CAR Magazine on the Saab PhoeniX concept

CAR Magazine are generally pretty reasonable when it comes to Saab. They, like the rest of us, tend to think that the automotive world is a much more interesting place with companies like Saab in it. That’s why one of their roving reporters was busy getting a good spot at the Saab stand while Opel, next door, were running overtime with their Geneva press conference.

Back again to Hall 2, where I should be seeing a presentation from the brand that will not die. However, it’s GM Europe, Saab’s old owners, working their way through the presentation of the new Zafira Tourer. I’m keen to see the new car, but try to get a better location to view Saab’s presentation instead.

This traditional affection is why I’ll be very keen to read their April issue and see how they explain this headline about the PhoeniX concept. It’s fair to say that early signs from CAR are not looking promising.

From their online digital preview:

A harsh assessment?

I know I’m biased, but I’d say decidedly so. Alfa Romeo would want the “Right Car” assessment because the 4C is actually slated for production. Nobody wants a “Wrong Car” assessment, so it’ll be interesting to read what the assessment is based on – some controversial flying buttresses, or the use of a real-world new platform, a new hybrid turbocharged drivetrain and a real-world communication and control system that’s made massive waves everywhere. I hope CAR bore point 1, below, in mind.

We’ve covered plenty about the PhoeniX on this site and there are a few things of note that came out of that discussion:

  1. PhoeniX is a design concept (my emphasis) and the one thing you don’t want a design concept to be is boring. You want it to create discussion, which PhoeniX has certainly done, with the vast majority of it in the motoring press being decidedly positive.
  2. Given that it’s a rather radical concept in terms of looks, it’s going to divide opinion, which is fine. The trick is to look deeper than what you see at first glance.
  3. The importance of PhoeniX is not confined to it being Jason Castriota’s first statement as head of Saab design. The looks are deliberately Jason with deliberate Saab cues, and some of that look will carry through to the next 9-3. The importance of PhoeniX, however, is not just how it looks. It’s also concerned with what’s underneath. The PhoeniX platform that it’s based on is real – and when the next 9-3 is only 18 months away, that’s an important thing to know – and the PhoeniX concept showcases some of the vehicle proportions that will be possible with that architecture.

I guess I should hold my tongue until I get a chance to read the article, but I have a feeling that CAR may have only looked at the surface to judge the validity of PhoeniX and made a bold headline out of a subjective assessment.


Yes, it’s OK. Tim’s given me the OK to continue to write here occasionally. This is one piece of subject matter that I couldn’t resist.

CAR Magazine has big Saab splash ad

One of the bigger car magazines on the market, inidentally called CAR Magazine, has a big Saab spalsh advertisement on its website homepage at the moment.

The fold-down takes up the entire screen, showing the Anything But Ordinary spot that Saab recently released.

Some screenshots to show you the layout …….. (thanks Stephan!)

CAR Magazine Saab Ad

CAR Magazine Saab Ad

And this is the actual commercial that shows in that space…… although some of the script is different (e.g So Powerful, So Aerodynamic, etc)


Wednesday Big Snippets

There’s a lot of stuff out there to cover today…..


Popular Mechanics has a road test of the new Saab 9-5. It’s a little schizo, with this:

Cruising along Swedish highways at speed, the 9-5 is most remarkable for what you don’t notice. There is very little wind noise, bumps are absorbed, the engine is quiet, corners don’t slow you down, and downshifts and acceleration are undetectable except in their effectiveness. Noise, vibration and harshness have been utterly exorcised by the supple chassis, a plethora of sound-deadening material and engine and gearbox tuning intended to make progress effortless.

….being balanced by this:

The new 9-5 is a worthy also-ran in an incredibly competitive class. There’s no reason you shouldn’t buy one, but there’s no reason beyond a burning desire to own something with a Saab badge that you should buy one over an Audi A6 or a BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, either.

They were cheezed by the blackness of the interior, which I think is going to be an issue for many until its resolved. Once fixed, it’ll go a long way to lifting the premium perception of this car.


CAR Magazine also have a road test – of the Saab 93 driven by Victor Muller in the Mille Miglia.

They were glowing:

What an invigorating drive – the engine dominates the driving experience!

The Saab Museum’s absolutely perfect Saab 95 stroker wagon was also available and is actually a better drive than the 93. I wonder if they drove that one, too.


CAR Magazine also mention that they have an 8 page feature on the new 9-5 in their July issue.


New Saab Design appointee, Jason Castriota, has spoken briefly with the New York Times Wheels blog.

Mr. Castriota pointed to the success of the Mini Cooper as a model for the success that the 9-2 might achieve. “There’s some behind-the-scenes talk going on for platform sharing with other companies,” he said, adding that he will have a voice in Saab’s marketing.


Nick Taliaferro will be speaking at the Saab Owner’s Convention next month.

He’s jotted down some ideas for his presentation and invites your input to help make it better or more relevant to what you want to hear from a US tuning house.


There’s some interesting commentary on ethanol from John McElroy over on Autoblog.

I didn’t realise that despite all the outcry over food shortages a few years ago, food prices are now falling and even though that’s happening, ethanol production has more than doubled.

Even more encouraging is the growth in cellulosic ethanol plants in the US.

As might (or might not) know, Saab will introduce the 4-cylinder version of the new Saab 9-5 as a BioPower vehicle, Saab’s first BioPower car to be released in the US market.


And finally, CarAdvice are reporting on a list of cars compiled here in Australia. The list is intended to guide parents as to what (used) cars are good to buy for their first-car-owning kids. The vehicles are said to be safe and affordable.

The Saab 900/9-3 makes the list, as does the Saab 9000.

What’s interesting is that this list has been compiled by the Victorian state Government, the same government that bans new drivers from owning turbocharged vehicles (there might be wiggle room for an exemption under power/weight ratios, but the exemption has to be applied for and proven).

CAR Magazine talk with VM and JAJ

CAR Magazine sat down recently for a call with Victor Muller and Jan-Ake Jonsson from Saab.
There’s not a lot here that we haven’t already heard – the phrase ‘fully funded business plan’ appears prominently – but it’s good to hear it all again and confirm what we already know: the guys at the top are focused.
Some notables:

JAJ: During these past 15-18 months, we’ve had numerous interest from big OEMs to small suppliers all over the world who want to work with us. It gives us great confidence that we’ll be able to select the right partner for the Saab brand. Within the GM framework we’ve been limited to use what’s within GM. Now we can decide who we want to work with.’

VM: In the past, manufacturers clung onto their own technology and were not inclined to share. That’s one great change. Everyone now wants to share everything with everyone. That’s new. There couldn’t have been a better time for Saab to stand on its own two feet and say, “Here we are, we have something to offer you – we can reduce your breakeven point and bring things to the table”.’

VM: My experienced guess at how much it would cost to put the Aero X into production is that it will set you back

CAR Magazine: Saab the most uplifiting presence at Geneva

CAR Magazine is probably the best English language auto magazine out there. They are, generally speaking, the car-mag version of “Keep Calm and Carry On” with their steady, solid appraisals and consistency.
So it was gratifying to watch their round-up of the Geneva Motor Show today and listen to their thoughts on the Saab situation.
The video is just short of 20 minutes long and at 11:40 Gavin Green starts to talk about Saab, calling his interview with Victor Muller “the most uplifting moment of the Geneva Motor Show” – which he notes is a pretty happy show this year after the doom and gloom of 2009 motor shows.
You can watch the video below.

Thanks to Frank for the link.

CAR Magazine interview Christian von Koenigsegg

CAR Magazine have published an interview with CVK today where he talks about all things Saab.
If you’re up to date on all the news here, then I don’t think you’ll find much in this interview that we haven’t previously heard from CVK or the news stories.
Still, it’s good to see all this information in the one place. It’s also good to see CVK out there talking about Saab and the plans they have for it. It inspires more confidence than the silences we’re used to.
Some snippets……

I want to create a viable Swedish car company. Most commentators in the media say that there is little chance, because Saab has never made money. It is a fairly simple analysis. If you based all business decisions on what has happened before and expected that it would be exactly the same in the future, then there would be no way to change anything. Ever. We see it in a slightly different way

Jan-Ake Jonsson:

He is a rock that manages to stand up no matter how strong the wind is blowing. He stands up for Saab’s tradition and creates a good balance in our future management plans

Future Cars:

A specific electric car, a 9-3, the 9-5 and at least one car smaller than the 9-3. Perhaps something like a Mini Cooper with a premium. We could even launch a Sonnet sports car, but we really need everything else fixed before we can indulge ourselves in that sort of opportunity.

I’ve been busy tonight working on the Classifieds site so this was a welcome read after a hard night’s code-monkeying.
Click here to read the full article.
Thanks to Greg for the link!

CAR Magazine salutes the Saab 9-5

PT was kind enough to scan and send over a page from the latest edition of CAR Magazine, from the UK.
In a column they cal ‘Final Drive’ they have a tribute to what seems to be one of their favourite cars over the years – the Saab 9-5. Maybe some of you Europeans need to clue us up on this, too, as they claim their favourite version of the 9-5 was the one with the Isuzu V6 diesel. Hmph.
Here’s a few selected quotes. You’ll have to buy the magazine to read the full deal (there’s also a good writeup on the Insignia).

I started writing this at least five years ago, round about the time we thought the 9-5 surely must be due for replacement…..I’m a slow writer, but I rarely take 5 years to write 450 words…..
…..The incomprehensible delay in replacing what is one of only two model lines flags up the utter hash General Motors has made of its Swedish asset….
…..It had a slightly imperfect, offbeam coolness of the kind that also defines Alfa Romeo. Enough coolness to make it worshipped almost fetishistically by sufficient customers either side of the Atlantic, cementing a business case only GM could fail to open and shut…..
….Inside, the 9-5 was simply brilliant….the Swedes understand furniture (the seats) like the French understand cuisine….
…..Purist drivers, badge snobs, the uninitiated and those who crave the safety of the tribe never got the 9-5. Here in the motoring press we rarely hailed it, almost never gave it a slot in a 5-series group test. But when I was editing this magazine back in 2002 I ran a 9-5 saloon as a long-term test car. And I still, to this day, miss it.

A fitting goodbye for a fantastic automobile.
Well done to the author, Greg Fountain, and thanks to PT for sending the scan.

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