Saab 9-7X: Progressive Design

Posted on 19. Apr, 2004 by in 2000-2009, 9-7x

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Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

2004-04-19

Saab 9-7X: Progressive Design

An SUV With the Dynamic Looks of a Saab Car

* Smooth surfaces and clean execution convey a premium and contemporary look
* Typical Saab instrument panel and exclusive features for a driver-oriented interior
* Unmistakable styling cues create Saab brand character

As the first SUV of the Swedish premium brand, the new Saab 9-7X has the expected dimensions and capabilities of a sports utility vehicle ? but its exterior and interior styl-ing give it a much more car-like appearance than most competitors in the segment.

“The exterior and interior design of the Saab 9-7X are in line with its dynamic road be-havior and convey the sporty refinement of a Saab rather than the ruggedness of a tradi-tional SUV,” comments Saab?s Executive Director of Design, Michael Mauer.

Saab styling cues are apparent even from a distance. Key features include Saab?s sig-nature three-port grille, rear quarter windows that visually appear to wrap-around the
D-pillars, and brand-distinctive wheels. The Saab 9-7X?s profile is clean and uninter-rupted, without big bumper offsets or protruding shapes and forms.

Inside, Saab drivers will instantly feel at home. The instrument panel?s cockpit-inspired center stack and controls are angled toward the driver. Like the exterior, the 9-7X?s interior features Saab-traditional strong, brand-distinctive design elements and cues. They encompass such Saab icons as the air vents with their characteristic sliding plate design, a cup holder like the Saab 9-5, and the center console ignition switch location.

The Exterior: Clean, Harmonious and Powerful

The new 9-7X retains Saab?s familiar curvaceous front. The rounded hood ends at a horizontal cutline, with flush surfaces supporting the aerodynamics. The one-piece front fascia harmoniously integrates the typical three-hole-grille and the low horizontally emphasized headlamps that wrap around into the sides of the vehicle. The grille textures themselves, sharing a precise, geometric mesh pattern, create a strong identity away from the horizontal-bar pattern of other Saab models.

The headlamps are detailed to provide a rich, multi-tone effect, reflecting the latest in European design trends. The unique tail lamps have a clear acrylic lens and reflector optics. Their bezels have a stainless (smoke gray) color, which contrasts with the chrome to heighten the jewel-like effect of the lights.

The headlamps use three independent lighting units, with separate lamps for the high and low beam, as well as the park/turn signals, including daytime running light functions. Base models use a projector beam for their low-beam lighting. Optional high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps for the low beam provides even greater nighttime visibility. The optional headlamp washers pop out like those on the Saab 9-5, mounted on the front fascia, just below the headlamps. Their location eliminates gaps and provides flush surfacing, enhancing the ?functional beauty? characteristic of the vehicle?s design. Projector beam fog lamps are standard. Small, round and laser-like, they contribute to the precision and overall balance of the front-end design.

The Saab 9-7X?s profile is clean, smooth and uninterrupted, without big bumper offsets or protruding shapes and forms. As part of the contemporary simplicity of the overall bodyside theme, the vehicle also has no bodyside moldings, a design feature expected to be most heavily favored by Saab purists. Moldings are available as an option. But unlike those of most other SUVs, they?re tailored for a very refined, subtle, understated appearance.

Styled, brightly finished roof rails are available for customers who want them. The roof rails visually integrate with the vehicle?s upper contours, accentuating and extending the profile. The roof rails taper down and forward in front, picking up the trajectory of the windshield profile and accelerates higher as it goes rearward to create a kind of forward thrust before tapering down at the back. It has chrome accent bars and a brightly painted silver base. The roof rail?s cross bars accept all the same support hardware as the 9-5 SportWagon , making it easy to add Saab-common accessories.

The standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with P255/55R 18 tires, combined with the vehicle?s low stance, emphasize its stability and fun-to-drive performance characteristics. Wheels are painted bright silver with exposed lug nuts that reinforce Saab?s philosophy of functional beauty. The base model with the 4.2L engine has elegant twin 6 spoke wheels, the slender spokes radiating to the tip of the outer rim for a flangeless appearance and contempo-rary, large-wheel look. With the available 5.3L engine, the vehicle is equipped with a stronger, bolder sportier six-spoke wheel design, underscoring its enhanced performance capabilities.

The rear: Typical and distinctive wrap-around rear window
The rear quarter glass windows feature the same wrap-around, Saab-distinctive design as the Saab 9-5 Sport Wagon. Visually, they appear to wrap over the D-pillars and into the rear window. The upper header portion of the tailgate extends the flow of this design by allowing a line to extend from the rear quarter window to its lower edge.

The Saab 9-7X provides a standard receiver hitch assembly and a bumper step pad, providing convenient roof access. The surface pattern of the step pad matches that of the sill plate in the interior cargo area, providing a harmoniously integrated appearance when the liftgate is opened.

The rear lamps, like the headlamps, include three lighting units, with clear acrylic and polycarbonate lenses, reflector optics and precision-detailed bezels combining to create a three-dimensional, jewel-like effect. The lamps are vertically stacked, with a clear backup light at the top, an amber-colored turn signal in the middle and a red stop light at the bottom.

As part of the 9-7X?s clean design, the badging is discrete. A Saab emblem appears at the top of the license box which is incorporated right into a strip of horizontal chrome running across the top of the license box, providing a harmonious balance to the bright chrome cues at the front. The rest of the license box is body-colored. The exhaust pipe tips, like the wheels, signal the vehicle?s performance characteristics. A single elliptical-shaped chrome tip helps identify 4.2L models and twin, round chrome ports on the passenger side indicate the more powerful 5.3L model.

Interior Design
Work inside the Saab 9-7X was focused on providing an upscale, sporty, driver-oriented interior that captured the feel and flavor of other Saab models. In doing so, the designers blended the best of heritage cues from models like the 9-5 SportWagon with design features from more recent new entries like the 9-3 Sport Sedan and Convertible. Along with brand-distinctive cues and elements like the graphics, instrument cluster backlighting and logos, designers utilized components from the Saab 9-3 and 9-5.

The Saab 9-7X?s instrument panel is shaped to create a driver-oriented space by angling its center stack and controls toward the driver. A sporty new 4-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel, textured with a low-gloss grain like the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan, provides a European feel. Additionally, like all other Saab models, the Saab 9-7X offers dual stalks with wiper controls on the right stalk.

The instrument cluster features satin nickel ringed gauges and the distinctive graphics of Saab 9-3 models. Saab-unique green provides the color and backlighting for LED cluster and HVAC displays, as well as for the radio, and driver information center (DIC).

Saab aficionados will likely recognize the dash panel?s distinctive, vertical cupholder, like the one used in the Saab 9-5 models. The cupholder pops out of the dash, when pressed, flipping out sideways with a spring-dampened, twisting motion. A second, large, conventional-design cupholder is also provided in the center console.

Control knobs for the radio, rear wiper, dimmer switch, HVAC system and the directional airflow controls feature the 9-3?s familiar soft, rubber-molded texture. HVAC outlets feature Saab?s distinctive sliding plate design. The control knob moves a series of plates (rather than conventional vanes and shutters) that slide over each other.

Reflective of the 9-7X?s European character, the steering wheel features an easy to handle set of redundant audio system controls on the top left- and right-side spokes. Buttons to control the driver information center are located in the instrument panel?s center stack. Also located there is the hazard switch, providing an easy-to-access, five-button row of switches at the very centerline of the instrument panel above the radio.

Another typical Saab feature is the location of the ignition switch rearward of the gear shifter on the new center console. The gear shift lever has a symmetrical design, wide shift boot and conveys a substantial feel, reinforcing the Saab 9-7X?s driver-oriented character.

The center console is highly functional and tastefully appointed with dark burl wood appearance trim inserts and chrome accents. A matching dark burl wood appearance trim insert is found on the gear shift lever. The front of the console houses a large-size drink holder and two 12-volt power outlets.

The front door sills of the Saab 9-7X feature brushed aluminum, with the word ?Saab? prominently de-bossed in bright, polished aluminum lettering. The same material is used for rear door sill plates and inserts in the cargo area, taking the brunt of cargo as its slid into the rear. Their surface pattern matches that on the top of the rear bumper top.

The standard soft nuance heated leather-trimmed seats, with six-way power adjustment, electrical lumbar and recline for both front seats, and leather-trimmed rear seats, are among the Saab 9-7X?s many standard features. Seats are available in either a desert sand color, with matching door armrests and door inserts, or in a carbon black color that matches the carpeting, instrument panel, and console that is standard with both interiors.

The backs of the seats, headrests, center console lid and even the door armrests, as well as the shifter boot and parking brake, are tailored with luxury French seam stitching. All sew lines and seat trenches are tight and small. This not only ensures a detailed, high-end upholstered appearance, but one crafted to be durable and eliminate the possibility of a “stretched seam” appearance over time. With the carbon black interiors, contrasting beige stitching is used in the door armrests and inserts. Vehicles with desert sand color seats have that same color stitching in the doors. The stitching in the seats always matches that of the seat color itself.

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