Low-flying projectile: Saab's PhoeniX concept car
By Ben Coxworth
March 3, 2011
Well, it may not be able to fly, but it is nonetheless a car with wings ... or in this case, winglets. Unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Saab PhoeniX concept car pays homage to the automaker's roots in aviation with roof-mounted winglets designed to channel airflow from the sides of the car and across its rear deck, thereby reducing lift forces without increasing drag. Other notable features include butterfly opening doors, stalk-mounted rearward cameras, an electrically-driven rear axle and Saab's new upgradable Android-based IQon entertainment and communications system.
An electric boost in the backThe 6-speed PhoeniX is powered by a 1.6-liter 200 hp gasoline turbo engine, which is supported by the company's new eXWD system. This consists of a 34 hp electric motor/generator and battery pack that powers the rear axle, giving the car a more fuel-efficient version of all-wheel drive. The drive unit's battery is sustained via regenerative braking.
The concept sports three eXWD modes. According to the press release: "The default Eco mode delivers optimal fuel and CO2 efficiency with power assistance to reduce load on the gasoline engine at low speeds; Sport mode includes maximum power assistance with torque vectoring across the rear axle for greater chassis control; and Traction mode enables optimal grip at take-off and in slippery conditions."
Acceleration is specced at 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 5.9 seconds with an electronically-controlled top speed of 250 kph (155 mph). Fuel economy is an estimated 5L/100 km (47 mpg).
A connected yet minimalist interiorThe car's 2+2 cabin is intended to have the spartan, minimalist look of a race car (or perhaps an IKEA store), featuring simple shell-like seats and exposed sections of metal. It also serves as a showcase for the earlier-mentioned IQon infotainment system, which is situated on its own 8-inch touchscreen dashboard module. IQon connects to the internet as soon as the ignition is turned on, which allows it not only to send and receive information, but also to receive new third party apps.
Not only was the PhoeniX inspired by airplanes, but it was also designed as a tribute to the company's first-ever automobile, the aerodynamic Ursaab. The PhoeniX's "aeromotional" design and onboard tech will influence the look and layout of upcoming production Saabs, including the new 9-3.