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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Top Gear: Saab 9-X Air Concept

Saab may have stagnated into GM-branded middle-of-the-roadness in recent years, but when the engineers from Trollhatten are left to their own devices, they can still come up with some pretty nifty technology.

Like this, the 9-X Air Concept. Forget the standard Saab concept face and eminently sensible 1.4-litre turbocharged engine (E85 powered, naturally) and take a look at that roof instead.

The Air Concept is, essentially, Saab's guess at what the next-gen 9-3 convertible will look like when it goes on sale around 2013, and it features a very cool folding soft-top roof.

There's a two-piece fabric cover with a solid glass rear screen, which descends when the roof is folded back and then raises back up to cut out turbulence in the cabin.

Shunning a fashionable folding hard top is good news for weight, while a glass screen eliminates the need for one of those huge cumbersome deflector-thingies that fit over the rear seat. Neat, eh?

Saab reckons the added lightness should allow the Air Concept to hit 60mph in just over eight seconds while returning a healthy 107g/km of CO2.

We'll get to fiddle with the Air Concept's clever roof at the Paris show early next month, if the Saab engineers let us near it...