Autoweek look at the Saab 9-2x

This week internet car dudes Autoweek have taken a closer look at the Saab 9-2x.  What do they see?  Well, like all the BB stuff around the web that I’ve read, and all the stuff I’ve written here, they think the changes to the base Rex are worthwhile, that the car looks better as a Saab and that the interior is sorely lacking from a makeover similar to what was performed on the sheetmetal outside.

It makes for interesting reading, especially the owner’s comments at the end.

Story continues over the fold….

2005 Saab 9-2X Aero

The first ever Saabaru: Japanese genes, Swedish massage
Published Date: 3/28/05

LIKES
Turbo Engine
All-wheel drive
Upscale styling
DISLIKES
Notchy shifter
Cheap WRX interior
No power seats
OTHERS CONSIDERED
Subaru WRX Wagon
Acura TSX
Volkswagen Golf R32

When Saab introduced a rebadged version of the Subaru Impreza WRX wagon, it wasn’t only the Saab faithful who raised a brow.

It seemed just about every street-corner car critic
had something to say. After all, this wasn’t a Chevy morphing into a
Pontiac. Crossbreeding Subaru and Saab felt like, well, like mixing
ketchup and peanut butter. After much debate the critics then
collectively raised their hands and asked, Why would we pay more for a
WRX with a Saab badge? A good question, to be sure. The quick answer?
The 9-2X looks better.

The 9-2X’s roof, doors and rear quarter-panels are
taken from the Subaru; the rest of the sheetmetal is new. With the
signature Saab face and taillight treatment, the once-loud boy racer
has taken on the demeanor of a self-assured gentleman.

But the same can’t be said for the car’s interior,
which mirrors the WRX save for the two-tone cloth seats and door trim.
You won’t find a cockpit-inspired layout or a center console-mounted
ignition in this Saab.

Crank the steering column-mounted ignition in the
9-2X and the familiar rumble of the WRX’s 2.0-liter turbocharged
flat-four engine comes to life. Shift the five-speed manual into first
gear and you’ll also find the same notchy gearbox.

Power remains the same, and like its WRX cousin, the
9-2X turns out a stout 0-to-60-mph time of 6.09 seconds, with 14.71
seconds at 91.2 mph in the quarter-mile.

That puts the 9-2X in BMW Z4 and Mazda RX-8
territory, meaning it will dust just about anything in its class, like
the Acura TSX (7.38, 15.6) and Nissan Maxima (6.28, 14.83). Even the
240-hp Volkswagen Golf R32 gets beat to 60 mph (6.18), but the R32’s
torque nudges it ahead at the end of the drag race, with its 14.59
seconds at 93.8 mph.

Saab tuned the 9-2X sus’pension a bit, adding a tad
more toe-in and stiffer control-arm bushings up front, with slightly
shorter bump stops and lighter aluminum control arms in the rear. The
changes affect the car’s ride, which feels slightly smoother and more
compliant than the WRX’s, but may also help to account for the
differences we found on both the skidpad and through the slalom.

Coupled with the WRX STi’s quicker 15.01:1 steering
rack, the 9-2X turns in instantaneously. It understeers moderately on
the skidpad, but that can be addressed by modulating the throttle.

If the Saab performs almost identically to the
Subaru, are its good looks enough to justify the higher ticket on the
Swedish interpretation?

I originally looked at the WRX, but I couldnt get
past the boy-racer styling and lack of luxury features, one owner
explained, a sentiment echoed by practically every 9-2X owner who
responded to our AutoFile survey.

Fact is, the price gap gets filled not only with that
prettier face but also with a lot of extra sound insulation and thicker
carpeting. Our noise test measured 43 decibels at idle in the 9-2X
compared to 50 decibels for the WRX sedan. While it is the same at full
throttle and only one decibel higher at 60 mph, we attribute the
discrepancy to the wagons open rear compartment.

There is also that softer ride, which sold the 9-2X
to the owners we heard from, more mature enthusiasts who wanted a
practical, all-wheel-drive car with some luxury and top-notch
performance for $30 grand.

Owners were also quick to point out that Saab’s one
extra year of warranty and two years of free maintenance made their
decision to buy the pricier Swede that much easier.

Looked at another way, the 9-2X is a better WRX. It
has that meaty turbo power and clips apexes with the same sense of
urgency, yet is more refined when the throttle isn’t being floored.

As one satisfied owner put it, I think Saab hit the nail on the head by combining the best of two worlds.

Any more questions?

OWNERS SAY…

I chose the 9-2X over the WRX because the Saab comes with a four-year
warranty over Subaru’s three; also, its 17-inch Enkei wheels, quieter
interior, nicer front end, cheaper insurance, and the leather option. I
get the utility of a wagon with the sport of a great turbo boxer
engine. What I don’t like is it won’t play MP3s, the cupholders
guarantee coffee spillage, there’s no power seat option, and Saab
dealers are clueless about this car. Call Subaru if you want answers. -Chris Rose, Okotoks, Alberta

The WRX drivetrain is great, and there’s already an
entire aftermarket set up for it. I also needed an all-wheel-drive car
since I deal with a large amount of snow, and this car handles great. I
find the styling great and much better than the WRX. While I do get the
occasional jeer about driving a station wagon, the extra cargo room
makes up for it. I just wish it came with a six-speed and the STi
motor. -Phillip Schuepbach, Rochester, N.Y.

I know the car is a WRX, but I’m happy it’s a WRX.
The WRX wagon is the best car for people like me who are concerned with
power, handling, reliability, and still want room to carry stuff. The
9-2X only improves on that. It is stately but exciting in its
understated Swedish styling. I don’t think it’s different enough from
the WRX to merit its higher price, but even if I preferred the WRX, I’d
take the 9-2X for the warranty and free maintenance. -Eddie Aten, Manchester, N.H.

If you can get past the idea you’ve just bought a
Saab made in Japan, the 9-2X does nothing but satisfy. It is a superb
blend of performance, comfort and utility. The all-wheel drive works
seamlessly and the turbo provides more than enough power to merge or
pass with just a drop of the throttle. The 9-2X is perfectly suited for
those who want WRX performance but the creature comforts, dealer
network and quirky styling only Saab can provide. My only gripe is that
no navigation system is offered. -Robert Pace, Southington, Conn.

VEHICLE SPECS AND INFORMATION

MANUFACTURER INFO
Saab Cars USA
General Motors Corp.
4405 A International Blvd.
Norcross GA 30093
Customer assistance: (800) 955-9007
Internet address: saabusa.com
Country of origin: Japan
Number of dealers: 249

STICKER
Base (includes $695 delivery): $27,645
As tested: $30,195
Owners paid; average: $23,000 to $27,000; $25,620

OPTIONS AS TESTED
17-inch aero wheels/high-performance tires
($1,950); cold-weather package, which
includes heated front seats, outside mirrors,
wiper de-icer ($600)

OTHER MAJOR OPTIONS
Premium package, which includes leather-
appointed seats and door inserts, bi-xenon
headlights ($1,695); four-speed automatic
transmission ($1,250)

CHASSIS
Unibody five-door wagon

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase (in): 99.4
Track (in):   57.7 front, 57.3 rear
Length/width/height (in):175.6/66.7/57.7
Curb weight/GVWR (lbs):3179/4210

CAPACITIES
Fuel (gal): 15.9
Cargo (cu ft): 27.9

ENGINE
Front horizontally opposed,
2.0-liter/122-cid dohc turbocharged H4
Horsepower: 227 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 217 @ 4000 rpm
Compression ratio: 8.0:1
Fuel requirement: 91 octane

DRIVETRAIN
All-wheel drive
Transmission:  Five-speed manual
Final drive ratio:           3.900:1

SUSPENSION
Front: MacPherson struts with coil springs,
gas-charged shock absorbers, antiroll bar
Rear: Independent dual-link struts with
coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers,
antiroll bar

BRAKES/WHEELS/TIRES
Discs front and rear, ABS with EBD, aluminum
215/45ZR-17 Bridgestone Potenza RE 011

STANDING-START ACCELERATION
0-60 mph: 6.09 sec
0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 6.52 sec
0-quarter-mile: 14.71 sec @  91.2 mph

ROLLING ACCELERATION
20-40 mph (second gear):  3.1 sec
40-60 mph (second gear):   3.1 sec
60-80 mph (third gear):   4.8 sec

BRAKING
60 mph-0: 121 ft

HANDLING
490-foot slalom:  45.5 mph
Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad):  0.85 g

INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)
Idle: 43
Full throttle: 75
Steady 60 mph: 67

FUEL MILEAGE
EPA combined:  22.64 mpg
AW overall:  19.75 mpg

TRUE COST TO OWNSM

1 2 3 4 5 Total
Depreciation $5,872 $3,145 $2,759 $2,444 $2,206 $16,426
Financing $1,435 $1,150 $848 $529 $191 $4,153
Insurance $902 $934 $967 $1,001 $1,036 $4,840
Taxes & Fees $1,902 $135 $121 $110 $110 $2,378
Fuel $1,238 $1,275 $1,313 $1,352 $1,393 $6,571
Maintenance $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Repairs $0 $0 $0 $509 $780 $1,289
$11,349 $6,639 $6,008 $5,945 $5,716 $35,657
Average Cost per Mile: $0.76
Edmunds.com’s
True Cost to OwnSM is a proprietary tool that helps estimate the total
five-year cost of owning a vehicle that is, over and above the cost of
buying it. The costs that are estimated include: depreciation, interest
on financing, taxes and fees, insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance and
repairs (assuming 15,000 miles per year, 10-percent down and 60 months
financed). Your actual costs may vary.
For a more in-depth breakdown, or for information on other vehicles True Cost to OwnSM, please visit edmunds.com.

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