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Saab PhoeniX Concept - New York Auto Show

April 20, 2011

You thought that Saab was a family car company that just happened to have a cool convertible. Well, dispense with that idea. The future of Saab is upon us and it's embodied in the Saab PhoeniX concept car. Previewed first at Geneva, the car was built to "showcase design features and technologies which will shape the next generation of cars from Saab." Bestowed with a simple liquid shape, minimalist cabin with Saab's new IQon infotainment system and a turbo engine, this concept gives Saab a fresh edge.

The PhoneniX carries over the aerodynamic design principles from Saab's first car, the Ursaab, a prototype designed by Saab's aerodynamic engineers in 1946. An important requirement at the time was that the car had to have a very low drag coefficient. Thus, aerodynamic tests were part of the very early evaluations. 

The PhoeniX follows suit with a low drag of 0.25. Take one look at this car and you will understand why. Prominent wing like sculptures wrap around the windows and surfaces are subtle with a jet-canopy inspired glasshouse. The skin is gently ripped… not like a muscle builder, but like a dancer's tight body.

Butterfly-opening doors give access to the 2+2 low-slung cabin. There are no visible door handles or mirrors, and small cameras on slim stalks provide rearward vision. Inside, the PhoeniX has the 'stripped out' appearance of a racecar with shell seats and a metallic interior that looks like the exposed underpinnings of a rollover cage. The concept also displays Saab's new IQon communications system that uses Google's Android operating system to connect to the internet when the car boots up.

The instrument panel–angled at 45 degrees toward the driver- uses a circular pod that is shaped like the afterburner of a jet engine. The cabin's instruments, ambient lighting and floor (where LED light tubes are exposed through perforations in the black carpeting) glow a warm red.

The PhoeniX concept pairs a 1.6-litre 200 hp turbo engine supported by

Saab's eXWD system, comprised of a rear drive unit containing a 34 hp electric motor/generator, powered by a small battery pack. Regenerative braking is used to sustain the battery's charge. The upshot is a hybrid all-wheel-drive with lots of boost and lowered fuel economy.

So, will this phantom vision, the PhoeniX, ever come to flight? Word now is it's just a concept.

HOLLY REICH writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Saab PhoeniX Concept - New York Auto Show - Autotrader