This one might stir up the Saab vs Subaru debate just a little more, a debate for which there seems to be three trains of thought:
- The two companies are unrelated
Subaru is the new Saab
Subaru is the Japanese Saab
Some time ago, when the 9-3 was just a twinke in someone’s eye, this was part of the design idea – a crossover type vehicle – back in a time when just a handful of manufacturers were making all-wheel-drive vehicles based on cars instead of trucks.
As you can see, Saab had a fully planned AWD model ready way back then. We were all told that Epsilon couldn’t handle all-wheel-drive (bollocks) and that there wasn’t a model like this in the making (bollocks). The word that’s come through to me from people around at the time is that some Putz figured that a car-based AWD Saab vehicle was too small for the American market, and with costs spiralling out of control already over the development of the 9-3 the vehicle was shelved.
Fast forward a few years and the landscape has definitely changed.
‘Crossover’ vehicles are fast approaching the mainstream. Costs are much more controlled at Saab and they’re making solid contributions to GM’s efforts in turbocharging, E85 and now, all wheel drive. AWD itself has become XWD and Saab are the first to use it.
And so the plans may well come out of their dusty cupboard and become a reality.
When the new MY2008 9-3 was first discovered as being a future reality back in late 2006, there were rumblings shortly thereafter that the 9-3 crossover vehicle may well be re-born with it. All the fuss has been over the Black Turbo special edition and the rumblings have gone quiet, but there hasn’t been anything to say it’s not coming.
But if it does, one has to ask whether or not it will find a market.
The 9-3 SportCombi, whilst being possibly the best car in Saab’s current lineup (MHO) is short on one thing – rear legroom. As most of these crossover vehicles are bought by people with a much more active lifestyle than mine, one often shared with friends who are of a common mind, will it suffice? Will it fit a family on those weekend hiking trips?
And more than those, will there be a need for it with the impending arrival of the supposedly very good Saab 9-4x?
Everything that we’ve heard says that the 9-4x is due in 2008 as a 2009 model. What’s more, those who have seen it – and that’s likely more than you think at this stage – say that it’s a great looking vehicle. Jan-Ake Jonsson himself recently described it to some European press types as one of the best Saabs he’s ever seen. I’ve got no doubt that Saab’s engineering folks will make it as functional as it is good looking, too.
If a 9-3 crossover vehicle is coming, then it’s likely to be coming soon. With just a year or so between now and the 9-4x, is there a need for it?
I’m all for new models and developments in the Saab lineup and it looks like 2008 is going to be a busy year already. There will be the arrival of XWD in the 9-3 range along with the Black Turbo (however they choose to name it). Solid information indicates that the 9-4x will be coming that year as well. Three significant releases in the course of one year? For Saab?
Throw a “9-3x” into that mix and it’s almost intoxicating.
Whilst the decision to cancel the 9-3 crossover way-back-when was a boneheaded move that denied Saab a player in a growing segment, today represents a different commercial reality. And it’s one in which Saab will soon have a crossover vehicle that’s more in line with what people tend to expect. Is this smaller one worthwhile in 2008?