Saab: the 5-door is making a comeback with or without us

We’ve often opined in these pages about the need for Saab to re-introduce a hatchback model. Beginning with that first 99 Wagonback, Saab seemed to have no peer among other hatchbacks. The cars were stylish, good to drive and oozed utility. The quintessential hatchback automobile.
Of course, in recent times, Saab has focused on the more mainstream 4-door and convertible formats. I’m not as dogmatic about this change as Swade is. It’s my opinion that Saab made a reasonable choice facing smaller sales volume and the lack of success with the 5-door 9-3 in some of the major markets. I’m laying much of the lack of popularity in the United States at the feet of the SUV/Minivan crowd — they simply were too enamored of these enormous vehicles to take a look at the five door.
Fast forward to today, and the small wagons and wagon-like vehicles are rising in popularity. The Honda Fit, Scion xB, Mazda 5 and all of their collective peers have certainly flourished in the recent past. Our own SportCombi and the former 9-2x have that same feel, and the 9-3 SportCombi certainly looks smart in 9-3x trim. Still, these aren’t exactly 5-door hatchbacks, are they? They are wagons.
Well, I’ve noticed that the 5-door is making a comeback of sorts. Automotive trendsetters Honda and BMW have both introduced five-door models for the upcoming model year. You may read about the BMW here and the Honda there. As you look at these photos, ask yourself this: if this layout is making a comeback, why wouldn’t Saab return to what they have done so well?
Saab: Bring back the hatch!

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Swade’s in Germany Snippets

EnG here to bring a few small bits into the conversation while Swade is filling himself with Schweinshaxe and Ebbelwoi.
Snippet Number One: Interesting video from Frankfurt over on the Saab Newsroom (as posted first by Swade here):




To recap:
1. Chinese ownership comes with easier access to the exploding Chinese market. In the words of Mr. Jonsson, “You gotta be there.”
2. Saab is destined to become “more Swedish” with operations “concentrated in Trollhattan, Sweden”. Music to my ears!
3. Saab will soon be independent of GM and will have the capabilities of a full OEM.
Snippet Number Two: The hatch goes high-end.
Take a good look at this excellent post over at Automobiles Deluxe on the subject of the Porsche Panamerican and the BMW 5-series Gran Turismo. Both are five-door layouts, with the Bimmer going one extra with a nifty little hatch-within-a-hatch design.
If BMW and Porsche pave the way, how can Saab not offer a 5-door 9-5?
Swade, I suggest, nay, demand that you ask the Saab movers and shakers about their planned response. Should be fun to hear!
Snippet Number Three:
Step on over to Autoblog for some great high-res images of the 9-5 from the Frankfurt show.
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Snippet Number Four:
The venerable Wall Street Journal published a few notes on Saab ownership from Bejing Auto’s point of view. The article, reproduced in entirety after the jump, contains some of the expected information (“leveraging strengths”, “provide know-how”, etc.), but also provides some insight that’s not been overtly stated until now.
For instance:

Mr. Wang said the strategic alliance would be modeled on the partnership between France’s Renault SA and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co.
Those companies have made substantial savings by sharing basic vehicle underpinnings and other technologies and combining forces in purchasing components, while keeping separate brands and corporate identities.

This begs the question: what’s in the BAIC parts bin for Saab? Does anyone really know?

Read moreSwade’s in Germany Snippets

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