First Look: Saab PhoeniX Concept

Given all of the turmoil Saab went through in the past year it is amazing the company is still alive. At this year's Geneva Motor Show, the Swedish company has shown that it is reinvigorated and ready to flourish. Leading the charge of the new Saab is the PhoeniX concept.

The PhoeniX concept is an indicator of the direction Saab will be going with future powertrains, technology, and design. The platform and powertrain used by the PhoeniX are a preview of what will underpin the next-generation 9-3. The concept uses a 200-horsepower 1.6-liter turborcharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.

The concept uses Saab's new eXWD (electric Cross Wheel Drive) system, with the gasoline engine powering the front wheels and a 34-horsepower electric motor driving the rear axle. Saab estimates that this powertrain setup will achieve around 47 mpg, and includes a start-stop system. The eXWD system can be set to maximize fuel economy, power, or all-wheel drive traction by vectoring torque across the rear axle and using the electric motor to assist the 1.6-liter under light driving. Expect to see the new turbocharged engine and the eXWD system on the next 9-3, debuting sometime next year.

The PhoeniX concept is also previewing Saab's answer to in-car infotainment systems. Based on Google's Android operating system is Saab IQon (pronounced like "icon"), a fully-integrated touch-screen multimedia system. Like many other infotainment systems in the automotive world, it incorporates navigation, multimedia, and diagnostic information into one system. Running the Android operating system allows IQon to be customizable with third-party applications, similar to a smartphone. Saab will provide an application programming interface (API) to developers that will include feedback information from the vehicle's systems and driver inputs. The IQon system will also automatically connect to the internet upon startup, allowing for communication between the car and a Saab dealer or mobile device.

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