Concepts: Saab 9X BioHybrid

Getting it right at precisely the wrong time.

Saab biohybrid
Stunning. Saab 9X biohybrid

At the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, Saab presented a concept that perfectly encapsulated the future direction the marque needed to take. Given the multitude of factors massed against it, its non-adoption was perhaps inevitable, but that didn’t stop enthusiasts howling in frustration and thwarted desire. Derived from earlier 9X concepts, the C-sector 9X BioHybrid concept not only looked fantastic, but also successfully imagined Saab’s entry into a sector that should have proven both lucrative and sustainable – hybrid technology or no.

1202851-563x470By the later 00’s, Saab had been paired with GM’s Opel subsidiary in an effort to reinvent the marque following years of neglect by its US parent. Hence 9X rode on a modified Astra platform, engines and suspensions, but given a more Trollhattan flavour. Designed under the leadership of GM Europe’s director of advanced design, Anthony Lo, the 9X combined traditional Saab styling elements with an up to date, rakish silhouette combining practicality with élan. As an upmarket alternative to the default 1-Series or A3, it is tempting to imagine something akin to this selling in considerable volume. As a five-door, and with modern Astra underpinnings, its success appears almost certain.

Sadly however, its appearance also coincided with the great financial crash of the same year, swiftly followed by GM’s bankruptcy and Saab’s slow motion demise. Today, Opel produces a notably similar vehicle in the Astra coupé – a chic, well-proportioned car that sells largely on price. As a Saab, it is possible GM could have given themselves far better margins and with a decent personalisation programme and a following wind, a Mini-sized success story. Yes, I know the automotive world is littered with similar tales of what might have been, but there is an essential rightness (and even six years on, modernity) to this concept that makes its relegation to the realms of ‘if only’ especially tragic.


DTW acknowledges:

Photos via car body design/

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

4 thoughts on “Concepts: Saab 9X BioHybrid”

  1. I didn’t know about this. It must have appeared for a week. The design is very plausible too. Might I say that there are people who buy Astras because they prefer them for reasons other than price. I think the Astra has the best styling of its peers. Matched with this as a complimentary alternative GM could easily have shifted another 50,000 units a year, as Ford did with the Focus and Volvo S40.
    Was there an interior?

  2. Richard, I understand what you mean about the Astra. It shares its anthropophobic architecture with the likes of the Focus and others but, unlike the Ford certainly, it was drawn by someone who felt that it deserved some continuity of shape and line. This Saab has, of course, the sort of blindspot that used to be reserved for Lamborghinis but is now becoming available to us all. Ah, the joys of an egalitarian world.

  3. This and the gorgeous Aero X concept already look like timeless classics to me. If Saab went down this road they could have made quite a splash in the market. The themes of these concepts were carefully introduced in the last production 9-5, which was arguably one of the best looking Saabs for ages.

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