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: SAABARU


mikej
28th January 2003, 08:15 AM
Extract from 4car 27/1/2003

More detail has emerged concerning Saab's plan to introduce a smaller model based on the Subaru Impreza. Prototypes are already under evaluation, based on the five-door version of the current Impreza. Examples of the Subaru have been remodelled with Saab front-end styling and a redesigned tail for management assessment. Here, we've doctored a picture of the current Impreza and 9-3 to give a hint at what the new car may look like. Top and tailling apart, the car is said to look remarkably similar to the Impreza, with many panels, including the doors and roof, left unchanged. No go-ahead has been given for the project, but if it does get the green light, the new Saab, probably to be known as the 9-1, would go on sale sometime in 2004.

The tie-up with Subaru is possible because the Japanese company is part-owned by Saab's owners General Motors. Subaru's management would have to give the project their blessing since GM does not have majority control, but the deal is a potentially profitable one for them - the car would be built in Japan, and would improve the profitability of both the Impreza and Legacy, which share the same platform.

GM is also considering basing a smaller Saab on the next-generation Impreza, although this would mean a longer wait for the new car. However, it would allow Saab to have more significant input into the design, improving its crash performance - a major Saab selling point - and allowing the development of the range of diesel engines that are vital for European sales.

The surprising decision to adapt a Subaru to make a Saab is the result of General Motors' growing impatience with the Swedish company, which continues to lose money and, with annual sales of only 120,000 cars, is nowhere near its 175,000 capacity. It is currently making a fifth of its workforce redundant, and its engineering department is being more closely integrated with GM's Opel operation in a move that many fear may lose the brand its individuality.

Saab had previously considered a smaller car based on GM's Delta platform, which will eventually yield the next Astra, but had rejected it because it was not sufficiently Saab-like. Ironically this is a criticism it will be much easier to level at a Subaru-based model. Saab had also been co-developing an off-roader with GM's Cadillac, a model that would have considerably helped sales in US, but this project has also been abandoned. One of Saab's difficulties is deciding what kind of car its third model range should be. A smaller Saab might do well in Europe but not in the US, one of its major markets, while the reverse would apply to an off-roader.

But at the root of its troubles is GM's failure to invest in the marque on the scale necessary to realise its potential. GM's investment pales before the sums Ford has spent on Jaguar and Fiat on Alfa Romeo, for example. While the creation of a Saab from a Subaru will undoubtedly bring the company its desired third model range, the car in question may ultimately do much to damage the brand.

mikej
28th January 2003, 08:31 AM
More from 4car on the new 9-1

This is an impression of what could be the new Saab 9-1, a small five-door hatchback to slot below the 9-3, could look like. If this car looks faintly familiar that's because it is: the car is heavily based on the current five-door Subaru Impreza estate, examples of which have been remodelled with Saab front-end styling and a redesigned tail for management assessment. Our picture is a computer-generated image, but inside information suggests that it is pretty accurate, not least because most of the Impreza on which this Saab is based remains unchanged. Nose and tail restyles apart, most panels, including the doors, rear wings and the roof would be left unchanged, as would all the glass. As yet, no go-ahead has been given for the project, but it is said to be under serious consideration, and if it gets the green light, the 9-1 would go on sale sometime in 2004.

Mechanically, the new car would be almost entirely Subaru, which means a range of 2.0-litre flat-four turbocharged engines with outputs potentially ranging from 218- to 265bhp, although Saab may alter the final tune of the engines. Full-time four-wheel drive would be standard, making this Saab's first all-wheel drive model. Inside, much of the Impreza's (not entirely classy) interior would remain, although Saab will make some minor modifications, and use its own trim. But traditional Saab features, such as the centre console-mounted ignition lock, will not appear because they are too expensive to engineer.

Saab is also considering the possibility of basing a 9-1 on the next-generation Impreza, although this would mean a longer wait for the new model. But it would allow the Swedes to have more significant input into the design, improving its crash performance - a major Saab selling point - and potentially allow the development of a range of diesel engines. Subaru does not offer a diesel, and using a unit from another manufacturer in the current car is virtually impossible, because its under-bonnet architecture is designed to accommodate the wide, low flat-four engine rather than a taller in-line four. For the new model, though, Subaru will have to find a way of offering a diesel.

The sudden decision to add a smaller model to the Saab range is the result of owners General Motors' growing impatience with the Swedish maker, which continues to make losses. One quick fix, GM reckons, could be to add a third model to the range - even if that model is far from a Saab at heart. The tie-up with Subaru is possible because the Japanese company is part-owned by GM. Though Subaru's management would have to give the project their blessing - GM does not have majority control of the Japanese maker - the deal is a potentially profitable one for them. It would be built in Japan, and would improve the profitability of both the Impreza and Legacy, which share the same platform.

The resultant hybrid could be quite attractive in itself, and would bring the merits of the Impreza, which are considerable, to a wider audience. But in its effort to make a success of the brand, GM may find that it has done the Saab brand long-term damage - existing owners are loyal subscribers to the Saab ethos, and may not take kindly to this impostor. And while most manufacturers are attempting to design cars that are truer to their more characterful brands in a bid to make them more attractive to buyers, Saab would be heading the opposite way with this highly compromised model.

Another photoshop picture of a subaru with a saab nose

Paco
28th January 2003, 09:01 AM
Cool! How much better looking than a Scoob?!!!! I'll have one!

87SPGIN
28th January 2003, 11:19 AM
personally i love the 9x and would buy one if they weren't so "SAAB" new price (expensive) thats why i have a c900 but the saabaru look is a bit stretching think subaru would yell for design similarities? bah i love my car that'll do for now....

Ken
28th January 2003, 06:01 PM
I understand that people are noticing the new 9-3 and December featured a major upturn in sales of the model in Britain, I think it was something like 40%! and Dec. is usually a poor sales month for manufacturers.

Ken

FlyingScot
31st January 2003, 12:06 PM
Autocar had an impression of the rumoured 9-1 a few weeks ago (sorry, I've thrown my copy of the magazine out or I would have scanned it in.) It looked far less like an Impreza with a facelift and more like a variation on the 9x concept. They also stated that the engine outputs would be about 180bhp (standard version) and 220bhp (probably for the Aero.)
I think I'll email both Saab and Santa now begging for one... :cheesy:

PaulG
2nd February 2003, 06:26 PM
I understand that people are noticing the new 9-3 and December featured a major upturn in sales of the model in Britain, I think it was something like 40%! and Dec. is usually a poor sales month for manufacturers. Ken
It always amuses me to see the beancounters perplexed by the performance of car companies. I imagine they see cars as commodities that you just churn out and people buy them. They fail to grasp the basic truth that some cars are better than others and the public can tell the difference. Hence the rush to buy the new 9-3, presumably at the expense of other "executive" brands. And is there also a pent-up demand from existing Saab owners who have deferred their purchases until Saab produced a worthy replacement :wink:

So the 9-2 is now the 9-1 eh? If it looks like the mockup pics, Saab will have blown it bigtime - they will just have a badge-engineered Impreza - which although good has looked dated since 1995. But if they can build 9x on the excellent Impreza chassis, it would be the best thing since sliced bread - put me on the waiting list :P

avemave
7th March 2003, 12:43 PM
I hope they base it on the 2004 Impreza, not the current one. Doing away with something like the center console ignition is a huge no-no. It's got way too much cool factor to go way. Sharpening the current Saab Styling and lowering it, like the 9-3ss did to the 9-5 - you now do to the 9-1. Make it a supersport car with a badass automatic or manual with paddle shifters. Keep the interior very simple, but not cheap. Centralize controls and such so you don't have to skimp, but still keep costs down. Give an option for a twin turbocharged V6 :D :D :D

Alex
7th April 2003, 04:19 PM
There is a large chunk of info on this car in this months Evo magazine. Including rumours that the car may be made in Subarus American plant and made for the American market only!!

Simon
8th April 2003, 04:22 AM
When do they expect to start manufacturing it?

Simon.