Despite an uncertain future, Saab will continue adding more product to its portfolio next month when it debuts the 2010 9-3X at the Geneva Motor Show. The 9-3X is a jacked up version of the 9-3 SportCombi that employs the Swedish brand's Cross Wheel Drive (XWD) system that first debuted on the sporty Turbo X sedan. It sits 1.4 inches higher than the standard SportCombi on new multi-spoke 17-inch wheels and is powered solely by Saab's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The exterior also features new styling elements that reinforce the high-riding wagon's prowess when the road gets gravely, including this segment's obligatory two-tone paint scheme that highlights its flared fenders. The 9-3X also comes with roof rails to carry your surf board and skis, skid panels fore and aft for when the curbs get really high and twin tail pipes. The new 9-3X looks ready to pick up where the late 9-2X – which was actually a rebadged Subaru WRX – left off. The 9-3X, however, is all Saab... err... GM.
The Smart All-Rounder For Outdoor Enthusiasts
New Saab 9-3X World Premiere at Geneva Motor Show
DETROIT – At the Geneva motor show in March, Saab will introduce the 9-3X -- a new addition to the 9-3 range, becoming available in the 2010 as of Model Year. Designed for people with active lifestyles who don't want a large Crossover or SUV, the sporty 9-3X is scheduled to make its American debut at the New York auto show in April.
The Saab 9-3X is a rugged all-round car designed to take active individualists to the start of their adventure. With distinctive looks, a versatile SportCombi body, higher stance and advanced all-wheel drive technology, the 9-3X offers fuel efficiency and functional storage without limiting the kinds of roads that need to be driven.
In the 9-3X, the acclaimed Saab Cross Wheel Drive (XWD) system – which made its debut in the Turbo X limited edition model last year – will be combined with the fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. Overall, the 9-3X embodies Saab's "EcoPower" technology philosophy, which aims at combining a dynamic driving experience with an efficient use of resources to achieve responsible performance.
Saab designers raised the chassis of the two-wheel drive 9-3 SportCombi 35 mm (1.4 inches) higher, so the 9-3X can handle a rugged driving terrain. It is specifically designed for those who frequently hit gravel or unpaved roads, without compromising the driving experience on asphalt.
The Saab 9-3X is a car in tune with the less-is-more needs of today's customers. "The 9-3X is an efficient all-rounder for anyone who doesn't want or need an SUV- type vehicle," says Simon Padian, Saab Brand Design Chief. "Simply put, we are offering a trekking shoe that will do what's required in more comfort and style than a heavier mountaineering boot."
New front and rear bumpers feature a dark gray, grained finish that is also applied to the side sills and the edges of the wheel arches as a protective covering when the terrain becomes loose or muddy. This treatment is complemented by skid panels with a matt aluminum finish, curving up towards the door opening at the rear and adopting a wing form in the lip of the lower front bumper. These are matched by matte, aluminum-colored lower door decor strips. Roof rails and visible, twin round exhaust tailpipes are standard. Front fog lights ringed with a chrome finish add yet another bold accent.
With the addition of newly designed, multi-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, the 9-3X's exterior character reflects its ability to handle mixed road conditions, whether rough or smooth, loose or paved. Inside, the 9-3X interior is based on top-of-the-line specification, adding a dark metallic finish to the door trims, glove box and gearshift surround.
At the heart of the 9-3X is Saab's cutting-edge XWD system. It is an intelligent, active system that continuously distributes engine drive torque between the front and rear axles as required for optimum stability and grip in all conditions.
The hardware includes an electronically-controlled Torque Transfer Device (TTD), which varies power delivery between the axles. A valve increases or reduces hydraulic pressure on wet clutch plates inside the TTD to progressively engage or disengage the rear axle. The degree of 'slip' dictates how much drive is transmitted to the rear wheels. A standard rear limited slip differential (eLSD) operates on the same principle, splitting drive across the axle to whichever wheel has more grip.
As part of the Swedish-manufacturer's rightsizing strategy, the 9-3X will come to the U.S. with Saab's hallmark 2.0-liter gasoline turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain, offering 210 horsepower. Complementing the sporty exterior styling, the engine is mated with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Form meets function in luggage area
The 9-3X is also designed to make loading sports and leisure equipment easy, matching form with function. The rear cargo area, with a low floor, is surprisingly spacious and well-proportioned. The compact design of the rear suspension allows a deep box-like space, free from intrusions, offering a useful rear seat up/down volume of 29.7/72.3 cubic feet .
The 60/40 split rear seat-back incorporates a ski-hatch and folds down without any need to move the fixed seat cushion. The fold-down front passenger seat-back also makes it possible to carry items that are as long as 8 feet.
The fully carpeted rear load space is illuminated by two interior lights mounted on the inside of the D-pillars. It is accessed by a lightly-weighted tailgate that opens down to bumper level, its damper rods completely hidden in the roof to allow a clear, uncluttered opening. The flush-fitted, black molded floor plate has been designed to stay scratch-free even in heavy use.
The TwinFloor stowage facility, too, helps keep luggage and equipment safe and tidy. The middle section of the floor hinges upwards transversely when the handle is pulled so that the front edge fits into two retaining slots. There is also a 12-volt power socket in the main load area (for a hot or cool box) and a separate storage compartment at either side of the floor, one fitted with a molded holder for large bottles.
Arriving for the 2010 model year, the 9-3X is expected to arrive in Saab showrooms throughout the United States this fall. Pricing will be announced at the start of the model year.