This is our first look at Saab's 9-4X - the car that kickstarts the brand's new model initiative. And although the 9-4X BioPower is labelled as a concept, the production car will look almost identical when it goes on sale in 2009.
Sharing a platform with the new Cadillac crossover, and drawing on the Aero X concept for styling cues, the 9-4X looks impressive. Ignore the 21-inch wheels and blacked-out windows, and this is what will go on sale next year.
The interior is further away from production though. Sliding out the back of the 9-4X concept is an aluminium ski holder, developed with the help of Salomon. It’ll hold three sets of skis and poles, two helmets, while a heated underfloor section will keep your boots nice and warm.
At the other end of the car, the dash takes cues from the Aero X’s interior with translucent green plastics across the sweeping dash. Hopefully this feature will make production – Volvo offers something similar as an option on many of its models.
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Saab 9-4X: the engines
Coming back down to earth, most of the technology on the 9-4X is production ready, including the headline-grabbing engine and four-wheel drive system. Power comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 300bhp and 295lb ft, helped by direction injection and VVT on both the inlet and exhaust sides. And of course it runs on E85 bioethanol, hence the BioPower label, helping to achieve that 150bhp per litre.
Whether it makes production in such a state of tune remains to be seen, but Saab is rightly smug that it never abandoned turbocharging, and as such doesn’t call the use of a smaller engines downsizing, but rightsizing.
Saab's 4x4 system
The other production-ready system is the four-wheel drive system called Saab XWD. It’s already been previewed on the 9-3, and as well as splitting torque between the front and rear axles, the electronically controlled limited-slip diff can shuffle torque between the rear wheels.
Also in the works from Saab is a new 9-5, a 9-3 using the Vauxhall Insigna platform, and a 9-1 to take on the BMW 1-series.
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