All the talk about Saab being sold or discontinued loses site of one thing: the automaker is still a viable, albeit small player in the world of fine European automobiles.
A case in point is the all new 9-3X Crossover, a vehicle which adds a positive light to the brand’s popular 9-3 franchise. Along with a convertible, sedan and a wagon, the 2010 Saab 9-3X Crossover completes the 9-3 line, giving Saab the right mix of vehicles in a bid to compete effectually in the tough premium small vehicle segment.
According to General Motors, the 9-3X features Saab’s respected Cross Wheel Drive (XWD) system. The XWD made its debut in the Turbo X limited edition model last year and will be combined with the fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. The 9-3X represents Saab’s “EcoPower” technology school of thought, which aims at uniting an energizing driving experience with an efficient use of resources to accomplish trustworthy performance.
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.”
On the exterior of Saab’s new crossover, the front and rear bumpers sport 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 artistic style is complemented by skid panels with a matte 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 conspicuous touch.
Underneath the 9-3X, the hardware includes an electronically-controlled Torque Transfer Device (TTD), which varies power transfer between the axles. A valve increases or reduces hydraulic pressure on wet clutch plates inside the TTD to progressively secure 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 rule, splitting drive across the axle to whichever wheel has more grip.
Inside, the 9-3X is designed to make loading sports and leisure equipment effortless, matching form with function. The rear cargo area, with a low floor, is amazingly roomy and well-proportioned. The compact design of the rear suspension allows a deep box-like space, unbound from intrusions, offering multipurpose rear seat up/down space.
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 9-3X will make its official debut at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show in March. The vehicle will go on sale later this summer as a 2010 model, completing the 9-3 range with its fourth and perhaps most significant design.