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At the Geneva motor show in March, Saab will introduce the 9-3X -- a new addition to the 9-3 range available as of Model Year 2010.

The Saab 9-3X is a rugged all-round car designed to take active individualists to the start of their adventure.  With distinctive looks, a versatile SportCombi body, higher stance and advanced all-wheel drive technology, the 9-3X offers fuel efficiency and functional storage without limiting the kinds of roads that need to be driven.  It is the ideal alternative to large and heavy crossovers or SUVs. 

For the first time, Saab couples its E85-capable BioPower engine technology with the acclaimed Cross Wheel Drive (XWD) system.  The 9-3X is also available with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine.  A 1.9 TTiD diesel variant comes with front-wheel drive.  All three fuel variants are efficient, four-cylinder engines turbocharged for added power.  Overall, the 9-3X embodies Saab’s EcoPower Technology philosophy, combining a dynamic driving experience with an efficient use of resources to achieve responsible performance.

 
New Saab 9-3X on test in Southern Sweden


Distinctive Appeal

Saab designers raised the chassis 35 mm higher than that seen on a standard two-wheel drive SportCombi so it can handle a rugged driving terrain. It is specifically designed for those who frequently hit gravel or unpaved roads, without compromising the driving experience on asphalt. 

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.” 

New front and rear bumpers feature 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 treatment is complemented by skid panels with a matt 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. Black roof rails are standard, with a chromed finish available as an option. Visible, twin round exhaust tailpipes are standard for all engine options. Front fog lights ringed with a chrome finish add yet another rugged accent. 

With the addition of newly designed, multi-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, the 9-3X’s exterior character reflects its ability to handle mixed road conditions, whether rough or smooth, loose or paved.

Inside, the 9-3X interior is based on top-of-the-line specification, adding a dark metallic finish to the door trims, glove box and gearshift surround. The unique sports seating features gray fabric inserts in the black leather upholstery. 


Total Traction

At the heart of the 9-3X is Saab’s cutting-edge XWD system.  It is an intelligent, active system that continuously distributes engine drive torque between the front and rear axles as required for optimum stability and grip in all conditions. 

The hardware includes an electronically-controlled Torque Transfer Device (TTD), which varies power delivery between the axles. A valve increases or reduces hydraulic pressure on wet clutch plates inside the TTD to progressively engage or disengage the rear axle. The degree of ‘slip’ dictates how much drive is transmitted to the rear wheels. An optional rear limited slip differential (eLSD) operates on the same principle, splitting drive across the axle to whichever wheel has more grip.

For the first time the 9-3X mates a 2.0-liter turbo BioPower engine (210 hp/ 155 kW/ 300 Nm) with XWD, combining a bioethanol capability with all-wheel drive. The six-speed manual gearbox complements the sporty styling.  As part of the Swedish-manufacturer’s rightsizing strategy, it is also offering a 2.0-liter gasoline turbo with similar output. The gasoline engine is fitted with six-speed manual or automatic transmission. 

The diesel variant, a 1.9 TTiD two-stage turbo motor (180 hp/132 kW/400 Nm) with front wheel drive, emits less than 145 grams of CO2 per kilometer.  This engine, too, will be available with manual and automatic transmission. Unlike the other models, this 9-3X variant has a chassis raised 20 mm higher than regular 9-3 variants with front wheel drive, maintaining that rugged styling. 


Form meets function in stowage area 

Regardless of the motor chosen, the 9-3X also is designed to make loading sports and leisure equipment easy, matching form with function. The rear cargo area, with a low floor, is surprisingly spacious and well-proportioned. The compact design of the rear suspension allows a deep box-like space, free from intrusions, offering a useful rear seat up/down volume of  477/1331liters (VDA). 

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 2.5 meter-long items. 

The fully carpeted rear load space is illuminated by two interior lights mounted on the inside of the D-pillars. It is accessed by a lightly-weighted tailgate that opens down to bumper level, its damper rods completely hidden in the roof to allow a clear, uncluttered opening. The flush-fitted, black molded floor plate will not become marked or scratched in heavy use.

The 9-3X's TwinFloor stowage facility, too, helps keep luggage and equipment safe and tidy. The middle section of the floor hinges upwards transversely when the handle is pulled so that the front edge fits into two retaining slots. 

There is also a 12-volt power socket in the main load area (for a hot or cool box) and a separate storage compartment at either side of the floor, one fitted with a molded holder for large bottles.

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    As the final round, the Galloway Hills Rally was not a scoring round for us and my driver took the decision not to contest it, giving me a chance to dust off the 99 for another blast through the woods. Martin MacCabe, a Scottish Championship regular kindly agreed to read the notes. With a two car team bolstered by Grant Inglis in his lovely new MK2 Escort we made a good spectacle as the service barges towed us into the Rally HQ in the pretty town of Castle Douglas.

     
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    The SAAB Owners Club recognises the importance of the Motorsport heritage of the marque and provides sponsorship to those members of the club who are competing in Motorsport at various levels.

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    East Anglia Saab Branch

    Hold their meeting the first Thursday of every month at The Woolpack, The Street, Fornham St, Martin, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP31 1SW and the meetings start at 7.00pm

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