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First look: Saab Aero X concept is the real deal!

Future tech: Aero X is powered by a 300kW biodiesel V6.

Saab unveils a two-seater sports coupe concept, powered by an ethanol-fed V6

28 Feb 2006

SAAB has come clean with its widely speculated Geneva motor show concept just 12 hours before the Swiss auto extravaganza opens its doors tonight our time – by revealing a futuristic two-seater sports coupe dubbed Aero X.

Forget about the sketch of the front-drive V6 sports car concept we showed you last week, which – along with its "9-2" name - was based on information leaked out of the Swedish factory.

Aero X is, in fact, the real deal – and it powers all four of its wheels with a 300kW twin-turbo ethanol V6.

Aero X represents a renewed focus by the premium General Motors brand to broaden its product portfolio beyond the mid-sized 9-3 sedan, wagon and convertible, and the large 9-5 – a midlife facelift of which also makes its debut at Geneva.

While the Impreza-based 9-2X continues on sale in the US following GM’s sell-out of its Subaru interests, the planned B9 Tribeca-based Saab off-roader has been shelved and will eventually be replaced by a Cadillac-based premium SUV to rival BMW’s X3, possibly dubbed 9-4X.

In the meantime, however, Aero X heralds a totally new, more focused direction for Saab.

38 center imageOfficially, it’s not for production, but while the 9X concept (Frankfurt 2001) previewed the styling of the revised 9-5 and the 9-3X (Detroit 2002) morphed into the 9-3 SportCombi, Aero X is said to showcase the potential of future Saab powertrain technologies and design cues.

Aero X is a two-seater coupe with a jet aircraft-style flip-up cockpit canopy that, along with its carpetless interior and turbine-like wheels, reinforces the company’s aviation heritage – as well as harks back to Saab’s Sonnet sports car, a popular small coupe from the 1960s.

According to Saab: "Conceived as a study to explore future design directions, its innovative features preview the development of an enhanced design language that will inspire future Saab products".

Even more relevant to what might emerge from the Scandinavian factory, however, is a bold new design language and ground-breaking new alternative powertrain technology that includes all-wheel drive and a 100 per cent ethanol-burning, twin-turbocharged version of the Holden-built 2.8-litre V6 that produces about 300kW.

Dubbed BioPower V6, the new engine drastically cuts CO2 emissions and is claimed to deliver "performance with responsibility".

Inside, Aero X’s clean Scandinavian design replaces conventional dials and buttons with data displayed on glass-like acrylic "clear zones" in graphic 3-D images.

All exterior and interior lighting is by LED, which Saab says the compact packaging benefits of a technology that will be featured increasingly in future Saab products.

Employing electronically-controlled suspension, Saab says computer simulations show the carbonfibre-bodied Aero X will sprint to 100km/h in just 4.9 seconds, and on to a (limited) 250km/h top speed.

"This concept shows the exciting possibilities that are open to us as we evolve a more progressive design language for the brand," said Saab Automobile managing director Jan Åke Jonsson.

"Our designers, engineers and marketers in Sweden are ideally placed to nurture and communicate the unique DNA of the Saab brand. Their work will ensure that future product proposals express core qualities, such as progressive design, sporty performance and emotional functionality, in a way that is specific to Saab."

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