2008 Saab 9-X Air BioHybrid Concept

After 25 years of building drop-tops, Saab has created a convertible concept that breaks from its traditional wedge profile. The 9-X Air BioHybrid foretells a sporty, open-air four-seater that may soon come out of Trollhattan.

The 9-X Air BioHybrid concept will debut at the 2008 Paris show as a followup to the 9-X BioHybrid coupe, first shown at this year’s Geneva show. The convertible swaps the coupe’s fixed roof for a “unique canopy top,” but leaves most of the original’s styling and shape untouched; Saab says it was designed to imitate a coupe with the roof up. Wraparound glass – reminiscent of that surrounding a fighter pilot – carries over and now includes the rear window. Buttresses take the place of the coupe’s C-pillars and are part of the flat-folding top’s hard tonneau. Concept-y side-view cameras give the bodysides a nearly uninterrupted look.

The interior appears to get the same driver-centric treatment as its coupe forerunner. It continues the Born-from-Jets theme by delineating the driver’s (pilot’s?) area using light colors whereas the rest of the cabin is dark.

With all of the similarities, it’s no surprise that the Air concept was developed alongside Saab’s 9-X BioHybrid coupe. The convertible features the same powertrain as the earlier concept – a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine running on E85 ethanol is mated to a version of GM’s next-generation hybrid system. Like the recently announced Chevy Volt, the 9-X’s hybrid system utilizes lithium-ion batteries.

When a real-life version of the 9-X concept arrives it will likely be badged 9-1 in keeping with the rest of the company’s offerings. A 9-1 coupe is expected to do battle with Volvo‘s C30, and a convertible version would certainly broaden the lineup, offering something that Volvo currently does not. Given its new platform, it should be easy for Saab to design the 9-1 from the ground up as the company’s first hybrid.

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