March 3, 2011
Although Saab is known mostly for utilitarian, often quirky, family transportation, the Swedish automaker is capable of more than just practicality – and the PhoeniX concept is proof. Released Tuesday at the Geneva Auto Show, Saab says that while the PhoeniX concept won’t make production, its aviation-inspired design is a hint of things to come from the next generation of Saab cars.
According to Saab, the PhoeniX concept uses the automaker’s new “aeromotional” language, described as a visual design philosophy evoking the “aerodynamic design principles and passion for innovation” which inspired Saab’s first-ever car, the Ursaab. Saab says it uses teardrop forms and a glasshouse inspired by jet canopies to create a signature theme which will guide future models.
“The PhoeniX establishes a new reference point for the future of Saab design,” said Jason Castriota, Saab’s executive design director for automobiles. “It symbolizes a renaissance of the innovative spirit and passion that drove Saab to build its first car … This design aesthetic will shape and differentiate future models in the Saab portfolio.”
The PhoeniX’s two most striking design elements are its roof-mounted “winglets,” which Saab says help it cut through the air as efficiently as possible, and its butterfly-opening doors, which are unadorned by door handles or mirrors, thus improving airflow. While both features provide the PhoeniX with a striking aesthetic, neither is likely to make production.
While the PhoeniX is just a concept car, Saab is quick to point out that it also packs a mean punch – and a futuristic drivetrain. Tucked away under its otherworldly bodywork is a 200-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, coupled with an all-wheel drive system featuring an electrically-driven rear axle. Saab says the “hybrid” all-wheel drive system improves fuel economy while increasing traction.
The Geneva Show is an important one for Saab, which recently marked one year of independence from General Motors. In addition to the PhoeniX concept, the automaker is using the Geneva show to debut its new 9-5 SportCombi station wagon, as well as an updated 9-3 with slightly refreshed interior and exterior styling.
JEFFREY ARCHER is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.