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Saab goes X-rated on sense sensibilities

Multi-faceted: Saab's 9X concept is claimed to incorporate features associated with four different types of vehicle - coupe, roadster, wagon and a ute.

Saab aims to make a splash at the upcoming Frankfurt motor show with a bold new concept

14 Aug 2001

THIS radical concept is the first sign that Saab is serious about reinventing its image as a maker of "sensible" cars.

The Swedish car-maker is renowned for producing cars high on quality and safety, but not necessarily on top of the pile in terms of desirability.

Enter the 9X concept - the first Saab vehicle to carry the stamp of new chief designer Michael Mauer, who was recruited from Mercedes-Benz last year.

Saab plans to unveil the 9X at next month's Frankfurt motor show, presumably with a lot of fanfare to herald its new design direction.

"This car is not necessarily a teaser of a specific production model, but it showcases all the design elements that Michael Mauer wants to incorporate in Saab's future products," Saab Australia national public relations manager Paul Ellis said.

"It gives clues to where the brand is going and aims to inject some passion into it." Mr Mauer himself said the 9X would be a "symbol for the brand".

"It will have great proportions and a lot of unique solutions like the cupholder in the 9-5," he said.

The 9X is claimed to incorporate key features usually associated with four different types of vehicle - coupe, roadster, wagon and even a ute.

Although it has a few familiar Saab design cues, the 9X has a decidedly more sporting and aggressive presence.

"I regard this car as a statement of intent," Saab Automobile CEO Peter Augustsson said.

"It is physical proof that Saab is embarking on an exciting journey." The car spearheads a major product offensive from the Swedish luxury car manufacturer, with at least one new car or concept to be announced every year for the next six years.

Mr Mauer said the aim was to add a new element to Saab's products while retaining the brand's core values of practicality, turbo engines, mid-range torque, "post-modern exclusivity" and aircraft heritage.

The first addition to Saab's local range will be an updated version of the 9-5, due in November.

An all-new 9-3 will debut in mid-2002 - initially only in sedan guise. Coupe, wagon and convertible variants will follow in due course.

A four-wheel drive "soft-roader" based on the 9-3 platform is also believed to be in Saab's product pipeline.

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