The Saab 9-6 in pictures

Last week we had a poll on Twitter, asking people which model from the Saab Museum they would like to have photographed – the Saab EV-1 concept or the Saab 9-6 prototype. Guess which car won?

Here we are, then, with a photo study of the Saab 9-6. The car is now on display at the Saab Museum after spending several years in hiding storage out the back.

The Saab 9-6 was a joint project with Subaru, based on their B9 Tribeca SUV. Saab, at the behest of General Motors (who owned 20% of Subaru’s parent company at the time), had already launched the Saab 9-2x based on the Subaru Impreza WRX. This vehicle was supposed to build on that relationship.

Even though the 9-2x was loved by those who owned it, the car was lampooned by the press for being a poorly executed mimic of a cult classic. The Saab was actually better equipped than the WRX of the time with several components from Subaru’s performance division (STi) added to the car, but it ended up selling for a lot less in an employee-pricing fire sale back in 2005.

Whilst it had nothing to do with the fire sale, GM ended up selling its 20% stake in Subaru later in 2005 and the Saab 9-6 project was cancelled. Prior to this cancellation, Saab had built two prototype vehicles – this five door model now on exhibition at the museum, as well as a three-door version.

Many will refer to the 9-6 as the 9-6x, which makes sense as it would have had a 4-wheel drive system on board, which is the usual trigger for the added ‘x’ (9-3x TTiD owners – your objection is noted). I used to call it the 9-6x as well in stories that I wrote about it back in 2005. The museum example, however, is referred to without the ‘x’ in the title so I’m going to stick to that protocol.

Click to enlarge the images.

There are plenty more photos after the jump…..

The interior (below) was pure Subaru – here’s the original Tribeca – with just a Saab badge and some different gauges to differentiate it. It’s unknown (to me) how far they got with any re-design of the interior, but it should be noted that the 9-2x and Impreza interiors were remarkably similar.

I’m not sure what the headphones were for. I had a look in the back and there were no video screens back there, but maybe they intended to install some.

Wiper heaters aren’t new, but it was the first time I’d personally noticed them, so I figured they were worth a photo…..

Category: Features, Saab History

51 Responses to The Saab 9-6 in pictures

  1. Interesting to see how much of this 9-6 was carried over into the facelifted Subaru Tribeca! Does the 3-door 9-6 have the same interior, or was that interior more extensively reworked?

    • Steven Wade says:

      I haven’t had a look inside, Jaap, but I would imaging both interiors are the same.  If I get a chance I’ll look and do a sequel story if they’re different.

  2. Greg Abbott says:

    I was just there two weeks ago, and I have my own pictures of the 9-6.  

    It isn’t a bad car, but it also is uninspired.  The front is attractive and fits the Saab design theme, but the rear of the car is terrible — too much of the ugly Subaru rear design remains, and it probably couldn’t be fixed without unreasonably expensive changes.  The interior is very un-Saab like – that intrusive, curving center stack is about as far away from “driver-centered ergonomics” as you can get.  

    When I was there, it was parked next to the 9-4x concept from 2008, which outshines the 9-6 in every respect.  

    On the whole I am glad it was not produced.  

  3. I like it! With the exclusion of the rear light and the vents in the dash and the front spoiler, the bottom half.

    • Toby Kirkman says:

      Yeah I like it too apart from the rear lights the front air dam and the melted centre console, its mor Suby than Saab but there is room for a proper Saab bigger brother to the 9-4x oneday…

  4. MarkC says:

    Some photos of the 9-5 replacement that never happened would be good.  Where is it hiding?

    • Bravada GMI European Correspod says:

      It’s the 9-5 as we know it, morphed extensively. Also look at the Insignia. The entire “Epsilon II” programme evolved from the Saab take on a larger version of the Epsilon, a la what happened with the GM2900 (smaller 9-3 and larger 9-5).

      • Peter Jones says:

        Would be interresting to get Antony Lo’s and Simon Padian’s take on this…would love to see how the design evolved….it’s interesting to read Tony Cattignani’s story on the 9-5 and 9-3SS design evolution, it would be great to hear if Simon has some stories…..

  5. Anonymous says:

    I actually think the car would have been a hit – and I was very disappointed when it wasn’t produced. We had a Subaru Forester for a few days back in early 2006 and, apart from its small size, we were very impressed with it. The Tribeca’s styling – or lack of – was hideous. But the Saab (mostly) fixed that, and yes, I can remember an interview with a Subaru person saying that the Tribeca facelift was based on the 9-6.

    Subaru was going through a phase of silver plastic dashboards and the Forester was no different. In real life, it worked fine. And I don’t think we can really give out about dashboards ;) well, my opinion at least! 
    J Fan

    • Anonymous says:

      Comparing the post-facelift Tribeca it looks like Subaru at least used most of the design.

  6. From rear side it looks like Subaru Trebeca. IMHO, the best concept saab’s car – AeroX and PhoeniX

  7. I’m soooo glad they didn’t put it into production

  8. Peter says:

    It is strange but EVERY time I see an original Tribeca all I see is the grill that makes me think it is an actual Retro SAAB Bull-nose!

  9. Ryan Delucchi says:

    Eh, I’m not really liking this one honesty.  The front looks *ok* but the rear-end and especially the interior isn’t very SAAB-like.  The 9-4x is more appealing by several orders of magnitude.

  10. Great to see photos of this car. Would have done well I bet.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is such a pleasure to see the Aero-X at the first picture! What a beautiful car!!! :-)

  12. It has something, it does show the era in which this slightly weird cooperation was founded. Yes, it made me grin. Having diven several Tribecas in the States, they weren’t half bad either (be it rather heavy on ye olde jungle juice). Wether it would have been a hit, I cannot say, but it made me grin. Cheers for sharing this one, Steven!

  13. Anonymous says:

    What about the nice looking 9-3 SC concept behind the 9-6, wouldn’t that be a good story to tell? What happened back then, how much of that car became reality when it finally arrived? What stuff does “she” still hide?
    That car still fits the streets as a modern looking car!

    • Saab RedJ says:

      the 9-3SC concept was the prelude to the 2008 facelift. I said it then, and I repeat it now.
      The grill, the eybrows, the clean sides, the three part lower grill.

      • Sorry RedJ but the 9-3SC was shown at the 2003 Frankfurt IAA. It had an all female design team too. Many dealers were asked if they could keep just one piece of the car for the production model, what would it be? I said “The rear lights.” It’s a shame SAAB didn’t/couldn’t explore the touch sensitive HVAC (although it wasn’t actually functioning in this concept either. I know that because I sat in it at the show). The production version was supposed to follow in 2004 but a few financial problems at GM delayed the car until 2005.

    • Steven Wade says:

      I plan to get around a few of the concepts cars in due course.  We might do another poll next week to see which one :-)

  14. I hate it. To be totally honest this car has not one bit of Swedish design in it. Thank god it died. 

  15. Hirsch Turbo says:

    Hideous looking vehicle, it could be made by any manufacturer, stick a Kia badge on it, glad to see it in a museum.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’m a Saab nut since the two-stroke era, and this, even if the interior is or isn’t finished, doesn’t look like a Saab. If people want cars like that, they can go buy them from those that manufacture them, Subaru et al. As with the 9-7, they are in IMHO, and I really don’t want to hurt the feelings of the owners of that car, plain ugly and not “Saabish”. No way. On the other hand, the 9-4x, as for example Ryan Delucchi says, is very much a Saab, and very appealing. I’m happy that Saab has that one in their product portfolio now, together with other great products. That said, it is interesting to read and see these photos from the Saab Museum; thanks.

  17. William Karlsson says:

    This is not a true Saab!! And absolutely not a swedish car and design!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Eh, not a bad looking car… I agree there are definitely specific elements unchanged from the Tribeca, which is a pretty ugly car. You can kind of tell what was done to ‘Saab it up’… It’s definitely an improvement over the Tribeca though.

    The 9-2X grew on me, but maybe it has something to do with being the underdog and playing on my sympathies. Overall though I agree that Saab should stay away from re-badged cars from other brands. If I wanted a Tribeca or a WRX, I’d go to Subaru. It doesn’t make sense beyond trying to inexpensively widen their fleet–which is what they seemed to have been doing… But still.

  19. Howie Adams says:

    Considering this would have been a precursor to the new 9-4x and that it would have been a much earlier entrant into the CUV category, I wish this would have hit the US market.  Of course, pricing is essential.  The 9-2x was priced as an expensive WRX.  It would have helped the last few years to have this category represented and I really think it would have sold well in the states.  Although not totally Saab at heart, I believe it would have sold.  And as Swade used to point out in his old position….. Saab needs more buns in more seats.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Put it back in hiding please. It’s just an unsightly reminder of GM’s mishandling of Saab. How much money was charged against Saab for developing this and the never-to-be 9-5 whose platform carries the beautiful Alpha Romeo 159? Any Caddy BLS’s in hiding?

  21. barry sorrel says:

    Great to see these concepts out of hiding!   Personally, I’m not a fan of this 9-6, but it does tell a story and therefore is a worthy addition to the museum.

    Steven, a regular feature covering little known concepts would be a great, fascinating addition to the site, any chance of it in the future?

  22. David Zakary says:

    Would love to know more about the cars in the background

  23. Sutep Lynn says:


  24. Anonymous says:

    They should sell this instead of the original Tribeca, which looks like shit if you ask me…

  25. Anonymous says:


  26. OMG. We need info +  more photos of EV-1 that is something so COOL…

  27. Funnily enough I was followed up the M1 by a B9 Tribeca for many miles today and was thinking about the 9-6.  When you fix the ugly Subaru nose it was a good looking car, but no idea what it was like to drive or to live with.  Hopefully better than other Subarus…!

  28. Bravada GMI European Correspod says:

    Ok now, the stillborn Saabaru has the heated windshield wipers and my 2011 9-3 doesn’t?

  29. From the back it looks like the Subaru Tribeca- Why is that???????????

    • Steven Wade says:

      Most likely because it basically *is* the Subaru Tribeca.  As with the 9-2x/Impreza, the changes were minimal, but perceived to be enough.

  30. The 9-6 is way to Subaru…

  31. Moira Harris says:

    I would like the old distinctive line in the back to come again- loved that old design.  I have a 9.5 and love it- hope to get another in about 3 years.

  32. This is just a Subaru Tribeca!

  33. Eirik Osa Skjæveland says:

    I really love this post, it’s really fun finally seeing photos of this :) I’d love to see more museum specials. Maybe something more photos/information on the : Saab 98, Saab 99 Wagon, and probably many other infamous prototypes and test veichles ? 

  34. Dan Palka says:

    So glad this thing never saw production.