2011 Geneva Motor Show: Saab PhoeniX Concept previews firm’s new design language

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 1, 2011

Saab unveiled today at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show the all-new Saab PhoeniX Concept, a new car that actually previews the design directions which will be adopted by the upcoming models from the Swedish manufacturer. According to Saab, the new concept is based on firm’s new architecture which will be used by the next-generation Saab 9-3 model.

The new design of the car embraces teardrop, ‘liquid metal’ forms and a dramatic jet canopy-inspired glasshouse. As a result, the car has a drag coefficient of just 0.25.

Thanks to the butterfly opening doors the passengers get an easy access to the 2+2 cabin that blends simplicity with technology.

Under the hood, we find a 1.6-liter gasoline turbo engine innovative, electric rear wheel drive technology delivering 200 hp, which needs only 5.0 l of fuel for 100 km and emits just 119 g/km of CO2 emissions.

As we said, the engine is supported by the new Saab eXWD system, consisting of a rear drive unit housing a 25 kW (34 hp) electric motor/generator powered by a small battery pack. The battery pack’s charge is sustained via regenerative braking.

Exterior Design

The 'aeromotional' design theme as featured on the Saab PhoeniX Concept draws inspiration from the brand’s aviation roots. This design theme is expressively derived from the Ursaab prototype that gave birth to Saab's first generation of cars. As it is, the Saab PhoeniX Concept dons a form apparently shaped by the wind.

The concept features a teardrop cabin -- resembling a dark ice block – that seems to break out from the center of the vehicle’s muscular bodywork. Flowing along the hood of the Saab PhoeniX Concept into the disguised windshield pillars are two prominent ripples. The concept comes with a stretched interpretation of the brand signature three-port grille as well as a dominant body-colored central wing.

Staying true to the concept’s minimalist design, its LED headlamps are now imperceptibly placed at the tips. Most likely, the new grille and hood that forms Saab PhoeniX Concept would be adapted in future Saab production cars.

The rear section of the concept, meanwhile, features a dark screen that seems to erupt through the outer skin of the rear deck. Moreover, the tapering form of the vehicle at the rear end resembles the teardrop rear styling of Ursaab. Likewise, the 'sawn off', kamm tail resembles that of the Sonett, which is the brand’s first coupé. Interestingly, the concept features a low-slung cabin, which improves egress and ingress with its butterfly-opening doors.

It also features non-visible door handles or mirrors in order to make the concept stay minimalistic and offer better aerodynamics, with small cameras placed on slim stalks providing rearward vision. Helping the Saab PhoeniX Concept cut through air efficiently are its roof-mounted winglets that channel airflow from the sides and guide it across the rear deck, thereby reducing lift forces without increasing drag.

Press Release

Saab PhoeniX Concept

Sleek, innovative and exceptionally efficient: the Saab PhoeniX Concept car showcases design features and technologies which will shape the next generation of cars from Saab.

Based on an new architecture which will empower the next Saab 9-3 model, the Saab PhoeniX Concept introduces 'aeromotional' design: a visual evocation of the aerodynamic design principles and passion for innovation that inspired the creators of Saab's first car, the iconic Ursaab.

The Saab PhoeniX Concept embraces teardrop, 'liquid metal' forms and a dramatic jet canopy-inspired glasshouse that gives fresh expression to Saab's signature 'wraparound' and translucent ice-block design themes.

The clean, muscular shape enables an exceptionally low drag co-efficient of just 0.25 and also explores the potential for airflow management through the use of distinctive, side-mounted 'winglets'.

Butterfly opening doors give easy access to a 2+2 cabin that blends simplicity with technology. It has a minimalist, 'stripped out' feel, including a new expression of Saab's driver-focused layout and a world debut for Saab's innovative IQon infotainment and communications system. In true Saab tradition, there is also a surprisingly versatile cargo deck.

"The PhoeniX establishes a new reference point for the future of Saab product design," says Jason Castriota, Saab Automobile's Executive Design Director. "It symbolizes a renaissance of the innovative spirit and passion that drove Saab to build its first car. We're now taking the visual DNA forward with what we call 'aeromotional' design, adding emotion, power and fluidity. This design aesthetic will shape and differentiate future models in the Saab portfolio."

Under its rippling bodywork, the Saab PhoeniX deploys an innovative driveline, with an electrically-driven rear axle mated to a sophisticated 200 hp, 1.6-liter gasoline turbo engine. The result is an intelligent, hybrid all-wheel-drive capability that enhances driving pleasure while reducing fuel consumption. Combined cycle fuel economy and CO2 emissions are projected to be just 5.0 l/100 km and 119 g/km.

Aeromotional design

The Saab PhoeniX Concept's 'aeromotional' design theme is inspired by Saab's aviation roots and draws expression from Ursaab, the prototype designed by aircraft engineers that spawned Saab's first generation of cars.

The entire form of the Saab PhoeniX Concept is seemingly molded by the wind. Tightly-wrapped by a liquid-like skin, the teardrop cabin resembles a dark ice block and appears to erupt from the center of the muscular bodywork. Two prominent ripples flow along the hood into the disguised windshield pillars, as if barely able to contain a powerful structure underneath.

At the rear, the dark screen also bursts through the outer skin of the rear deck, The tapering form hints at the teardrop rear styling of Ursaab, while the 'sawn off', kamm tail echoes a form from Saab's first coupé, the Sonett.

The low, frontal styling features a stretched interpretation of Saab's signature three-port grille. A body-colored central wing is now dominant and, in keeping with the car's minimalist design, LED headlamps are almost invisibly located at its tips. The new grille and hood forms are among the styling themes likely to be seen in future Saab production cars.

Butterfly-opening doors provide enhanced access to the low-slung cabin. There are no visible door handles or mirrors to disrupt airflow, and small cameras on slim stalks provide rearward vision.

Roof-mounted 'winglets' enable Saab PhoeniX Concept to cleave the air as efficiently as possible. They channel airflow from the side of the car and direct it across the rear deck, reducing lift forces for greater stability without increasing drag.

Minimalist interior

In true Scandinavian tradition, the 2+2 cabin adopts a clean, minimalist look. It has the 'stripped out' feel of a competition car, with shell-like seats and metalized interior sections that mimic the exposed network of a rollover cage.

Fresh expression is given to Saab's traditional, driver-focused instrument layout. A circular pod in front of the driver, shaped like the afterburner of a jet engine, presents data in tandem with the head-up display.

Angled at 45º to the driver, a separate module accommodates Saab's advanced IQon infotainment and communications system. For good ergonomics, the 8-inch touch-screen is as close to the driver's finger tips as the steering wheel.

Saab IQon (see separate release for full details) is a ground-breaking car communications platform using Google's AndroidTM operating system. Based on pioneering 'open innovation' with third-party service providers and applications developers, it comprises an embedded computer platform which seamlessly connects to the internet when the car's ignition is switched on. The touch-screen provides access to audio and entertainment streaming, online navigation, on-board music storage and smartphone-like downloading of applications.

Red illumination for all instrument and ambient cabin lighting brings warmth and emotion to the cabin. This includes the floor, where LED light tubes are exposed by perforations in the black carpeting. It is all part of the new 'aeromotional' design strategy, incorporating 'fire and ice' effects.

The Saab PhoeniX Concept's curvaceous rear deck disguises a deep-opening tailgate. It gives access to a flat cargo deck, including fold-flat rear seatbacks and a cargo track for adaptable load carrying.

Efficient propulsion

Under its sculpted hood and beneath its cargo deck, the Saab PhoeniX Concept advances Saab's rightsizing powertrain strategy. Its propulsion system combines a highly efficient, 1.6-liter turbo engine with innovative, electric rear wheel drive technology.

The compact, all-aluminum gasoline engine packs 200 hp (147 kW) and includes variable valve timing and lift control, as well as start/stop functionality, minimal parasitic losses and a fuel cut-off function. A stainless steel tank is fitted, which is lighter and less expensive than a conventional plastic design,

The engine is supported by Saab's innovative eXWD system. It comprises a rear drive unit housing a 25 kW (34 hp) electric motor/generator powered by a small battery pack. Regenerative braking is used to sustain the battery's charge.

Now under development for the next generation of Saab cars, this hybrid propulsion system enables the benefits of all-wheel-drive while also reducing fuel consumption. Using a six-speed manual transmission, projected combined cycle fuel economy and CO2 emissions are just 5.0 l/100 km and 119 g/km.

The driver can select one of three eXWD operating modes. The default Eco mode delivers optimal fuel and CO2 efficiency with power assistance to reduce load on the gasoline engine at low speeds; Sport mode includes maximum power assistance with torque vectoring across the rear axle for greater chassis control; and Traction mode enables optimal grip at take-off and in slippery conditions.

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