The Saab 9-4X is coming. After years of drought Saab is finally on a roll and things are certainly looking up for the beleaguered Swedish marque – although many would say it’s way too little and far too late.
Beneath the cladding disguise is the production version of the 9-4X show car that made its entrance at the Detroit auto show at the beginning of 2008. CAR Online has now caught the 9-4X testing alongside its Cadillac BRX sibling. The crossover, due to arrive in 2010, will sit at the top of the Saab line-up and, our sources say – bar a few very small changes – the production car will be a dead ringer for the Detroit concept.
Which means what for the Saab 9-4X?
Which means a smart four-wheel drivetrain and a green powerplant. The Saab’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-pot runs on E85 fuel and features trick variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust. In the 9-4X BioPower concept this meant 300bhp and 295lb ft; expect the production car's engine to have similar outputs.
All that power and torque is handled by Saab’s XWD part-time four-wheel drive layout that divvies up torque between axles depending on traction levels, and uses a limited-slip differential to shift torque between the rear axles.
Saab is also considering offering its novel Performance Assist system as an extra-cost option on the 9-4X. This hybrid drivetrain uses an auxiliary 30bhp electric motor to provide short range zero-emissions mobility and to bolster throttle response while the turbo spools up.
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It doesn't exactly shriek ‘Saab!’ does it?
It may do without traditional Saab styling cues like a clamshell bonnet and wrap-around windscreen, but at least the 9-4X will enjoy some mechanical differentiation from its Cadillac and GM cousins. The advanced flexibility of GM’s new Theta chassis architecture has enabled Saab’s owner to engineer the 9-4X with a double-wishbone suspension set-up (lowlier GM volume models will make do with a MacPherson front axle and a four-link rear layout) and, uniquely, offer air suspension.
What about inside the Saab 9-4X?
The concept car's interior architecture was basically production-ready. We hope the translucent green plastics that also appeared on the Aero X will remain. Volvo offers something similar but GM's tight purse strings could mean all the flair is lost.
There is however some pretty smart packaging going on – the Saab will get an optional third row of seats which folds flat, Zafira-style. Expect prices from over £27,000 when the 9-4X finally reaches our shores in 2010.