Saab 9-2x – This is why they did it

This in via email, from Robert S:

After reading “Another April Sale…” I just thought I’d let you know that you have another 9-2x driver who frequents the site. Now that ‘Nevitz’ has made the enviable leap to the 9-3SC, in fact, maybe I’m the only one.

Not so. Another 9-2x owner popped up in comments to that post and there’s possibly a few more reading silently right now.

I know how you feel about the 9-2x, and whilst I am inclined to agree with you, I have a case to make for it, at least in my circumstance. Basically, I can’t afford a REAL new Saab, but Saab is all my wife and I want to drive (she used to be a Honda girl before I converted her).

We wanted the reliability of a new car (too many bad experiences with used cars), and the 9-2x was our way of getting our foot in the door with a Saab. To me it’s basically a starter Saab to hold us over until the instant we can take delivery of a brand new 9-3 in Trollhattan with the European Delivery program one day (probably far away). Deep down every time I start the car I wish the ignition was between the seats and the dash wrapped around me, but that will have to wait.

The car looks beautiful on the outside (as you pointed out yourself), and the suspension and handling has been given a “Swedish massage.” In it’s defense, it’s actually a really good car, reliable, safe, fun to drive, and was dirt cheap. No, it’s not a genuine Saab, but it lets us say right now that we are at least, to borrow Nevitz’ term, a pseudo Saab family. And one day, like Nevitz, we, too, will join your ranks.

(Plus, there’s a beautiful 1991 gray 900 turbo convertible parked down the street from my house that I covet every time I leave the house. I’ve promised myself one day I will buy it off them. One day our Saab collection will make the 9-2x a fond memory of how desperately we wanted to drive a Saab. Plus, it will be sort of a unique piece of the collection itself).

Welcome Robert and ex-Honda girl!

The 9-2x was a very interesting experiment and I’d say the jury’s still out as to it’s success (or lack thereof). On the plus side, there’s people like Robert who have found a way to get into a Saab earlier than they otherwise expected. Some of these would have knowledge about Saabs beforehand and a bunch wouldn’t.

One thing’s for sure, the reliability and fun of the WRX base isn’t going to be the thing to hurt Saab’s reputation at all. These 9-2x buyers all seem to enjoy their cars a great deal, which is a positive for the brand. Some of them will go for another Saab after their 9-2x experience and that’s a good thing.

The side-effects of the experiement?

Well, some will chase after a Subaru as their replacement car, for starters.

Secondly, there’s the battering that Saab took in the press for this car. On many automotive forums they’re still mocked as the company that did the Saaburu and the Trollblazer, in spite of how good these cars might be.

But stories like Robert’s are heartening. The 9-2x has opened a gate for Saab ownership that would have been closed to some. If there’s one thing that we can glean from this story, it’s that a Saab 9-1 base level model can’t come soon enough. Such a car would allow young families like Robert and Mrs Robert to get into a Saab without losing some of the future sales to another brand.

Thanks for the email, Robert. You, your wife and your car would be more than welcome at any Saab function I ever put together.

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5 Comments

  1. Good post. There has been to much bashing of the 9-2X me think. Ok, it’s brand engineering but they could have choosen something worse, like a Chevvy. Subaru is at least a brand with a loyal and passionate customer base, and their cars are solid pieces of work. The car filled a need as a smaller, more aggressive-looking car. I can clearly see why someone would rather have a 9-2X than a 9-3SC. Owners seems to like it because of the good quality. The fact tha the auto press made fun of it from start to end doesn’t bother me. They are usually never right anyway… 🙂
    I would love to test drive one, but that will probably never happen.

  2. We have a 2003 9-3 SS, a 2004 Subaru Forester XS (the 9-3 SC was not out yet…)and a 1972 MGB. All three are much loved for their own special talents. But as long as I can remember, I always looked upon Subaru as a “SAAB of the East.” They are both aeronautically derived and they both seem to have gone their own way from the norm in design and engineering. I personally could not think of a more appropriate car company for SAAB to have been coupled to. I think it made a lot more sense than the 9-7X. And for those that missed the key on the floor in the 9-2X, just remember that the 9000 did not have it down there, it was a badged engineered car, and is looked upon as nothing other than a real SAAB. I wish the 9-2X had done better as I really liked it.

  3. I wonder what they will do with the European Delivery program when all Saabs (except the possible 9-1) are being made in Rüsselsheim… Pick up your brand new Swedish Saab at the factory in Germany(!) and drive around Central-Europe, far far away from Scandinavia…

  4. Hi All,

    My comments on the “9-2x” is that as good a car as it might be, it not a SAAB. SAAB allowing this sort of rebadging under a company like GM sends bad signals for the future integrity of SAAB as a brand.

    Had it met with very successful sales it think i would have sent signals to GM to influence their decisions which could have spelt the beginning of the end.

    The release of the sport combi is a good sign that they have (for now) steered away from this path.

    I don’t own a SAAB but expect to trade my euro in on a 9-3 later this year. As a future customer (and i will remain one if the service and ownership experience are good) i am looking for a good balance of style, performance, quality and price.

    SAAB appear to finally be moving in this direction and i am impressed they have done this without outsourcing production to countries with Dickensian work conditions.

    I am concerned with the incongrous appearance of the next model though. It just doesn’t flow. I have seen the evolution of SAAB designs and just when you think they are evolving quite nicely, along comes a shocker with very little style (the 9000 series in the mid-late 1990s).

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