Swedish car maker Saab was the unlikely survivor of “old” GM and the nerdy auto builder is strutting into 2011 with style. At the Geneva Auto Show Saab showed off the “PhoeniX” all-wheel drive, 47 MPG hybrid.
The aptly-named PhoeniX is supposed to herald the rebirth of Saab, now under the stewardship of Dutch car maker Spyker. It embraces Saab’s history as a jet maker with sleek lines and an “aeromotional” design influence that makes the PhoeniX look an aluminum teardrop that is ready to take off.
Under the hood is a small-but-powerful 1.6 liter turbocharged engine with 200 horsepower on tap that also includes fuel saving features like engine start/stop and a fuel cutoff. The petrol engine drives the front wheels, while a 34 horsepower electric motor powers the real wheels, thus giving this hybrid all-wheel drive, plus supposed gas mileage of 47 mpg (likely calculated using the European standard.) It is of course a concept, and if such a vehicle came to market it wouldn’t look nearly as outlandish. While the styling is awesome-yet-out-there, the drivetrain certainly sounds realistic, and if they could carry over the basic shape and aggressive styling cues, I’d certainly give Saab another look.
One of my favorite cars of all time was the Saab 900 Turbo, “Born From Jets” as my friend’s father (a Saab engineer) used to say, and my 1998 model was sleek, fast, and well equipped for the price I got it. Leather seats with heat warmers, the interesting center console ignition, and turbocharged engine were all perks of my little Saab. That and it saved my life (twice.)
I’m happy that Saab got a second chance, and with cars like this, do you think they’ll be able to survive the first half of the 21st century?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.