March 3, 2008 – At the Geneva auto show today, General Motors took the wraps off what could be Saab’s entry into the super-fuel-efficient small-car wars.
It’s the 9-XbioHybrid concept, a two-door coupe powered by a small turbocharged gasoline engine that has a mild hybrid system. GM estimates fuel economy at 48 mpg on gasoline and 36 mpg on E-85.
” Our goal is to offer a portfolio that has something for everyone,” said Bob Lutz, GM’s vice chairman.
The concept car has some neat touches, including solar panels on the roof that recharge the battery pack for the hybrid system.
GM says the 1.4-liter engine — tiny by U.S. standards — cranks out 200 hp. It is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
” This latest concept draws on the design cues of the Saab Aero X,” said Lutz. If GM builds the car, it would be called the 9-1, Lutz said.
The Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept confirms Saab’s plans to enter the growing crossover segment with a dynamic, driver-focused vehicle inspired by Scandinavian design values and respect for the environment.
The concept’s progressive design features are combined with a responsible, fun-to-drive appeal based on BioPower engine technology and a cutting-edge all-wheel-drive system.
“This concept is a clear statement of what our brand is about,” said Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile Managing Director. “It is also an important next step in our plans to enter new market segments with distinctive product offerings.”
The design of the Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept reflects a Scandinavian principle of simplicity of form, with clean and uncluttered lines, free of any cladding, moldings or roof bars, and defining “ice-block” surface and lighting themes. The progressive frontal styling and interior design elements also draw inspiration from Saab’s widely acclaimed Aero X concept. Innovative load-carrying solutions include a unique ski equipment stowage system, developed with mountain sports specialists Salomon. (Please see accompanying Salomon release.)
Optimized for bioethanol (E85) fuel, t he four-cylinder, 2.0-liter BioPower turbo engine demonstrates Saab’s commitment to “rightsizing” – achieving sufficient levels of performance with a smaller, more efficient engine – by delivering 300 horsepower (221 kW) and strong torque of 295 lb.-ft (400 Nm), together with substantially reduced CO 2 emissions on a source-to-wheel basis. (Please see accompanying Powertrain release). The key enabler for rightsizing is turbocharging technology, which Saab pioneered 30 years ago.
Mated to the industry-leading Saab XWD (“cross-wheel-drive”) system, this advanced powertrain promises to make driving to a destination as enjoyable as the adventure itself.
The Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept was developed by a team headed by Anthony Lo, GM Europe’s Director of Advanced Design, in cooperation with designers and engineers from the Saab Brand Center in Sweden. “We focused on incorporating design themes from the Aero X in a crossover execution, adding functional, lifestyle features to support the activities of customers using this type of vehicle,” Lo said.
The driver-focused cockpit in the sporty, four-seater cabin features an Aero X-inspired “clear zone,” with a flush-mounted starter button and infotainment controls, that sweeps up from the central console to the main display screen. Signature green lighting is used for all instrument illumination, while other subtle references to Saab’s aviation heritage include the “altimeter” speed read-out scale and aircraft-shaped trim on the steering wheel. The panoramic glass roof is in harmony with a car designed to deliver the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits.
Saab designers worked with top Saab Salomon Big Mountain skiers to devise an innovative storage system for stowing skis and equipment inside the car. The rear cargo deck features a sliding floor with a fold-out aluminum ski holder, through which up to three pairs of skis and poles can be slotted. Boots are stowed in an underfloor, heated compartment and, for maximum practicality, the entire rear cargo area is covered in a waterproof and scratch-resistant rubber skin.
The compact, all-aluminum, four-cylinder BioPower engine combines the benefits of turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing for the first time with high-octane E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). It’s a green, rightsizing formula that gives strong power (300 horsepower [221 kW] and 295 lb.-ft. [400 Nm] of torque without the additional weight, size, fuel consumption and higher emissions of a larger, naturally aspirated engine offering similar performance.
Driver involvement is taken to a new level by the innovative all-wheel-drive system, Saab XWD, already available in the 9-3 range. Active management splits torque delivery between both the axles and the rear wheels, via an electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD). This responsive system rewards the driver by giving an enhanced, “positive force” chassis balance. Overall, the Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept is a vivid demonstration of Saab’s commitment to customers with outdoor leisure interests who seek a sporty driving experience that is in harmony with nature.
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