The city of San Antonio has a superb NBA basketball team. They’re quite likely to win the NBA title this season for the second year running.
What the city lacks, is an adaptable motoring reporter. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but when you spend the first third of your report writing about how station wagons are just station wagons, you’re either missing the point of your assignment or stuck back in the 1980’s (or both).
From My San Antonio:
….And even though these cars really are wagons, there’s still a great reluctance on the part of the automotive marketers to come right out and call them that…..
….At a recent GM media event at a hotel adjacent to the Texas Motor Speedway, the 9-3 SportCombi was presented to journalists, and the name was perhaps the most unusual thing about this car, which by all measures is surely a wagon.
Audio quality of cell phones being what it is at times, I had trouble telling my spouse what exactly it was that I was testing when she called me from San Antonio as I was out driving the 9-3 SportCombi on the roads around the speedway.
“It’s a Saab 9-3 SportCombi,” I said into my new high-tech $450 camera-MP3-TV-Web-enabled Sprint phone.
“A Sport-Commie?” she asked, incredulous. “They would call a car a Commie?”
“No, no, a SportCombi,” I said again into my phone. “C-O-M-B-I.”
“A what?” she replied. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Exactly,” I replied. “It’s a station wagon, OK?”
“Well, why don’t they just call it that?” she asked.
I really had no answer to that, and I still don’t.
Well, it’s called marketing. If you think SportCombi’s a strange name, then consider the writer’s own: G. Chambers Williams III. What is it with this first-name-not-being-used-thing that I see from time to time? Is whatever he’s hiding that starts with a ‘G’ less sensible that ‘Chambers’? Golapogos? Gelatinous? Grill? Gatorade?
Once he gets over the name thing, Geronimo Williams III actually likes the SportCombi quite a bit. As well he should.
With its lower weight, the SportCombi has as much zip with its four-cylinder as the Highlander does with its V-6.
The SportCombi seats five people quite comfortably, has a cushy ride and offers decent cargo capacity. But it still handles more like a sports coupe than any SUV or traditional wagon.
The car actually is so much fun that you can easily forget you’re driving a practical vehicle that can haul the kids and their soccer gear all over town.
This is the first Saab in the midsize wagon segment, and it follows Saab’s introduction for 1999 of the larger 9-5 Sport Wagon, which was the first wagon in the Saab lineup in 25 years.
Standard in the base model is a five-speed manual transmission, which driving enthusiasts will prefer in this car.
But for those who have to deal with rush-hour stop-and-go traffic, Saab has provided an optional five-speed automatic ($1,350) to go with the 2.0-liter engine.
Those who want more performance can upgrade to the Aero model ($33,620, including freight). It comes with a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 engine rated at 250 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, enough power to push this vehicle along like a sports car.
Standard with the Aero is a six-speed manual, which makes this car a lot of fun.
I predict the San Antonio Spurs will beat the Detroit Pistons in a repeat of last year’s NBA finals. But this time in 6 games.