Robert Collin covers the Saab 9-3x

I’ve covered some of the other early road tests of the Saab 9-3x already: Alltommotor, CAR Magazine and a summary of others from Teknikens, SVT and Auto Motor and Sport.
Now, it’s Aftonbladet, and for all of you non-Swedes reading this, Robert Collin is the motoring writer for Aftonbladet, one of the bigger Swedish newspapers out there.
This Saab 9-3x review is another very quick piece and is as much of an opinion article as it is a road test, but I thought it important to cover because in my experience, at least, Collin has come across as more of a Volvo guy than a Saab guy.
His opinion on this one is therefore somewhat significant in terms of the coverage it will receive and the impact it might have.
The headline tells a fair bit:

Saab’s Last (?) – A pearl.
The Saab 9-3X model is ready for production. With four-wheel drive, high ground clearance and extra plastic.
This may be Saab’s last model. But if the 9-3X will be the last Saab then it seems Trollhättan [will depart] with the flag at the top. The car is looking really good.

As mentioned, it’s only a short piece, and it goes on to describe the makeup of the vehicle. There’s plenty of praise for the tractability of the XWD system, but the highest praise is saved for the comfortable ride.
I’ve had just one email swap with Robert Collin since this whole GM Crisis began last month. He may be a Volvo guy at heart but from what I know, he’s also concerned about the potential loss of Saab on the Swedish automotive and national landscapes.
I hope his opinion on the Saab 9-3x is widely read and attracts attention. This is but the first of three news cars from Saab and of those, it’s the least of the difference makers to the current range.
I’m sure that what Saab has coming down the pipeline will be even better received if they only get the opportunity.

CAR review the Saab 9-3x

The first paragraph of this Saab 9-3x review from CAR Magazine says it all, really.

Road testing any Saab in the current anvil-off-a-cliff company climate feels uncomfortably akin to reviewing a restaurant which has just served up perfectly roasted slices of the last remaining dodo. And road testing the new 9-3X is all the more frustrating for the fact that it should have been with us a good decade ago.

A well executed car that’s being served up too late by a chef who’s possibly just killed off his stock in trade. Or so it would seem if you were a pessimist and figured Saab were dead. I choose to believe.
So what we’ve got then, is a well executed car that’ll be released later this year.
A few of CAR’s thoughts:

Thoroughbred, or nag, then?
First impressions would favour the former. With only two prototypes at its disposal, Saab forbade so much as one inch of real world driving in favour of a test track snow-ploughed onto the surface of a frozen lake. Though this makes it impossible to report on quite how well the car would tackle Basildon at 9.30 on a Friday night, slithering about on frozen water for a day does admirably demonstrate the 9-3’s wholesale transformation from cow on ice to something more akin to husky; the XWD system shunting power to and fro with admirable alacrity and the LSD adding perceptible levels of extra traction and stability astern…..
….This is definitely one of the better cars we might never get to drive.

It’s a worthwhile read, if only for the first page’s long look at exactly why we’re getting the Saab 9-3x so late.
They exaggerate a bit claiming it’s 10 years ago that Saab could have done this. More like 5-7 years, really, but after the Hot Hatch Poll it’s just nice to see the guys at CAR still writing about Saabs.

Saab 9-3x early review

Alltommotor were one of the Swedish motoring mags to get a ticket to the recent Saab 9-3x test drive at Jukkasjarvi and they’ve just published their quick Saab 9-3x review online.
They must be feeling a little cheeky this weekend as they’ve rated the car as being 4 Mauds out of 5!
Those of you who read Swedish might want to click through at that link and read the story for yourselves in full.
The rest of you will have to be satisfied with my interpretation of a googletrans:

  • They really like the 9-3x and the segment that it’s moving to, which they see as a growing area: cars that can handle the rougher stuff without being full blown SUVs. The bonus is much better fuel economy.
  • Diesel is not available with XWD due to cost constraints. The trade off is the excellent economy and low emissions with the FWD twin-turbo diesel.
  • The added height means you can handle the rougher stuff but the Saab remains stable and is suited to more ‘active’ driving
  • Saab enthusiasts should love it, but they wonder if it will win people from other brands, whether it makes the technical leap needed to do that.

Overall, they give a very positive impression of the car. As the first shot out of the locker in Saab’s new model program, it should be a good one. One they can build on, I dare to hope.
Swede-speakers and others might also want to click through for the video they have there. There’s some rolling footage of the 9-3x as well as some face time with Jan-Ake Jonsson (screenshot below 🙂

Saab 9-3x test drive snippets

The article about Jan-Ake Jonsson that I published earlier was set in northern Sweden where a bunch of Swedish journalists are test driving the Saab 9-3x.
Saab 9-3x
ctm’s been kind enough to track some of their initial thoughts about the car.
From Teknikens Varld:

  • Looks much better in real life than in pictures.
  • Manages the test track very well. If one buys this car, one should go for the eLSD option
  • Feels much more like a passenger car than, for example, Volvo XC70.


  • Too bad Saab didn’t gave the car some treatment on the inside to match the outside.
  • Too **** bad that this car didn’t arrive five years ago or more.


  • A new version that is planned to raise the sale with 5%.
  • The look and the attitude is the main thing.
  • Much better in terrain; otherwise like a normal 9-3 with XWD – and that means good.
  • Biggest drawback is that the diesel is not available with XWD, That will scare away some European buyers.

From Alsommotor:
JAJ claims they should be able to sell 3,000-4,000 cars per year.

  • It’s a good looking car. Comfortable, good seats, and very good handling.

From Auto Motor and Sport:

  • Winter driving gives a much better illustration of it’s handling characteristics that the Turbo X tests we did in dry weather previously.
  • Very comfortable suspension setup
  • Ground clearance really makes a difference for mobility
  • Disappointing about the lack of diesel and XWD. Just not economically viable for Saab at the moment.

Thanks ctm!

2009 Saab 9-3 Aero with XWD – Auto123 review

Auto123 have published a pretty good, slightly frustrating, somewhat baffling and downright staggering review of the 2009 Saab 9-3 Aero. Most of all, it’s a good review, though.
It’s looking good in red, though I must admit I’m wondering what a darker red would look like on this car. Anyway…..
The review is quite good in that the reviewer is very enthusiastic about the car. He covers pretty much all areas of the car and has a lot of good things to say.

Let’s make it clear: a Saab is not your Average Joe’s car. A bit like Ferraris, each model from this Scandinavian automaker has unique little quirks which require some getting used to. Brand faithful have no problem with that, while everybody else fumes…..
….Up until now, I would have never imagined that a Saab interior could be as quiet as a BMW 335i’s. Furthermore, when I first sat behind the wheel of the 2009 9-3 Aero XWD, I expected to feel overwhelming torque steer, especially when the turbo kicks in. My fears were quickly dispelled.

This sort of positivity permeates the review, and that’s the slightly frustrating part of things.
Almost all recent reviews of the Saab 9-3 have been pretty positive. The main complaint is pricing, but everyone appreciates the driving characteristics of the car, especially the XWD system.
What’s frustrating about that is Saab really do have a good car on their hands right at the time when their existence is so tenuous. GM haven’t given Saab adequate resources to market it and now all this talk of a Saab sale is going to drown out any positives that the cars themselves might provide.
The somewhat baffling part is the reviewer’s awarding of only 3.5 stars for safety. A five star rating from the actual safety agencies and multiple Safety Pick awards from the IIHS aren’t good enough for ya?
The staggering part is pretty well summed up at the end of the review:

During my road test, I came across another Saab 9-3 Aero owner who, much to my surprise, claimed that he was disappointed. According to him, the car has one major shortcoming that ruins the entire experience. It’s a “design flaw” that reportedly makes you forget about the incredible handling, clever ergonomics, orthopedic front seats and great build quality: the trunk!
The man argued that four golf bags can’t fit in the back of the car.

As the author has mentioned, the fact that a once-a-week hobby could override a seven-days-a-week enjoyment is just stupid.
Don’t his friends have vehicles, too? Can’t they carry their own bags? Did you size up the trunk before you bought?
Sometimes I think our expectations as lazy fat-arsed gimme-gimme-gimme consumers are just way out of whack.

Saab Turbo X: best review yet

Thanks to Jamie W for sending me a link to the best Saab Turbo X review I’ve seen so far.
It’s not the best because it’s a glowing piece full of nothing but praise. Not at all. As a matter of fact they only award it three stars out of five, which isn’t exactly fireworks and marching bands.
It’s the best review I’ve seen because it’s objective and honest, and it doesn’t resort to lazy prose to tell you the story of what is Saab’s most advanced vehicle to date.
The review is from Fifth Gear.

Never mind the looks, though; what really matters is what you can’t see, its four-wheel drive. This is Saab’s first ever four-wheel drive system, but it’s one of the most advanced in the world – as well it needs to be, given that Audi’s famous Quattro system came to market many years ago – and General Motors was so impressed with Saab’s work that the Swedish company will now lead all of GM’s future work in this area…..
….Probably the most important thing is that, yes, the XWD does its job, but you have to really concentrate to spot it in action. That alone is a sure sign that Saab’s engineers have done their job well….
….Away from the track and out on the road, it’s that feeling of safety that is the abiding memory of a drive in the Turbo X. You may not have the kind of sensations that you would in a BMW 3 series, for example, but for crossing country in comfort at a decent lick, this Saab is hard to beat.

That’s a taster for you. There’s three pages of it and anyone considering the Turbo X should read it.
It’s not the best car in the world, but it’s the best 9-3 that’s come so far, and if you’re into Saabs then this is the ducks guts.

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