Saab 9-3 and Turbo X comparison

This is something I promised I’d do back when the Turbo X first came out. It’s meant a little bit of fiddling around, but here you go.

I’ve tried to get similar angles on both cars. The comparisons are pretty interesting, actually.

The Turbo X is absolutely brilliant, but IMHO the 9-3 Aero, especially in Snow Silver doesn’t pale in comparison by any means.

Click on the pics to enlarge.

Saab Aero and Turbo X

Saab Aero and Turbo X

Saab Aero and Turbo X

Saab Aero and Turbo X

Saab Aero and Turbo X

You may also like


  1. Swade, as I said at the time, the big fuss over the ‘black turbo’ has meant the final model to a bit of let down.
    The wheels are IMHO not of the mould-breaking nature that the original aero 3 spokers. The bodykit isn’t even black – witness the chrome bootlid strip, grill etc, all of which could have been blacked out.

    This car just doesn’t look sufficiently different from a normal black aero model to justify the hype. The XWD is of course the main difference, but then why the ‘black turbo’ hype?

    I think it could have delivered more menace with a bit more in-your-face bodykit – witness the minor spoiler cf the original aero whale tail.

    Still agreat car no doubt, but your pics show it is not sufficiently differentiated.

  2. Funny, I can’t get used to Nav screens in cars. I like the Aero dash better. I do wish they’d get rid of the plastic/metal on the steering wheel though.

  3. There’s a lot of stuff that apparently doesn’t come through on these pics, which has been true of the 2008 model all along. Everyone who sees it says that it’s much better in the metal. Same with the Turbo X.

    Saab people who have seen it and spoken to me are gushing about it. i guess you’d expect that though. But Rayman, the guy who covered the Frankfurt show was also very, very complimentary. I can’t remember if it was he or someone else (it was Olaf, who supplied the ‘exquisite shots’) who especially commented on the interior. The steering wheel and the leather seats are a step up. John Neff from Autoblog mentioned to me in an email over the weekend that the Turbo X was hands down the best looking Saab he’d seen.

    The moral of the story, a 450px photo isn’t going to tell you everything about this car. I’m already sold on it, but I’d advise anyone to hold judgement until they see it personally.

    I can’t wait.

  4. Is it just me or is the Aero interior a bit more interesting? The Turbo-X is nice and all that, but there’s too much black inside for my taste.

  5. The Turbo X looks different when you see it first hand! As I said, its not overdone or just brutal [or with this sort of grille thing Audi/VW is using] – the diffuser is something special compared to a “normal” my 08 9³ – but then again, not every 9³ you will get to see on the road is an Aero version! In Germany its all Vector Trim – and then you have a difference! And please don’t forget, that the Turbo X is “only” a special version, a limited model and no car for its own. Thats why I stated, that it would be nice to bring some kits in – a Turbo X package that can be ordered for any 9³ like the competition does [S-Line/M Package] -nonetheless – Saabs have always been about understatement! The interior has been tweaked with this Carbon Style you won’t get in any other 9³, the wheels just fit – I really liked them [especially the 2 tone / matte chrome/blackened]. The black premium leather was great and of very good quality – why complain about the fact that we all could get it and that its not a TX only thing? Before I forget it – please compare this car to a S4 or M3 – its simply beautiful!

  6. what I would have liked, after thinking of the emblem – Saab could have left out the badge on the hood for the TX – this would have been cool, like Swade suggested some days ago!

  7. what bothers me more, is that the new Cadillac BLS Wagon will get the same Haldex System right from the start and it will be available for the new 1.9TTid is well – even before Saab can get it on the DIesel 🙁

  8. Glad the TurboX gets the all-black steering wheel. I’ve never gotten used to the silver/black metaly-plasticish on the steering wheel.

  9. I’m still horrified by that nasty frame around the foglights. It makes a light color car almost impossible. Your eyes are immediately drawn away from the near-perfection center grill area down to the foglights. That foglight frame is also almost identical to pictures I have seen of the Ford Focus.

  10. How many folks who never get used to the silver bat wings actaully HAVE a car with the silver bat wings? Two weeks tops and I forgot about them. You don’t spend a lot of time looking at your steering wheel when your driving and they don’t really get in the way, though the underside edge can be a bit sharp in places… It is like a friend who had a car with ugly (to me) tail lights. I asked her what she though about them and she said she can’t see them, so they don’t bother her. Kinda opened my eyes as bit so to speak. I’m not saying this is a excuse to the current face on the 9-5, but some things you can get over or get used to very quickly.

    Don’t let the bat wings be a reason not to love the Aero wheel.

  11. turbo-x! the interior just looks better coordinated. the exterior looks more assertive, too; but that may be more about camera angles than anything else.

  12. Steven, I’ve had several Aero V6 9-3’s where the ‘bat wings’ are standard, in fact, picking up a MY08 V6 convertible in the next few weeks.

    I for one find them a little cold in the winter and a little slippy at times. They also look a little cheap. I for one think the leather ‘wings’ look and will probably feel much better.

    Again, is it only me, or am I the only one that thinks the 9-3 steering wheel is just waaaaaay too large. I long for a nice, smaller diameter steering wheel

  13. …except from the difference in colour , I can hardly see any difference between them.
    But this is ok since we are not in the 80s anymore. In those days women had jackets with padded soulders…
    The 80´s 900 Aero or BMW M5 were more extrovert than the new 9-3 and since his shrinking his new rival the BMW M3.
    They all have matured in the last few years.
    Most importantly, Saab shifted the target group
    for the topmodel. From a coupe carved as a bird catcher for the 38+ divorced male into a car for decently married people.

  14. I have to agree with mark on several points. I felt this car was over hyped as well. Both in performance and external design. And it is the details that have really made the difference. For example, I don’t want to bring it up, but whats another 20hp? If for no other reason, marketing. We all know the M’s, S’s, etc. are over the 300 bench mark. You can’t get taken seriously by the CONSUMER in this segment if you don’t post those numbers. I don’t care what car and driver or whoever says about your incredible XWD system. 300+ is the benchmark – minimum.

    Now for the outside. I am a designer myself and I think this car is a massive contradiction. The 9-3 is supposed to be competing in the entry level luxury segment, according to Saab. The took all the luxury out of this car. Yes, it is sporty. But not Euro sporty or luxury sporty like its “competitors”. Infact after looking at the body kit and wheels it looks like they are once again playing to the Subaru asthetic. And we all know how long the 9-2x lasted. Saab owners want saabs. Period. The whole “turbo x” body kit and wheels over pronounce that the car is XWD and forget that the customer base wants a fast, performance Euro sedan. The car looks chunky and odd. And not odd in that sexy saab way. The wheels are not symetrical and they are borrowed from the acura TL performance series. I drive a 2006 9-3 Aero – V6 and I guess I honestly expected more in performance and design from the turbo x. Especially after the hype.


  15. You can blame me if you feel it was over-hyped. But put yourself in my position, where you hear of a special edition, higher output Saab in development, where you hear from one source inside the company that it would be 300hp+ (which turned out to be false) and the fact that it looks great with a limited edition body kit – well, in position you’d get excited too.

    As for the end result – I’m on the record everywhere as loving this car and I’m sure the 2000 people that snap it up will do so too.

  16. On the well-documented popular opinion that the Turbo-X “should” have had more than 300 horsepower, I really do subscribe to the theory someone else in comments (I’m sorry I forgot who to credit) came up with that the reason is that the transmission in the 9³ can’t handle more than 400 Nm of torque.

    SAAB now has two versions of the 9³ which peak at exactly 400 Nm of torque: the TTiD and the Turbo-X. Now what would it cost SAAB to release a car that they constantly have to replace transmissions under warranty on? Where are they going to get a more robust compatible transmission for such a limited run of cars?

    Lastly, holy smokes, there’s someone out there besides me who apparently doesn’t like the Turbo-X! I’m not alone!!! 😮

  17. I agree with Swade here. 2000 People, worldwide no less, will be very happy. By not going the extra 20hp, which could also be considered as peer pressure, Saab still beats to its own drum. Again, those 2000 People will have a special edition, like the Viggen, which in the future will become a sought after second hand. Also the 9-3 and the 9-5, as mentioned before, will be completely revised in the next year or two, so 1977-2007 is merely a timeline that didn’t go to waist. I feel Saab can better spend GM’s money on future models. I really liked the 9-1 rendering Swade posted a couple of weeks ago from France, or a hard top convertible, like the C70, or maybe a real luxury sedan, a 9-8 or 9-9 (unlike the Saab 9000CD and CSE used to be) to compete with the Germans.

    Currently I drive a 9-5 2001 wagon, had my transmission replaced and I for one, am looking forward to the 9-4X. If it isn’t great in two years I’ll get a 2006 9-5 Wagon, I am sold on Saab and have been since childhood.

    2000, is just a handful per European Country, maybe 500-1000 for the USA, and you still have something unique.

  18. Swade,
    No problem, I do not feel that you have overhyped this car. You (in my opinion) simply pass on the information you receive. And your sources are in the know and many predicitons have come to pass. When I talk about the car being over hyped, I feel it has been done by saab itself by making such claims that certain aspects of the car will be widely “emulated” in the industry. Like what?their XWD system? By whom? BMW? Audi? If these brands are your compitetion in the luxury sedan catagory, and you hype and release your “performance” car you better bring your A game because those companies are producing some monsters right now. Flat out. Also, all the dealers in my area where also throwing around the 300+ HP figures. I understand the limitations of the transmission etc. Factors that could limit the output of the HP. But, you would think that with the buzz created for the release of this car Saab would have pushed the envelope a bit further. Finally, I am sure the full xwd system is amazing and the car will sell through the 2000 units(worldwide). Point being, they could have done more or talked less…….this coming from someone who is on their second 9-3 aero. I will wait to see it in person and revisit this later. Just some things to think about.

  19. Another related question: Why are 17′ wheels the largest we get in the U.S/Canada? I know saab makes 18″ and now a 19″ option on the turbo x. Why are the 18″ wheels unavailable in N. America? Anyone?

  20. Riguy, that’s the Saab product people in your country making decisions for you. eg. “the 19 inch wheel probably provides too rough a ride for NA consumers. Let’s leave it alone.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *