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Saab's Forester rival at Geneva

2009-02-11 13:25
Saab, embattled GM’s oddball Swedish division, has raised the 9-3 Sport Combi and enabled it with all-wheel drive.  

Due to be unveiled at the Geneva auto show early in March, Saab 9-3X aims to combine all the estate capaciousness from the Sport Combi with Swedish all-wheel drive know-how.

Rugged styling with a 20mm lift

Saab designers have set about the exterior with some glue and plastic, rendering new front bumpers featuring a dark grey finish with grained texture, which allegedly offers better mud protection for the surrounding lower-body panels.

The front fog lights (easy victims for South African dirt roads) do without mesh protectors, featuring chrome surrounds instead. Around the rear you get dual exhausts jutting out in the extreme corners of the bumper.

Beyond the inconsequential styling updates pandering to an image of ruggedness, the 9-3X has been raised 20mm, and it powers through Saab’s cross wheel drive (XWD) system, first seen on the 9-3 Turbo X performance sedan last year.

Saab's answer to Subaru's Forester. It does without low-range, has AWD and a limited-slip rear differential though. Looks good, too.

Traction certified Haldex drive

Designed by Swedish traction management experts Haldex, WXD features an electronically-controlled torque transfer device which reacts via hydraulic pressure to vary power between the front and rear axles.

Primarily front-wheel (like a standard 9-3) the degree of "slip" dictates how much drive is transmitted to the rear wheels via a standard limited slip differential (eLSD), which in turn manages traction slip between the two opposing wheels on the rear axle.

Powering the 9-3X are two engine options. Both are in-line four turbocharged engines, one a 2l petrol with E85 bio-ethanol compatibility, the other a compression ignition diesel displacing 1.9l.

With the petrol engine producing 156kW and the diesel 134kW and 400Nm, no matter which 9-3X you choose it should have enough power to provide reasonable performance despite the drag of the all-wheel drive system. 

The 9-3X should come to market in the US and Europe by September.


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