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Saab 9-3X (2009 - 2011)

X MARKS THE SPOT (some text hidden)

By Andy Enright

Introductionword count: 187

Saab has always been a car-maker liable to do things a little differently. So when the time came to develop the kind of SUV 4x4 that all its competitors had, the Swedish brand didn't bother. Instead, we've got this - the 9-3X. In truth, this approach may have more to do with lack of development funds than any real wilful desire on the part of the Trolhattan company to buck market trends but it does have the happy result of producing a car that could be a rather sensible solution for many customers. The 9-3X joins a small but significant group of compact - and not so compact - executive estate cars that also offer some modicum of off road ability. At one end of this sector, there are cars like Subaru's Forester and Skoda's Octavia Scout: at the other, there are Audi's expensive A4 and A6 allroad models. Originally priced mid-way between these two extremes, this Saab now looks great value on the used market thanks to this Swedish brand's demise and aims to offer the best of both. Let's check it out in used form.

Modelsword count: 6

5dr estate (2.0 petrol, 1.9 diesel)

Historyword count: 196

This shape of Saab's 9-3 wagon dates back to 2005 but the proportions and much of the detailing still look remarkably fresh. The car got some interior revisions in early 2007 and some exterior updates later that year, but some big news came twelve months later when the Saab 9-3 XWD system was unveiled. This 'cross wheel drive' chassis was innovative and rather costly to produce, driving paymasters General Motors into a rather spectacular fit of pique. The Audi allroad-style go-almost-anywhere 9-3X estate that would use this system didn't land until 2009 and it arrived into a rapidly changing automotive environment. Its engines felt a little bit old, the interior of the car felt outdated and most of Saab's efforts had been spent on updating the bigger 9-5 model. The 9-3X felt, and was, a car that started off as a good idea but which was starved of budget. Sales weren't helped by persistent rumblings of Saab's financial collapse and, after interminable death throes in which it was jettisoned by General Motors, bought by Spyker and then sales of its assets and licenses to a Chinese investor were blocked by GM, the company filed for bankruptcy.

What You Getword count: 212

The 9-3X still looks good now, with its well judged body addenda and modest ride height increase. Unlike many vehicles that campaign in this class, the Saab offers some serious carrying capacity. There's 419 litres available with the rear seats in place and a whopping 1,273 litres of space available with the seats folded down. The recessed sub floor allows valuables to be stowed out of the view of prying eyes and can also be used to store wet or dirty gear without muddying everything else up. Despite its sporting looks, the rear hatch is actually fairly steeply raked, allowing for additional carrying capacity. This is where rivals such as the Audi A4 allroad fall down, favouring style over practicality. Saab aims to offer both. The rest of the package isn't too shabby either. All models get ESP and ABS as well as leather & textile sport seats, heated front seats, cruise control, a 9-speaker audio system with MP3 compatibility, a sport leather steering wheel, dual-zone electronic climate control, a trip computer, matt chrome roof rails and 17” alloy wheels. There's also a Turbo boost gauge that's also styled after that of the iconic 99 Turbo. It's just a shame that the famous Aztec alloy wheels from that car weren't carried over.

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Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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