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Geneva show: Saab lifts the hatch on 9-5 wagon

Back from the dead: Estates such as the 9-5 SportWagon account for about half of Saab's sales.

New SportWagon to expand Saab’s flagship 9-5 range after Geneva show reveal

Saab logo20 Jan 2011

By RON HAMMERTON

THE next step in Saab’s recovery from near extinction will be taken at the Geneva motor show in March when the Swedish company rolls out the wagon version of its new 9-5 luxury car.

Saab has released one image showing a rear view of what it is calling the 9-5 SportWagon but which will probably be called the 9-5 Estate when it joins the range in Australia in about October or November under the new factory-owned Saab Cars Australia distribution channel.

The new wagon, which is set to go into production in August ahead of a September roll-out in Europe, is essentially the same as the 9-5 sedan up to the back doors, with identical diesel and petrol powertrain choices.

The wagon’s debut at the annual Swiss auto-fest comes nine months after the all-new 9-5 sedan arrived in Scandinavian showrooms, the first new model launched by Saab after it was rescued from the General Motors scrapheap by Dutch niche sportscar-maker Spyker Cars in January 2010.

While many motor companies regard wagon variants as an after-thought, Saab views its wagons as critical to the survival of the company, as they account for about half of its volume.

Announcing the Geneva unveiling, Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said the launch of the 9-5 SportWagon was a much-awaited next step in the roll-out of Saab’s new-product offensive.

“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,” he said.

38 center imageFrom top: Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the 9-5 sedan.

The freshly released image of the new wagon shows a sporty, steeply raked rear window in keeping with the design of Saab’s previous ‘Combi’ wagons, including the all-wheel-drive 9-3X that is about to help re-launch the brand in Australia in the next few weeks.

The curved side windows wrap around to the tailgate in what Saab says is an echo of the curved front design theme.

“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,” Saab says.

“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.” A spoiler is integrated into the tailgate, which can be optioned with remote-control electrical operation, allowing the driver to open and close it by a knob on the driver’s door or from a button on the key fob.

Inside, the 9-5 SportWagon has a 1962mm cargo deck when the split-fold rear seats are folded down, offering up to 1600 litres of cargo capacity (527 litres with the rear seats up).

A compact rear suspension has dispensed with wheel arch intrusion, resulting in flat side walls. The floor folds back in steps, offering an extra 65mm of under-floor space for stowing flat items. A sealed wet-item storage compartment is also hidden under the floor.

“The 60/40 split rear seatbacks fold down almost completely flat without having to reposition the seat squab or remove the head restraints,” Saab says.

“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.” Saab says the SportWagon’s tailgate opens to bumper level, with a low lift-over height of 648mm.

Apart from remote operation, the electrically-operated tailgate also has a touch pad above the number plate to trigger the power opening and closing.

To prevent the tailgate banging into low hanging items in home garages, the electric tailgate opening height can be programmed via a knob on the driver’s door.

The SportWagon will be offered with the same all-turbo engine line-up as the sedan, starting with a fuel-sipping low-pressure-turbo 132kW/230Nm 1.6-litre four cylinder and ranging up to the flagship 221kW/400Nm 2.8-litre V6 supplied by GM Holden.

Saab says the SportWagon will be equipped with the company’s proprietary XWD all-wheel-drive system. While it does not spell out which models will have it, the system will probably be standard on the 2.8T V6 flagship and optional on the others.

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