Saab's daring design starts with new 9-3

* Designer wants 'love it or hate it' reaction * New 9-3 arrives next year * Phoenix can carry from 9-2 to 9-7...

Saab's daring design starts with new 9-3

Saab's head designer is bullish, punchy, enthusiastic and optimistic about the prospects for the company now that it is free from the constraints of ownership by GM.

Talking to in Geneva, head designer Jason Castriota, said the show's dramatic Phoenix concept car was created to get former, current and prospective Saab customers prepared for next year's 9-3 BMW 3 Series rival.

Castriota said the 9-3 was going to push Saab design to the limit, even if it's not going to have features as bold as the aerodynamic buttresses of the Phoenix.

'We are going to stretch the rubber band as far as we can, but it's going to come back a little bit. It's a delicate balance.'

However, Castriota was adamant that the final design will remain bold: 'I don't want people to be indifferent, I want them to hate it or love it.'

Castriota doesn't seem shy of offending other manufacturers, either, describing Audi and BMW's designs as a Russian doll approach with very similar styling applied to different sizes of cars.

The platform that underpins the Phoenix will be first used on the 9-3. Castriota said it the platform was designed to be as scaleable as possible, to improve the return on the investment of developing it, and said 'it can go down to 9-2 and up to 9-7.'

We have already been told that the platform will be used for the next 9-5 and the replacement for the Cadillac-based 9-4X SUV.

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