The 28 Year History Of The Saab Hatchback (1974-2002)

Posted on 29. Jul, 2009 by in 2000-2009

The Saab 99 Combi Coupe (1974-1978)


The first Saab hatchback came into production as a 1974 model year Saab 99, known as the “Combi Coupe “. The Saab 99 Combi Coupe or Wagonback as it was initially referred to in the U.S., arrived in 1974 following the Saab 98 prototype while it took on the additional characteristics of the 99. The Saab 99 Combi Coupe was designed by Bjorn Envall and was produced in Uusikaupunki, Finland as well as Trollhattan, Sweden. The Saab 99 Combi Coupe” was a hatchback and also known as the Wagonback in the U.S. and was Saab’s first designer, Sixton Sason’s, final project. The hatch system, when open, had a platform that had a flush continuation right to the bumper. This model set the history books as the first true “hatchback” for Saab and the first model is on display today at the Saab Car Museum. This model had a five year run until it was transitioned into the next model in the lineage.

The Saab 900 Hatchback (1979-1993)


The classic Saab 900 or C900 as it is also known, was that next model in the lineage which not only took on similar design characteristics of the 99’s hatchback, it also came in two variations of the hatchback, one being a 3-door coupe, the other being a 5-door sedan. The hatch system was identical to that of the 99, where the platform was flush to the bumper and the seats folded back for a large storage compartment. It did have an optional wiper arm to be affixed to the hatch on certain years. It was the C900 that became the highest selling Saab of all time, and the hatchback itself outselling every other model to this very day. The Saab 900 continued in hatchback form until 1993, when it was replaced with its successor.

The Saab 9000 Hatchback (1985-1992)


The Saab 9000 was a jointly developed project with Fiat & Saab allowed and was the first ever premium mid-sized sedan that was ever produced for the company. The first variant of this model range was the hatchback, which had a three piece glass frame effect, initially with a wrap-around spoiler for the first year. Then the following year, the spoiler was reduced to single spoiler. Beneath the spoiler the rear panel was clean with no lights except for those that illuminated the license plate. Unlike the 900, when the hatch system was open, there was no flush platform to the bumper, it was raised and added depth to the hatch opening. The seats in the Saab 9000 included the ability to fold down completely flat with two twist out brackets and stay clips for a flush platform, without the need for the rear seat rests to be removed. This model’s hatchback system was almost identical for 8 solid years.

The Saab NG900 (1994-1998)


The new generation 900, sometimes referred to as NG or GM 900, replaced the previous model maintaining a hatchback although in a new form. This model in both 3-door and 5-door configurations once again like the C900, however it’s hatchback system was a continuation of what was exhibited in the non-flush platform as depicted in the 9000. The seats could fold down as well, although they would not lie completely flat. The addition of a wiper arm was also standard on both variants of this model. The NG900 was in production for 5 years much like the first hatchback from 1994 until 1998 when it was replaced.

The Saab 9000 CS Hatchback (1993-1998)


In 1993, the previous Saab 9000 was updated to the 9000 CS body style and with that update, its hatchback was also redesigned which included almost a wrap-around rear window including the addition of a wiper arm and continuous tail light cluster as well. The seats in the Saab 9000 included the ability to fold down completely flat with two twist out brackets for a flush platform, however the retaining clips to hold them were removed, and unlike the previous 9000, the head rests were larger and therefore needed to be removed before folding down. This model continued for 6 years. 1998 was the last year the Saab 9000 hatchback.

The Saab 9-3 (1999-2002)


The Saab 9-3 was the last Saab to this very day to have been designed and ultimately produced in a hatchback form, again continuing both variations of a 3-door coupe as well as a 5-door hatchback. This model looked similar to the predecessor, although it had much more refinements. The seats could fold down just as well as the NG900 model, and they too would not lie completely flat. This model concluded in 2002, effectively ending 28 years of hatchbacks for Saab Automobile.

The Saab NG 9-3 (2012- ? )

The next generation Saab 9-3, touted as the “93” harkening back to Saab’s second model introduction back in 1955 is indicated to offer a hatchback. This model will effectively pick up where Saab left off in 2002 when the hatchback was ended, a decade earlier.

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14 Responses to “The 28 Year History Of The Saab Hatchback (1974-2002)”

  1. Markc

    29. Jul, 2009

    Hopefully the past 7 years are just a GM induced hiccup and Saab will be back on track making hatches again soon. At the very least on the next 9-3!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Ryan

    29. Jul, 2009


    I know. The 9-3 Sport Sedan was supposed to have a 9-3 Coupe & the now 9-3x all launched at the same time. The hatch was eliminated by GM, the 9-3x as we know was delayed by 7 years.

    I can only hope that the then 9-3 hatch that was eliminated from production, is reincarnated into the next gen 9-3, which at this rate will be about 9 years later? Here’s hoping!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Markc

    29. Jul, 2009


    The reason given by Saab for discontinuing hatchbacks isn’t very logical. As far as I know, the 9000CS always outsold the 9000CD. Perhaps you can confirm this? Also the comparative sales for the 9-3SS over the C900/NG900/OG9-3 haven’t been too much of an improvement, in fact in real world terms it’s probably less? Imagine the sales if buyers had been given a choice of sedan and hatchbacks.

    I’m not sure if the ‘stillborn’ 9-3SS coupe derivative had a hatch? Nobody seems to know. Perhaps we will find out some day? As you say, hopefully that situation will be rectified with the NG9-3. We mustn’t forget the fans of 5 door hatches either!

    Reply to this comment
  4. peter

    29. Jul, 2009

    Just a note :

    The premium car market was about 80% saloon (sedan).

    GM logic was “it is better to concentrate on the 80% share” so the hatchback vanished. A later compromise saw the launch of estates (wagons) to try and retain some of the hatch faithfull.

    Hatch v sedan is a market driven choice.
    Very hot (and humid) climates better suit the sedan – loading luggage does not refill the car with hot, wet air.
    US was traditionally a sedan market (see VW jetta v rabbit sales), but US Saab buyers increasingly moved towards hatches especially with the arrival of the 9000.

    Sweden was a market valuing utility with favourites being Saab hatchbacks and Volvo estates.

    Of course, the new fashion in European premium cars (inc MB, BMW & AUDI) is the …………………. hatchback !


    Reply to this comment

    01. Aug, 2009

    Lets not forget the 2005-2006 Saab 9-2x. It may not have been a Saab from the ground up but none the less its still a Saab whether you like it or not.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Ryan

    01. Aug, 2009


    I did not include the 9-2x because of the same reason I excluded the SAAB 95, SAAB 98 Prototype, Saab 600 Lancia, Saab 9-5 Wagon, Saab 9-2x, Saab 9-7x, Saab 9-3 SportCombi.

    All of these vehicles feature a “tailgate”, not a forward hinged hatchback like what was described above.

    There’s basically three areas in which we can categories Saab models in terms of their boots.


    I’d be interested in what others think about this. I’ve even heard my colleague from Tasmania refer to the 9-5 Wagon as having a tailgate, specifically excluding a mention of a hatch of which it does not have. A Tailgate yes, a hatch no.


    Reply to this comment
  7. c 900

    14. Aug, 2009

    Thank you for the comment, so I have a better pictures.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Thyl Engelhardt

    10. May, 2010

    peter: Yes, funny that now there is a trend towards premium hatches (I could bet due to consumption pressure on the less aerodynamic wagons), and Saab might actually be missing it. And I strongly believe that we also need a 9-5 hatch, though this is evidently not in the “fully funded business plan”, sigh.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Ryan

    10. May, 2010


    Exactly. This is what is probably the hardest thing for us Saab enthusiasts to realize, especially with what the all new Saab 9-5 did not come with, where it’s sister model came with that, along with a sedan & wagon!

    Reply to this comment
  10. peter

    10. May, 2010

    Just to say that I am a committed hatch man, but estates (wagons) have a better cd factor.

    Today, I’m rather isolated.

    Saab doesn’t have the product I need, so I have a wagon ………. for the dog !


    Reply to this comment
  11. Thyl Engelhardt

    11. May, 2010

    Peter: ? Cd, that’s drag coefficient? Why do you think this is better on wagons than on hatches? Theoretically, a hatch could have a better Cd than even a sedan, because that kink where the rear window meets the trunk lid can be avoided.

    Reply to this comment
  12. peter

    11. May, 2010

    I remembered from some research I read long ago that the long horizontal panels on vans and trucks were surprisingly aerodynamic.

    But, when I checked it for sedan v hatch v wagon it didn’t hold true.

    Seems that the hatch is generally better than the wagon for most designs. This is probably due to turbulence in the airflow around the tail.

    I found these figures for Saab cd :

    93 0,26
    9-3 SS 0,28
    900 2.0 (1995) 0,3
    9-3 Viggen (2001) 0,31
    9-5 SC 0,31
    Sonett III (1970) 0,31
    9-3 (1998) 0,32
    900 2.0 Turbo (1995) 0,33
    9000 2.3t CSE (1995) 0,33
    9-3 SC 0,33
    9-3 Sport Combi 0,33
    9000 CD (1988-1995) 0,34
    9-3 Aero (2001) 0,34
    9-3 Cabriolet (2007) 0,34
    900 2.0 Turbo Cab. (1995) 0,36
    99 (1969) 0,37
    900 T16 S ‘Aero’ (1984) 0,39
    99 Turbo (1978) 0,42


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  1. Saab To Introduce Hatchback After Decade Lengthy Absence | Posts - November 5, 2014

    […] 28 year history of the hatchback started for Saab in 1974 with the Saab 99 Combi Coupe mannequin and concluded in 2002 with the 9-3 […]

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