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By Anthony ffrench-Constant
02 March 2009 09:00
Road testing any Saab in the current anvil-off-a-cliff company climate feels uncomfortably akin to reviewing a restaurant which has just served up perfectly roasted slices of the last remaining dodo. And road testing the new 9-3X is all the more frustrating for the fact that it should have been with us a good decade ago.
Apportioning blame for this sorry state of affairs is tricky, but, I feel, worth a punt… When I spoke to the President of General Motors Europe, Carl-Peter Forster, in Sweden last summer, he intonated that the company could have done more for Saab, but was powerless until they had total control in 2000. ‘The 50:50 was a difficult set-up’ he told me. ‘It doesn’t allow us to influence the work of the company. It means you can make suggestions, but you basically have to wait until people come to you to ask for support. If they don’t do that, you can’t do much. I think we could have gained considerably more by working together, but that didn’t happen, and I suppose we haven’t done as much as we could…’
Had Saab’s Managing Director not chosen that moment to splosh rapidly off into the sunset aboard his agreeable rib, it would have been interesting to hear his perspective back then… Yet, the fact is, today, Saab maintains it had the 9-3X on the starting blocks a good 10 years ago and GM said no.
Somebody must have said yes at some stage since, however, because Saab also now has a 9-4X waiting in the wings - which will be more in the SUV/crossover mould - and the 9-5 is slated for similar treatment. So whilst the bridge rings for full steam ahead, the engine room has to report a complete absence of coal in the bunkers…
All of which does add a certain weight to Saab’s protestations that GM has been, euphemistically, ‘inconsistent’. Either way, Saab is left lumbering penniless into the Volvo XC60 marketplace over a decade late whilst, ahem, GM’s own, perfectly acceptable four-wheel-drive system is already snugly installed in the Insignia.
Visually, the 9-3X is essentially a Sport Wagon bodyshell emboldened by lashings of the requisite yomping paraphernalia. The inevitable plastic nappies – somewhat clumsily executed round the front air dam – abound, trimmed on the flanks with matt aluminium. Off-road credentials are further reinforced by matt aluminium underbody skid trays which pout into a front end chin strap and a magazine down the trousers astern. Twin tail pipes and a bespoke, two-tone interior with fancy trim complete the overhaul. Everything else is pretty much where you left it in the conventional 9-3, which is an entirely good thing in term of driving position, seat comfort, ergonomics and instrument clarity.>> Click next to read more of CAR's review of the Saab 9-3X
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Saab 9-3X 2.0T (2009) CAR review
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RE: Saab 9-3X 2.0T (2009) CAR review
Kenilworth, I challenge you to go down to your dealer and ask for a 'SAAB 9-3x XWD 180 BHP TTDI with eLSD MP3 ABS and ESP, ASAP' whilst keeping a straight face.
04 March 2009 16:03
It's a great shame we do not have a TTDI 180 BHP XWD 9-3x now. That car, with eLSD, would make a superb replacement for my 900.
04 March 2009 12:59
Mark93 - you're right. SAABs are not just re-skinned Vectras. They re-skinned a Subaru at one point, too.
03 March 2009 18:21
A lot of cognoscenti look forward to new 9-5 , 9-4 and 9-1 hoping they will have maximum SAAB character...
GM now says they are dissappointed by SAABs performance in all the years...but GM did not invest in a new 9-5 ...the old one now in the market for unbelievable 12 yrs!!!...a highly unprofessional handling of type replacement!
...GM did not invest in a SAAB premium compact in BMW1 or AudiA3 class contrary to Fords investment in Volvo C30...
...GM did not in time invest in a SAAB SUV, but Ford did with XC90 and now smaller XC60...
...GM did not invest in time in SAAB 4WD versions-contrary to Ford in several Volvo XC70...
..,and then GM- full of hypocrisy- blames SAAB for decreasing turnover etc. although GM has been in full controll of SAAB all the time...
...you must feed a cow to get milk!
...hopefully the future of leading safety and turbo pioneer SAAB can be secured !
Vivat, crescat, floreat!
03 March 2009 14:40
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