New York gets a look at Saab PhoeniX

  • 17-May-2011 04:24 EDT
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This view of the Saab PhoeniX concept car shows its teardrop shape and “concept car” butterfly door open.

Concept cars often draw a different focus as they are taken for viewing from one leading auto show to the next. The Saab PhoeniX is an example, as the car drew attention for its aerodynamic teardrop shape—including wheel design—at the 2011 New York International Auto Show in April.

Compare this with the Geneva show just a few weeks earlier, where the attention was primarily given to a Google Android-based touch-screen infotainment system, WiFi, and the 1.6-L turbo front-drive system forming a hybrid all-wheel-drive system with a battery-powered generator/motor-driven rear axle.

The wheels have large airfoil-like spokes with narrow openings, so the airflow through them is both limited and in the form of smooth streams. This approach, adapted from pure fuel-economy concepts, virtually eliminates air turbulence that would increase drag, so contributes to the 0.25 Cd. Most of the airflow thus continues past the inside surface of the wheels and passes through a duct at the rear of the wheelhouse.

The butterfly doors were viewed in New York as “just concept car” applications that make the 2+2 coupe a more visual package, nothing that ever would appear in production for real-world cars such as the Saab 9-3 sedan and derivatives that PhoeniX will spawn. Although the wing-shaped sections of the buttresses that run along the top of the door and body at each side may also be a “concept,” they do perform an airflow management function. Further, the front sections are mounting points for rear-view cameras, a “must-have” for stylish cars with restricted rear sightlines in such traffic-choked cities as New York.

The PhoeniX is a Swedish offering and the production cars will be made in Trollhatten, but the design actually was executed by a native New Yorker, Jason Castriota, Saab’s Executive Design Director who attended fashion art school in the city.

With the New York show's attention to fuel economy, Saab announced projected figures for the vehicle, although based on the European combined drive cycle: 5.0 L/100 km, or about 47 mpg, and 119 g/km of CO2.

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