List: Ten Ways To Put The “Quirk” Back In Saab

By Winding Road Staff

May 13, 2011


Starry Night Mode: We love Saab’s Night Panel button. For the uninitiated; depressing this button turns off or dims all in-cabin lighting except for the speedometer, greatly reducing distraction and eyestrain in a dark cabin. We think the button should be standard equipment on all Saabs, though perhaps rebranding the tech as the slightly more bucolic “Starry Night Mode” could make it more immediately attractive to buyers (especially the lucrative van Gogh-set)? Saab does have a Dutch CEO.


Metal Gated Manual Transmission: We’ve never understood why the brilliantly tactile metal gated shifter hasn’t made deeper inroads into the non-exotic, performance car set. Almost nothing in the automotive kingdom feels better than the metallic snicker-snack of a perfectly executed downshift, which is why we think it would make an excellent option to add to any upcoming Viggen editions.


Rally, Cruise, and Joy Ride suspension modes: We love the way that the 9-5’s DriveSense system works, but tweaking and renaming for increased quirkiness-factor could be invigorating. Rally could serve as an appropriate “soft” setting while evoking Saab’s racing heritage, while Cruise and Joy Ride set up the ride for owners in terms they understand. “Sport” is ubiquitous but quite characterless, after all. Seal the deal by making these suspension settings accessible by way of an easy-to-reach, soft-to-the-touch steering wheel button.


MySaab Mode: BMW allows a driver to set his preferred parameters for the M button, why not a similar, Saab-ized solution? Allow users to pre-select settings for throttle response, steering effort, dampers, shift speed, and exhaust note. Mix up you perfect Saab driving style, and make it accessible through the touch of a button.


Multi-mode Exhaust: Saab’s laidback but fun driving character would doubtlessly benefit with a constantly fitting soundtrack. We’d love to see the inclusion of a multi-mode exhaust system (ala Aston Martin or Corvette) that keeps in-town cruising whisper quite, and back-road blasts a bit more raucous.


Canopy Door: As seen on the Saab Aero X concept car. Would make gull-wing, scissor, gun-slinger, swan, and all other alternative door types immediately passé.


Swedish Navi: Come on, this is a no-brainer. Plug in the coordinates for that new restaurant two-towns over that you’ve been dying to try, and your turn-by-turn directions come at you in the always-entertaining Swedish-accented English. Bonus feature: build in Swedish language lessons in the audio’s hard drive.


Gas Turbine Hybrids: Saabs are (or were) “Born from Jets.” Okay, we think, but far cooler if their extended range, plug-in EVs used micro-turbine engines (as in a jet) to power the generator needed when the batteries get low. Take that, Prius.


NaviRally—Time/Distance/Speed Game: Everyone under the age of 40 loves gaming. Saab has a history, and a successful one at that, with rally cars. Why not combine the two in an app that makes mid or long distance driving into a game? Let’s show nav data that indicates progress within “stages.” Let drivers and navigators play against other Saab owners in time-speed-distance events. Allow Saab owners to create gimmick Rallies that can be competed over weeks or months.


Soccer Ball Wheels: Bring them back. Sure, then can be “modernized,” they’ll probably have to be scaled up to about twenty-inches at this point, but they need to make a return.

Starry Metal Rally, MySaab Multi-mode Canopy Swedish Gas NaviRally—Time/Distance/Speed Soccer

Financial doom and gloom to the side for the moment (we’re all assuming that the wily Victor Muller will find another corporate sugar daddy for the cash-strapped company), we like a lot of what Saab has been doing these days. Though neither are perfect vehicles, we’re largely positive on both the 9-5 and the new 9-4X.

But what’s still missing from the Saab formula in these new efforts is the borderline batshit-craziness that we’ve come to love in the Swede’s of yore. Never fear, Saab product developers, we’ve got your backs. Here are ten stunning ideas as to how a real shot of quirkiness can be injected into the brand, and quick. (Well, we’re not sure how quickly the gas turbine-hybrid can be unleashed, but you get the idea.)

Make sure to pass along your own ideas for Saab, in our comments section below.