In a surprise move Saab has revealed details about its upcoming Paris Motor Show concept at a media event held in Detroit this week, where the car was showed alongside the production version of the new Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan as well as more images of the Orlando concept. The Saab concept is the new 9-X Air – a convertible version of the previous 9-X BioHybrid concept vehicle from March’s Geneva Motor Show.

The concept features a speedster-style chopped top with a fabric roof and a high-tech interior, and previews a future production model for Saab that is likely to be called the 9-1. The new model will be targeted as a premium hatchback alternative to BMW’s Mini and according to this latest Air study it will be available in both hatch and cabrio forms.

Despite its small proportions, measuring just 4.43m in length, 1.39m across and 1.83m high, the concept still manages to offer enough space for four adults and the folding mechanism for the roof structure. Interestingly, the rear window of the car is not integrated into the roof but arises out of the rear bulkhead at the push of a button. Other distinct styling features include LED lighting, quad exhaust pipes, and 21in wheels with 245mm rubber.

Under the hood sits a turbocharged 1.4L E85 flex-fuel engine mated to an electric motor running on lithium-ion batteries. Peak output stands at 200hp (147kW) and 200lb-ft (280Nm) of torque, which is enough to accelerate the car from 0-100km/h in just 8.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 231km/h. When running on petrol, fuel consumption registers at an impressive 47mpg (5L/100km).

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, which sports a pair of paddle shifters on the steering column for manual shifting of the gears.

The 9-1 is expected to go into production next year with a range of powertrains including advanced diesels and flex-fuel engines, and even a possible hybrid option. There’s a strong chance the car could also be offered in North America.

2008 Saab 9-X Air Concept