Post-Geneva, plenty of work remains for Saab

As a Saab blogger, I have a regular daily routine that sees me scouring email, comments and a large number of RSS feeds on a daily basis.

Reading comments first thing in the morning lets me know what’s happened overnight. Emails, of course, are the way I stay in touch and see new material that people bring to my attention. When those are out of the way, I get to my RSS feeds, which summarise news stories on a variety of topics and from a large number of websites.

When I’m away at an event, as I was last week, the RSS feeds tend to slip by the wayside because there’s so much going on. When it comes to events like Geneva, I don’t necessarily need to read about the news, I’m right in the thick of it.

This morning, when I opened up Google Reader, I was confronted with an interesting situation. Having not touched the service for over a week, there were thousands of news stories waiting for my review. This collection of links provided much more than that, however. What I had at my disposal was a snapshot of Saab’s media coverage over the last week – and it revealed a few interesting things.

As you might expect, you couldn’t wave a stick around the internet last week without hitting half a dozen different stories about the Saab PhoeniX design concept. It was like a PhoeniX piñata out there. Any website that’s ever run a story featuring an engine seemed to have a picture of the car with the flying buttresses.

The other prominent stories were concerned with Saab’s new IQon technology.

I have to point out here that Saabs United’s own coverage followed a similar pattern. RedJ, Eggs and I did try to make sure we brought you all a well-rounded offering from Geneva, but the PhoeniX was still quite dominant, even here.

So, plenty of Saab coverage. Both IQon and PhoeniX were well received by the vast majority of news services and websites that featured them. That’s all well and good. But it does leave Saab with some significant work to do.

For example…… I had over 500 stories waiting on my Google News “Saab” feed this morning. How many of those news stories dealt with the Saab 9-5 SportCombi?

Three.

And how many of those stories were from Geneva, rather than just re-hashes from the press release?

One.

Aside from the PhoeniX concept, Saab also had the Saab 9-4x, the Saab 9-5 SportCombi and the Saab 9-3 Griffin (with an emphasis on the sub-120g/km SportCombi) at debut or near-debut status at Geneva.

Such a huge media focus on PhoeniX is great for the Saab brand in terms of general awareness but doesn’t do nearly as much to help out with vehicles that are actually for sale, either now or very soon.

To add to the urgency, the only ‘major’ show in the next six months is the New York Auto Show, one where the significance of the 9-3 Griffin’s emissions status will be irrelevant. Wagons are welcomed by Saab fans, but the Saab 9-5 wagon won’t be as big a story in New York as it is in Europe.

20/20 hindsight would have me wonder if it might have been better to save PhoeniX for the New York show and focus the spotlight on Saabs production models in Geneva.

It’s a pointless question now, though, as the dice have been cast. All Saab can do now is roll with the outcome and make the best of their opportunities. I suspect that means a major promotional effort for the 9-3 Griffin and 9-5 SportCombi over the next six months in Europe, and the same for the 9-4x in the US.

Some sort of viral video or prominent event might be needed to push one or more of these cars into the public’s mind.

Geneva Show cars to go on roadshow

Greetings from Geneva!! It’s a little chilly, but I was still able to wear my shorts 🙂

I can’t do a Googletrans on the website, but i-love-saab.ch has been established and the cars that go on show at Geneva will be touring Switzerland just after the show finishes.

The Saab Design concept won’t be making the rounds, so you’ll have to attend the Geneva show to see that in person this month.

The cars that will be making the rounds include the Saab 9-5 SportCombi and of course, the 9-5 sedan, the Saab 9-4x, the Saab 9-3 Griffin and the Saab 9-3 Independence Edition convertible.

If your in Switzerland (or otherwise nearby), check out the i-love-saab.ch website for the registration form and all the details as to when they’ll be near you.

Saab 9-5 SportCombi tailgates comparison

Could it be that there will be different tailgates for different markets?

Saab’s officially released image…..

Spyshot, from Trollhattan, beginning of February…..

Saab 9-5 SportCombi

Spyshot, from Trollhattan, yesterday…..

——

Comments, from someone who should be in a position to know, indicate that the third of those images might be the tailgate used for cars shipped to the US market.

I don’t know US design rules, but I do have memories of cars being shipped to Australia from the US with big ugly overriders on the rear bumpers, presumably to keep low-speed colliders away from the panels. Maybe Saab are required to recess the rear door for that market?

I don’t think either one looks substantially better than the other, so it’s a non-issue for me, but an interesting observation nonetheless by various eagle-eyed commenters.

Gentlemen, start your engines: the Saab 9-5 SportCombi is here

UPDATE: I’ve changed the text with the official Press-release from Saab UK.
January 19, 2011

——

All-new Saab 9-5 SportWagon to Debut at Geneva

• Next step in Saab’s biggest-ever new product offensive
• Distinctive alternative choice in premium estate segment
• Styling carries forward 9-5 saloon’s bold design language
• Order book opens in Spring, first customer deliveries from September

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile takes the next step in the biggest new product offensive in its history when the much-awaited 9-5 SportWagon is unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

Sleek and fun-to-drive, the SportWagon adds versatility to the widely acclaimed attributes of the 9-5 saloon and will bring a distinctive, alternative choice to the premium large estate segment.

It shares the saloon’s bold, AeroX-inspired looks and features an extended, falling roof-line which culminates in a steeply raked rear screen flanked by signature Saab ‘wraparound’ window glazing. The result is an imposing body with a low stance and a dynamic, visual appeal that concedes nothing to the requirements of load-carrying.

Smart cargo handling features include an adaptable multi-fold floor, flexible U-rail load space configuration and under-floor stowage with a sealed wet storage compartment. A programmable, powered tailgate is also available.

Backed by the same all-turbo petrol and diesel powertrain line-up as the 9-5 saloon, the SportWagon includes Saab’s industry-leading XWD all-wheel-drive system and advanced features such as: Saab DriveSense adaptive chassis control, adaptive cruise control (late 2012), Bi-Xenon SmartBeam adaptive lighting, keyless entry and starting, tri-zone air conditioning and a Head-up Display which projects information, aircraft-style in the windshield.

The order book for the SportWagon opens in Spring, with first customer deliveries to follow from September. It will significantly broaden the appeal of the new 9-5 range in a segment where Saab, with its tradition for designing versatile vehicles, has enjoyed estate sales volumes on a par with saloon levels.


Red J here
The Swedish press release says that the order books will open from mid April, and the first deliveries will be in August. Difeerent markets will have different delivery dates.

“The launch of the 9-5 SportWagon is a much-awaited next step in the roll-out of our new product offensive,” says Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. “It will take Saab back into the large estate segment where we have established a strong presence in many key markets with our previous offering.”

Sporty character
Designed in parallel with the saloon, the 9-5 SportWagon shares the same bold frontal styling and adds a swept, ‘wraparound’ rear window graphic. This echoes the 9-5’s signature frontal theme and gives the SportWagon its own distinctive identity. The dramatic, sweeping roof-line is extended by a deep rear spoiler integrated into the top of the tailgate. Ultra-slim roof rails that blend into the car’s svelte silhoutte are fitted as standard.

Signature Saab themes, such as the strong C-pillar with its hockey stick extension of the belt-line, are combined with a prominent rear shoulder contour to give the SportWagon a muscular and dynamic stance.

The tailgate is raked forward to underline the car’s dynamic character. It features a full-width ‘ice-block’ rear light bar which wraps into light units at either side, continuing a new signature Saab styling theme first seen on the 9-5 saloon and 9-4X crossover.

Dynamic and functional
The deep cargo deck is fully carpeted and optimized for space and ease-of-use. The 60/40 split rear seatbacks fold down almost completely flat without having to reposition the seat squab or remove the head restraints. Careful attention to soundproofing in the rear bodywork attenuates noise, vibration and resonance so that occupants enjoy a level of interior refinement similar to that of the saloon.

With the seatbacks lowered, the cargo deck is almost two metres long (1,962 mm) and offers an adaptable load capacity of up to 1,600 liters (527 litres, rear seats up). The side walls are completely flat and upright, creating a clean, open space without any hard-to-use corners or rear wheel-arch intrusions. Compartments in the side walls offer convenient stowage for small items. Four tie-down loops and a 12-volt power outlet also come as standard.

An optional, U-shaped track around the outside of the floor provides flexible space configuration. As in the 9-5 saloon, it carries an adaptable, telescopic dividing rail which allows the cargo deck to be split as required so that different sized items can be separated and kept in place.

The floor, with a signature Saab aircraft-shaped handle, folds back in steps to access under-floor storage, with a sub-floor 65 mm below the main floor height – ideal for the separate stowage of flat or small items.

A pull-out support arm can be slotted in place to keep the folded floor in a fixed position. This provides further support for items stored in the under-floor recess, as a flexible alternative to using the entire cargo deck.

The underside of the floor has two fittings for flat stowage of the U-rail divider. They also carry hooks that can be used to organize bags, for example. A waterproof plastic liner, available as an option, can be dropped into the recess to provide a separate wet storage area for sports equipment, outdoor clothing or muddy boots.

Smart tailgate
For additional convenience, the tailgate is available with a remotely-controlled, electric power operation. It can be fully opened and closed via a rotary knob in the driver’s door or a button on the car’s key fob. A touch pad on the outside of the tailgate, above the number plate, also triggers powered opening and closing.

A programmable mode can be used to raise the tailgate to a lower position if there is restricted clearance overhead, such as inside a garage. The opening height is pre-set via the rotary knob, which can also disable the powered function.

For ease of loading, the tailgate opens down to bumper level with a lift-over height of only 648 mm. The cargo deck floor is also flush with the tailgate opening to facilitate sliding heavy loads inside. A down-lighter in the tailgate and small sidewall lights provide excellent illumination of the load space at night.

A retracting cargo cover can also be slotted into lugs in the sidewalls immediately behind the rear seats. It keeps items out of sight and includes a convenient one-touch action which allows the ends of the locating bar to slide up channels on the inside of the D-pillars for convenient access to the cargo deck.

Red J

French blog photochop Saab 9-5 wagon (pretty well IMHO)

French automotive website Blog Automobile have published a photoshop of a Saab 9-5 wagon.

It’s not the real deal as far as I can tell. It seems to be a photochop by a company called Graphicar. But it’s a pretty good effort in my opinion – not as flattering as it could be, but pretty decent.

They’ve even put it in a familiar setting as it looks like the Saab test track where recent press photos of other vehicles have been taken.

You’ve got a snippet there. Go to Blog Automobile for the whole shot.

I think we can expect to see the real deal at Geneva 2011.

Thanks to Jos for the tip!

AMS.de tipping 9-5 Combi for Paris

Auto Motor und Sport – the German version – has compiled what looks like its list of cars to be exhibited at the Paris Auto Salon, coming up at the start of October.

The Saab part of the list includes a number of vehicles, one of which is a car that a lot of European Saab fans will be waiting for with bated breath – the Saab 9-5 SportCombi.

We’ve heard previously from Saab’s Victor Muller and Jan-Ake Jonsson that the 9-5 Combi will come around mid-year in 2011, just after the 9-4x that’s due around April.

I’ve mentioned once before and I’ll say it again now….. I don’t expect to see the 9-5 SportCombi in Paris. The rare mumblings from Djup Strupe didn’t indicate anything other than the new 9-3 diesels, which is worth taking note of in some ways and not worth noting in others – there was no inkling of the 9-3 ePower that’ll go on show there.

My intuition still tells me, though, that if there’s something other than the 9-3 ePower to see/hear in Paris, then it’ll be something to do with future partnerships (think Saab 92).

It’s not like Saab will be short of things to talk about in Paris, either. New low-emissions diesels, a bigger range of engines in the 9-5 sedan, the 9-3 ePower and the new e-AAM Driveline Systems partnership to work on hybrid drivetrains. That’s plenty to keep the newshounds busy and it keeps some more bullets in the chamber for later on.

The Saab 9-4x is going to be seen in Los Angeles in November. I expect the Saab 9-5 SportCombi to be seen at Geneva in March 2011.

But I could be wrong 😉 .

It’s worth noting that AMS.de also predict the 9-4x could show in Paris, which is another reason why I’m a bit skeptical about their predictions there.

Thanks to A-RO for the AMS tip in comments.

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