Saab 9000 CS - Björn Envall gives the world a wedge

1990 is one of the fateful years at Saab. GM gets in and immediately goes to the most important construction sites. The new plant in Malmö, whose construction was a political decision, will be closed 18 months after its inauguration.

Because with every vehicle built in Malmö, Saab is said to have lost 18.100 US dollars. In addition to Malmö, there are other loss makers. The Saab 900 can no longer be produced to cover costs. Worse still, repairs and warranties result in another deficit of up to €2.500 per car.

Saab 9000 CS Aero, a wedge. Image: Saab Automobile AB
Saab 9000 CS Aero, a wedge. Image: Saab Automobile AB

Then 1990 drops the decision for 3 new series. A successor to the 900, which is working at full speed, which should still have significant consequences for the Saab 9000. And the project 108, the realization of which would have changed the history of Saab.

The car world at the beginning of the 90 years

Since the presentation of the Saab 9000, the environment has changed dramatically. Audi has the V8, which is a flop economically, but will change the brand image forever. BMW has caught up, or rather overtaken. Saab's lead is history, even if the 9000 CC is still a good car.

There is a need for action. Björn Envall gives the world a wedge in 1992.

Saab 9000 CS - the wedge

Advanced vehicles in the early 90s wore wedges. The Citroën XM showed the futuristic (Video), the factual one of the Saab 9000. How Envall managed to conjure up a perfect wedge out of the chubby 9000 CC body without touching the doors and the passenger compartment deserves respect. A crouched front with broadband headlights, a high rear with a continuous tailgate, which makes the 9k appear more visually present.

The lightness of the glass dome of the 9000 CC disappears, the new finish is more serious and valuable. The 9000 CS is a wedge, the side lines are clear, every line sits, no showmanship, instead objectivity everywhere.

Form follows function.

Saab Design emerges in a way that couldn't be clearer. Improved insulation creates even more luxury class feeling, the progress is noticeable.

In the interior, however, there is a standstill. Cockpit and seats are not touched, maybe because you can not improve good. But also because you have no budget for a revision. The demands of buyers have changed since 1984, the interiors have become more sophisticated. Only Saab does not move. For Saab scores in the technology.

The Saab that cleans the air

Because the real trump card of the 9000 CS lives under the hood. With the Trionic, a 32-bit processor from Motorola is making its way into a car for the first time. The 68000 is high end (Link), and the 9k high tech one last time. A video shows how the Trionic cleans polluted air. The 9000 sucks in the exhaust gases of a 2-stroke Saab, and clean air comes out. That pulls – one last time.

Tech-savvy people who are environmentally conscious buy a 9000 even though it's very expensive - but because it's cool. And because he is individual. But above all because it is extremely safe.

The safest car in the world

The basic construction comes from the beginning of the 80s. But Saab has always kept the 9000 up to date, and the 9000 CS invests heavily in security. Improved structure of the body, better protection against impacts in the doors, the seats have a plate in the upper part that protects the neck and cervical vertebrae. The forerunner of the active headrest comes as another innovation, and Vi Bilägere (Link) prints an extensive article about the safest car in the world in April 1992.

The fact that the Saab is also fast, the 225 PS variant can clear the left lane, the passage on the level of a super sports car, these are all side effects that the 9000 also delivers. More would have been possible. One Saab 9000 AWD with 280 PS is in the magazine of the museum. He would have strengthened Saab's ambitions for the upper class, because they really existed.

The Project 108 that was mentioned at the beginning would have been this big Saab. The 9000 was successful, but it moved between vehicle classes. The interior, the high performance, the price, everything was upper class, the external dimensions, however, only upper middle class. D

Capitalizing on the success of the 9000, GM decided on a large series to compete against the BMW 7 Series. Project 108 ran from 1990 to 1992, then it was discontinued. It quickly became clear that no money would be made with the first upper-class generation, the accountants in Detroit lost heart and the books were closed. Instead of the 108, the successor to the 9000 should now quickly come onto the market.

The prolonged life of the Saab 9000

If everything had gone according to plan at GM, the 9000 saga would have come to an end in 1996. But then there was the hastily developed Saab 900 NG that hit the market in 1993. In principle, a typical Saab construction, the gearbox was flanged to the left of the engine, as was the case with the 9000. Saab customers had better space and more loading volume than the drivers of other group brands, you don't even have to talk about the sovereign turbos and the hatchback. But the 900 NG came onto the market in a hurry and with it the problems.

The developers of the Saab 9000 successor were withdrawn for emergency use with the 900 NG, the Saab 9-5 project was delayed by at least 6 months.

In 1993, the Saab 9000 Ecosport study showed innovations again, but they never found their way into series production. Elements for heat storage and electrical heating elements should eliminate emissions during cold starts, headlights with additional UV light improve active safety.

Like the 17″ Super Eros, they were reserved exclusively for the study. pioneering? Definitely, and decades later, Mercedes brings a UV high beam assistant to the S-Class.

1995 got the 9000 additionally a V6, 1996 put an 2 liter Softturbo the entrance engine. However, sales continued to fall, the competition had slowed down, the 9k had become a case for fans.

They bought it anyway, even when Saab presented the 1997-9 in 5 and thus the complete break of a tradition in the Saab upper class. 24.201 were built in 1997, 2.540 in the following final year of production. The fact that successors and predecessors rolled off the production line together for a short time is thanks to suppliers who did not function as planned in Trollhättan.

Saab puts an end to eccentricity and avant-garde

Saab press releases at the time saw the change from 9k to 9-5 as a step up”away from the eccentric Scandinavian to the global brand“. The days of the Saab 9000 CS, when a Saab could be a wedge, are over. Saab didn't want to be eccentric again until 2010, with the successor to the 9-5 OG, which again quoted the design features of the 9000. But by then it was already too late.

What remains? The 9000 was avant-garde from Sweden, Saab never packed more innovation into a car. It opened up new markets, it was the entry class into the upper class, but Saab never redeemed it because GM didn't have the courage to do so. Audi risked it in a comparable starting position, accepted the resulting losses for a model generation and at times became the most profitable brand in the VW Group. At Saab, the outcome is known.

In the last part of the Saab 9000 saga, we then write about the situation of the first big Saab in modern times.

Part 1: Saab 9000. The first tech Saab.

Part 2: Saab9000. The car from the high-tech forge.

10 thoughts on "Saab 9000 CS - Björn Envall gives the world a wedge"

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    Once again the purest reading pleasure!

  • Thank you, totally interesting. The 9000 was the car that impressed me so much that Saab was on the radar after that and stayed.

    Incidentally, the 32 bit processor is called 68000, not 6800. that was the 16-bit predecessor.

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      Thank you! What is meant is the 68000, a “0” was missing. Is corrected.

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    It is a pity that GM did not let the Swedes do it, as an innovation engine and research laboratory that integrates all innovations into the small series SAAB in order to then install what is permeating the group worldwide.
    The 9000er is for me still the benchmark for all other Fahreuge in the upper mid-range. And in the sense of space and charging options, he is still unbeaten. The compact design with large interior is not a disadvantage rather a huge advantage, I notice that when I'm traveling today with the 9-5NG.

    Thanks for the article!

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    A great report! Again ... 😉 Thank you thank you.
    This report shows my “beginner time”. At the beginning of the 90s I began to deal with SAAB. Safety, appearance and the pilot window of the SAAB 900 were addictive. But when the exhaust gases from a SAAB became cleaner than the ambient air, it was all over me. The first of three SAABs was ordered.
    Making history and commenting on it makes sense. This makes it clearer and clearer to every fan and other SAAB-savvy person why the 4 letters from Sweden have disappeared.
    It's unbelievable what the engineers at Göta Älv have achieved and put forward !!! From this point of view, we can only hope that the same thing today at NEVS will have more “freedom” and that the automotive world will improve significantly in the future !!!

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    Again, a brilliant report on the 9000 ... pity that the 9000er saga is approaching the end so slowly. From me you are welcome to continue at irregular intervals! It is very interesting for me as 9000er and Saab newcomer, to learn a lot of new things about the development, the further development and also about the embedding in the remaining Saab model range as well as the position opposite the competitors. This is not in any sales brochure, a book known to me and in any report of the classic press. Respect!

    Can you also find the production date of a CC in your documents? Or can the museum or NEVS help me there?

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      The 9000 will continue to accompany us. Also because facts keep popping up that neither Mark nor I knew. So the saga continues ...
      We only have the data for German first deliveries from 1995, I suspect NEVS would be the correct contact person.

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    Great report! So you get as a Saab newcomer insight into the brand world!

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    Is it known, which chassis numbers in model year 1998 got the 9000?
    It was numbered consecutively, ie also 900II / 9-3I and 9-5 received chassis numbers from the series - what are the VIN endings of the last 9000 produced before the very last (VIN ending -1008785)?
    Can you also get more information about -8181 and -5831? I know both of them - one moves a good friend, the other me. I'm interested in the actual production data and with which SAAB the two rolled off the production line, i.e. what came before and after.

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      -5831 was built on the 13.12.1997, on the same day two more 9k were produced for Germany. -8181 is from 30.03.98, with 9 other 9000 for Germany. The last 9k for the German market had the 8756. All other questions can be answered by the Saab Museum or NEVS, whoever owns the production documents.

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