March 4, 2008 Showcasing a range of technologies that will underpin the brand's future compact car offerings, the Saab 9-X BioHybrid combines the aircraft-inspired design of the Aero X coupé concept shown at Geneva two years ago with a 200 hp (147 kW), 1.4-litre BioPower turbo engine that employs GM’s next-generation Hybrid system. Smart Load-carrying capabilities, active safety measures - including Lane Departure Warning (LDW) functions and automatic light dimming courtesy of a front-mounted camera that monitors light sources on the road ahead - touch-sensitive keyless entry, advanced connectivity options and the use of a solar cell in the glass roof to supplement charging of the hybrid battery pack are among the standout innovations presented in the three-door 9-X BioHybrid Concept as it makes its world debut at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show.
“This concept redefines conventional compact car design,” says Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab’s Managing Director. “It shows how progressive Saab design can be combined with smart features and responsible, rightsizing performance that is in tune with the expectations of younger buyers in this segment.”
Aerodynamics are boosted by the longer roof line and ‘sawn off’ rear styling as well as the use small, retracting rear-view camera pods instead of larger door mirrors and dropping door handles in favor of keyless entry. When it hits 43mph, the car extends its roof spoiler and deploys an an underbody diffuser from the bottom of the rear bumper and during heavy braking from over 62 mph, the rear spoiler is raised to improve downforce over the rear axle with an additional reflector revealed to warn drivers behind.
Inside the white leather upholstered four-seater cabin, the central floor-mounted console is replaced by a driver-focused layout that includes a sweeping main instrument panel and a row of five display screens illuminated in green 3-D graphics. Rear view camera screens are conveniently located above the main displays within the driver’s eye line and an infotainment screen and control panel in the driver’s door moulding is complemented by a second for the front passenger and all displays and menus can be operated by the driver via controls on the steering wheel. Interior lighting can also be varied in intensity from a bright, cold to warm and soft.
Bluetooth or WiFi communication is enhanced by the ability to use more than one device simultaneously and enabling certain handheld devices to upload their own displays, unlock the car and remotely control in-car pre-sets.
Storage innovations include an electrically-powered slide-out floor on the rear cargo deck which is activated when the bottom half of the split tailgate drops down. The top section, hinged from the roof, can be opened separately so that smaller items may be dropped inside easily.
The front camera that controls the automatically headlight system is also used for the Lane Departure Warning (LDW) function which alerts the the driver if the car veers across lane markings.
The 1.4-litre BioPower turbo engine generates 200 hp/147 kW and 280 Nm of torque - all the way from 1,750 to 5,000 rpm - on E85 fuel (85% bioethano/15% petrol), which also promises improved economy and reduced CO2 emissions compared to petrol. Projected fuel consumption when running on petrol over the combined cycle is 57.6 mpg and 117 g CO2/km. When running on E85, CO2 emissions are projected to be 105 g/km with estimated fuel consumption of 44.1 mpg.
The engine also includes direct injection and continuously variable valve timing on both the inlet and exhaust sides. The transmission is a six-speed manual gearbox with an automatic clutch and steering wheel controls.
The next-generation GM Hybrid system features a lithium-ion battery and a significantly higher power capability to capture more energy and more electric boost than the current GM Hybrid system. An electric motor/generator, belt-driven from the engine’s crankshaft, replaces the conventional alternator. Electrical power is delivered and stored by the compact lithium-ion battery pack, located under the rear cargo floor.
The electric motor reacts spontaneously and complements the torque of the boosted engine. With this combination of turbocharger technology and a hybrid propulsion system, the dynamic behaviour of the downsized powertrain is improved still further.
At take-off from rest and during overtaking manoeuvres, the electric motor adds accelerative power. It is also used to re-start the engine and enables a longer fuel cut-off during deceleration and braking.
The electric motor also acts as a generator. It can be powered by the engine to charge the battery pack and support vehicle electrical loads as well as through ‘regenerative braking’.
The Saab 9-X BioHybrid is making its debut at the2008 Geneva Motorshow alongside the 9-4X BioPower Crossover Concept vehicle, which makes its European premiere following its unveiling at the NAIAS in January.
Ed's note: Since publication of this article the 9-X BioHybrid has been named “Best Concept” at the Geneva Motor Show 2008.