The versatile Saab 9000 hatchback provided a wagon-like load carrying capability and was rated as a large car in USA. The high-opening tailgate gave access to a wide, flat cargo deck. The car was designed to combine the solidity and refinement of a large sedan with the capabilities of a wagon, but without its boxy proportions. A 4-door sedan variant, the Saab 9000 CD, followed in 1988.
In 1991, the 5-door Saab 9000 was given a sporty new look with the introduction of the Saab 9000 CS. Lower, crisper frontal styling was balanced by a completely new tailgate and rear end design, introducing a more wedge-like profile. A full-width, rear reflective panel established a Saab lighting theme continued today. The changes were more than cosmetic and included patented side impact reinforcements and a stiffer rear body structure to improve handling and ride. The same frontal styling was later added to the Saab 9000 CD sedan.
Under the hood, the Saab 9000 series featured a number of sophisticated engines. The standard version featured a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Development culminated in the top-of-the-line Aero models with 225 bhp and even more impressive levels of torque, up to 350 Nm, that allowed it to accelerate from 80 to 120 kph in fifth gear faster than a Ferrari Testarossa.
Emissions control, becoming increasingly important in the 1990s, was just as impressive. An experiment, conducted in London traffic in 1992 by the UK government’s Warren Spring research establishment, showed that the tailpipe emissions from a standard Saab 9000 CS 2.3t were actually cleaner than the air the engine was breathing.
A total of 503,087 Saab 9000 models were produced between 1984 and 1998.
Innovative features of the Saab 9000:
- First front-wheel drive car to offer ABS (from 1986)
- Direct Ignition (DI) eliminates distributor and other moving parts (from 1988)
- Saab Traction Control for improved stability in slippery conditions (from 1988)
- CFC-free air conditioning system (from 1991)
- Saab Trionic engine management with 32-bit microprocessor (from 1992)
- Ecopower concept introduced for all turbocharged engines (from 1996)