2.0T XWD Sports Wagon
needed good news for Saab
customers is the arrival of the new
9-3X Sports Wagon. Aimed at the
crossover estate sector, it comes with
an entry price of just £24,995 for the
1.9TTiD front-wheel drive model...
9-3X IS AVAILABLE with a choice of two engines: the 1.9TTiD diesel unit producing
178bhp and 295lb ft of torque, or the 2.0-litre petrol turbocharged four-cylinder
engine with 207bhp with the additional benefit of Saab's technically
advanced Cross Wheel Drive system (XWD). Both engines, incidentally, offer the
extra-cost option of an automatic transmission; £1,371 for the diesel unit and
£1,511 for the turbocharged petrol engine.
Saab's traditional distinctive design language is visible throughout the 9-3X,
as well as a host of technology that provides more safety and improved dynamics
for drivers including ESP electronic stability programme and ABS anti-lock braking,
with cross wheel drive (XWD) available on the 2.0T engine.
All models come with high levels of equipment including leather and textile
sport seats, heated front seats, cruise control, 9-speaker audio system with
MP3 compatibility, sports leather steering wheel, dual-zone electronic climate
control, car computer, matt chrome roof rails and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Being a 'premium' product, the Saab 9-3X crossover Sports Wagon competes against
the more expensive Audi A4 Allroad and the Subaru Legacy Outback which is more
or less the same price. Of course there are loads of chunkier SUVs in two- and
four-wheel drive guise that also compete for sales in this sector.
During a very brief test drive the most interesting issue for me was
just who is going to buy this car? Saab's answer for the UK market was: "Independent-minded
people who enjoy life, culture, outdoors, sports and family life. These are
people with active lifestyles who have demands for versatility." If you fit
that description, read on…
Saab in the UK said the front-wheel drive 1.9-litre diesel model will be the
most popular. So it would appear that the SUV styling with black wheelarch edging
and front and rear underbody skid-plates appeals more to buyers than the 'X'
all-wheel drive system which comes as standard with the 2.0-litre turbocharged
However, GM only brought the 2.0T to the media test event, probably to impress
us with the all-wheel drive system similar to the layout used for some
Insignia models. And it has been the sales success of the Insignia range that
has done away with the need for GM in Europe to have a separate 'premium' brand
because the Insignia more than adequately covers that sector.
impression of the 9-3X Sports Wagon was the traditional Saab styling and quality
inside and out. The extra 35mm of ground clearance and added exterior bodywork
protection hints at its tough 'go anywhere' nature but in truth the all-wheel
drive system is meant to cope with wet, icy, snowy and muddy roads and the occasional
gravel tracks. It also provides for better cornering grip on dry surfaces so
on road driving safety is good as well.
inside and out...
The 2.0-litre 207bhp petrol engine is no ball of fire but with 221lb ft of torque
available from 2,500rpm it is responsive when it needs to be and relaxed when
cruising. Top speed is 143mph and 0-62mph takes 8.5 seconds. Officially this
model will return 34.9mpg but only 23.5mpg on my brief but fast
test drive. The CO2 emissions are 194g/km so the VED road tax is £215 until
the end of March 2010 and from April the new higher first year rate starts so
it will cost £425 before returning to £235 annually from then on. 'Efficient
but not that impressive' sums up the engine.
Drive to all wheels is via a slick 6-speed manual gearbox (an auto option is
available at extra cost) and the drive system has variable power split between
the front and rear axles via an electronic limited slip differential. On the
road it feels safe and well planted, with loads of well balanced cornering grip
and sharp steering. There is a seamless supply of variable drive to the front
and rear wheels so again driving performance is predictable.
Given the high safety equipment, the superb comfort from the seats and the suspension,
this Saab struck me as being ideal for use as a roomy, load carrying, long journey
car which will cope with most road conditions. Ideal for going off to the ski
slopes or vets and rural doctors could justify being brave and buy a
Saab 9-3X 2.0T Sports Wagon because it is well priced and different.
Against: Unknown future of Saab, potentially low residual value and high running
costs. Reasons to try 'n' buy include scarcity ownership value, classic Saab
styling inside and out, comprehensive equipment, comfortable and roomy and excellent
road holding and cornering grip. David Miles
Saab 9-3X 2.0T XWD Sports Wagon | £25,995
Maximum speed: 143mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds | Overall test MPG: 23.5mpg
Power: 207bhp | Torque: 221lb ft | CO2 194g/km | Insurance group 15E