It is the car that was supposed to save Saab, but it was DOA.
The first photos of a design study for the planned replacement for the 9-3 have been revealed by SaabsUnited.com, giving an idea of what the first post-GM Saab would have looked like if the automaker had managed to avoid going bankrupt in December, 2011.
Penned by American designer Jason Castriota, the new 9-3 marked a return to the model’s classic five-door form, and featured traditional Saab styling cues including a wraparound-look windshield, clamshell hood and steep rear hatchback bodywork.
The car was intended to be built on Saab’s so-called Phoenix platform, a flexible chassis that would allow it to move away from the GM-sourced chassis the last 9-3 relied on, and powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine jointly developed with BMW.
The brand’s new owner, National Electric Vehicle Sweden, which purchased Saab’s assets last year, has the rights to produce the Phoenix platform, but plans to first reintroduce the last generation 9-3, primarily for sale in China, and follow it up with an electric version of that car.
According to SaabsUnited.com, it’s now unlikely that the Castriota designed car will ever see the light of day, at least in the flesh. But the photos will live on as an alternate history among fans of the quirky Swedish automaker.