Saab's Arctic Adventure

Independence Day is celebrated here on July 4th, with friends, family, fireworks, and a barbeque. But the folks at Saab are doing it a bit differently. You see, Independence Day has a whole different meaning for Saab; February marks its one-year anniversary since its separation from GM and to the shock of many outside the auto industry, they are still alive and producing cars. All they have to do is get the word out.

This is why we find ourselves in Kiruna, Sweden, a surprisingly large town of approximately 25,000 people inside the Arctic Circle. The current temperature: -44 degrees Celsius. At this point Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same; it's cold enough that an ice-cold beer tastes warm, nose hairs freeze together with each inhale, five layers of clothes aren't enough, and locals even declare it "a bit chilly". It's here where Saab has chosen to show us what it's been up to the past twelve months, and what is to come in the next. And also to reiterate the message that Saab is not dead. Although we didn't get to drive these three models, here is a small taste of what's to come.

Saab 9-3 Griffin
The 9-3 Griffin is the glorified placeholder in the 9-3 lineup until the new 9-3 arrives next October; Saab is introducing the Griffin range at this year's Geneva auto show. Both the sedan and SportCombi (wagon) body styles are available, in standard and Aero variants. The Griffin features a new front fascia and headlamps as well as an updated interior with higher-quality materials and greater refinement. The engine is the same turbocharged 2.0-liter that is found in the 9-5 that makes 220 hp; it's also E85 capable. Options include a manual or automatic transmission, and front or all-wheel drive (XWD).

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There's something about Sweden's "can do" attitude that is quite inspiring. What other country of its size develops jet fighters and has two auto makers (plus a motorcycle company too)? I like where Saab is going and when we go shopping for a new dogs-friendly sport wagon / crossover this fall we'll be checking them out. Just please, Saab, don't go back to the massive air vents of yore. They were hideous and deserve to remain part of your past.

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