The only study of the Carl Peter Forster era that became reality is the 9-4X BioPower Concept. A dream that came true - and that still holds one or two unexplained mysteries. The concept car is in the museum in Trollhättan. It's worth taking a close look. Because you discover what you could have got that was never served to the Saab customer.
The story begins 2008 at the North American International Auto Show. In Detroit Saab shows an SUV. They try again, the Swedes. After the unsuccessful 9-7x and the never realized 9-6x experiment number three follows. The 9-4X BioPower Concept is close to the series, and the press is wondering if an SUV can be a Saab.
Can or must, because the SUV boom is raging through the markets as early as 2008, and Saab has nothing in its portfolio for it. The 9-4x was developed together with the Cadillac SRX in the GM network. Trollhättan contributes both turbo and all-wheel drive competence. The design, inside and out, is typical Saab. And just as much Saab as an SUV can be.
Under the hood of the study works an 300 PS strong, 2 liter big BioPower Turbo. Alternative fuels are in demand then before they are sent to Sweden in favor of diesel engines in exile. But the real tension awaits the viewer in the interior.
Future, never served. Chapter number 1.
Saab plays at this time with the Nordic theme. The headlights are ice blue since the Aero X study. Sweden greeting land of ice, snow and frozen lakes. The design team around Antony Lo takes the 9-4X BioPower Concept a step further. The ice now also moves into the interior. A Saab, the avant-garde brand in the group, should also differ in the interior of the rest of the automotive world.
The cockpit and the center console now have the color of the ice. A daring venture that creates a cool atmosphere - and should be the template for all new Saab models.
Because what 2008 is to be seen in Detroit, this is not a study in the traditional sense. But very close to the series. In short, the interiors of the 9-4x and the 9-5 NG should have looked just as of 2010.
That did not happen, and the question arises why!
In recent years, I have heard from various sources, different explanations to the reasons. Because in reality Trollhättan sent both the 9-5 NG and the 9-4x with a half-finished, improvised interior design on the road. The reader himself may decide which of the three options he considers plausible.
Supplier in financial need?
One explanation is the insolvency of the supplier for the interior shortly before the series production. Then Saab improvised under Spyker with decor variants that were printed on the carrier of a southern European supplier. The majority of vehicles ran but with black plastic in the interior of the band.
Another explanation speaks of around € 1.000 that Saab would have had to pay for the interior ice decor per vehicle. If that were so, it would really be way too much. Because in the industry there is a 1:10 rule. And it works like this: The manufacturer invests around € 100,00 in what the specialist media then call the quality impression in the interior. And the customer honors this feeling with an additional price of around € 1.000,00.
Failed crash test?
The third and final possible explanation speaks of security problems. Crash tests are said to have shown splintering, sharp-edged material in the interior, and thus the end of the ice decoration. For Saab, one of the safest car brands in the world, that would have been absurd. And with it the end of the avant-garde.
Future, never served. Chapter number 2.
Saab fans should be tough, maybe someone will continue to read. So another future. The 9-4X BioPower Concept serves more of what never happened. The cargo system in the rear of the vehicle is an eyecatcher. And an outlook on what was very close to the series. An improvement of the known system, with more variability and value.
Firmly scheduled for the first facelift of 9-5 NG and Saab 9-4x. Produced by a well-known supplier in Germany, the tools were already there. But, and that's the sad truth: both vehicles never made it to the first revision.
The Saab 9-4x, based on the 9-4X BioPower Concept, was built in Mexico between 600 and 700. The number is not completely clear, because after the end of the brand already produced vehicles were scrapped or used internally at GM.