The Second Life of the Dame Edna

Carnewschina.com show some pics of the BAIC B70G, which is based on the old Saab 9-5. I am pretty happy that Pininfarina gave this car totally different looks than the Dame Edna but I have to admit the design (and even the name) reminds me a bit of another Swedish car company. Surely just a coincedence.

As the next photo shows these are obviously not even pre-production models as clearance is not exactly state of the art.

According to the article the white of the car shown on the pics is a C70GB, which is the electrical brother of the B70G which delivers 128 hp and 255 Nm. The petrol version of the car gets the Saab-based 2.0 turbo engine which is said to offer 206 hp and 300 Nm.

The interior is also completely different but it does not look homogenous at all, at least to me.

74 thoughts on “The Second Life of the Dame Edna”

  1. I don’t think its an ugly car, certainly have seen worse…its just….well……it looks like a warthog/pig with that logo on the front.

  2. C? Well from the front it screams Merc C class, although the panel gap across the top of the grill gets markedly bigger from left to right, those seats are copies of Audi’s leather seats. its a real mish mash.

    • Yes, Mercedes wannabee, first thing that came to my mind.
      Unfortunately it also looks very plasticky (sorry, couldn’t come up with another word that expresses my feeling any better). Definitely not in the premium segment.

        • Sorry Red, M-B front B back = Hyundai Genesis. (a rip of beyond belief imo)
          I think this one is definitely a mix of A4 and NG 9-3 with some Korean influence in a bad way.

  3. Maybe I’m seeing the glass half full here—but honestly, aside from the wide body panel gaps (which I assume would be closed up on a production car) I think it’s a strong effort. The front end design is no different / no worse than what Infiniti puts out (very high priced Infinitis I might add). The seating/console/dashboard look uncluttered and functional—-a refreshing departure from a lot of what GM puts out these days and what some other carmakers are doing. I think if this proves anything to me, it proves that starting off with an “old Saab” can be superior to starting off with a fresh sheet of paper and massive budget—-Lord knows GM, Honda, Toyota and others have launched some ugly duckling failures, likely blowing through a budget that dwarfed what BAIC spent on this.

    • Actually, I was just thinking that it looks way more like an Infiniti than a V*lv*.

      Looking at the gaps and alignment of the front bumper, it looks like it is, indeed, falling off. Perhaps the bumper itself, as a prototype piece, has a missing or failed screw or tape piece?

  4. It is what it is. Nothing wrong with it really in my opinion that a lot of refinement of the assembly process won’t cure. I personally think it looks more natural than the Dame Edna did. The Dame always looked to me like it was being forced into something it did not want to be and worse–that the effort to force it there was half-hearted. I just liked the original 9-5 better and think more work was needed than was available to get it to click with the new design direction in its 2nd refresh.

  5. I have to say though, it’s made me rethink the potential of the 9-3 platform. I wonder if they could do a big redesign and make it work for a while again. I am talking much bigger than the griffin update was meant to be. New dash, new seats, new bodywork. The core of the thing is still pretty solid. They were planning new powertrain anyway. I wonder how far they could take it? It would be fantastic if they cancelled the sedan and remade it as a hatch. I wonder if that is even possible. If some thought was put into a hatch at the outset of the platform it would be fun to build on that now. This is me doing a pie in the sky dream for once.

  6. I think that the 9-3 has potential for a re-design left in it. The major issues that I see with the 9-3 involve the cheap and creaky plastics inside, the rest of the car is pretty nice. We love our SC, the interior is just a huge letdown when we go from the 9-4 to the 9-3.

  7. The OG 9-5 was considered dated by the end of its run. but it still had a distinctive look – something that this one lacks.

  8. My first thought when looking at the exterior is: Infiniti. The interior, on the other hand is a rather haphazard mashing of conflicting styling elements. And that name “Dame Edna” makes “OIdsmobile” sound hip.

    But with all the bashing of this poor car: I should say there are two redeeming qualities of the design. Firstly, the overall body shape is actually pretty good. After fixing the fit and finish, taking the Infiniti-look out of the car, and coming up with their own design language, I can see some potential. The headlights actually look pretty cool. But seriously … that interior needs a trip back to the drawing board.

  9. I dunno. While this thingamajig doesn’t get my blood going, it goes to show that appearance and perception of exterior/interior may be done with little investment and design creativity ….. something GM failed Saab with allowing Saab to better distinguish its products from its GM relatives during the ’00s (and how had GM given Saab more resources, Saab would have been better nourished and positioned to be a stronger contender to Euro counterparts).

    I think THIS interior is about as “inhomogeneous” (I think till72 meant to say “incongruous”) as modern cars go …… the current Honda Insight and Civic:

    http://stwot.motortrend.com/files/2011/10/2012-Honda-Insight-interior-1024×640.jpg

    http://autopinoy.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/2012-honda-civic-5.jpg

  10. What I find interesting is that they managed to take an old design and make something really brand new… I’m wondering what the Saab engineers could have done with this if they would have had the chance… I love driving the 9-5 and think its one of the best cars ever made, with a new facelift and some performance upgrades this car could probably still give most other newer cars a good fight!

    • Looks like this Saab became a Merc…at the front end, and maybe BM/Audi at the back.

      But neither have the Saab 2.0 & 2.3 engines, will be interesting to see what they have done to them..

    • I completely agree. As for those who are saying “ugly” I wonder what they are comparing it to? The body panel gaps not withstanding, I don’t see anything about this car’s design, inside or out, that offends me. I think it’s understated and I really like that. To call it ugly? I just don’t get it.

      • Couldn’t agree more! To be honest I was not a fan of the “Dame Edna” facelift anyway and this car is certainly no worse than that..

  11. No distinctive features and indeed, lots of visual cues from all sorts of makers.
    “Non” offensive, I guess, another Asian car then. (Despite the Pininfarina design)

  12. Looking at this dash makes you realize how great the original 9-5 dash was, the one before the ‘GM-dash’ of Dame Edna…

    But ofcourse nothing beats the ‘flightdeck’ of the legendary 9K πŸ˜‰

  13. If the Saab engine technology (the B205 and B235) was exported to BAIC along with the rest of the 9-5, I imagine the Chinese would not be too put out to supply the new owners of Saab with these engines, or even license them back to Saab. I for one was a big fan of the B235 which over the course of its life went from 150hp to 260hp in USA trim, yet was refined, reliable, and returned good gas mileage. Instead of saddling the cars with an engine from the new owner’s parts bins that may not be a good match, Saab’s owner could use a Saab-designed engine to restart the lines.

      • You’re absolutely right! I talked to my (very experienced) Saab mechanic recently, he said the same thing. The 9000 2.3 T engines could be tuned to much higher levels than the newer ‘more efficient’ engines from the GM era, and indeed, NO black sludge.. He could exactly point out the technical details of the engine that made the older engines so much more durable. It seems the sad decline of Saab already began the moment GM’s technical influence appeared in the cars. Hopefully in the future Saab will once again be able to design and manufacture Saabs with the same high quality as they did before GM started to ruin things badly….

        • Maybe. Or the engines were at the end of their lifetimes. As new, lower emmision and consumption standards came into effect, Saab had to modify their engines. But lacking money for a completely new engine concept, they needed to compromise. Lighter parts reduce fuel consumption, but will tend to be less durable, for example.

          • There you have it; after the 9000 Saabs became compromises. The 9k was in almost all aspects superior to an Audi 100/200 or BMW 5 series. To say the same of the GM 9-5 would be absurd.

              • I admit the German ZF automatic transmission wasn’t the best in the world. A ‘sportier’ driver might be better of with the manual. howevever, if you take good care of the old ZF and don’t abuse it too much it will last quite a long time. I’m a relaxed driver in my 223.000 km 9000 2.3T and the auto still shifts like new.

        • Indeed, I love over engineering solutions, like old Mercedes. It says a lot about a company’s ethos too.
          But let’s hope for the first step of re-birth first πŸ™‚

    • I always thought the B235 vibrated way too much (and in a kinda lumpy way) at idle. It didn’t feel very refined compared to the engine in other $40k cars. I think it would take a huge effort to bring it up to the NVH standards and emissions standards that the later 9-3 engines offered.

      • In 90% of idle vibration in a 2.3-engined 9000, the vibration is not caused by the engine running rough but by its ‘hydraulic’ engine rubbers (silentblocs) gone dry and soft. The vibrations actually increase in intensity if the car is parked at an angle, like on a slope. And they generally cease as soon as new rubbers are put into place. As to the effort required to bring them up to a higher standard, I believe it would be worth every penny, The B235 with T5 engine management was virtually indestructible and had no problems with black sludge, the later T7 however did, hugely so. Moreover, the B235 could be tuned up to some pretty incredible power and torque outputs, the T7 much less so. Don’t know about the even later T8 engines’ tuning suitability but there didn’t seem to be any BS problems with those any more.

        Ivo

          • @ Turbo9000: you may not have noticed πŸ˜‰ but I do drive one of those, a 202 HP 2.3 full-pressure turbo manual CSE. It’s 16 years old and still as solid as on the day it left the factory. 318.000 kms and still going strong on its first turbo and first set of distribution/balance chains. No rust anywhere and the leather is beautiful enough to put in one’s sitting room. I have tried out various OG 9-5’s (cannot afford NG) because one inevitably has to think about what to drive after an old car has had its run of life but, so far, I haven’t driven one even remotely as well-built as my good old warhorse. So I guess I’m gonna drive it forever.

            @ terry9000k: There is a video clip on Youtube somewhere of a 9000 with 700 (or maybe even 900? I don’t remember) HP doing its thing. Real impressive! It’s a well-known car in Sweden. I’m sure someone can come up with a link?

            Ivo

            • That’s great πŸ™‚
              also, a decent 9-5 can relatively easy be found, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a
              well equipped 9000 in very good condition, making it more unique every day…
              Good luck with the old warbird! (mine is a 223000km, ’97 2.3T Anniversary in Amethyst Violet, with the aircraft logo in the suede/leather seats)

  14. BAIC have had the new platform based on saab 9-3 and 9-5 called M-trix platform.They have absorbed the skill of B205 and B235 and also they will begin to build 1.5T GDI and 1.8T engine.So they will have 1.5T GDI,1.8T,2.0T and 2.3T four engines which power cover 127kw-190Kw and torque cover 240-350Nm.We can see the datas are a little bit higher then before.

    For the M-trix the skill of engine,safety, chassis and electronic system all are based on Saab`s platform .In the near future they will produce A class、B class、C class and CUV,MPV series bsed on the M-Trix platform.

    I think BAIC have bought almost the total previous technology of saab though it is not the leading-edge technology now.
    As for what kind of the car C70 will be really like we will see half year after.

  15. I wonder what Chinese customers will buy the C70 ? It has no direct pedigree, and BAIC can’t claim it has a reputable and distinct “Saab” engineering & design (because it doesn’t).

  16. There must be a reason why the design was so heavily changed. Why not simply re-use more of the time-proofed parts?

    And the only reason I can see is that the Chinese customers tend to have a very different design background, and prefer different shapes. Considering the decline in automotive design (for me as a European) recognisable with all the companies active in China (BMW, Mercedes, Audi for example), it is evident that we Europeans, as a global minority, might never again get cars that are adapted to _our_ design traditions.

    Actually, that was confirmed by a BMW engineer that I happen to know. She told me that their designers have to take more care of the taste of Chinese buyers, since their market focus is changing, and that the new design of BMWs (surface entertainment) pleases those buyers.

    • Apparently, Pininfarina has the same problem as your BMW friends. Because that’s who reportedly designed this car. Which, objectively speaking, is a little ‘loud’ and ‘bling’ for my non-Chinese taste, somewhat unoriginal (given the various ‘borrowed’ design elements although I find this rather strange in a Pininfarina design; do they really need that? or did the Chinese insist?) but which, as a whole, doesn’t offend me aesthetically or otherwise. Declutter the front end a bit, get rid of those X-mas tree LED stripes and I would even consider driving it as a station wagon or a hatchback. 206 HP should be enough power for most daily users. And ECU’s can always be remapped…

      Actually, if a Youngman Saab would look something like this then I would not have a lot of problems with it. Designwise, that is.

      Ivo

        • So are, if I follow your reasoning, works by Rembrandt, Mozart, Sheraton and -to name something classic and American- Gershwin, Whistler and Tiffany. True class doesn’t get dated, it just ages. It has something to do with character. Do you prefer last year’s Napa Valley wine over a great Bordeaux vintage, too? Or a generic contemporary family house over a Frank Lloyd Wright villa, ‘dated’ as the latter may be?

          Ivo

  17. If these cars safety features are intact from changes, they may well be the first very safe Chinese cars.

    That is the real treasure BAIC acquired.

  18. Wait, I don’t get it. Exactly what do these two cars have in common? They look so completely different. The B70G looks very good BTW, not according to Saab’s standards, that is. Obviously the design elements are copied from all corners of the world, but then which manufacturer doesn’t do the exact same, apart from Saab, here again.

    What a DNA that 1998 platform had, fantastic (and probably not so fantastic) brand new cars can be based on that. I for one will cheer for this distant relative to succeed. Definitely it sets brand new standards for the Chinese domestic market with those legendary 2.0 & 2.3 turbo Saab engines!

  19. According to the report from the chief sales officer of BAIC a day ago on the Beijing Autoshow.The C70 have all the elements of safty and sporty from saab.So i consider it will be the first real safe car produced in China. As for the taste of design there are many defferences between westen and eastern people.Maybe that`s the reason why we could not find any shadow of saab from the C70.

    • Safe or not, I’ll pass on a reborn SAAB if the new owners inflict it with anything like what you refer to as eastern design taste as reflected in the C70. Hopefully a new owner will retain Swedish design elements in their products.

      On the other hand, perhaps there is a larger worldwide market for eastern style SAABs. This is something the new owner will decide.

      • Hope BAIC could produce the car with high quarlity at first.They really have a long way to walk to the worldwide market..

    • Why is it that I so much admire Chinese arts and design in general, but don’t like “Chinese” influence in car design (or some other technical goods)? There is something bogus here.

    • I like the car and I like the color. I’ve grown quite tired of the same metallic silver, gray—-same hues over and over from every manufacturer. They did a fine job with this car.

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