One of the constant issues brought up by Saab fans and reviewers has been the interior material and color choices of the new 9-5 and 9-4X. While I think that in person they come off much better– and the new 9-5 Sportcombi dashboard panel upgrade is fantastic in my opinion– it’s always fun to speculate how changes might look in real life.
Today’s focus will be the 9-4X, as I’ll be eating my lunch beside one today near the East River with Tim Colbeck. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask him in person, let me know here in comments, otherwise I’ll be focusing on the insanely long US pricing thread and constructive dialogue mentioned there. As a jumping off point, see the changes I’d make to this 9-4X’s interior after the break. Then comment on how you’d change it yourself if you could.
I’m using the top of the line Aero as my canvas, though I might address the base model in a future post. I’m focusing on the #1 complaints reviewers have had of the 9-4X: it’s a sea of black plastic, and it’s too dark.
One of the reasons for this is obviously to reduce glare. I purposely left the dashboard surface black to avoid this. Also the steering wheel stays dark. From there on, there’s definitely some changes at hand…
- Brushed Aluminum Dash Surround: Whether or not this is plastic or not isn’t crucial to me, I just think it would go a great way towards brightening up the cabin. I actually am a big fan of the texture and metallic effect dash panel in the 9-4X, in person it’s much better than in pictures. However I still think it’s 3 shades too dark. Lightening the pigment wouldn’t add much cost if any but would really help. Cost: Assuming the supplier can just lighten the paint mix, $0
- Aluminum Dash Vents: These would be the same exact plastic as the gear lever surround, and help to tie in the shiny bits around the car and brighten up the whole look. I’d put them all over the interior, not just the dash. Anywhere a finger is going to touch or an eye is going to be glancing, get some better lighter textures. Cost: Repainting the dash vents to match the gearbox plastics, $0-$500
- Light Seats for Aero and Premium Versions: While Parchment Leatherette is an option for the absolute base models, as soon as ventilated seats are specified, light leathers are out in favor of dark grey or black. At the same time, Parchment is available on the Aero 9-5 and even on the Cadillac SRX which is built side-by-side with the 9-4X (and shares suppliers with too). Again, the light seats contrasting against the dark carpets almost entirely solves the darkness problem in my opinion. Cost: Assuming they’re just substituting the same leathers Cadillac uses and charges no more for, $0.
- Light Leather Wrapped Dash Panel: One of the best details in the 9-4X to me is the french-stiched leather wrapped dash panel– it’s so nice I wish that the 9-5 had it too. While I enjoy the dark dash’s functionality in bright light, the vertical surface on the dash leather panel could be lighter without distracting the driver. It would also add a nice tactile look for the driver, and call out this luxurious detail. Cost: Assuming they’re just substituting the same leathers Cadillac uses and charges no more for, $0.
And here’s the special top of the line edition for RedJ (hope you like it man!)
While the wood would certainly add cost, I think the premium effect it has really adds a lot. RedJ sounded off in comments and I added this for him. I will literally photoshop any ideas you have together as I have time and post them in this article for debate. Keep cost in mind though.
That’s my take on it. Sound off on your own after the break. If you hate what I’ve done, you won’t hurt my feelings. 🙂 One thing that I’ll always remember about my parents buying their first European car was that my Mom was willing to wait an extra three months just for the lighter beige interior one that she wanted to come into port– the black was just too dark. While I still love the 9-4X’s interior, having a low cost solution that will bring in more customers otherwise turned off by the sea of grey/black (probably many women) would be a pretty easy and painless solution.
As a quick refresher, here’s what the original concept looked like over 3 years ago. Note the light details.
This is not an ultimatum or a “I think Saab is doomed if they don’t thread,” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think the 9-4X is brilliant. I’m just opening up a dialogue on what no to low cost options you would choose if you could. SU can be fun when we try to think creatively as a community and bounce ideas off each other.