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Saab 9-X Biohybrid concept (2008): first official pictures

Mon, 03 Mar 2008 00:00:00 -0800

By Phil McNamara

First Official Pictures

03 March 2008 21:52

Saab will enter the premium hatch market around 2010, with the production version of this 9-X Biohybrid concept.

Unveiled at a sneak preview on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, the 9-X Biohybrid is a sleek, three-door hatch. It’s a rival for Audi’s A3 Sportback, BMW 1-series – and the Toyota Prius! That’s because GM has thrown all its powertrain tricks at the show car, as the Biohybrid name suggests. There’s a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine in the nose, tuned to run on bioethanol, and supplemented by hybrid electric power. It’s funky, fast, front-wheel drive and heading for production.  'This vehicle provides a glimpse of a future progressive compact car from Saab,' said GM product boss Bob Lutz, as the covers were pulled from the concept.

If you’d ask me to sketch a Saab hatch, I’d have pretty much drawn this – aside from the rear end…

That’s because the 9-X draws on the design direction Saab spelled out with the Aero X, its 2006 Geneva show car. The 9-X shares its 21-inch ‘turbine’ alloys pushed out to each corner, a wraparound windshield inspired by Saab’s aviation heritage, and a deep front grille.

It's a highly desirable car, with surfacing cleaner than a vicar's sermon, and a macho, wide stance. The big surprise is the unique rear end, which appears to have an unusual reverse rake, and intriguing features such as the frosted light bar and a chunky spoiler that resembles half a Polo mint.    

‘This car is all about efficiency in design and performance,’ says Anthony Lo, GM Europe’s director of advanced design. So the 9-X has active aerodynamics, with the shooting brake body getting more slippery above 43mph, thanks to the deployment of an underbody diffuser and the roof spoiler. The spoiler also acts as an air brake, launching upwards if you hammer on the stop pedal.


By Phil McNamara