Saab PhoeniX concept – embargo broken

Car and Driver have seemingly broken Saab’s embargo. These images are now out there, so I’m bringing them here to Saabs United.

Of course, these are just the first two images and they’re CGI images, at that. The real thing will be seen later today at the Geneva Motor Show and I’m sure there will be more words, as well as many more photos.

As mentioned earlier, this will be seen as a controversial design. That’s the way all new designs should be.

Jeff P did a good job of summarising some points from the C&D article.

  • eXWD
  • 200hp, 184 lb-ft (199 lb-ft temporary boost available) transversely mounted, turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder BMW engine
  • 34-hp electric motor and a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a “touch” of torque-vectoring, sort of like a new Re-Axs
  • Gullwing doors
  • The arches over the body are “vestigial aircraft wings” according to JC, and these were clearly not depicted in the teaser photograph. This makes me wonder if they’re removable or not. I’d be curious to see the car without them (and will be rendering as such overnight)
  • All LED lighting, with Red instead of green inside which is supposed to remind people of the beating heart. I like it for the concept, I’m not sure if that’s intended for production.

Comments are open, but remember, the real thing will be showing, and will be photographed from all angles later today.


My 2 cents – I have to have a better look, but my first impression from scanning these images is that I love 98% of it. Absolutely love.

I’m not so sure about the flourishes at the top of the door, nor the Mantide touches around the back. Neither of these offend me at all, but they’re the two bits that I need to see for myself.

The teardrop effect of the glass is mesmerising. The overall shape is aggressive and even automotively suggestive. It looks like it wants to be driven. Perfect.

Just a quick note – no red interior lighting on production cars, please. I understand the beating heart analogy, but if you cut a Saab, you’ll see that it bleeds green.

175 thoughts on “Saab PhoeniX concept – embargo broken”

  1. it definitely is different… will have to see some real life photos to make more of a judgement. though from the pictures i wish there was more saab dna blatantly present.

  2. Oooh yeahhh. So that horn thing that was confusing us in the silhouette was one of the rear view mirrors/cameras. Innnteresting. It’s definitely got some Saaby cues to it. And I like it, but I don’t see that Scandinavian simplicity I love so much.

    • No I was screaming “THAT’S THE MIRROR!” but no one was listening 🙂

      I know what you’re saying about the Scandinavian simplicity, but I actually like the contrast of the sleek smooth body (silver) over the sculpted aerodynamic body underneath (black carbon fiber/plastic). It’s like it’s wearing a shell or a coat of armor over the chassis. We’re only 6 hours from the real thing emerging from the ashes 😉

  3. I like it.

    Strip away some of the concept-camo, and the skin holds a good looking, buildable car.

    Give it time, folks… give it time.

      • The more I look at the renderings, the more excited I get.

        Can’t wait to see photos of it!

        A production car most certainly won’t have those big diffusers at the rear. But I see awesome lines back there. I’m having a hard time taking my eyes off its as*.

        I feel so dirty! 😉

  4. It’s nice. Real nice in fact but that my friends is no SAAB. Not in design ethic, not in the details or in the whole. Nothing. I don’t want just a pretty or flashy car. I want the SAAB.

    • Handy roof rack rails??
      Looks like the real one does not have those from the way the draped cover flows over the profile.

  5. Definitely a head turner, which is exactly what Saab needed.

    Like the front part, which is going to be the most used design feature of the concept , right? I’d like the logo to be applied on the hood – or is the first sign that they are canning the griffin?

    Summary: Pretty awesome.

    • I’m sure they will not put the Griffin sign on the bonnet of future production cars. We’ll have to get used to it. I, for my part, like it. It’s cleaner.

  6. Is this a test? This concept could have a Huyndai or Mazda logo in the front. There is no hockey-stick, no green interior lightning and the rear and the front differs from the current line of vehicles (which looks great and stands out).

    Sure, it is a nice looking car; but I don’t see and distinctive features that screams that this is a new Saab. And it is definitely nothing to build a brand identity on!

    I’m sorry…

  7. Actually there are a lot of design from previous SAABs in this.. The rising parts on the hood for example, from the hood of a 99 and the middle part from a two stroke. The black rear of a sonett, the turbine wheels, the headlights with iceblocks and the whole air craft inspired cockpit. The wings, side intakes etc are there for aerodynamics and bold looks.

    I like this concept, not in the way I love the Aero X for pure sexiness, but I love it for being bold and shouting “Look at me!”. People will turn their heads at the Geneva floor, people will see that SAAB has something going on, and that is the important bit.

  8. I have set it as my wallpaper for 3 hours already since C&D published it. All I can say.. It is a True Saab.

    Nothing Looked like a Saab back in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s… and Now in 2011, Nothing can resemble this motive. I Love the idea of “Aeromotion” it is a true aircraft on the road, or “jets on number plate” as Clarkson iterated.

    Great Job Castriota, I Bow To You… Please make the successor 93 as astonishing as this one.

  9. I think I’ll give it some time – until I see it in metal on Thursday 🙂

    At first look I saw a lot of Saab in it. And even a bit of Spyker and Koenigsegg…

  10. Well, I’ve said before the front is very workable, and is a bit of a evolution from the current “angry” 9-3/9-5 looks.

    The rear, well; hard to see in a five door or convertible.

    Red light: bad. Needs a badge up front.

    Turbine wheels as always amazing.

    The engine and rear axle are going to be very very interesting.

  11. let me disagree… This is not a saab, maybe some muscle car from us. Side profile is ugly at the rear at least. I cant see any saab design dna in this consept. Aero-x was beautiful and real saab design(simply, clean, wraparound wind shield etc) ,this is not. Keepin mind scandinavian simplicity and clean lines. This consept is mess. Jc and vm needs navigator to get out of woods. This is quite good design consept but this is not a saab, this is some other car. Dont get me wrong i really want to see saab successfull.

  12. Hello Pontiac Firebird – notice a firebird is also called a Phoenix.

    I’m not seeing much Saab in this at all. Stick any other car marque badge on and it’ll fit just as well.

    Maybe the real car photo will tell a diff story.

  13. This is a world class car. The AERO X was more aggressive than anything that SAAB had up to that point and this is more aggressive than that. Bear in mind that this car has other-worldy aerodynamics, too. That take a long-held SAAB cue to the level. This will get attention for sure. I think that it will get a top 3 finish for concept cars in the show – and I have not even seen any of the other cars. And this car has a better chance of having its design language be put into SAABS quickly, unlike the AERO X (though that was not the car’s fault). If SAAB can get some of this design language into a 92 in the coming years they will attract a younger demo.

    Great Job, JC. Consider me in the “love it” pile.

  14. I pray that this is not the direction the company’s styling is headed, or I may have to defect to Audi for my next purchase. (I’ve been patiently waiting on the new 9-3). For me, there is just too much going on with the design. Saab is about clean, purposeful lines. This is, dare I say….tacky. Plus It doesnt fit in with any present design cues, which I think should be carred refined and carried on. Saab needs to work on bringing more elements of the Aero-x and 9-x (my fav), and 9-x biohybrid to their poduction cars. Their styling elements would make for clean, timeless designs, which Saabs, up until this point, have always been. Plus, I really hope they change over to using red interior lighting. I hated that in my uncles BMW.

    • I concur with Adam. I don’t like it. Way too star ship looking…..”Beam me up Scotty”. No way…

    • To me it looks like Jason Castriota totally have failed picking up the Scandinavian design philosophy in his work. This looks like a Mazda. There is no way I would have said that this is saab if I had seen it without the badge on.

    • +1 for me. In a previous topic, Swade said something about indifference being equal to hell for a designer. Well, I’m afraid it does leave me indifferent. I don’t hate it, but it doesn’t get me excited. Perhaps more pictures and footage will stirr my emotions, but right now it doesn’t do anything for me.

  15. It looks to me like they built it up off a Spyker.

    Red lighting?!! Gimmicky bits galore?! I have never ever threatened or even hinted at this as far as I can recall but if this is the new SAAB then they have one less customer/salesman. You can claim this as knee jerk all you want and say that it will look so much better in person(which I don’t doubt) but it is blazingly clear on my end of the line that JC does not “get” SAAB.

    A-pilar forward I’m ok with but everything past that must never ever end up on salable product.

  16. I love it soo much ! Looks awesome and futuristik and as agressive as it should be without overdoing it .

    I love the whole muscular appearence and especially the hood and the nerves on it

    What it misses? The round badge with the Griffin on the hood and the wheels

    Save the griffin!

  17. Its just a concept folks!!! Before we get all excited does anyone seriously see any of the Aero-X in the new 9-5? The new 9-3, as Swade has pointed out, is not this car.

    Lets see how Joe Public reacts to the design before we criticise. Lets face it over the past 20 years Saab havent increased sales one bit with hockey sticks etc so lets have a little faith in Jasons’s talent that PhoeniX is set to be a turning point for Saab. 🙂

      • and green interior lighting!! 😉
        Otherwise it looks great. People judged the Aero-x quite harshly at first (too American etc. etc.). Look now, 5 years later. It defines the essence of Saab (until today) =D

  18. It’s stunningly beautiful.

    But I’m struggling a bit to find the overt Saab design cues …………..

  19. For people who can’t see it, I think it’ll be much clearer when we see the real car tomorrow. From the pictures I can see the following:

    Traditional Saab heritage abounds including 3-port grille, hockey stick rear pillars, turbine wheels, wrap-around cockpit, full-width taillights, and a new turbocharged hybrid powertrain based on a BMW 1.6.

  20. From listending to Victor Muller: “(…) it will blow you away”, “true Saab DNA”, “Saab 99 Turbo”, etc. I would have simply thought it would be more Saab as it shows now. I am pretty disappointed. I am looking formward to buying the new Saab 9-3 but if that is the shape or hints of the future shape, i am not on the boat. Swade, does the new 9-3 you already saw on a photo looks simpilar in any way? I had the impression you weren´t so enthusiastic the first time you saw it?

    • After some pondering, I’m thinking where is the Scandinavian simplicity? I still like it, but I guess I expected a more clean and simple Saab design.

      Swade (and Djup Strupe), do you see anything from the upcoming 9-3 replacement in this concept?

  21. Terrible, sorry to say it. If that is the future design language, I doubt I will stick to the brand. I find the present design of the 9-5, refreshed 9-3 is just beautyful. This car does not take on any of its elements, and presents an ugly mix of an ordinary Chevy, Chrysler or Hyundai flunder with some high tech features. The wings behind the driver cabine are awful and have nothing to do with Skandinavian design. The front has too much different lines instead of simplicity, and the rear end might fit to a Lamborghini or Ferrari, but by no means to a Saab. No way to combine its look with the current ‘responsible performance’ message of the brand.
    Engine and exwd are great however. Flashy red light interior is not compatible with Saab as well.

    • Maybe we can consider the wings to be an outline of what the future body shape can look like?

  22. It seems there is a split verdict… People need to keep in mind that this is just a concept, it is not the next 9 3, or even the 9 2, its a concept. Will some of the design cues make it onto the next 9 3 or 9 2? Yes its almost certain, but JAJ, VM and JC are all Saab people and wouldn’t do something that they didn’t feel was right for the company. Remember JC said in one of his interviews that this was his baby and he was allowed to go wild with it, and it appears thats just what he did. I don’t think its a bad design. I can’t say that I would go “Yes thats a Saab”, I don’t think that it is identifiable as a Saab, but its a concept and will help Saab to re-establish itself in the automotive world. And honestly, this concept came about quite quickly, and for the time they had to prepare it, I think it looks wonderful 🙂

  23. fancy that – an Italian sports car designer, designs something that looks like an Italian sports car. although I also hear faint strains of the speed racer theme in the background. nice enough but no Saab. go speed racer, go speed racer, go speed racer go……

  24. Taking some time looking at it, it reminds me more and more of a bat-mobile or the kind of flying skateboards of the bad guys in spiderman movies.

  25. After an hour, mixed feelings have kicked in.

    Saabs have always had designs that ask to be loved. This one to me is expecting to be loved.

  26. Reminds me of the joke – What’s the worst advertising you have ever seen? The ad you don’t remember. Nothing memorable or outstanding about this design. Whilst it is just meant to be a ‘concept’, some of the design elements are meant to appear in the next production cars, and I just don’t see anything meaningful or interesting that would make the next generation of Saabs outstanding vs their competition. Hopefully, the photos will reveal something more.

  27. I’ll have to give this some time, but I am afraid I’m not blown away. It’s a really cool design in many aspects, I just fail to see it as a Saab. Maybe it will grow on me, especially after seeing real pictures. And maybe parts of it could work as inspiration for future “real” Saabs.

  28. Seen from the back there are some nice elements.
    Seen from the front: All to many and all to soft lines makes it alike so many other cars.
    Saabs should stay away from the crowd by insisting on few, sharp lines going through and connecting the whole body with a (visual and artistic ) meaning. (look at sculptures by Moore or Brancusi)
    What we see here is way to ordinary.

  29. First of all I think we’ll have to postpone any damning comments until we see this concept in the metal.
    Second, the Aero-X was 5 years ago, this is a new era. And yes, I also loved the clear lines of the Aero-X.
    Third, comparing these 2 renderings to the Aero-X is not really fair because the concept rendering is shown in top front and back corner views while the Aero-X was mostly shown in a more level view or even slightly from below. I think if the concept would be shown at the same angles there would be a lot of resemblance to the Aero-X.

    This concept is trying to fuse the Aero-X (front), the teardrop shape (aircraft inspired cannopy) and some Mantide. Personally I feel that it’s the Mantide parts that takes away a lot of the power of this concept. Jeff already pulled off the owl brows and that makes for a much cleaner design and view of the tear shaped bubble. Loosing the side skirts and the diffusers at the back (Citroen GT anyone) would honor Scandinavian simplicity much more. However, forget about wrap around cockpits, hockey stick pillars, etc. They have defined the Saab design language for a while but that doesn’t mean they have to be there ad infinitum. I do feel a bit stronger about simple and sleek designs without to much adornments, though.

    Concepts should be controversial and this concept seems to have already served that purpose well on this forum. Congratulations Jason!

    • Hallo GerritN, I don´t think we should keep back our emotions until we see it in the metal, Simply because that is what emotions are about, spontaneity, and only a few will have the possibility seeing it in Geneva.
      Looking at this concept, I am loosing tears for Simon Padian and the decision to cutting him from saab design top-reponsibility!

  30. *smile* It certainly is no “I don’t care” design. And that’s about the most saaby thing, there can be. I’m sure much of it, that many don’t like, won’t make it into production. My final judgement on the concept I’ll hold back until I see proper pictures of it.

  31. This car definitely draws more from the Ur Saab than the 900 (that everybody expected it would use as reference). Look at the Ursaab from front and back. The hood is very sculptured, The sidewindow-line at the backend and the teardrop-shaped rear – all give cues to the PhoeniX. And the front of the Phoenix actually is calmer than at first glance, really elegant.

    Take a look at the same pictures over at swedish AMS, they are bigger:–första-bilderna/

    • Totally agree, there’s very much ursaab 93, 96 99 and sonett in it but it takes some time to discover,

  32. hmmmm, I’m a bit confused… I don’t see any “references” to the classics (900OG for example)

  33. One word so far: AWESOME!

    Cheers from Norway
    Always on the longest road home when out there with my SAAB. Always!

  34. not sure if anyone spotted this in rodmylon’s larger pics link, but the old saab propeller badge is at the back.

  35. Nice car, but as a SAAB I think the only part that of this study that will live beyond this concept. Is the front back to the A-pillar. The rest of the car is pure Jason C and has nothing “old” SAAB about it.

    Otherwise the front is realy nice, just loose that extra power bulge thingy infront of theblack Sonett II plastik. Then you have a bit quiter SAAB like design with a hood an 99/900 would have been prowd of 🙂 The rest of the car is to much SCC Ultima Aero II for my likings. But then again, SAAB has time and time again ditched it old design language for new models, so why not now?

    We are not an easy crowd to please, since the moust SAABy SAAB/the last, real SAAB is the current one each one of us own 🙂

  36. Very Bold, striking aeroplane-inspired design, Mr. Castriota.

    But I am left with these questions:

    1. Where is the Swedishness? A saab should be like the Ikea of motoring
    2. The C-pillar?
    3. Where are the Scandinavian elements?

    Simon Padian stated that a Scandinavian design is : Humanistic, Minimalistic, Functional. I miss SImon..he has lived in Sweden for 20 years.

    • The only flaw Simon had was that he was thinking cars from the outside in.
      A Saab should be the opposite. I’m driving and hauling things on the inside.
      If this concept would lose some of the non-Scandinavian bits (+cleaner metal sheets) and made into an affordable and practical 9-1/9-2 that drives like a SAAB, it would sell to kids -new customers- like crazy.
      I’m trying to keep an open mind and I’m wide Swade. Like the front. Too much Italian super car in the back at the moment.

  37. My initial impression was the same as 90% always have on this webpage, where is the SAAB?! I think the reactions has been the same every time saab shows something new. But now I must say that I really like it.

    But seriously, how can anyone disagree if this is the saab equivalent to the A5. Finally a design that has the balls to stand out from the generic audi crowd. The current 9-5 is a good looking car, but the 9-3 has been on a downhill since the mid 80s. This is the adrenalin injection that is needed!

    Two thumbs up!

    • “I think the reactions has been the same every time saab shows something new.”

      hmm. I guess you weren’t around for the AeroX.

  38. It seems this concept did exactly what it was meant to do. Looks like people either love it or hate it. But emotions are strong. This is a good sign.

    For my part I can only say I don’t see a new 93 looking like that, but that will not be the case anyway. My first impresion was: batmobil. At a second glance, I’d say it has some tipicaly american design clues (the bonet and the tail bellow the glass). Take some time and you can see (at least that’s my impresion) an evolution of clamshell hood design at the front and a strong stance with elegant facia, which I really like. The rear: I don’t see much of 99 or 900 there and that concave silhouete is what I think people here are missing… but I definitely see Ursaab. The roots. Interesting.

    Still, I need more time to study it, but right now I’d say: make lines on 93 a little cleaner and the lower part of the rear a little less american, do something with the wing, give it a green interior lighting and a badge on the hood and it’s perfect.

  39. I read over at Car and Driver that the drag coefficient is only 0.25. It will interesting to see if Saab has projected the fuel consumption.

  40. Mixed feelings, but hey… it’s a concept AND it’s a drawing. Wait till you see the real thing to judge. I can see a direction for the new 9-3 styling up front. It’s really Saab! The wings are nice for a concept, they will never go in production, specially not taken pedestrian safety in mind. These wings winks to the airfighter heritage. The back is a really concept.
    Read what you want in this concept. I can ‘read’ the message Saabs heading to and I like it!

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