Economy. Form follows function - isn't it?

“The name Saab will always stand for a modern design - with a clearly recognizable purpose. And for vehicles with a timelessly beautiful design. ” Not a sentence of mine, but from a Saab brochure from the 2002 model year. Back then, the Saab world was still in order, at least in the foreground. Because there was still a hatchback at Saab.

That could have been: Saab 9-3 with hatchback. MY 2014.
That could have been: Saab 9-3 with hatchback. MY 2014.

There is also a quote from the same brochure. “In fact, the Saab 9-3 is easier to load than most station wagons. Thanks to the slightly curved tailgate, which extends from the roof to the loading edge, you can go into the luggage compartment when loading and unloading heavy objects. " Marketing Poetry? Take a breath, think! Read the sentence again! Think of the old Saab 900 that you were happy with many years ago. Who has handled moves and transported the bulky goods with ease. This also bulky sentence from 2002 hits the nail on the head. And in 2003 the hatchback was history at Saab. A full-bodied press release declared the age of the hatchback in the premium class as “over”. In hindsight, we're smarter. It was ended. But only for Saab. At least for now!

“Form follows function” has been the maxim at Saab for decades. All Saab 900 drivers appreciate the door sills drawn into the body. 901 owners are not familiar with dirty trouser legs. Saab 9000 drivers love the huge luggage compartment with a large tailgate that makes loading child's play. The sideline is pleasingly low, as is the case with the Saab 9-5 and Saab 9-3. While other brands drive through the area with eye slits, the Swedes always allowed their customers a good all-round view.

Saab is quite alone and, yes, Saab was also vulnerable to the new trend, where design beats the function. An example is the never-in-series 9-5 II sports suit. As with the sedan, the waistline also moved up the combo, to the massive C-pillar came with small windows. But what Saab did is harmless compared to other brands. The undisputed leader is Citroen with the DS5. Unanimously in the engine press the opinion prevails that the view out of the car is outstanding. As long as you look ahead. There is minimal visibility to the side and rear, and the rear window only exists in the neck.

A new hatchback, but unfortunately not from Saab
A new hatchback, but unfortunately not from Saab

Or the Passat CC: where on average tall people have problems without taking a seat on the back seat without roof contact. Design beats function made in Wolfsburg. The list of cars, where designers torture people and subordinate themselves to a chic form for everyday use, can be extended as desired. There are faulty designs for all brands and across the continents. There is the Hyundai Veloster, which only offers viewing slots, or the Volvo V60, which - with its chic cover - only has very limited combination qualities. You could do better in Gothenburg too. Volvo is not alone, the colleagues from Renault deliver a similar package with the Megane Grandtour.

In Trollhättan you will soon be discussing the design of the 9-3 successor. At least we hope so. The designer run could already have started and it could be exciting. Which is too much "could" in one sentence. But we're used to that. The original Saab planning did not necessarily provide for a station wagon and preferred to bring a small SUV as a station wagon replacement. We live in an age of oversubscribed cars and there is a danger that Saab 2.0 will dock on this trend. The Saab story shows that elegance and functionality are not mutually exclusive.

The Saab 901 with hatchback is cult, the Saab 9000 with its big flap one of the most elegant sedans of its era and at that time a huge success for Saab. The 9-3, yes with the hatchback, is popular with fans and he suffers like the 902 under the practical hatchback form. Because only too gladly the 901 successor as multipurpose vehicle was consumed.

And yes, if an elegant and at the same time practical car, then please also one that comfortably seats 5 friends. Which brings us from exterior design to interior design. Have you ever tried to accommodate 4 people in a decent way in an Audi A5? The rear seat bench is consequently designed for two “premium passengers”. Form follows function? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that. Oh man!

Just stupid for us that while we wait, wait and wait, another brand is playing the hatchback again. In the Swedish press, the BMW 3 Series GT is enthusiastically celebrated as the new Saab 99 Kombi Coupe. The most intelligent BMW ever is the 3 Series GT, after Dagens Industri named the BMW X5 the “dumbest and ugliest car of the year” a good 6 years ago. The Munich with the tailgate looks good, at least according to the press, even if it is 4.82 meters long as a Volvo V70. Because the 3 Series is based on an extended China platform, and I would actually like a slightly more compact car, which does not weigh more than 1.6 tons in the basic version (now comes the shock). With good equipment, some 3 Series GTs should come quite close to the 2 ton brand. Is that middle class?

The problem of increasing vehicle weights has been recognized in Sweden and countermeasures are being taken. The motor vehicle tax is being reformed, and in addition to exhaust emissions, weight will also play a role in the future. Anything heavier than 1.250 kilograms will be asked for in the checkout in the future. So the plan ... bad times for fat dinosaurs!

The BMW is a BMW and not a Saab, the interior is missing that certain something, and it doesn't end up on my shopping list. Nevertheless, the newcomer from Munich is an interesting contribution in the hatchback group. A BMW video shows what variability is all about with something - hmm, yes - strange music and strangely remote-looking people. But it's not about the people who seem to have little fun shooting, it's more about the tailgate of the GT and the storage space. Even in supposed niches it is no longer convenient today. Big flap, lots of storage space. Munich shows in the beginning what could be done.

Trollhättan maybe soon again. An agile car with better space economy with smaller dimensions and less weight. Such space packages were once the strength of the Swedes. The 9-3 II was the last proof of that. Compact dimensions, intelligently designed from the inside out. So should be the successor. But then with hatchback. We would like to wait for that!


Picture & film: BMW AG (1/1)




12 thoughts on "Economy. Form follows function - isn't it?"

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    FINALLY, the CombiCoupe is on the table - THANK YOU Tom!
    As long as NEVS / Saab doesn't get a reasonable Saab alias form-follows-function, I'll stay loyal to my 9000CS. Technically, it is no longer up-to-date - especially when it comes to airbags - but you can COMFORTABLY go on long journeys with it even with 5 adults and the load volume can match many a modern mid-range station wagon.

    What would be technically possible today, Skoda shows the new Superb:

    Find the solution awesome: invite little things, open small flap. Move, flap all the way up.

    couldn't a “petition” be launched here for such a solution? Or generally let the loyal Saab community vote on all sorts of details?
    What brings the NEVS bosses a vehicle that appeals to them, but only to them?

    So how about Before it's too late and Saab makes the next wrong decisions (e.g. EV-1) ...

    That this is something, shows this vehicle, which was zusammengeschustert to Internet users wishes:

    But as I know Saab, you do not dare to do that

    Still, hope dies last and I'm already looking forward to my 9-1

    good time!

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      Of course you could. However, the question is who will hear us (now). I do not think the time has come yet and maybe in the fall you will continue in Sweden.

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    Strangely, this particular study was felt to be ugly by 50% of the readership some time ago. I still think it's great ...

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    Great article Tom!
    That is the reason why the 9-5 could never really convince me. My first car was a Scirocco-I. It was awesome what went into this little hatchback! Only the VW quality separated our ways after eleven years ... Then came the 9000 (by the way by the same designer) and it has stayed that way to this day, always in the hope that SAAB will build such a car again.

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    But please with a little more window surface and no tin can inside! Otherwise, the basic form of the MY 2014 image is not bad.

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    Thanks Tom for this factual article. It becomes clear. WHAT is missing and HOW the Kd. be misled by “this-being” .... Form follows function, it couldn't be better! So NEVS, read along and draw the right conclusions! A hatchback is more attractive than ever! Sunny times….

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    The Saab study 9-3 MY 2014 is outstanding, the car only needs to be built. 😉

  • blank

    A very good article, again. The blog is now more important than the newspaper ;-). If I think about our past SÄÄBe, then everything is correct. I would like to have a new hatchback, please NEVS listen, read along!

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    Very appropriate contribution! Hopefully a few of those in charge of NEVS will read with you ...

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    I can cry how it all got to the point. Of course, my current 9-3 TTID Aero SportCombi is a great vehicle that takes care of well over 90% of my transport needs, economically, quickly and precisely. But every time I open the tailgate after shopping, have dirt on my pants or drive through a narrow alley, I mourn the 5-door 901. It was full of clever and pleasant detailed solutions and it was also fun. In the Phoenix, by the way, I personally found a lot of good approaches for a successor: easy, variable, good use of space ... will-have factor ...

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    The fact that the few owners of a Saab 9-5 II sports suit can be proud of driving one of the most exclusive vehicles - which officially never actually existed - is of course not granted to them. Indeed, the design of this car is eye-catching (in my opinion, not equally from every angle).
    However, the 9-5 II SC (to put it in Tom's words) never landed on my grocery list. Because all too clear to me then at the Geneva Motor Show was aware that there is a blatant mismatch between the dimensions of the rather narrow and a low interior height having luggage compartment and the gigantic outer dimensions of this station wagon.

    The ingenious design of the illustrated “study” MY 2014, on the other hand - I am convinced - could not only have helped Saab to achieve resounding sales success, but it would certainly have also been able to do justice to the old Saab slogan “form follows” function ...

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    Can one sign like that? Please no tanks, please a great SAAB hatchback! 🙂

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