance of the Castriota concept too much. Saab doesn’t have a lot of resources for pushing out concept cars, so this will be an almost once opportunity to show what the proposed design language for the next couple of years will be. I don’t think that they will show some weird concept of which the ideas will never be used, like many of the big players with money to burn are doing.
    Saab will gauge the responses to this concept very carefully and adjust the designs accordingly. If the response is a ‘big barf’ then this could easily mean the end of Jason’s tenure at Saab. So, I feel that there is a lot riding on this concept.

    • Didn’t Swade see both the concept and the new 9-3 when he was in LA in that secret hotel room visit? I think that he would know first hand what the significance of the concept is on the future styling of the new 9-3, and so on. I don’t think anyone is the least bit concerned about a negative reaction to Jason’s designs for Saab, and from the way Victor talks about it, he wouldn’t care if it was negative that’s how much he likes it.

      Like Swade said, the new 9-3 takes a couple looks to get comfortable with, but once you get there you really appreciate it. I think Saabs should have polarizing designs and I’m excited to see the new ones.

      • Well, if the concept looks anything like the Bertone Mantide then it will definitely be polarizing.
        Hm, I forgot that Swade had some more secret inside info. I still think that this concept is very important because it will show a glimpse of Saabs future.

      • I haven’t seen this before and yes you are right, it looks great. If they can put a new, fresh interior in that and put it out as the ‘refreshed’ 2011.5 model then I will seriously consider getting back into a SAAB 9-3!

    • We should not expect any metal body parts to be changed since that is very expensive. What is more likely is slightly different headlights and taillights, revised bumpers, upgraded interior materials and the modern direct injection gasoline engines from the new 9-5. However, it shall be a very nice update, I believe. Combined with sub-120g CO2/km diesel engines also for the SportCombi, it speaks for great sales numbers:)

        • The Independence edition is expected to be an annual occurence, with 365 produced plus one extra for the number of years since independence. Hence, 365+1 in 2011. 365+2 in 2012, etc.

      • Hold your horses!
        Revised bumpers is of plastic and not that expensive. A good designer can with eas
        fix the front almost as in the picture. The only difference is the side and that they used the old hood (it looks). Even I can design that, why whoulden´t Saab. The lights front and back is a pease of cake. Make small changes is as big costs as larger ones if we stick to the revised bumpers. There for I would make the car that good looking or even more alike the 9-5. I cant se the problem you seem to believe that the image is on a completely different car. Do it smart and they will hopfully.

        PS. I look forward to see the results and check this home made thing out (not mine) but it would be nice to rebuild my own car more “up to date”.

  13. As far as important auto shows, don’t forget The Washington DC Auto Show, Jan. 28th thru Feb. 6th.

    Well…….I think this show is VERY important. it is taking place in the nation’s capital.



  14. Hope they will finally fix dealership in Russia before July 2011, so I finally can get my 9-5. Hope MY12 will have major improvements and getting MY12 instead of MY10 2 model years ago worth it.

  15. Rune, I know that but the majority of the people in Sweden doesnt and will think SAAB has problem with money again! I think the SAAB management is doung a bad job with the media!!

    • Henke, what do you suggest Saab should do?

      The Swedish media are often like sharks when it comes to Saab. They love doomsday stories and are not very careful with facts when putting together their headlines (also true when it comes to non-Saab related news stories as well).

        • @ Donk….But the way you speak of them makes us tend to believe you don’t think they are people at all. Your shock value (or shall I say lack of value) comments is getting tiring to most of us here.

        • Doctor Donk should be banned from this site immediately. There is no place for such talk here or elsewhere.

    • Nice too see that Saab is honest with the numbers, especially since the opposite seems more common among car manufacturers. 🙂 The coin has two sides, however: people who read that article will get a positive impression of the Saab, but people who just compares fuel consumption numbers from specification sheets may believe that the Saab has too high fuel consumption since they don’t know they are comparing apples and pears.

    • No, the car manufacturers don’t lie about the fuel consumption of their cars.

      But what a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that the fuel consumption is measured on chassis dynamometers where the cars are driven according to a standardized cycle. Depending how the cars are driven in real life, the fuel consumption will differ from the consumption according to the standardized cycle.

  16. The Saab 9-3 Independence Edition in a limited edition with just 365+1 units is a very good thing. However, the 220hp motor that this car will be equipped with is not attractive at all (rather disappointed I would say).

    Saab think that they will attract customers by just only all the bells and whistles this car has.
    It reminds me the story with the spaniards when buying land from the native american indians by giving them small dazzling mirrors and fancy glass pearls! The intelligent buyer is not attracted to this any more. Let’s really see how much low they will go on price at the dealer’s end. The same happened with the Clarksson V6 edition in UK. Super duper price once in a lifetime!

    Ford has also produced a new Focus RS500 in a limited edition with just 500 units (each unit is uniquely numbered on the dash showing what number out of 500 it is). But the car comes with a muscular 350hp engine with 460Nm of torque! That’s really well worth it to attract 500 unique buyers!

    • SAAB should improve regulars models… As special editions, something like full options Aero + all hirsch tuning + Special body color should be enough (like matte black). SAAB is not in that good shape to make some cool feature and limit it to 365cars.

    • “the 220hp motor that this car will be equipped with is not attractive at all”

      Maybe not, but negotiations with GM were very hard, luckily there’s Hirsch to bypass this problem until engine freeze time is over.

      • I also believe that the LDK and LHU engines are better than the LK9/B207, otherwise the change shouldn’t take place if not forced due to GM ceasing production of the LK9. I haven’t driven any car with the LDK engine, but I have been a passenger in a new 9-5 with that engine and it didn’t seem to lack power either. It should also be more fuel efficient than the LK9 since it has direct injection, but it is a bit sad to see Trionic go… but maybe Trionic will be back again in the future.

        • Oh man, I just had a vision:
          Saab 9-3 SE: 220hp LDK engine
          Saab 9-3 Viggen: 260 hp LNF + with optional 6speed/AWD from the TurboX
          Saab 9-3 Griffen: 290hp LNF + factory Stage I upgrade + TurboX 6speed/AWD

  17. To a point I can agree, but I think most of the Saab buying public are not out looking for a gorund pounding street dominator. For some, just being a unique Saab is unique enough…. OTOH, Id be ashamed to get my lunch handed to me by a Focus.

  18. With oil projected to go higher and higher……”Peak Oil”??? Food commodities going higher and higher…I think SAAB is right to focus on fuel efficiency with above average horsepower(ps)….but the idea of having 260hp+ muscle cars is absurd. I’m definitely not your ordinary short-sighted American. I think Americans should get out of the framework of more power…more power…Who needs more than 220hp?”

      • Both hands thrust up!

        In fact, why bother. It’s a borderline insult to those of us who braved cold and wet at The Convoys. For what: A left over Turbo X boost gage and seat stiching?

        Superficial marketing at it’s best worst.

    • Yes, no doubt the 220 hp LDK engine is a significant improvement over the current engine and yes the LDK engine is better than the LK9/B207.

      However, we are not talking here about an ordinary production Saab car.
      We are talking about a limited production car, the Independence edition!
      We are talking about the 365+1 unique individuals all over the world who will be buying this car.

      Of course the majority of buyers may not need more than 220hp.
      But we are not talking about the majority here.
      We are talking about the 365+1 unique cars!

      Shouldn’t this limited edition deserve something better in terms of a motor?
      A more muscular one?
      That was exactly my point!

      • Chris,
        are black rubber stripes behind your car the most important feature for you? Is power the only feature that indicates uniqueness??

        Look at Swade’s monte. It is unique, but only because of the colour. At that time the Aero had more power, and the Viggen also.

        I still don’t understand why Saab has to beat every other brand in every field to not to be a piece of crap.

        Saab will put together a nice Convertible, I’m sure, using the most powerful engine they have (now) for the 9-3.

        Maybe you need a Convertible with 400hp but for me 200hp with the posibility of 260hp is a the Swedes say lagom.

        • Let’s wait then and see how much low they will go on price at the dealer’s end.
          Will it be a super duper price once in a lifetime (as Clarksson V6)?
          The end result will justify who is right and who is wrong!

  19. Maybe I feel different when I Maptun my 9-3 1.8t BioPower 🙂 But I’m quite satisfied with 175hp right now

  20. This year is shaping up to be pretty exciting and last year was a craking year with the release of the 9-5! 🙂

  21. Swade:
    I thought that SAAB already had the LHU in production (E85 version of LDK)? 163hp and XWD?
    All other version are from what I know LK9 (port fuel injection).

  22. GerritN….I like lots of horepower or ps too…but I’m telling a lot of people….oil or Texas Tea is running out. I swear…I hope us dumb Americans come to our senses and realize that oil/coal/natural gas does not regenerate itself…once its gone ……its gone…What will we make plastics with?? How will Airbus and Boeing aircraft fly?? But you can raise your hand….LOL.

    • Well, you can rest assured that during our lifetime, or even our children’s lifetime, oil will not run out. The amount of oil that can still be drilled is mind boggling. It is sometimes a problem getting at it without destroying whole eco-systems. Also pollution is a problem, although chemical pollution can be controlled pretty well. Heat and CO2 pollution is a whole other matter though.
      Imho, the HP race has had also a good side as far as the environment goes. The only way to get more power out of an engine (short of making it just bigger) is to make it more efficient. Getting below the allowed CO2 emissions then just means a slight down tuning of the engine. Just imagine the shit we would be in if there wouldn’t have been any improvement in the efficiency of the internal combustion engine for the last 100 years. There are about 600 million cars in the world today. Now imagine all of those being T-Fords!

  23. Unless I missed somebody already saying it, don’t forget the Chicago Auto Show which starts February 10.
    This is by far the largest and best show in the US. The Detroit show gets more media attention but ask anybody who’s been to all the shows and this is the one. If I recall it’s the second largest in the world behind Paris although that could be an old figure. Either way it’s the best show in North American and it would be great if Saab introduced the 9-5 SC there instead of Geneva.

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