Following is a group of photos that 1985Gripen sent through from the drive day he did in the 2008 Saab 9-3, courtesy of Saab USA. He’s included captions for them.
There’s more of these and photos from SOC at Gripen’s Flickr account.
His writeup on the actual drive is coming soon, including his own thoughts on driving the XWD version of the car.
Two photos up front and the rest after the jump. Click any of them to enlarge to 640 x 480.
This is a lineup of some of the various MY2008 9-3s (the first in the country, of course) we got to drive on city roads all day. Nobody in the general public seemed to notice that we were driving cars that won’t be for sale in this country for at least a couple more weeks. We drove these cars on beautiful rural back roads in Northern Virginia, outside Washington D.C. Some of the cars were Sport Combis, but most were SS. One was a manual transmission, but the rest automatic. I kept trying to get the manual as I prefer it, but I never got it. It was the black SS.
This is the new 9-7X Aero, which acted as our support vehicle for the trip.
Couldn’t believe how nice the car looks in red, a color I traditionally don’t care for. SAABs look so good in black, gray, and
silver that an eye popping color like red isn’t very common.
Another view of the red Aero SS. Note the same wheels as the MY2007 Anniversary Edition. They ran out of these I understand and later MY2007 Anniversary Editions had the wheels which were previously exclusive to the 9-3 Convertible 20th Anniversary Edition.
There’s the Combi in the background. You can see which of these cars are the Aero and which were not by the chrome fog lamp surrounds, or lack thereof. These pictures still make the chrome look shiny, but in person I SWEAR that they look more like a brushed (satin) aluminum look or even a gunmetal at times…
Another view of the red Aero SS. Needless to say none of the Aero 9-3s we drove that day (except for the one on the closed airfield) were XWD-equipped.
An Aero SC. It’s actually a nice deep blue color (don’t know the name).
A non-Aero frontal view.
Don’t know this color either but it’s nice in person. A little different than the typical color you usually see SAABs in.
Why did I take so many pictures of the red one? Because it stands out!
More of the “Big Red One”. This is the car Ryan and I drove back to D.C. at the end of the day. He ended up picking up one of the Swedes at the hotel in it when dropping me off and they were off to take pictures of it in front of the White House. I never heard how this turned out. I doubt he got the shots he wanted as Pennsylvania Avenue and all other streets adjacent to the White House have been closed-off for years for security reasons.
The rear ends of some of the cars we drove. I asked Nik Miles what he thought of the tail light treatment and he told me that he doesn’t quite know, but he did say it’s distinctive, sort of like an aftermarket look. I guess that’s good that SAAB is doing something different than the rest of the pack though the jury’s out on the look, IMHO. I give bonus points for being different though.
More of the 9-7X for the lovers out there (like Swade).
The 9-7X Aero seats (note the key in the center console).
More of the 9-7X Aero interior.
The butt-end of the 9-7X Aero. Noteworthy that there’s only one exhaust pipe. You’d think it’d have two…
This is the closed airfield. It was a private airfield which is only used a couple times a year by a private pilot. The cones were set up in the grass and the grass was wetted-down for us to try-out the XWD.
Banner at the airstrip.
A very nice non-Aero.
Interior of the 9-3.
Can’t remember why I was taking so many pics of this car.
Now THIS one is the first XWD-equipped SAAB 9-3 Aero in the United States. There were two reasons why this car was not allowed on public roads: SAAB wouldn’t allow it as this is a very early pre-production model and unique so it needs to be protected and it’s not registered in the U.S. Note the Swedish license plate.