Swedish giant Saab is back on song – and to celebrate, it’s reviving the Sonett! Auto Express has learned of plans to resurrect the famous Seventies sports car with a stunning model that will go head-to-head with the Audi TT.
The firm has been buoyed by its takeover by supercar maker Spyker and the launch of the new 9-5 executive model. And this confidence is manifested by recently installed design boss Jason Castriota, who’s planning a major product offensive.
Auto Express secured an exclusive interview with the ex-Bertone and Pininfarina designer – responsible for the Maserati GranTurismo, among others – and he told us: “I’ve looked at a retake of the Sonett, as Audi did with the TT, and I didn’t have to push the management too hard to justify it.”
We’ve produced these images to give you an idea of how the newcomer could look, and there’s nothing retro about this Saab. It’s based round the Aero X concept seen at 2006’s Geneva Motor Show, and is thoroughly modern, with an aerodynamic, low profile.
Details such as the raised front wheelarches and fastback tail are inspired by the original Sonett, and are mixed with 9-5-style tail-lights and an evolution of the brand’s latest grille. Add clean, muscular lines, and the shape is bound to be a big hit among Saab fans and new customers alike.
The reborn Sonett is still a long way off – a concept isn’t likely for another two years. But with power from turbocharged petrol engines, it should be well worth the wait.
It isn’t the only new Saab on the horizon. Castriota told us the next 9-3 is due in 2012. “My proposal started out as a re-skin, but ended up as a new car,” he explained. “With the 9-3, we need something bolder. You can’t go into a knife fight with a wooden spoon.”
Before then, in 2011, a 9-5 Estate will arrive, alongside Castriota’s new vision for Saab – what he calls a “jet on the road aesthetic”. This could debut in concept form as early as March’s Geneva Motor Show.
SUV has the x factor:
Making its debut at November’s Los Angeles Motor Show is the 9-4X – a large SUV that’s based on the Cadillac SRX. Power is expected to come from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 240bhp, or a 2.8-litre turbo V6 with 300bhp. Four-wheel drive will be an option on the latter. While it’s likely to be successful in the US, bosses don’t currently plan to bring the car to European showrooms.
Baby sets sights on MINI:
After the 9-5 Estate arrives next year, design chief Jason Castriota will start work on a very exciting project – styling a new small Saab. “This will be called 9-1 or 9-2, and be a Mini Cooper rival,” he said. “It’s a product to draw customers into the brand, before they hopefully move up the Saab range.” The model is likely to be developed with another maker – BMW has been mooted – and will mix sleek looks with efficient engines.