2011 Saab 9-5. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Paul Williams; photos courtesy Saab Canada
In 2010, all Saab dealers in Canada closed, and even Saab optimists were hard-pressed to predict a future for the Swedish company. Saab was perceived to have expired with other General Motors divisions, like Saturn and Pontiac.
But rumours of Saab’s demise, to paraphrase Mark Twain, turned out to be premature.
Under the new ownership of Dutch luxury maker Spyker, Saab is poised for a full return to making cars and selling them internationally. That includes Canada, where Saab vehicles are already available.
Unexpectedly, a Saab display was present at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, albeit under its own temporary roof across the road from the show venue, Cobo Hall (Saab also had a minor presence at the recent Toronto auto show). An enthusiastic and convincing Spyker President Victor Muller met journalists there, and explained that Saab will be able to regain lost customers by going back to its roots and introducing new products.
2011 Saab 9-4x. Click image to enlarge
“Saab made quirky, intelligent cars with an aviation heritage,” he said. “Our buyers are educated and loyal, and with new products we expect to recoup our position.”
The new products include a new 9-5 Sport Combi, due in July, 2011; a 9-4x that will be ready by May, 2011; a new 9-3 planned for an August, 2011 release, and in an attempt to capture some of the compact premium market, a 9-2 that is rumoured to be based on the Mini platform.
Indeed, the Mini connection seems logical when you consider that Saab is sourcing BMW engines for its new vehicles. As Mr. Muller explains, “Proliferation of technology [in the automotive sector] is the norm now.”
While the company plans to celebrate its aero-roots, the intention is to build a sportier, more distinctive identity for the brand into the future. To that end, Saab has developed a new scalable platform called Phoenix upon which the 9-3, 9-4 and 9-5 will be built, and has a new stylist in Jason Castriota (formerly Ferrari, Maserati) to guide the design process.
His PhoeniX concept was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva auto show, its swoopy surfaces apparently anticipating the look of the new 9-3.
2011 Saab 9-3. Click image to enlarge
Additionally, Saab is introducing its Swiss performance partner, Hirsch, to North America. Hirsch is the sole official performance partner for Saab performance upgrades, offering a range of packages and accessories that include software upgrades, wheels, sport exhaust systems, suspension upgrades, aerodynamic, interior and lifestyle items. Specific items can be found at Hirsche-Performance.ch.
Initially, thirteen dealers will be selling the new range of Saab vehicles in Canada, located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Quebec City, Lava, Brossard, Sherbrooke, Ottawa, Toronto, Oakville, Kitchener, London, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Contact details and a current model line-up are available at www.saab.ca. Vehicle available include the all-new 9-5 sedan, the 9-3 Sport Sedan, the 9-3 SportCombi, the 9-3 Convertible and the all-new 9-3X. Spyker vehicles can be viewed at SpykerCars.nl.
Spyker bought Saab, according to Mr. Muller, due to a “perfect storm of circumstances.”
His key message is that Saab is here to stay.