Saab 9-X BioHybrid Makes American Debut In New York
Voted ’Best Concept’ at Geneva Auto Show World Premiere
NEW YORK – Following its world premiere at the Geneva auto show earlier this month, the award-winning Saab 9-X BioHybrid premium compact concept is scheduled to make its American debut at the New York International Auto Show media days, beginning March 19.
The editors of AutoWeek, one of North America’s most respected and longest-standing automotive enthusiast magazines, voted the Saab 9-X BioHybrid “Best Concept” of the Geneva show. With this award, the 9-X joined the very successful Saab Aero X coupe concept, which received AutoWeek’s “Best in Show” honors at its debut two years ago in Geneva.
“After its stunning performance in Geneva, we can’t wait to show the 9-X BioHybrid to the press and public here in America,” said Steve Shannon, Saab Automobile USA general manager. “Following in footsteps of the highly inspirational Aero X, as well as the 9-4X BioPower crossover concept that debuted in Detroit just a few weeks ago, the 9-X BioHybrid demonstrates that Saab is truly on the move.”
The 9-X BioHybrid is a vivid vision of what a future compact car from Saab could look like. It is designed to reflect the priorities of youthful customers who seek progressive looks, responsible performance and high-tech communications, all in a sporty, fun-to-drive package.
Exploring design themes from Saab’s award-winning Aero X and earlier 9-X concepts, the 9-X BioHybrid also demonstrates the potential for ultra-efficient power from a 200-horsepower (147 kW), 1.4L BioPower turbo engine backed by GM’s next-generation hybrid system. Projected combined cycle CO 2 emissions of just 105 g/km on E85 fuel are testimony to the promise of this package.
The interior showcases an entirely new expression of Saab’s driver-focused cockpit design, together with innovative, seamless connectivity for personal nomadic devices and a rear cargo deck with a “low-friction” loading system.
“This car is all about efficiency in design and performance,” said Anthony Lo, director of Advanced Design at General Motors Europe, who led the 9-X BioHybrid design team in cooperation with the Saab Brand Center in Sweden.
With its turbine-style wheels placed at all four corners, minimal bodywork overhangs and an extended roof line, the proportions of the three-door Saab 9-X BioHybrid bring a dynamic, new dimension to conventional compact hatchback looks.
The smooth fuselage-style bodywork, now without any visible handles or door mirrors, the bold wraparound window graphic and deep front grille are all themes inspired by the Aero X coupe concept.
The car’s distinctive “shooting brake” silhouette and rear functionality are developed from the 9-X multi-role concept shown in 2001 in Frankfurt. “You could say we designed this car from back to front" said Lo. “The shape of the 9-X is right for a car of this size, and the longer roof line helps the aerodynamics and provides more rear headroom and interior space.”
Echoing Saab’s roots in aircraft design, the 9-X BioHybrid also explores the potential for using active aerodynamics to reduce drag – and fuel consumption – at cruising speeds. Above 43 mph (70 kph), the upper and lower bodywork is reshaped as the roof spoiler automatically extends to further lengthen the roof line. An underbody diffuser is deployed from the bottom of the rear bumper.
The four-seat cabin introduces an entirely new execution of Saab’s driver-focused cockpit design. The central, floor-mounted console, with its angled controls and displays, is now eliminated. Instead, the driver-focused layout incorporates a main instrument panel that sweeps out from the top of the door molding, arching across the driver. The embedded 3-D graphics appear to be “frozen” in ice, continuing a Scandinavian design theme first seen in the Aero X.
Reflecting the needs of youthful customers, who expect easy access to multi-media both inside and outside the car, Saab has cooperated with Sony Ericsson to provide seamless, in-car connectivity for a range of nomadic devices. The result is a wireless interface for streaming data, entertainment and satellite navigation functions for display and use. The interface also allows the simultaneous use of multiple devices when passengers are in the car.
At the rear, the cargo deck features an electrically powered slide-out floor, which is activated when the bottom half of the split tailgate drops down. The floor and the backs of the folding rear seats are covered by high-friction rubber carpeting that grips items and holds them securely in place. For easy loading and unloading, aluminum bars automatically rise up and down as the tailgate is opened and closed.
The treatment of light is an important part of Scandinavian design. This is evident in the use of variable, white ambient lighting inside the cabin. The level of suffused illumination can be changed in intensity from bright and cold to warm and soft. It’s a personalized feature that can be programmed, for example, to reflect the pattern of the changing seasons.
“This car shows how our concept work can be carried forward into a compact format,” said Lo. “It has a number of features that we will be developing further, such as the new driver-focused design theme, the importance of clean, uncluttered surfaces and the easy, seamless connectivity inside the car.”
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