Saab PhoeniX concept – embargo broken

Car and Driver have seemingly broken Saab’s embargo. These images are now out there, so I’m bringing them here to Saabs United.

Of course, these are just the first two images and they’re CGI images, at that. The real thing will be seen later today at the Geneva Motor Show and I’m sure there will be more words, as well as many more photos.

As mentioned earlier, this will be seen as a controversial design. That’s the way all new designs should be.

Jeff P did a good job of summarising some points from the C&D article.

  • eXWD
  • 200hp, 184 lb-ft (199 lb-ft temporary boost available) transversely mounted, turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder BMW engine
  • 34-hp electric motor and a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a “touch” of torque-vectoring, sort of like a new Re-Axs
  • Gullwing doors
  • The arches over the body are “vestigial aircraft wings” according to JC, and these were clearly not depicted in the teaser photograph. This makes me wonder if they’re removable or not. I’d be curious to see the car without them (and will be rendering as such overnight)
  • All LED lighting, with Red instead of green inside which is supposed to remind people of the beating heart. I like it for the concept, I’m not sure if that’s intended for production.

Comments are open, but remember, the real thing will be showing, and will be photographed from all angles later today.


My 2 cents – I have to have a better look, but my first impression from scanning these images is that I love 98% of it. Absolutely love.

I’m not so sure about the flourishes at the top of the door, nor the Mantide touches around the back. Neither of these offend me at all, but they’re the two bits that I need to see for myself.

The teardrop effect of the glass is mesmerising. The overall shape is aggressive and even automotively suggestive. It looks like it wants to be driven. Perfect.

Just a quick note – no red interior lighting on production cars, please. I understand the beating heart analogy, but if you cut a Saab, you’ll see that it bleeds green.

Saab 9-5 Advertorial

We all remember the Saab 9-4x advertorial in the Glamour magazine. Well it seems like Saab has made a second advertorial with a male model and the Saab 9-5 in the Background, the scenery seems to be the same, but Jeff can confirm it.


I don’t know in which magazine we will see this advertorial, but maybe somebody in the States should take a look in the next edition of the Glamour magazine.

Sometimes I can’t read. 🙁
It says DETAILS shoot, and I read details of the shoot.

Now I know that there is a magazine with the name DETAILS

Thank you lala.

Design boffins talk to Jason Castriota

Is it OK for me to start this off with a mini-rant? It’s my site – of course it is!

What the heck is a design-focused website doing when it’s got an entire screen width at its disposal, yet chooses to actually publish its articles in a column about 180 pixels wide, and in a teeny tiny font? Design’s supposed to be functional, yes?


Anyway, the so-hip-I-don’t-get-it website called Wallpaper* spoke briefly with Jason Castriota, Saab’s head of design.

Some bits (actually, around half of it)

What’s your design vision for Saab?

I’m after that ‘jet on the road aesthetic’. I want to recuperate Saab’s aeronautical roots including that double teardrop shape from its fantastic history that has been diluted in recent years. But it will be done with a thoroughly modern take. Saab has good rivals so we need to do something very distinctive.


So what can we expect from Saab next?

At the LA show this year you’ll see the production 9-4X based on the 2008 concept, followed by the 9-5 wagon in 2011 plus a new concept from me in the same year before the production 9-3 arrives in 2012. It’s a tight timeline to get that 9-3 right! Afterwards my next homework assignment is a new small Saab.

A word about that schedule, if I may.

There will be a very strong temptation for people to see this concept car early next year and take it as being a conceptual version of the new smaller Saab (referred to often as 92).

My understanding is that this isn’t the case at all.

The concept car that Saab Design is working on (to be shown at Geneva 2011) is pure concept. A design statement. It’ll be the bookend to the Aero X concept from 2006. Elements from this car will be used on Saabs that follow, but there won’t be a Saab that follows that looks just like this concept car.

That’s my understanding.

Interview with Jason Castriota – Part 3

Click the links to read:

Jason Castriota is Saab’s Head of Design. In part 1 of this series, we talked about his appointment at Saab and a little about the successor to the Saab 9-3. In part 2, we focused more on the 9-3 successor, the expectations on Saab Design and the Saab concept car that will be shown in Geneva, 2011.

This is the final segment in this 3-part series based on phone calls in September and October 2010. My thanks once again to Jason Castriota for taking the time to chat about so many different issues for the benefit of the wider Saab community.


SW: The workload is very heavy at the moment, with that concept vehicle (that will show in Geneva 2011) on top of the work for the 9-3 successor. How is the Saab design team functioning on a day to day basis at the moment? And what size team do we have at the moment? You’re in New York right now, so how is that working?

JC: Well, I’m constantly back and forth. My month is broken into around 10-14 days in Trollhattan. There’s a week of PR commitments and a week in New York. It really is a time of constant travel.

The team is absolutely flat out. We’re a team of around 35 people in total. There’s around 7 designers in total, including my people, then we have about 15 computer modelers, a handful of physical modelers and a handful of project managers. So around 30-35 people in total. It’s a very small team, but it’s the way it should be because the ideas are very clear now, and it’s all about having that synergy with your collaborators and executing.

We have the exterior and interior programs for the 9-3 successor going on right now (mid-October) – one main interior theme and then with the various body style changes, there’s mild variations because of rear door panels, or a lack of rear door panels, etc. In parallel we have the exterior and interior of the concept car happening.

SW: OK. Switching tack for a moment…

You’re part of the board now and you’re doing a lot of PR work, etc. I know you’ve got a particular interest in branding and making sure something suits the brand. Are you playing a part in the visual design in Saab’s branding efforts in the next couple of years?

JC: Absolutely. I’m working hand in hand with Knut Simonsson, the head of marketing. Simon (Padian) and another guy in the studio, Matthias, are working together with me to help design provide support to marketing and branding. We have to make sure the new message from Saab is very clear.

Read moreInterview with Jason Castriota – Part 3

I saw the Saab 9-3 replacement

In my snippets posting from yesterday I mentioned “an appointment” that took me away from the LA Auto Show.

That appointment was at the hotel where I’m staying, along with all of the people from Saab Sweden who are here. The appointment was with Victor Muller and Jason Castriota and they were kind enough to give me a look at the computer design renderings of the car that will replace the Saab 9-3 in late 2012.

Yes, I saw it.

The hard part about writing this is that whilst I was allowed to see it, and whilst I’m allowed to write about the fact that I’ve seen it – I’m actually not allowed to tell you anything specific about it.

What I can say is this…..

It always takes me a little time to get fired up about new designs. It took me a full year to warm to the Dame Edna Saab 9-5, for example, which is a design that I really, really like now. My first reaction when Jason opened the lid of his laptop wasn’t overwhelming, but I definitely warmed to this vehicle over the course of the half-hour or so that we were looking at it and talking about it.

It was a little larger than I expected, but one of the things about seeing a flat, white 2D rendering on a computer screen is that you can’t see the contours that you can see with a painted, 3D model.

The car was in a very desireable and marketable body style and definitely carried the current design language in many respects, but also extended it quite considerably in others. The front, in particularly, painted a very nice portrait – even in this flat 2D form.

As mentioned, it takes me a while to warm to new designs. I don’t have a particularly good imagination. But I warmed to this and as I sit here now, a day later, writing about it, I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in the metal some time in the future.

It pains me to say it, but I won’t be able to answer any of the many questions that I’m sure are going to fill comments to this post. It’s the price I have to pay for being able to say anything at all.

All I can do is quote one of my favourite musicians and say: I’ve seen the future and it works.

AMS – Win an original Castriota design sketch

Auto Motor and Sport did an interview with Saab Design Chief, Jason Castriota, and unlike mine (via telephone), it was in person.

As you’ve probably seen from Parts 1 and 2 of my interview with him, Jason enjoys a chat. Maybe the only thing he likes more is to get out the sketch pad and start drawing, which is exactly what he did while he was with the guys from AMS.

AMS are now giving readers the chance to win that sketch, which Jason did to illustrate what a future Saab Sonett might look like should they have the opportunity to make one.


To be in the running to win the sketch, all you need to do is leave a comment on AMS’s Facebook page.



AMS’s interview with Jason Castriota is in the latest print edition of their magazine, which Swedes can buy at outlets with the finest tastes.

Parts 1 and 2 of my interview with Jason Castriota is available at the following links. Part 3 is still to come.

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