A more road-ready PhoeniX? (photochop)

Following our coverage of the PhoeniX showing in Trollhättan (A few more and PhoeniX European Tour 2011), the team received this e-mail from T.M.:

Subject: what would a road-ready phoeniX look like?..hmm
That`s what I asked myself, and I came up with something, didn`t mess with the front cause I quite like it, the back and side needed a bit of “street normality” to them.

As you’ll recall the PhoeniX has aerodynamically innovative wings that channel air in a very tight way to lower the coefficient of drag.

So, what did T.M. come up with?

Better? Worse? Should Saab try harder to be normal? Discuss. More images in an update after the break.


Because Jeff was so impressed by T.M.’s work, he decided to mash it up with a little bit of Tiago’s earlier lights:

and then threw on some 10-spoke Edge wheels (although he actually prefers the originals).

and though the winglets are fun, T.M. shows us what it looks like with production mirrors and door handle…

Thanks T.M.!

53 thoughts on “A more road-ready PhoeniX? (photochop)”

  1. Well, maybe I am a little conservative when it comes to car designs, thought that these wings were a little too much. A little sceptic. But yesterday I was at the museum and saw it with my own eyes, and MAN! What a car! It looked good from every angle. Also I think that that’s what one have to do, to be in the front of car industry, be a little challenging.
    However, I actually like this picture very much. The car was made to give a hint on the next 9-3, so this gives a better hint.

    Griffin up!

  2. Mmmm sexy. Nice photoshopping, mi gusta. It has such a great profile, and it shows how the side character lines are smooth and refined without being fussy like some of the flame surfaced designs we see out of BMW, Merc, and Audi lately. Strong.

    Now we just need to fix the back and we’ll have a winner. 🙂 Score.

    • Flame surfaced you flatter them-I call it crinkles egg box remember those cheap thin plastic boxes that cracked easily-think of that next time you see the new Volvo V70-you’re right though everyone is overcomplicating and creasing their panels needlessly-it doesn’t even look good…and then there is Saab 🙂

  3. The rear winglets have grown on me, especially now that I know that they have a very beneficial effect on the airflow. I hope that they make it to production. They are certainly a change from regular rear spoilers.

  4. I like it more “normal,” though I think of it as more “cleaned up.” It makes me think of the Aero X more… I don’t think Saab should be more “normal”–especially in this case. I appreciate the flares and over-the-top accentuations. It’s a concept car–it should be radical.

  5. Really nice, though the “winglets” seem to really carry a very important functional benefit, and to be a Saab-like innovation. Having said which, the car looks much more Saab now. If we could only lose the shipwreck-salvage wheels…

  6. Get rid of the rear dot matrix, add a hockey stick (reverse or forward, I don’t care…) and you have a winner.

  7. PhoeniX hints at future Saabs. I think the new 9-3 will have about as much in common with PhoeniX as the 9-5 resembles the AeroX.

  8. Conceps are born to inspire and to give more ideas…
    If you turn a concept into a “production car” it looses it´s “futuristic” approach…
    The rear end transformation…. it was done in the wrong part…

    Overall… i prefer the phoenix

    • I actually prefer the PhoeniX too, we’re just having fun with it, not trying to improve it per se, just see what it could turn into. The proportions of my lights are off, but it’s a fun starting point.

  9. The 2nd and 3rd pictures (the 3rd picture, especially) look really nice: ditching the 1990’s Pontiac Trans Am tail lights and adding the thin ones work well as changes to JC’s design IMHO.

    Would it be appropriate for a modern-day Sonnet to be based on the 9-3?

  10. Could someone photoshop in some windows so that I could imagine what it would be like to have rearward visibility? 🙂

    I know that it’s the trend now, but I hate that modern cars seem to have minimal windows. I want a passenger car with windows, not an armored truck or a 17th century fort with slots for protruding guns. (Although having both windows and gun ports might be nice…)

  11. I’m of two minds…

    First, I love the PS modifications. They definitely improve upon the concept and make it easier to “understand.” It’s powerful and attractive and definitely works as a 21st century Sonnett.

    My other mind, as much as I like the design, doesn’t see a lot of Saab here. Sure I watched all of the JC videos and I intellectually know where all of the cues and homages are, but there’s nothing about the design that screams “Saab of the past” or “SAAB of the future” to me. But that’s actually OK in a sense, as I believe Saab needs a “next-gen” design in the fashion that Jaguar, Hyundai, and Range/Land Rover have recently accomplished.

    But, looking for that “next-gen” approach, the part of the PhoeniX that bothers me the most, even as much as I like it, is that I don’t see a lot of future brand cues being introduced to build upon in the future. With the Aero-X, it was clear what some of the future design ideas were going to be, from lighting, to profile, to proportions, and if you put the Aero-X next to the 9-5 or 9-4X, you clearly see it. Take a look at Subaru’s Impreza concept. Even though I don’t like it, the future Subaru “brand cues” are obvious and there to see… I don’t get that feel with the PhoeniX at all aside from the front clip (which may be the most generic part of the design).

    But maybe that wasn’t the idea here. Maybe it was just to get some attention for Saab and the future design cues that scream “21st century Saab” show up on the next 9-3 itself. The question I ask all of you, especially those of you who like the PhoeniX as i do, is where on the PhoeniX do you see the design cues that the buyer of the future will clearly and unambiguously identify as belonging to Saab?

    • Liari,

      I think the same lineage that the Aero-X benefits from now (i.e. evidence in the front end of the 9-5) will also be available to Phoenix in a year-or-so’s time when the next 9-3 comes out with a PhoeniX like front end.

      I think we all loved Aero-X when it came out because it was quite easy to love. The 9-5 using the front end design language has reinforced that.

      PhoeniX isn’t so instantly appealing, but having seen the comments evolve a long period, it’s growing on people quite a lot. The advent of the 9-3 will reinforce that as well.

      Great work, photochoppers!

  12. For those who can.t enlarge these fantastic photos, Try OPERA 11.1 Browser. You can click on the photos to enlarge them and even use them for wallpaper. Yes there is definitely road debris on the tyres.

    • Thanks for the compliment Peter.

      In FireFox, you can right-click one of the images, choose “Copy link location” and then paste this link into the address bar. That allows you to zoom in and see the image 1:1.

      In Internet Explorer, you can do the same thing, except they call it “Copy shortcut”. By default it too will shrink the image to fit the browser window, but there should be a zoom control there somewhere. (I have turned off auto-zoom in my IE)

      Yes, the images are quite big. I am thinking of adding some of them to the wallpaper section of this site.

  13. Totally off topic but the new A6 is to have two engine options here in North America. A 3.0T supercharged engine with 310bhp and a 2.0T with 210bhp.

    Who now still says Saab got the engine lineup wrong with the 9-5 is North America?

  14. It actually does look VERY nice and INSTANTLY likeable. The “non-instantly likeable” euphemism used by Swade to describe the reception of the concept for me stands for “this was not an entirely good idea” message the reception of the concept should send to JC and the Saab leadership.

    Please note that the Aero-X was also a stark departure from Saabs of yore, and a venture into the realm of supercars, where Saab has never had a presence. It was not that the Aero-X was a milquetoast rehash of old designs and a 1990s throwback. On the contrary, it was a stark departure. Yet still, the reaction was overwhelmingly more positive.

    Anyway, with actual Saab wheels, door handles, side mirrors and other adaptations, it looks like a very likeable modern-day Sonett. Great job, guys! JC, take note!

    • Imho, car design concepts that everybody loves to death instantly aren’t for the long term. It’s the more controversial ones, the ones that tend to grow on you that often find their way into production. From this perspective, I wouldn’t be all that flabbergasted if the PhoeniX arose again one day, albeit in a somewhat less extreme shape, to become the new Sonett.


      • This is simply not true. The controversial designs balancing on the edge of feasibility don’t go into production. The ones closer to reality and contemporary tastes usually do. I don’t want to start a tally here, but that’s how concepts go. We can all name good examples, can’t we?

        The key is to take contemporary tastes, elicit from them what will remain popular in the future, spruce it with novelty details that will make the design stand out and there you go.

        Another way, such as in the case of design legends in the mold of Citroen DS or Saab 99, is to develop a strikingly unprecedented, unique form, and then the details are absolutely irrelevant or even unnecessary.

        Another thing is to make the car fit into the brand’s styling language, or to redefine it. There is no other option, otherwise you end up with Hyundai, a brand without an identity.

        Back to the PhoeniX:
        * its form is not revolutionary, it looks like a squished Aston Martin, but that’s about it
        * the details are a hodgepodge of everything, a collection that doesn’t seem to reflect either past or present trends
        * it does not connect enough with any of Saab’s past styling themes enough to be an extension, especially with the general theme of minimal decoration and eschewing flashy details, and impressing with very balanced and elegant form – the PhoeniX is hardly balanced and graceful, but it has heaploads of Christmas decorations to cover it up
        * I don’t think this theme is translateable into Saabs of the future, especially Saabs I would be proud to own.

        The curvaceaous, “organic”, “flowing” shapes are the features of brands like Buick and Infiniti. Don’t get me wrong, I like both, especially Buick. But the plane fuselage, for obvious reasons, is rather plain, consisting of simple flat or rounded surfaces, much like the current 9-5.

        This is why we end up forcing ourselves to get to like the PhoeniX, convince ourselves that “pictures don’t do it justice”, “the production 9-3 will look better”, “some change is necessary” etc.

        • What he said ^ ^ ^
          the original saabs looked like nothing on earth, they did not look like Aston Martins or BMW.
          They had a language of design that is hard to spot here-its not just about inovation (that’s good) its about tranlsating what the public love-what is a Saab?
          I’m actually on the fence here but this guy is right…there was too much erm…its growing on me….it’s not too bad. when it should shout SAAB is BACK, the fact its there at all and controversial does makes it speak up but if this was on any other stand..well I wouldn’t be bothered. My Wife asked me what would I have what says the future of Saab still to me, clean simple, elegant…it is still the Aero -X.

          Sorry folks it just is…for me at least, here’s hoping the ng9-3 is a blend at least of current design Aero-X-to me even the front end looks a bit doped,fat bleary and myopic and too much of a departure from home ground. I worry that they may have thrown the baby out with the bath water…

  15. Since PhoeniX was introduced I’ve been puzzled why JC didn’t go with the c900 combi coupe but chose the UrSaab instead. The only explanation I’ve come up with, is that the new 9-3 being almost ready the concept couldn’t be too similar.
    I think JC took bumblebee theme to come up with something radical to get the press/us talking and he sure did.

    About the PhoeniX rear and lights, I finaly remembered what they resemble and it’s not a pretty picture 😉
    I really hope the new 9-3 hatch will be a mix of the c900, OG9-3 and NG9-5SS instead.

    • It’s all a matter of taste.
      I always found that the only really well proportioned Saabs were the 93, the Bullnose Twostroke 96, the 99 and the OG9-3.
      The Longnose 96 and the OG900 I never liked, and the 9000 looks like a Volvo where someone someone stepped on the nose 😉
      I don’t like any of the new ones…No Hatch

      All in the eye of the beholder..I’d buy a 9-5 if I had the 1,3 million DKK an Aero costs

      • OMG! You can get three fully loaded 9-5 Aero V6’s for that in Canada. And four of them in the USA.

        Thats daylight robbery.

  16. Indeed this car needs a spoiler, not standart, but only as option or only
    the sport model. (if it would go in production ofcourse for now there is only one version)
    But indeed i realy like the winglets so i would not mess with that.
    but a set of mirror’s on the side is not that bad.

    • You want a spoiler in addition to the winglets?

      Mirrors on the side feels a bit old school now. I wonder how it affects performance — it can’t be much better aerodynamically than sticking your hand out the window…

      The tiny cameras have my vote. 🙂

          • I love the mirrors, I’d kill for them. Both the looks and the view they provide.

            The 9-3’s mirrors are brilliant, but those take brilliance to a whole new level. It’s as if you could almost see around the car in them. This makes for a very safe and comfortable experience of driving the barge 9-5 is – it’s got the girth, but you wouldn’t know from the driver’s seat. That’s what I love about it.

  17. Nice..but that reare end needs work (not from us -its a Saab problem) it has gone from looking 1980’s pontiac and it has been imporved here BUT still looks like a giant lump of plastic! Metal panel and ice block clear/bluelights evolved from the current 9-5.

  18. … And then some simplifying off he rear-end and some much more clean, simple, pure alloy rims off a type that accentuates the roundness off the wheels and it will improve a lot! 🙂

  19. If you see some of JC’s earlier work, you’ll see that the winglets are a development of the side foil on eg the Bertone Matide. Not sure if TM’s design tweak has these discreetly integrated or not.

    Not sure if the modified rear lights are an improvement. I think “ICON” lights are a great idea – especially the chevron indicators (anyone else notice them?) and very especially the old-logo ‘high level brake light’ (I *want* one of those on my 93 SC!)

  20. I totally stand by this thought:
    Aero X and PhoeniX side by side, who would you take it home right away???
    Who of these boths concepts is more ready do drive??
    If the admns. make a poll out of this one, if the AeroX didn´t win by a large diference…IDK

    Aero X is more like an supercar of today…
    PhoeniX is more like an ricer of nowadays…
    I cant overcome this point.
    But these are my 2 cts….

    But i can´t wait to see the production cars that will come out of the PhoeniX front end design!!!

    • Would “both” be an option in your proposed poll? 🙂

      The Aero-X is absolutely stunning. I recognise bits of it in the 9-5 and that was a great motivator for me to buy the 9-5.

      For me, they are two completely different beasts. The Aero-X points out how a big car should be designed. The PhoeniX is at the other end of the spectrum. It serves to return Saab to their roots and smaller more compact cars.

      • Perfect answer, what he said. 🙂

        It’s been mentioned here before- the Aero-X is the car you want to drive up to the fancy hotel in, it’s the PhoeniX that you want to drive home with.

  21. Yes… perfect answer Rune! 😀
    But i put it this way:
    Both is the dream: one to keep in my museum… and the other to drive it everyday!

    But like i told before… i Can´t wait to see the cars that are coming out of this design ( front end related )

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