Saab drops 9-3 platform, will develop new modular chassis

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 17, 2011

Instead of adopting and updating the current 9-3 platform for its next generation of models, Saab has decided to come up with a completely new architecture and components that could be stretched from a 4.2m long ‘9-2’ to a 5.5m-long ‘9-7’, according to Autocar sources in Trollhattan.

But insiders say that even with the announcement of this costlier and ‘future-proof’ approach, there are currently concrete plans only for the new 9-3 and replacements for the 9-5 and 9-4x.

A different structure is required for a ‘9-1’ that will rival the Mini. The ‘Phoenix’ architecture will feature a unique McPherson strut design and a new ‘race-car style’ five-link rear axle which supplier ZF will build at a new factory in Sweden.

However, the next 9-5 may also get a HiPer Strut front suspension. The Phoenix architecture was actually inspired by the philosophy of Swedish truck-maker Scania, which is also assisting Saab.

Scania’s approach sees ‘fixed’ interfaces between the platform’s various components, making upgrades on individual parts and systems easy for future generations of car without requiring major re-engineering of the platform.

taOne source said that this approach is comparable to the idea behind Nikon’s F lens mount, which has remained fundamentally unchanged for decades, even with the huge advances in camera body and lens technology.

Sources inside Saab also divulged that the PhoeniX concept displayed at the Geneva motor show was intended to be a radical interpretation of the all-new 9-3 hatchback, which is expected to arrive in October 2012. However, the concept’s frontal treatment is said to be similar to that of the production car. [via autocar]

Topics: saab, saab 9-3, platform

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