Saab could have taken the easy way out and upgraded the vehicle architecture of the current 9-3. But instead, they have started work on an entirely new and versatile platform to underpin their 9-3, 9-5 and even larger future models, a move that is far more costly and time-consuming.
Then again, the current 9-3 chassis dates back to 2002, when the Epsilon platform was just a twinkle in GM’s eye. And now that Saab has divulged themselves of that messy period, they are seeking to venture forth on their own with “Phoenix,” the code name for their new architecture and named after their stunning Geneva concept.
The new Phoenix will be available with unique McPherson struts and “race-car style” five-link rear axle, made by Swedish supplier ZF. It will be flexible enough for the new 9-3 and the larger 9-5 when it’s replaced in a few years (even though the current 9-5 was just introduced, it gives an indication to how far ahead Saab’s planning this). It can also be stretched up to 18 feet for a range-topping “9-7″ if need be.
The inspiration for this one-chassis approach comes from truck company Scania, which has used a modular platform open to upgrading over generations of vehicles without reengineering the entire thing. Scania, which used to own Saab back in the 1960s, is providing technical assistance to the new platform project.