The FAZ dealt with the Saab topic and drove the new Saab 9-4x to the test. The reading after work:
Saab still has not given up
The traditional Swedish brand Saab is on the brink. The free fall into nothing can only prevent a well-meaning investor. In Trollhättan one believes to have good arguments with an SUV and new all-wheel technology.
Hope dies last. With Galgenhumor, a Saab spokesman comments on the recent setback in the struggle for survival of the Swedish automobile brand, which once scored successfully among intellectuals in Germany: Chinese investor Hawtai cannot keep his promise, he does not take the Swede, who is about to become insolvent, with 150 million euros as announced under the arms. As of today, the plan to reopen the factory gates in Trollhättan, which had been closed for five weeks because of supplier boycott (Saab did not pay the bills), failed as of today. Now the largest Chinese car dealer, the Pang Group, is said to want to get involved. But the belief that Saab can still be saved is disappearing.
The fact that it is in the rain today, owes the Swedish brand of misguided model policy in the days of the rule of General Motors (GM). All models that came on the market after the veteran Saab 900, were in principle newly dressed Opel. The customers reacted with dwindling interest. 2010 dropped the paragraph on 32.000 units. In Germany, it is rumored, the Swedes 2011 have not sold 100 cars. The Federal Motor Transport Authority no longer lists Saab.
The brand seemed rescued when Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker entered 2010 in January for a (53,1) million euro loan. From then on, her bustling boss Victor Mueller scoffed for money, especially in China, which is eager to invest. Apart from the talks with Pang, there are apparently contacts with the manufacturer Great Wall. The Chinese company built 2010 good 400.000 cars. Cleverly, Mueller has continued to maintain the close contacts with seven other Chinese automakers, which have been maintained for about six months, a recent Saab manager comments. These include new Volvo owner Geely and BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Group). BAIC has already bought 2009 for 200 millions of dollars in production rights for Saab's platform, engines and transmissions from GM to produce the current Saab 9-5 and 9-3 from 2012 in China.
No diesel generator on offer
Mueller hails at Chinese manufacturers mainly with two new Saab models, available from June on SUV 9-4X and expected for October 2012 new middle-class car 9-3. The SUV was developed by GM under the direction of chief engineer Peter Dörrich of Saab engineers. However, the 4,84 meter long, 1,91 meter wide and 1,68 meter high 9 4X of GM policy had to follow the sibling model Cadillac SRX precedence. The sharper drawn body on Saab-based American drove already 2009 in the local market and is praised by American journalists as the driving-active American SUV.
We drove the new 9-4X, which comes with a firmer suspension and precise ZF steering compared to the SRX and wants to compete against BMW X5 and Audi Q5. But driven by a low-character 2,8-liter V6 gasoline engine, he has little chance in Europe. Especially since the power of the 300 PS strong, powerful GM engine is portioned by a gently switching Aisin automatic in six stages. Developer Dörrich especially hurts that a diesel generator that is vital for the European market can not be offered. Hawtei could have contributed. Because the Chinese manufacture a modern 3,0-liter V6 developed by VM in Italy. The question of what costs to deliver to the production line in Ramos, Mexico, where the Saab 9-4X is being built together with the Cadillac SRX, is now coming to an end.
As in the command center of an Airbus
The all-wheel drive of the 9-4X keeps up with the times: a Haldex clutch of the latest generation variably distributes the power from the front to the rear axles analogously to the Audi Quattro system. In addition, the power flow to the rear wheels is regulated according to the torque vectoring principle. Thus, the 9-4X stays well in the lane even at high tempo curves despite design-related body disposition. But even more, the strength of the Saab 9-4X lies in its polished design. With features from the aeronautics, he offers a refreshing alternative to vehicles of a genus, which testify with strong flanks and sharp body lines of German robustness: The windscreen surrounding the windscreen is modeled after an aircraft pulpit, the aluminum wheels are reminiscent of engine blades and the Cockpit awakens associations with the command center of an Airbus.
The bluish headlights shimmer like the Scandinavian ice landscape and automatically broaden their beam at 30 km / h for better pedestrian detection in city traffic.
Unique stable handling
In Sweden, Saab began under GM but unattended, with the development of the all-new Phoenix platform. The next 9-3 and 9-5 as well as a small SUV below the 9-4X are to be created on it. Their innovative five-link rear suspension is now regarded as an appetizer for investors. It is powered by two electric motors only when needed, each wheel is controlled individually. With conventionally driven front wheels, a four-wheel drive grows here, promising a uniquely stable driving performance.
The economical, but powerful 1,6-liter four-cylinder gasoline deliver BMW, promises Saab. Whether the stock has, if Chinese get the say at Saab, may be doubted. Thus, the future of Saab remains a hangover of daily stronger weathered ropes. If someone does not invest soon, they will be cut. Naturally, the Chinese interlocutors of Mueller also know that. As fancy merchants could wait until the last seconds until Mueller nerves blank and the starting price at Saab is in the basement. Saab is not finished these days. Not yet.
Source / text: Jürgen Zölter / FAZ
Pictures: Saab Automobile AB