A little more from the Geneva Motor Show

Whilst we’re waiting on reportage from our correspondent in Geneva, I thought a couple of photos might be in order….
Here’s a very tasty shot of the new Saab 9-3x on display in Geneva.
The Saab light show is a very classy act. You might see the people on the other side of the light wall, as that’s where Saab typically have their cafe and meeting area. It’s very popular with visitors to the show. Click to enlarge.
Another shot of the Saab 9-3x, which seems to give off it’s own magnetic field, or something similar. Halo effect?
Don’t tell me it’s just part of the light wall’s transition, please! I want to believe. Click.
The guys from Hirsch Performance stare as Robin starts to vapourise from the head down, right before their eyes. It’s a party trick he likes to do every now and then. Click to enlarge.
More Photos at Robin’s Flickr account, and Golfhunter’s Flickr account as well.

2009 – the year that will quite possibly change autodom forever

I just want to draw people’s attention to an article at Autocar that was linked to in comments.
In the article, Hilton Holloway records “a moment”. It was only a brief few minutes at a large European car show, but I think he captured it perfectly.
I reported earlier that GM’s higher beings had absented themselves from Saab’s product launch at Geneva this year. Holloway captures the moment when they did drop in for a quick look-around.
It’s only a moment, but it’s an important one and Holloway’s ending captures it pretty well:

One thing is for sure. By the time the Frankfurt show comes around in September, Lutz will have retired after a massively influential automotive career and Forster and Jonsson will either have pulled off their rescue bids or the European car industry will have been changed forever.

Even if they pull off their rescue bids, there’s still little doubt that the automotive landscape will change this year. Hopefully for the better.
A highly recommended article.

Jan-Ake Jonsson speaks from Geneva

The following is a video presentation from Saab.
It was recorded at the presentation of the Saab 9-3x at the Geneva Motor Show. There’s some imagery of the Saab 9-3x in there, but as you’ll see, it’s more about the business.

All those supporters out there that he mentions – that’s you!
Take a bow.
And Lance, I don’t know for sure, but he might have said those last two words especially for you! 🙂

GM chiefs ignore Saab at Geneva

If you needed any more assurance that GM are giving Saab nothing but the bare-bones cash they need, then this report from TTELA should convince you.
Flying in via regular passenger plane to Geneva, Bob Lutz found time at the baggage carousel to reel off a little Saab joke.

My favorite option is to merge Volvo and Saab. Then both GM and Ford have a problem.

TTELA go on:

He says that half jokingly, half seriously. But the spirit is clear. GM no longer even pretend that they care about Saab.

As they note, one year ago Lutz was enjoying fine food and drink, and toasting the Best-in-show Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept vehicle. He was even saying that the Saabs GM were building now were the best and most Saaby Saabs ever.
This year, he didn’t even show up to the launch of the Saab 9-3x. Probably a good thing, really. It would have been insincere anyway.
Disappointingly, the supposed Saab-fan and GM Chief Beancounter, Fritz Henderson didn’t show up, either.
The good news is that GM have handed over what will hopefully be enough cash to get Saab through reconstruction and the 2010 Saab 9-5 into production. The sooner Saab can separate, however, the better for everybody.

Saab 9-3x shows up at Geneva

Our man at the Geneva Motor Show, Robin M, and our mate Etienne from the Saabhuy blog in Belgium have loaded up some first shots of the Saab 9-3x from the Geneva Motor Show. They’re over there with Golfhunter and a small cast of other Saab enthusiasts.
Robin managed to snap off this shot of the preparations being made:
Isn’t that a classy look? I love Saab’s motor show presentations. They really do personify taste. Fantastic.
And here’s the Saab 9-3x itself, looking great in white.
Here’s Etienne (center) and Robin (left) along with someone I don’t know (who I’m sure will be identified in due course).
Oh, there’s a car somewhere in there, too!
And here’s a Saab 9-3x in Pepper Green, loaded with some of the outdoorsy stuff one might expect this car to carry.
Looks superb. The best application of Pepper Green I’ve seen so far, actually.
Click through to SaabHuy to see more pics from the event, or even more at Etienne’s Flickr page.
We’ll hear from Robin M in due course.

Saab at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show

How about some good, car-related news for a change?
The Geneva Motor Show is almost upon us. Yes. Saab will be there, and so will SaabsUnited.com.
We’ve managed to secure media-grade entry for our unofficial Saab ambassador to the UK, Robin M. He’ll be there to see Saab’s offerings at the show as well as ask the hard questions of all the Saab executives there.
Robin won’t be alone, either. He’ll be hanging out with the owner of the most elegant Saab convertible in history, our mate from France – Golfhunter, who’ll be there reporting for Etienne’s Saabhuy blog. It should be a fun time and a great moment for Anglo-Franco relations.
Saab will be showing off the new Saab 9-3x in all its glory and I’ll be quite keen to get Robin’s impressions of it.
I think the subtle changes they’ve made to the 9-3 SportCombi are sensational and add that extra bit of personality the car needs. I’m looking forward to driving one sometime in the near future.
Saab 9-3x
The Saab 9-5 Griffin should also be there. Given that Robin’s a 9-5 owner himself I’m sure he’ll have an interest in the car.
The other news out of the show, news that’s been overtaken by recent events to no small degree, is that Saab have tweaked their TiD and TTiD diesel engines in order to reduce emissions.

Linear and Vector specification Sport Sedans, powered by the 150 hp/110 kW, single turbo or the 180 hp/132 kW, two-stage turbo 1.9-liter engine, now produce just 139 gm/km CO2 and impressive fuel consumption of 5.3 l/100 km over the combined cycle. The SportCombi’s figures are also improved, to 144 gm/km and 5.5 l/100 km.
In terms of CO2 grams per horsepower, the two-stage turbo models (badged 1.9TTiD) are now among the top performers in their class.
The efficiency gains, averaging 7 percent, have been achieved by a series of fine-tuning measures including: the use of wider gear ratios, a longer final drive, idle and low engine speed remapping, and an optimized tire and wheel choice. Zero to 100 km/h acceleration is unchanged, while fifth gear 80-120 km/h times are increased by less than one second.

If there’s a downside to this, it’s that these variants are only available with manual transmissions.
Better fuel economy and reduced emissions provide a double-banger benefit for the driver. As most of the countries in which diesels are sold base their vehicle taxes on emissions outputs, that means reduced overheads for the owner as well as reduced running costs through greater economy.

The curious case of the Saab 9-3x

I’ve been looking at it and thinking about it and I’m not sure there’s been a more curious vehicle in Saabs range in a long time. The 9-3x is a bit like a mystery wrapped inside a riddle.
Who is it trying to reach?
Is it those looking for an SUV alternative? It certainly fits the bill there with better dynamics, better seats, better handling and a very capable cargo capacity. It looks a bucketload better than your average SUV, too.
Maybe they’re quietly trying to woo the LGBT community? If you think I’m going nuts here, consider this: Saab have traditionally been very popular with the LGBT community, finishing top three in their vehicle research surveys for most of the last few years. Recently, that prominence has faded. The new darling in this highly cashed-up market? Subaru, particularly with the girls. Anyone want to posit that the 9-3x isn’t a Subaru competitor with a fancier suit?
Maybe it’s just your regular Saab customer looking for something more versatile? I’ve never been there but I can just imagine a number of New Englanders seeing one of these heading down the street and re-discovering Saab for the first time in 10 years or so.
And how does it really look?
Just a few days ago I thought it had been designed by Donald Duck:
Saab 9-3x
And today I’m ready to grab one and go buy a kayak or something similarly insane:
For those with an open mind – is there a Saab owner out there without one? – this has to be a tempting proposition on one level or another.
I’m in no way an ‘outdoors guy’ but I still find myself curious about the possibility of some seat time in one of these just to see what it can do. A 2.0T and XWD with some extra clearance and Saab’s driving characteristics?
Give me one in red and let me loose!

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