• Mar 4th 2009 at 12:59PM
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Click above for high-res gallery of the Saab 9-3X

Saab debuted its 9-3X at the Geneva Motor Show, and while it's a new market for the Swedish brand (we'll try to forget about the body-on-frame 9-7X, thank you), we suspect that the lifted load-lugger will probably outsell the standard SportCombi by a healthy margin Stateside, given America's appetite for such things.

It's quite handsome in person and the inherently less-sharp handling of a sportstilts wagon ought to paper over the 9-3's occasionally soggy dynamics. Said another way, a lack of razor-sharp handling in the 9-3 platform would seem to be more appropriate/acceptable in a softroader than a sporty wagon or sedan.

While basically the same as the 2.0-liter Sportcombi, the 9-3X has a 1.4-inch higher stance and standard Cross-Wheel Drive (XWD), a fantastically grippy system that figures to give the new model sufficient softroading abilities to be a worthwhile alternative to the Subaru Outback or Volvo XC70. Other model-specific cues include contrasting lower cladding and flared fenders, unique 17-inch wheels, and a roof rack for safely displaying all of one's lifestyle accessories.

Given the effort to extract Saab from General Motors' portfolio and its uncertain future, there is a very real possibility that the 9-3X will be the last new Griffin-badged product we see in the States – the badly-needed 9-5 replacement is slated to debut before the year is out, but we expect it will go to European markets first, and there has been some talk of Saab withdrawing from North America entirely even if it continues to exist. While the 9-3X can't be fairly tasked with saving the company, it's a compelling-looking package that would appear to deserve a shot.

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