Offering a first look at the visual and mechanical design influences that will "shape the next generation of cars from Saab," the Saab PhoeniX Concept was one of the more controversial one-offs to make an appearance in Geneva. While a number of its exterior detail elements -- notably those pronounced "winglets" -- are likely not destined to see real-world duty in their current form, the basic "aeromotional" approach that channels the aerodynamic sensibilities and innovative passion that helped inspire the original Ursaab model reportedly will live on. In a more practical vein, the PhoeniX Concept also introduces a new gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain architecture that definitely will be used in the next-gen Saab 9-3 model as well as Saab's trick new IQon Infotainment/communications system.
In creating this sleek 2+2 all-wheel-drive hatchback coupe, Saab design chief Jason Castriota started out with a "liquid metal" teardrop shape that incorporated a jet-fighter style wraparound greenhouse. Bold-but-flowing body contours, clean front/rear fascia details and, yes, those air-channeling winglets, give the PhoeniX a super-slick 0.25 coefficient of drag while access to its intentionally minimalist but driver-focused cabin is through a pair of semi-gullwing butterfly doors.
Inside, the Saab PhoeniX Concept has the look of a demi-racer with thin-line shell-style bucket seats. The circular instrument binnacle has the look of a jet afterburner and works in concert with a heads-up display to keep the driver updated on all critical information while an 8.0-inch central touch screen provides direct access to the bounty of functions offered by the new IQon (pronounced "icon") Infotainment system. Set to launch sometime in 2012, IQon is the first such in-car package based on Google's Android operating system. Open to third-party app developers, IQon can control everything from navigation and streaming audio to smartphone downloads and ultimately, even interactions with Saab dealers. Red LED lighting is used for both main and ambient illumination and the rear seatbacks in the Saab PhoeniX fold flat to expand its cargo-carrying capabilities.
Motivating the Saab PhoeniX Concept is an innovative gas/electric hybrid package that will be a part of the upcoming Saab 9-3 model lineup as well as other future Saab lines. The front wheels are driven by a new all-aluminum 1.6-liter turbocharged/direct-injected four-cylinder gasoline engine that also features advanced variable valve timing and lift control, a lag-killing twin-scroll turbo unit and efficiency-enhancing start/stop technology. The engine makes 200 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque from 2,000-5,000 rpm -- which can be temporarily bumped to 199 twist units using the system's overboost capability. For PhoeniX duty, the engine is teamed with a six-speed manual transmission.
At the rear, Saab's eXWD setup brings a 34-horsepower electric motor/generator that drives the rear wheels. Fed by a 1.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack located under the cargo floor at the rear, it provides on-demand intelligent all-wheel drive and is fully integrated with the car's throttle, brakes and stability systems. Possessing torque-vectoring capabilities and driver-selectable ECO/Sport/Traction modes, the eXWD setup is designed to optimize both performance and economy. Saab says the PhoeniX Concept can run 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and is electronically limited to a top speed of 155 mph. The suspension pairs MacPherson struts up front with a multilink rear design while stout 245/40 performance rubber on custom 20-inch alloy wheels help keep the Saab PhoneiX Concept securely connected to the road.