Saab previews 9-1 with 9-X BioHybrid concept

Saab today took the wraps off its latest concept car -- the 9-X BioHybrid -- at the Geneva Motor Show. The car's purpose is twofold: first, it's a preview of the forthcoming 9-1 hatchback; second, it's showcases GM's latest hybrid powertrain technology.

"This car is all about efficiency in design and performance," says Anthony Lo, Director of Advanced Design at General Motors Europe, who led the 9-X BioHybrid design team in co-operation with the Saab Brand Center in Sweden.

The car makes use of GM's next-generation Hybrid system, which delivers 200 horsepower from a 1.4-liter BioPower turbo engine coupled to an electric motor with lithium ion battery.

Aside from advanced motor technology, the 9-X concept achieves efficiency via aerodynamics. Echoing Saab's roots in aircraft design, the car features a rear roof spoiler and rear diffuser that both deploy above 43 mph to decrease drag.

"You could say we designed this car from back to front," says Lo. "The shape of the 9X is right for a car of this size, and the longer roof line helps the aerodynamics as well as providing more rear headroom and interior space."

The eventual production version of the 9-X, which is expected to be called 9-1, is intended to compete with the MINI and the Volvo C30, giving Saab an entrant into the growing premium small car segment.