Simon Padian’s vision for a next 9-3

Today we got two images that show Simon Padian’s vision for a next generation 9-3. Those drawings are said to be from the pre-Spyker era, most likely around 2008.

The shown features echo what (in addition to the core Saab characteristics) had been needed to make that car a real competitor for not only the Teutonic Three. Design-wise the sedan drawings seem to be closer to the final thing than those of the combi, which is kind of close to the 9-x concept. The more you look at it the more you get all the quotes from the several concepts that Saab had shown at that time.

While I also liked what I saw of the Castriota 9-3 I have to admit that Simon was on a good track to develop the Saab design language one step further. Especially that top left drawing on the Sedan image is something I had surely bought.

As with many things, it’s too bad those never saw the light.

68 thoughts on “Simon Padian’s vision for a next 9-3”

  1. Strange number plate, APD540. That one belongs to an old Volvo;

    Registreringsnummer: APD540
    Fabrikat: VOLVO 131341 M
    Färg: VIT
    Fordonsslag: PB
    Fordonsår: 1967
    I trafik första gången i Sverige: 1968-01-18
    Motoreffekt, kw: 55,0

    Maybe APD540 was some SAAB internal identification for this project?

  2. Please NEVS, contract Hareide Design (where Simon Padian and Einar Hareide, both former Saab designers, work) for your design needs.

  3. I don’t like the upper SportCombi concept. Looks like a mix of a Mini Cooper Clubman and Volvo C30.

    Just as Porsche has retained the basic form of the 911 and evolved it over the years for better and better performance, SAAB should have gone back to the classic 900 and brought it to the 21st century.

    It sickens me when a see a BMW GT on the road – to me this is their version of the 9000. Why SAAB decided to abandon the hatchback and make also-ran sedans is inexcusable. Reminds me of Apple back in the 90s making computers with 486 cards in them to run Windows…

    • It really wouldn’t have been costly/excessive to offer a hatchback version of the 9-5. The people in charge simply didn’t have the desire or will to build a true Saab hatchback. It sickens me too. Lots of things about how Saab was handled in the final decade are inexcusable—-idiots.

  4. I love that sedan at the top left, kind of puzzles me as to why they would scrap this and go with a new JC design when this looks better in my mind.

    • Not sure if these designs were based on the PhoeniX platform or not. JC’s 9-3 replacement design was actually built on the PhoeniX platform so that may be the reason. His PhoeniX concept from the Geneva show was more radical than the actual production concept, but it would be nice to see a picture or sketch of that to compare these from Simon that also look nice.

      • In the last couple of years of GM ownership, GM was planning to shift the 9-3 replacement onto Delta II like the Chevrolet/Holden Cruze and Opel/Vauxhall Astra. Even if available, I’m not sure Saab would’ve been allowed to use it’s own Phoenix platform with GM economies of scale prevailing. Remember the trouble Saab got from GM when it drastically modified Epsilon for the MY2003 9-3.

        • The new Buick Verano is basically the embodiment of this GM vision. Strangely, it doesn’t get any better fuel mileage than my 2002 9-3, nor does it perform any better or offer any more usable space (less, actually). I can see why Saab didn’t consider it a suitable platform.
          The press would have had a field day calling such a 9-3 a dressed-up Buick…

    • Yes, the sedan as a hatch would be perfect…
      imo, i dont like the styling of the combi
      anyway the sedan shows us perfect saab styling..

  5. I do not like the top left sedan ( we’ve seen that before, don’t like the rear arch). Much prefer the cgi mock-up of the sedan, very sleek. The combi concepts echo the biohybrid, not practical, heavy and clumsy looking.

    And yes, can we see Castriotti’s effort please?

  6. Stop the masochism!
    This is water under the friggin bridge.
    The ball got dropped….and picked up by others….Hyundai Veloster Turbo anyone?

  7. For me the next generation 9-3 Sedan is more a drawing based on the actual 9-5 NG.
    Let NEVS look at this while we have to stop dreaming about a car like this with an athmosphere turbo engine; that era is over now.
    However the design is perfect Saab.
    Would have an impact when launched this way !!

  8. Not overly impressed, I must say, especially with the 9-3 “concept”. The drawings essentially show many different vehicles, either totally not production-ready or dull. The “shortened 9-5” is horrendous to me, the big-wheeled conceptish drawings irrelevant, and the lowest sedan picture looks quite promising, but conservative, like an introduction to a 9-3 facelift (hint hint, NEVS!)

    All in all – a 9-3 SEDAN? I was hoping Saab Automobile AB was more adventurous and actively campained to bring back the liftback body style.

    The wide-hipped / narrow-shouldered SC is simply bad. It is hard to believe this team eventually came up with the stunning 9-5 and 9-4X.

    I am sorry, but while this is a great insight, I can now see why VM might have throught he needed fresh design blood.

    • As usual I find myself in agreement with you, Bravada! Can’t say I’m a fan of these explorations. There are some things I like but I can’t imagine a lot of these styling elements would ever make it to production. Agree the squashed 9-5 doesn’t quite work, the tapering window just means too much metal and no visibility, the squat roofline means no space in the back. And the SportCombi is awful. I don’t feel bad saying this because I’m sure to SImon these were just one set of many many drawings, and only the beggining of feeling out the form.

      Interesting to see, though!

  9. Generally speaking, I am a fan of Simon and his work. But, not this. The haunches over the rear wheels are cliche, the overall shape of the sedan feels Mazda/Ford, and — although this probably isn’t Simon’s fault because of safety regulations — can’t anyone do a fully horizontal belt line anymore? I’d love to lock Simon, Envall, Kjell ac Bergstrom, and JAJ (and maybe even CvK) in a room and tell them not to emerge until a real Saab was on paper …

    • adams, the next time they design a new 9-3 I sure hope they apply the ‘Apollo 13 method’ where a solution needs to be created from what’s available. Meaning a car that not only drives and look good but also transport 5 tall guys and stuff like fridges, tables, drivable lawn movers, cases, good sized dogs…
      Saabs got bigger and bigger but the cargo space smaller and smaller, the only exception being the 9-5 wagon, what was that about? Most of the concept drawn in the last 15 years would have been useless in real life to most of us. Thanks to the ultimatum from the mrs. we got a 9-3 sedan but I frankly was ready to move on 10 years ago.

      Simon himself has admitted to Swade that practicality was not a concern of his but that’s not a way to build a proper Swedish car imho. How NEVS will approach this is going to be “interesting” to say the least.
      Had the NG 9-5 been anything like a 9000 hatch Spyker would most likely be running the show today.

  10. We saw the top-left picture of the 9-3 Sedan in October 2011. SVD was telling the world at that time that this was the first picture of the new 9-3.

    Jeff already told us 3 days later that this sketch was pre-Castriota.

    Now we have the final confirmation about that, and a better picture of that sketch.

    I saw that sketch earlier on, and I was somehow happy that somebody else took charge of the design at Saab. Maybe it is unfair towards mr Padian, but this design was simply a evolution of the concepts Saab had presented during the GM Days, and Saab had to be able to show something completely new, and in a quite short period of time. Mr Padian, could have done that but in a much larger period of time, IMO.

    I’m still waiting for the day where I can see what Jason Castriota though a Saab 9-3 could look like.

  11. I like some aspects of the design but not others.
    The belt line is all wrong. I understand why automakers love this type of “mail slot” greenhouse, because pressed steel is cheaper than glass. Still, Saab should stand for active safety, and that means preserving the driver’s sight lines (among other things).
    I will forgive the ridiculous wheels. I’m sure that Saab would have offered something with a bit more meat, that you don’t have to scrap every time you hit a pot hole.
    The logo is a blue oval, which is appropriate since it looks like a Ford. I’m sure that Saab could have come up with something a bit more distinctive.

    Overall, it’s a decent first effort. The front looks good, and the overall profile is tight and muscular.

    Does anyone know what those two gaping holes in the rear are for?

    • this are for the turbulent air in the rear wheel arches. Normally this air escapes to the sides of the car, destroying the flow of the air going along the sides of the car. In this case you would redirect this air to the back, “filling” the slipstream with high impulse air, once again reducing the drag.

      In most of the cases nowadays such air-scape-holes are fake, because they are not easy to implement, but I think Saab really meant it when they decided to be best in class in aerodynamics.

    • I think that Saab came up with a much more effective rear light treatment on the NG9-5, so I doubt that they would have stuck with the “blue oval” treatment that we see in these sketches. It’s not like the car(s) that we see here had been approved for production.

  12. Very similar to the NG 9-5. I never understood the whole “right sized” 4-cylinder mumbo-jumbo. Saab used this tag line on the NG 9-5. The Automatic 2.8T with XWD got 17 city, 27 highway while the 2.0T in FWD was rated at 18 city, 28 highway…I’ll take the 80 additional horses and the 1-MPG penalty.

    • That may have been a transmission issue. The manual 2.0T got 5 mpg better than the V6 (20 city/33 highway). You would expect a modern automatic to be almost as efficient as a manual, especially in the highway loop where the torque converter should lock-up.
      Perhaps Saab did not have time to tune the 2.0T/Automatic powertrain to the EPA test.

  13. Personally I see some non-functional styling elements I am no fan of. For example the rear arch. My idea of Saab is a bit less musclecar and bit more intelligent and social consious.

    • Even to the socialy unconscious, the supposedly muscular wheel arches are kind of silly on a car of relatively modest power.

  14. The coupe/3dr looks okay. The sedan/5dr a bit ordinary. The combi/wagon somewhat ugly. All looking definitely GM era unfortunately.

    It would be nice to see J.C.’s 9-3 post GM design if NEVS has decided it’s definitely not going to use it? Then perhaps J.C. is hoping another manufacturer might pick it up? Then I guess we’ll never get to see it unless it appears under a different brand?

  15. Oh well, while we wait for reality from NEVS. And wait. And wait…I had a full synthetic oil change and ATF flush today for my 2004 9-5. Hope it keeps on keepin’ on.

  16. Not sure I am a fan of the sport combi version. Something about it doesn’t appeal to me. On the other hand the sedan looks fantastic. Both J.C. and Simon are pretty close looking at the top rendering. They both appear to be a hatchback with NG 9-5 design cues.

  17. All kudos to Simon Padian!

    This would IMHO been a very natural evolution of the NG 9-5 and implementation of the Aero X/ 9X/ 9-x BHD and Air designwise into production-cars.
    Remember that these are design visions so the final production car would have (would have/ if only…) been not so extreme maybe.

    Anyway. I love the air-outlets in the back end of both the sedan and the combi, as well as the reversed hockeystick of the combi.

    I never liked the PhoeniX so this is more Saab to me personally.

    If only, if only…

    I cannot agree more on the statement above: NEVS: Get Simon Padian to design the next 9-3!!

  18. Seeing all these drawings saddens me of what could have been. Simon really does understand what makes a Saab a Saab. I still stare at a 9-5 everytime I see one. So sad.

  19. Probably too late to ask in this thread, but is that perhaps an active spoiler on the rear of the sedan in the first image. In the rear view showing the airflow, it looks like the spoiler is integrated into the trunk (boot) lid and is rising as the car increases speed. I know one of Saabs concepts (The 9-X BioHybrid maybe) had one that extended rearward at speed.

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