Where Is The Hatchback In The Next Generation Saab 9-5

Posted on 23. Jul, 2009 by in 2000-2009, 9-5 NG

hatch.jpg

After looking at what appear to be official photos released by the German Magazine, Autobild, I am wondering where the much rumored hatchback is on the next generation Saab 9-5 Sedan.

As you may have seen in those photos yesterday, there is a trunk, but is that trunk double-hinged like the Skoda Superb in the example above?

I am really enjoying looking at the photos we’ve seen of the ng 9-5, but I have to say, without seeing a hatch is extremely difficult to ignore when just about every other design cue inside and out seems to have been thoroughly examined and explored.

Historically, and I am unsure exactly why this is, but it appears that even beginning with the Saab 99, the idea of a trunk is supposed to be more civilized and premium “upscale”, as shown in the 900 Notchback, 9000 CD, first generation Saab 9-5 and more recently the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan. I kind of disagree with this idea, and believe that there are alternatives like the one above that can be serving both needs, for those who both want the appearance and look of a sedan, while having the functionality of a hatchback as well.

It would best service Saab Automobile in my opinion if such an arrangement would be fitted to this next generation Saab 9-5, so here’s some wishful thinking.

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No Responses to “Where Is The Hatchback In The Next Generation Saab 9-5”

  1. Markc

    23. Jul, 2009

    I agree, there should always be a hatch option in any of Saab’s model line ups. The Skoda atyle hatch is possibly the best for the 9-5, but I’d like to see a traditional 900 style hatch as an option for the next 9-3. It makes little sense for Saab to have abandoned the hatch when it’s competitors are now building them, plus we all know that Saab can make hatchbacks a whole lot better than anyone else!

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  2. Johan Wejedal

    23. Jul, 2009

    As my father had a 9-5 sedan early this decade, I was thinking about a solution much simliar to that on the new Skoda Superb, allready back in 2002. I M O the 9-5 sedan has a boot that is far to deep to reach into while you can’t open the backwindow as well. I was studying industrial design back then, so I was constantly (and still are) trying to think up better ways to do things.

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  3. J.

    23. Jul, 2009

    Totally agree with Markc. Except for the convertible, the current 9-3 has been so disappointing. A prototypical Saab is supposed to have a hatchback. Period.
    Wonder why the creator of this site drives an old 900 himself….

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  4. Ryan

    23. Jul, 2009

    J.

    Thanks! I actually drive two hatchbacks, the 1997 Saab 9000 CS, and the 1992 Saab 900 Turbo, one’s a 5-door Hatch, the other is a 3-door Hatch!

    I never like to push my own agenda, but I have a feeling a lot of people want the hatch, hence my post.

    I think I am going to do some coverage on a hatch again real soon.

    Ryan

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  5. Kurt W. Krauss

    23. Jul, 2009

    Audi A5 hatch!

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  6. Kurt W. Krauss

    23. Jul, 2009

    Good points – see also Audi A5 Sportback hatch:
    http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/audi-a5-sportback-driven/241808

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  7. Ryan

    23. Jul, 2009

    I like that Audi A5 Sportback as they are calling it, very nice.

    BMW also makes a hatch, although it looks more like a hatch than a sedan trunk/boot. It’s called the 5 series Gran Turismo

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/bmw-reveals-5-series-gran-turismo/

    The execution of the Skoda & Audi are looking good, here’s to Saab for the 9-5 once again wishing, hoping it’s a hatch.

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  8. Toby Field

    24. Jul, 2009

    I spoke to Saab UK’s Marketing Manager last year about the 2010 9-5 and asked the question about the possibility of a hatch. He told me that Saab had no intention of producing a hatch as there is no place for it in the executive market. Looks like the competition are proving Saab wrong!

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  9. Robin O;Connor

    24. Jul, 2009

    I was at the same meeting as Toby Field and can remember that comment, I work for Mitsubishi when the new Lancer was being developed they did not want to make a hatchback as they claimed it was only Europe and the UK in particular that liked them, obviously they did but it is not sold in some countries, I agree with Saab a hatchback is not correct for the market they are aiming for.

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  10. Markc

    24. Jul, 2009

    Robin, it would seem the hatch is now fine for Audi and BMW, why not Saab? It may not have invented the hatch, but Saab managed to make it one of it’s trademarks. Supposedly there is a hatch concept and some have viewed it. BTW, the Lancer hatch also sells in Australia and New Zealand.

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  11. Robin O;Connor

    24. Jul, 2009

    Mark I agree that other manufacturers produce hatchbacks in executive level vehicles, however the Audi A6 the BMW 5 and 7 series are saloons, the same goes for most of the Mercedes range, all of which the new Saab will be in direct competition with, personally I prefer a saloon or an estate this I believe is the correct decision for Saab.
    by the way the BMW x6 is a hideoues joke.

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  12. Angelo

    25. Jul, 2009

    The photos of the next generation 9-5 sedan are stunning to say the least. I don’t think they could make a hatchback that looks that fantastic. I’m a big hatchback fan too—but this sedan will capture a different market. My own belief is that Saab needs to go back to their roots to offer a very spartan, mechanically simple entry level car. They could use the 1960’s era 93 for inspiration. Keep it under $20,000.00 to start, with a very simple layout, front wheel drive, 4 cylinder non-turbo, big, plain gauges, very uncluttered and as I said, simple. You get first time buyers with an entry level car, and walk them up to the expensive models as they go through life. This has been missing in Saab’s U.S. offerings for almost two generations.

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  13. J.

    26. Jul, 2009

    Regarding Robin’s comment, I wouldn’t exactly compare a 9-5 with a 7 series BMW. It’s just a different car. But anyway. No hatch for the 9-5 is acceptable, but I do hope the next 9-3 has one. These are the cars most Saab enthusiasts first got excited about.
    Their strategy obviously didn’t work so well, since they had to file for bankruptcy. I’d be very curious about sales numbers. Never too good, but how does the current 9-3 compare to the 900, 900/II and old 9-3?

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  14. Angelo

    26. Jul, 2009

    J.: Saab sales numbers have been soft, particularly in 2008—but to be honest, the bankruptcy is much, much more than units sold. General Motors was mis-managed for the better part of the last 20 years or more and Saab, acquired by GM in that period, got caught up in the lunacy. Sure, GM was able to give Saab developed platforms to work with, but in so doing, Saab lost their character in some cases and lost their way in the big picture. It’s my view that to be viable in North America, Saab must offer a bare bones entry level car that is reliable and at the same time, quirky and interesting. Come in under 20K with something like that, offer the 9-3 as mid-priced and 9-5 as higher end vehicles. Simply put, Saab is suffering from one of the same things that lead to Peugeot pulling out of the U.S.—-they have no entry level car to get first time buyers into the family. By the time people have 35 grand to spend on a car, they’re loyal to another brand or aspiring to something better known and more showy than Saab. The key is at the low end, not the high end. Offer a good 20,000 car and the high end will eventually take care of itself. The Japanese figured this out 30 years ago, which is why they are dominant in the U.S. as I write this.

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  15. Robin O;Connor

    27. Jul, 2009

    I am aware this area was a debate about the lack of a 9-5 hatch in the new car, Angelos comment about a new small Saab is very valid, I was at the Saab Owners Club Uk National event over the weekend, it was a very good event (where were all you uk Saab drivers?) my eye was drawn to 2 older cars, both 2 strokes a round nose version and a later long nose example, either could be revamped with up to date power units and safety equipment, I am sure there is a market for them if they were kept simple, well engineered with good quality.

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  16. Angelo

    27. Jul, 2009

    Robin: Exactly. You reference those old Saab 2 strokers and that is the body style I was referring to. And of course you are correct that the new small/entry level Saab would need to be updated with 21st century emissions controls and some safety equipment. But they could keep a rounded, quirky shape and make it very space efficient (sort of like the Chrysler PT Cruiser in space utilization, but more of a Saab shape). Next, it gets a simple front engine/front wheel drive conventional layout with a 4 cylidner engine (non turbo base engine). Keep costs down with a very basic model—-yes to an optional automatic transmission (needed in the U.S.), and very few standard features (include air conditioning on all cars, but not much else standard—-make buyers pay for power accessories, aluminum wheels and other add ons). The intent would be to make a reliable, decent quality car that might not be long on features, but what you get would be good quality, good fit and finish. I would go with a flat, plain dashboard and big, basic knobs gauges and controls. Less is more in this case. Make it quintessential Swedish—-not fancy, but functional. Keep it simple and affordable. There is no doubt in my mind that if Saab were to offer something like this in U.S. showrooms, not only would it sell well, but it would increase the sales of their other (more expensive models) in time. As Robin said, it would be going back to Saabs roots. Back to the past to build a future.

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  17. Angelo

    28. Jul, 2009

    And I also acknowledge that the thread is about hatchbacks—-but my rantings about needing a basic sub 20K car from Saab is actually on topic—-this car would most definitely be a hatchback with a fold-down rear seat. I also believe the next model up (9-3) should offer a 5 door hatchback in the line-up. As for the top end—at least in the U.S. I don’t think buyers will spring for a hatchback in big numbers when the price goes north of $30,000. I think it’s crazy, but for some reason, American buyers associate hatchbacks with economy cars and we forego the great utility of a hatchback for the perceived luxury of a trunk. It’s indeed stupid, but it’s reality.

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  18. Ryan

    28. Jul, 2009

    Angelo,

    Wow, that must be the best line I have heard about the hatch yet.

    “I think it’s crazy, but for some reason, American buyers associate hatchbacks with economy cars and we forego the great utility of a hatchback for the perceived luxury of a trunk. It’s indeed stupid, but it’s reality. ”

    You hit the nail on the head. It’s as though utility is a lower class thing, and up scale means having someone else do the utility for you. In essence, it appears that “upscale” means less functionality as a result. You would think that spending more, you get more out of it, but that’s the exact opposite of this kind of thinking, and getting more out of something I guess is “subjective”?

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  19. Markc

    28. Jul, 2009

    Thankfully the rest of Saab’s markets don’t feel the same as America about the hatch, so it has a good chance of returning. Classwise, I’ve always rated station wagons below hatchbacks. If sedans are so great, why did the C900 and 9000 always manage to sell better in hatchback form?

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  20. J.

    28. Jul, 2009

    I know, you’re absolutely right about the bankruptcy, Angelo. Still at the end of the day this is about selling cars and there is room for improvement. An entry level vehicle would surely help.
    What I didn’t like was that somebody suggested ruling out building a hatchback altogether because they are not right for the market they’re aiming for and are “only” liked in Europe and the UK. If Americans like their sedans, very well. But they could make the hatchback an option, couldn’t they? The European market combined is as big as or even bigger than the US. BMW is no longer just building 3, 5 and 7 series sedans, and for a good reason. Look at all the 1-series BMW driving around. Going the opposite direction just doesn’t seem to make sense.

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  21. Angelo

    28. Jul, 2009

    J: It’s not so much that Americans won’t buy a hatchback—it’s that they won’t spend a lot on a hatchback. They (I should say we) tend to stereotype our vehicles. I think Americans feel if you want a station wagon or sport utility vehicle, buy one—but if you want a car, it should look like a sedan with a trunk at the higher price points. As I said, I don’t agree with this—my first car was a hatchback and I absolutely loved the utility of it. Right now, my family car is a Saab 9-5 wagon and my company car is a Toyota Prius (hatch) and our other car is a BMW sedan. I like the utility of a hatchback for sure. There’s no doubt in my mind that an entry level Saab with a hatch would sell here in respectable numbers and in time, increase Saab sales in general. I do feel at the mid-level (9-3) it’s worth offering a hatchback option. There are Saab faithful in the U.S. who loved their hatchbacks a long time ago. But for the 9-5—I believe the sales numbers would be so low, it wouldn’t be worth the investment to bring a hatchback model stateside. I guess if a Saab 9-5 hatchback was already being sold in other countries, they could at least offer it in the U.S.—-but there is definitely a start-up cost in outfitting it with U.S. safety and emissions features, marketing it to U.S. consumers, carrying specific parts for it at dealerships, etc. If it sold like a boutique car, in very low numbers, Saab wouldn’t recoup the start-up cost of exporting it here. Americans have, in the past, ignored higher end hatchbacks. I believe Acura and Rover offered them (The Rover was sold as “Sterling” in the U.S. and they couldn’t give them away.). Even at the medium range, Mazda has always had trouble selling hatchbacks in numbers anywhere close to the sedans with trunks. And even Chevrolet offered the Malibu “MAXX” with a hatchback a few years ago—-but it couldn’t keep pace with the sedan, even though it was in my opinion, a superior design.

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  22. J.

    28. Jul, 2009

    Makes sense, no doubt about it. But like I said, this is not just about North America. There are other markets, too. And it seemed to me that the hatchback opponents here were ruling it out as an option altogether, including on the 9-3, which is exactly the situation we have right now, and I guess I am not the only one who is unhappy about that.
    Instead of building another entry level car they might as well build the 9-3 with a hatch and price it at 25.000 € instead of 30.000€. How does that sound?
    My “entry level car” was a used Saab 900. But you Americans like new cars, as far as I can remember. So, maybe not an option.

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  23. Angelo

    28. Jul, 2009

    I agree. And the other markets should get the hatch if it’s economically feasible for Saab and if the sales will support the idea. Actually, my entry level idea would be far different than a 9-3 with a hatch. Think of the retro cars—-VW New Beetle, BMW Mini Cooper, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevy HHR—-smaller cars with interesting retro styling. Saab could come up with something that has styling cues of the old 2 stroke cars and/or the 1960s era 93s. Like I’ve written in previous posts, this car would be clearly a step below the 9-3 in all aspects—–performance, materials/trim, size, etc. What it would provide is durable, basic transportation with a fun twist of Swedish retro style and utility. Simple stuff with a price well south of $20,000. If Saab builds it, people will come! And as for used cars—-U.S. buyers are fine with used cars, but Saab would be healthier by selling lots of inexpensive new cars from their dealerships rather than hoping people would find the brand buying used 9-3s from other sources.

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  24. J.

    29. Jul, 2009

    Well, will be interesting to see what they come up with.

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  25. Ryan

    29. Jul, 2009

    Folks,

    You’ve inspired me. Here’s the first of many hatchback posts!

    http://www.saabhistory.com/2009/07/29/the-history-of-the-saab-hatchback-1974-2002/

    The reasoning that I heard from Saab USA in 2005 about why the hatchback was discontinued was due to “lack of sales”.

    R

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  26. Robin O;Connor

    29. Jul, 2009

    The hatchback debate continues, when a car manufacturer lauches a new model they spend a lot of time and money to establish how the model will be received, the new 9-5 is aiming at the prestige market and am sure the feedback would have been that a saloon will be the best received version of the car, I did a survey of 20 people in my offices with ages from early 20’s to late 50’s if you were buying a £30.000 plus prestige car would you go for a saloon or a hatchback? 17 out of 20 said the saloon, but do not worry hatchback fans the new estate is more Hatch than a traditional estate i believe, in the end it does not matter it appears Saab will be saved and we should all be grateful for that.

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  27. Ryan

    10. Sep, 2009

    I think the first thing I will do in Frankfurt is attempt to pop the trunk, and hope it’s a hatch. 🙂

    R

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  28. Markc

    10. Sep, 2009

    If it’s not a hatch (it probably isn’t), please ask Saab when the hatch will happen? Hopefully Saab’s new owners will have a less myopic view than GM always had. Well they better have!

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  29. Kurt W. Krauss

    10. Sep, 2009

    In addition to that Audi hatch I noted earlier, Acura (also Honda) and BMW are introducing very upscale hatches in 2010-2011. Saab did not invent the idea, but surely refined it.

    Congratulations on going to Frankfurt, Ryan and please “pop the question!”

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  30. Ryan

    10. Sep, 2009

    Kurt,

    I will certainly ask about the hatch and thank you! I am very lucky to be attending.

    Best,

    Ryan

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