Teknikens Varld test the Saab 9-3x

Enough about the politics, eh?
What about the cars?
One of the three new vehicles that Saab will release over the next 18 months is the Saab 9-3x, which has received a great welcome so far from the press and is starting to roll off the production lines as we speak.
Tekniken’s Varld drove the vehicle recently and they compared it to one of the main competitors (especially in the Swedish market) – the Volvo XC70.
Scanned pictures from the magazine are available here. My thanks to Tompa for the quick translation.
Saab 9-3x
In the company’s most dire times ever, Saab launch a new model version that already on paper seems left behind. The new 9-3X takes up the terrainlook from amongst others, the Volvo XC70. We find out how much of a SUV the 9-3X really is.
The financial crisis hardly helps Saab that just now are undergoing it´s worst steelbath ever. The reconstruction of the company and search for a new owner might mean that new products come second, while it´s more important than ever to show off.
The “We can”- feeling is strong with the Saab people when we lay our Lovikka mittens on the first 9-3X in the area close to Jukkasjärvi in Lappland. The concept of a hightened Combi, all wheel drive and chunks of glued on plastic á la galonfabric pants have a taste more of millenium change rather than a bright future.
As early as 1998 the Volvo V70 XC was launched and two years later Audi launched it´s A6 Allroad. Internaly Saab has had several all wheel drive X models on the go for quite some time, but General Motors business plan has not always been in sync with Trollhättans “We can” mentality.
– We call the Saab 9-3X “Allrounder” instead of “Cross-over”, say Andreas Eskegren, Saab productstrategy. The 9-3X is supposed to deal with most things a small family demand from a Combi.
The 9-3X design may not be super fresh but the newsfactor is present when we study the car. Hightened suspention (35mm) together with other attributes give a all-terrain look. In addition the 2,0T BioPower (210hp/300Nm) can now be combined with XWD- all wheel drive wich at present places it as the only enviro car in it´s segment.

On the plowed iceroads outside of Jukkasjärvi it is noticeable that the 9-3X rides more comfortable than the 9-3SC XWD that we at the same time drove as a comparison. What has been lost in the increased ridehight is the some feeling of presence, but the 9-3X is fun to drive on ice and snow.
The engine options are three. 2,0T petrol or E85 and a 1,9TTiD diesel. All have 6-speed manual gearboxes. Six gear automatics are options for petrol and diesel engines. The diesel engine (180hp/400Nm) is only avalible with front wheel drive and the car is hightened 20mm.
-Because we have chosen front wheel drive for the TTiD the ridehight is equal to the to that of the 9-3X Xwd, say Emil Gaveling, driveline expert.
When it comes to sales Saab expect 85 percent to be the 2,0T BioPower and almost the rest to be the TTiD. Another newcomer in the 9-3X size segment is the Audi A4 Allroad wich price is a bit higher than that of the Saab at 340 200 compared to 319 900 for the 9-3X.
With us in Lappland we have the car that placed the “lifestyle combi concept” on the map in Sweden- Volvo XC70.
The Gothernburgian is a size larger than the Trollhättan foresttroll 9-3X, but Saabs expectations in selling 800 9-3X´s annually means competition for Volvo. Especially when the newcomer XC70 2,4D Driv-e with only frontwheel drive and a carbondioxide outlet of 159 grams per kilometer arrives this summer. The frontwheeldrive 9-3X TTiD only lets out 144 grams per kilometer.
It´s almost laughable how simillar the 9-3X is to the XC70. The same type of built out wheel arches, matte silver guards and a mix of flair and function aparently appeal to clients that sail, skies or at least wants it to appear that they do. With the BioPower engine rated at 210hp, a firmer chassis and an over all firmer road-feel, Saab is aming at the active family.
The Volvo XC70 feels like the more prudent of the two. On an icecourse between cones the 9-3X steers in a more precise way, specially when we go full throttle through the bends. The Volvo has a defined understeer and the Hakka 5 tyres have a hard time finding grip. The Saabs Michelin tyres have an easier task. The four wheel drive technique- Saabs XWD and Volvos AWD- comes from swedish Haldex. XWD deliveres the power faster and is more alert in it´s reactions. When equipped with active differential (eLSD) the Saab drive becomes even more controlled.
The active and unique Saab diferential eLSD costs 5900 kr extra but provide quite a bit, both in active driving and when smaller obsticles in terrain is forced.
Quietly the 9-3X rolls over the bumpy lapplandian lakeice, almost at every time with full grip. XC70 D5 (The petrolversion 3,2V6 is hardly sold in Sweden) answers with a smooth Geartronic-automatic and Hill Descent- function that allows for even constant speed up and down hill.
Interior-wise the larger size is to Volvos advantage but also the execution. Larger efforts have been put on details and a better quality feel weighs over to Volvos advantage (Tom´s note: Thats a load of BS.. Go see your local Volvo dealer.. 1980´s Japanese plastic. Here the Swedishnes of not badmouthing Volvo too much shines through.)
Skiers appreciate the foldable rear seat in portions of 40/20/40 that allows four skiers to secure their skis. Saab maintain the 40/60 division wich gives less flexibility and comfort for the rear passengers.
It´s important to be seen when driving a lifestyle combi. Every effort have been placed on the exterior. The interiors looks like the everyday versions of the 9-3SC and the V70. Vi miss a bit of identity in the interiors. Cooler upholstry and a tougher look on the accents is not enough to shout out the message of an active cool lifestyle.
-The 9-3X is a unique product in Saabs range. equipmentwise it´s close to the 9-3 Aero XWD, say Andreas Eskegren. Aero is the countryroad sprinter, while the 9-3X aims at the client that wants to go to the startingpoint of a wider adventure. This is a sales pitch that could go for the XC70 aswell.
We tick off the sights in the Kiruna area. The spacerange Esrange, the Icehotel, LKAB (Iron ore mines). In Norrland the distances are huge and the increased ridehight suits the cold damaged rods.
The first impression of the 9-3X is that it is sporty enough in it´s segment, especially compared to the Teddy bear XC70.