After a rich career that lasted a quarter-century, it was clear that the brand-defining Saab 99-900 series deserved a worthy successor. The Swedish company had started design and engineering development during the mid-1980s, but found itself in financial trouble as a weakening dollar quickly deteriorated its business in the all-important U.S. market.
By the end of 1989, General Motors Corp. emerged as the white knight for Saab, initially taking a 50-percent interest in the car company. Beyond financial support, GM Europe was also instrumental in providing technical components and systems that led to the completion and launch of the “New Generation” (NG) 900. It debuted in the summer of 1993, initially only in a five-door hatchback configuration.
Its familiar name and design profile notwithstanding, the NG 900 was indeed new from stem to stern. The front-drive powertrain was now transversely mounted, saving space while offering a first in Saab history: a 2.5L V-6 engine, in addition to the tried-and-true, four-cylinder turbo. A unique aircraft-inspired innovation was the “Black Panel,” allowing the driver to shut down all instrument lighting except the speedometer and emergency lights.
To prove that all of these changes didn’t diminish the core qualities that dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts held so dear, Saab accepted a very tall challenge indeed: to race up the steep gravel roads of Pikes Peak, Colo. faster than any car in its class.
By the time the dust settled, the 1995 three-door, 2.0L Turbo Saab 900 SE made its point. The New Generation was here to stay.
Press release 2007
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