Press Release: Saab PhoeniX concept: The Future is Already Here

  • ‘Aeromotional’ design inspired by Saab’s aviation roots
  • Design and technical features to shape next generation of Saab cars
  • Minimalist cabin with ground-breaking Saab IQon infotainment system
  • Rightsized turbo engine and innovative Saab eXWD for electric rear drive
  • Showcases technologies in all-new vehicle architecture

Sleek, innovative and exceptionally efficient: the Saab PhoeniX concept car showcases design features and technologies which will shape the next generation of cars from Saab. Based on an new architecture which will empower the next Saab 9-3 model, the PhoeniX introduces ‘aeromotional’ design: a visual evocation of the aerodynamic design principles and passion for innovation that inspired the creators of Saab’s first car, the iconic Ursaab.

The PhoeniX embraces teardrop, ‘liquid metal’ forms and a dramatic jet canopy-inspired glasshouse that gives fresh expression to Saab’s signature ‘wraparound’ and translucent ice-block design themes. The clean, muscular shape enables an exceptionally low drag co-efficient of just 0.25 and also explores the potential for airflow management through the use of distinctive, side-mounted ‘winglets’.

Butterfly opening doors give easy access to a 2+2 cabin that blends simplicity with technology. It has a minimalist, ‘stripped out’ feel, including a new expression of Saab’s driver-focused layout and a world debut for Saab’s innovative IQon infotainment and communications system.

In true Saab tradition, there is also a surprisingly versatile cargo deck. “The PhoeniX establishes a new reference point for the future of Saab product design,” says Jason Castriota, Saab Automobile’s Executive Design Director. “It symbolizes a renaissance of the innovative spirit and passion that drove Saab to build its first car. We’re now taking the visual DNA forward with what we call ‘aeromotional’ design, adding emotion, power and fluidity. This design aesthetic will shape and differentiate future models in the Saab portfolio.”

Under its rippling bodywork, the Saab PhoeniX deploys an innovative driveline, with an electrically-driven rear axle mated to a sophisticated 200 hp, 1.6-liter gasoline turbo engine. The result is an intelligent, hybrid all-wheel-drive capability that enhances driving pleasure while reducing fuel consumption. Combined cycle fuel economy and CO2 emissions are projected to be just 5.0 l/100 km and 119 g/km.

Aeromotional design

The PhoeniX’s ‘aeromotional’ design theme is inspired by Saab’s aviation roots and draws expression from Ursaab, the prototype designed by aircraft engineers that spawned Saab’s first generation of cars. The entire form of the PhoeniX is seemingly molded by the wind. Tightly-wrapped by a liquid-like skin, the teardrop cabin resembles a dark ice block and appears to erupt from the center of the muscular bodywork. Two prominent ripples flow along the hood into the disguised windshield pillars, as if barely able to contain a powerful structure underneath.

At the rear, the dark screen also bursts through the outer skin of the rear deck, The tapering form hints at the teardrop rear styling of Ursaab, while the ‘sawn off’, kamm tail echoes a form from Saab’s first coupé, the Sonett. The low, frontal styling features a stretched interpretation of Saab’s signature three-port grille. A body-colored central wing is now dominant and, in keeping with the car’s minimalist design, LED headlamps are almost invisibly located at its tips.

The new grille and hood forms are among the styling themes likely to be seen in future Saab production cars. Butterfly-opening doors provide enhanced access to the low-slung cabin. There are no visible door handles or mirrors to disrupt airflow, and small cameras on slim stalks provide rearward vision. Roof-mounted ‘winglets’ enable PhoeniX to cleave the air as efficiently as possible. They channel airflow from the side of the car and direct it across the rear deck, reducing lift forces for greater stability without increasing drag.

Minimalist interior

In true Scandinavian tradition, the 2+2 cabin adopts a clean, minimalist look. It has the ‘stripped out’ feel of a competition car, with shell-like seats and metalized interior sections that mimic the exposed network of a rollover cage. Fresh expression is given to Saab’s traditional, driver-focused instrument layout. A circular pod in front of the driver, shaped like the afterburner of a jet engine, presents data in tandem with the head-up display. Angled at 45º to the driver, a separate module accommodates Saab’s advanced IQon infotainment and communications system.

For good ergonomics, the 8-inch touch-screen is as close to the driver’s finger tips as the steering wheel. Saab IQon (see separate release for full details) is a ground-breaking car communications platform using Google’s AndroidTM operating system. Based on pioneering ‘open innovation’ with third-party service providers and applications developers, it comprises an embedded computer platform which seamlessly connects to the internet when the car’s ignition is switched on.

The touch-screen provides access to audio and entertainment streaming, online navigation, on-board music storage and smartphone-like downloading of applications. Red illumination for all instrument and ambient cabin lighting brings warmth and emotion to the cabin. This includes the floor, where LED light tubes are exposed by perforations in the black carpeting. It is all part of the new ‘aeromotional’ design strategy, incorporating ‘fire and ice’ effects. The PhoeniX’s curvaceous rear deck disguises a deep-opening tailgate. It gives access to a flat cargo deck, including fold-flat rear seatbacks and a cargo track for adaptable load carrying.

Efficient propulsion

Under its sculpted hood and beneath its cargo deck, the PhoeniX advances Saab’s rightsizing powertrain strategy. Its propulsion system combines a highly efficient, 1.6-liter turbo engine with innovative, electric rear wheel drive technology. The compact, all-aluminum gasoline engine packs 200 hp (147 kW) and includes variable valve timing and lift control, as well as start/stop functionality, minimal parasitic losses and a fuel cut-off function.

A stainless steel tank is fitted, which is lighter and less expensive than a conventional plastic design, The engine is supported by Saab’s innovative eXWD system. It comprises a rear drive unit housing a 25 kW (34 hp) electric motor/generator powered by a small battery pack. Regenerative braking is used to sustain the battery’s charge.

Now under development for the next generation of Saab cars, this hybrid propulsion system enables the benefits of all-wheel-drive while also reducing fuel consumption. Using a six-speed manual transmission, projected combined cycle fuel economy and CO2 emissions are just 5.0 l/100 km and 119 g/km. The driver can select one of three eXWD operating modes.

The default Eco mode delivers optimal fuel and CO2 efficiency with power assistance to reduce load on the gasoline engine at low speeds; Sport mode includes maximum power assistance with torque vectoring across the rear axle for greater chassis control; and Traction mode enables optimal grip at take-off and in slippery conditions. Inside and out, the Saab PhoeniX showcases new design directions and technologies that will be part of forthcoming Saab products.

71 thoughts on “Press Release: Saab PhoeniX concept: The Future is Already Here”

  1. Some aspects are just too over the top but the overall shape (overhangs, length) are quite good. I think Saab can work off this to create a truly special 9-3.

  2. Fan-freaking-tastic!

    Great proportions, lovely bits of design, great specs… Love it. 🙂

  3. Know why I like it?

    Because its not just another interpretation of a glorified, those-were-the-days, restrained, simple ‘Scandinavian Design’, but a real modern, contemporary and, most importantly, stand out design direction. Love the front and the rear (well, not the rear lights).

    There’s real excitement and emotion in this design. Just what SAAB needs.

  4. I want to love the new design of saabs, but i just dont!. great looking car i every way but just dosen’t speak saab to me. i love the 9-5 becuse its so simple and soo saab. I love the fact that saab dose not go retro, but moves in to the future with its design, 2012 9-3 will be an awsome car i am 100% sure. I guess I just liked the clean design of the 9-5 more…

    • Seems that way, check out the wheel caps as well as the third brakelight.

      I’m delighted to see the return to an historic Saab badge, the Griffin was more Scania than Saab I think? and always resembled and reminded media of the Vauxhall Griffin – best to drop all links with GM at this stage.

      We have a stunning new concept with a ‘Saab’ chassis, Ferrari/Maserate designer and BMW engine – doesn’t get much better than this IMHO. 🙂

      • I don’t like Castriota’s designs because he’s an Italian designer. We need a Swedish as head of Design. Otherwise, Saab will be selling overpriced Alfas soon (an Alfa is an already overpriced Fiat, just so you know).
        We need a Swedish designer, a new Björn Envall, an Einar Hareide, or Michael Mauer himself back onboard.
        Why contracting Castriota, with NIL experience in car industry (real car industry, I mean) when you can contract Hareide with his Designmill?
        This car is much of a Saab as the 9-2x was.

        • I fully disagree with that. And by the way – although I miss the clamshell-hood and find the red illumination just crap – I clearly do feel, that the PhoeniX-concept is a real Saab-Saab. Not from the still-photos, but when you se it from different angles in the movies. And I´m quite sure, that only a designer like this Italian guy could start such a new era: using the Saab-DNA without just morphing a 9x (put as x the number of your first and beloved Saab) onto a more modern architecture. As a daily and only 901-driver I know, that we definetely do not need another 900/II – so all thumbs up for the future of PhoeniX!

  5. I think this car says “oh well, I have respect for the past but time flies” and a little bit of f**k you to the ones saying Saab wouldn’t survive a year. 😀

  6. HOLY _____!!!

    THIS is how you make a design statement!!

    I don’t like every detail, but this is EXACTLY what Saab needs.
    It’s a truly unique design people will talk about for weeks and months to come.

    Well done Jason, well done.

  7. Lots of lovely design elements they can make use of for the future.

    Great start for Jason.

  8. Not a fan of this car’s profile. It is a polarizing design, for sure, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. But there is something wrong with the front third in profile. The horizontal lines from the light cluster, combined with the over-bite hood, create the impression of excessive front overhang, and the sudden expanse of sheet metal starting at the A pillar and extending down to the wheel well and up again through the hood folds — all create the impression of a bulbous nose, like Jimmy Durante (for those of us old enough to remember the schnoz). I am not seeing much in the way of design cues that I would want to see in a new Saab, including the front facia which is too reminiscent of new BMWs in the lower grinning air dam. But still, it is great to see Saab with a concept car and great to see it provoking strong reactions one way or the other. I just hope that the restrained good taste that is the incredibly beautiful new 9-5 continues for the future.

  9. SAAB is now showing new levels of premium scents! Now the task is to take this into a affordable car for you and me, without loosing to much of that scent.
    Yes! I love this strong self confidence! Come on do it!

  10. Wowzers, Batman! Love everything from the wild afterburner rear with nostaligic logo to the turbine alloy wheels to the new interpretation of the fascia. I love Jason’s work for Maseratti, and this is beyond my hopes! call it a 9-3 or 93 or 900 and its a day. I hope they were being coy and based on positive reaction that much of this styling and concept makes it to production

  11. Well, if this is the new way of the Saab design, I would not follow it… Simplicity, nobility and decent superiority is what I like in my Saab. This one is for the kids.

  12. The front view is one of a mean “take no prisoner” 96, this is a great interpretation of the past with a contemporary stand out design. The “ears” look more like something out of “Cars” ……

  13. I don’t like it. There’s no pureness and lightness of Swedish design. Neither front nor side views does not bring some feeling of integrity. A lot of small elements that spoil the overall view. Wheelbase is too short. May be it’s just first Jason’s attempt, that this is, as Russians say, just the first pancake, that no one turns to cook properly or it’s just pictures and if I’ll see it by my own eyes, I’ll change my mind.
    Anyway i like the rear view, especially digital logo and winglets is great idea too.

  14. I like most aspects of this, and definitely think that the style will draw debate from both sides of the table, as there are definitely going to be those who love it and those who find it awful.

    Personally, I like the vast majority of it. The only things I have issue with are the 1990’s Pontiac Trans-Am tail light cluster (not including the airplane brake light, love that) and the appearance of the wing thing from certain angles, as this makes me think of the Lexus LFA (might be all the wierd angles in that car), which is one I’m not particualrly a fan of.

    However, I like the front grill, the flow of the body from front to back and the stance of the car in general. Overall, I’m quite impressed with the output given the relatively short time frame (I assume…) in which it went from idea to concept. Jason, great job pulling this together. I look forward to your future work!

  15. I forgot to write something to my url’s. In my eyes, I have a hard time finding the Scandinavian roots, the SAAB core, the true heritage. New design -check. New high tech -check. American design -check. It’s not ugly or wrong. It’s just not that Scandinavian feel to it I was hoping for. I see a 2012 Pontiac. I really hope time will change my mind, but my first impression summons American design corp.

    I will of course study it closer, but now I’m at work so just a quick check 🙂 I really hope my mind will change.

    • I totally agree. Your comment hit the nail on the head, especially the part about 2012 Pontiac (That is, if Pontiac was still around.)

  16. To be honnest, I love the front, hate the back and don’t like the profile that much either. I was bit disapointed. In my opinion the Aero X is still #1

  17. It’s a concept people! It’s meant to be over the top… But that front and the sides, I can’t wait to see these design elements in future Saab’s

  18. Well it certainly looks different!!
    I love the side profile and if that can be brought through into future SAABs then brilliant. The front is more traditional SAAB I think and works very well as it certainly has a mean, go for it sort of face. The back end while incorporating the ‘old’ aircraft logo which I like a lot, works less well for me. The lights are a little too bling and look more Japanese than Swedish IMHO. I love the little ‘out there ‘ touches and feel that SAAB is on the right path with this concept. Can’t wait to see the next 9-3 if this is any indication on how Jason Castriota is approaching the design brief he has been given. All in all I think this is another great SAAB concept ranking up there with the Aero X et al.
    Swade, don’t suppose you can give us any indication if this bears any resemblance to the 9-3 design sketch you have seen? Go on, you know you want to!
    Griffin Up! Cuore Sportivo!


    I’ll take one in Black…with a 7-speed manual…& a fully “Hirsched” Turbo 4.

    When can I place my order? 😉

  20. In the Peugeot RZC the 1.6T 200HP engine emits 159g/km. Saab says that in the PhoeniX the emissions will be 119g/km. In other words, the aerodynamics, eXWD etc etc cuts the emissions by 40g/km. Then what happens if Saab uses a small diesel engine instead of the petrol engine? Then we can probably look at a consumption around 3.0 l/100 km and emission below 90 g/km. That’s pretty good!

  21. Like all great art it’s growing on me. Like some of you have already said – they could make a brilliant 9-3 hatch design based on this.

  22. Well done Jason, my hat off to you and the design team. A big nod to Saabs past and a huge step forward in design excitement. I can’t wait to order my 2012 9-3. Keep up the good work, I love it.

  23. I don’t see the winglets making it into production, but I could easily see the rest of it being worked in. While I love the Kamm back, the rear lighting does remind me a bit of Pontiac Trans-Am, as well as the front hood when viewed head-on. I hope that the Fire portion of the Fire and Ice theme doesn’t make it past this concept, though. Red gauges and interior lighting are a deal killer for me. My eyes much prefer the ice blue and green (with an orange needle), so much easier on the eyes. That said, I love the overall design and can’t wait to see these cues rendered in production vehicles.

  24. LOVE the front end. Absolutely HATE the rear. There is too much going on (what happened to clean Scandinavian design?). It also reminds me too much of the Batmobile–or worse–a Pontiac Firebird.

    This is a design language that I won’t follow.

  25. concept cars are supposed to be “different”.
    they’ll just be using this as inspiration for future designs. it doesn’t mean things will be copied onto future models.
    i think it’s great. the front view is exciting and i love the airplane design brake light.
    i think it’s important for saab to take some risks and be a bit aggressive to show the world that we’re still here and not going away any time soon.

  26. Beautiful, but ‘Red illumination for all instruments’ ?
    I thought Green was ergonomically better…?

  27. Congratulations Jason! Beautiful and completely new! Love the spoilers, rear brake lights, hatch, low drag co-efficient, top center of the hood, side mirror cameras and hybrid engine. This must be the coolest car at the show and that has to feel pretty great. Thank you and enjoy the praise! – Dan

  28. I hardly ever like wild concept cars, and not this time either. Red interor lightning is a no-go, it has to be green or maybe white!

    Swade, since you have seen a rendering of the production car, can you say if it is similar to this concept?

  29. want to love it…cant quite get there. I agree that there seems to be some Pontiac DNA that is somehow running loose in there. And I hesitate to say, besides the obvious Mantide cues that abound, it seems maybe the whole thing was blended together in a Hyundai Genesis Coupe blender. Im glad Saab is around to experiment like this, and Im glad they are taking risks … I just dont happen to like this particular result. Every car Ive ever owned has been a saab, My wife and I laugh because I can spot them with my eyes half closed at night in a blizzard … but this doesnt, at first glance, feel like a saab (clean it up!)

  30. Initial thoughts are. Could be a Nissan concept-car. Agree with Gustav. I allways liked saab for its sleek design, they are very artistic/designy and if their production cars would look like the concept cars, they could easily sell like butter. Aero X and the 9-1 concept cars are both unique and amazing.
    This does feel like a fullborn saab. I hope that they will make it more Saab and less Nissan/plottrig, without loosing the new edge ofcourse..

    The concept shown here(9-1??) Looks amazing and breaths Saab.

    And If this is the final product, they will recieve a big thumbs up from me!!,r:10,s:179&biw=1280&bih=575

  31. Many of you are pointing to Jason as the “problem” and are forgetting Victor’s connection with Spyker. Why wouldn’t someone like Victor give the go ahead to a design like this. It’s edgy and exotic like the Spyker cars. Now if we could only get quilted leather interior!

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