The value question

Some people have queried whether the Saab 9-3 Aero XWD, and the Turbo X, will be worth the price premium that will be placed on them.

We don’t have a price for the Turbo X yet, so let’s leave that one alone for the time being. But we can look at the Aero with XWD fitted.

It’s believed that the XWD Aero version of the car will be US$2000 more than the 2WD version, which will be around US$34,600 for the sedan. For your extra US$2000, you get the basic XWD system (without the eLSD – an optional extra) and you get your engine tuned to 280hp. There may be other extras as well, suspension perhaps, but for the moment let’s just deal with what we know.

To try and address this value equation, I thought I’d try and build up and XWD Aero for less than US$2000. As it’s a new car, It’d be preferable to maintain my warranty and to do that, I’d need to start with a visit to Hirsch (and I know you can’t get Hirsch in the US – just roll with me on this one, OK?).

Hirsch can’t fit an XWD system, but at least they can provide me with a tune for the engine.

A Hirsch tune for the current V6 Saab engine costs 1,330 Euros. A quick currency conversion tells me that that’s around US$1,800.

That tune will get me 275hp and it’s factory backed, just as if it came off the Trollhattan production line that way. But it’s still short of the 280hp that Saab will offer with the XWD Aero when it comes.

Now that I’m all happily tuned somewhere close to what the XWD will offer, I now have just short of $200 to go out and purchase my all-new latest generation XWD system……



Whether the 2WD Aero should be priced where it is – that’s another question all together and the market will provide the answer in a few months time.

But the $2000 premium for the XWD variant of the car actually represents pretty good value for a factory fitted and tuned system.

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  1. I see value in the realm of the other entry luxury models like the AWD Audi A4 , BMW 3 series and comparable Benz C-Series and Volvos. Except for the Volvo, you are paying a 4-5K premium for the others, relative to a 36-38K out the door for the Saab 9-3 XWD. If it retains the high safety scores and sport tuning for less body roll it will be a drivers top pick.

  2. I think the right comaprison is the Subaru Legacy GT spec B w/ VDC and Navi for ~US$34,600 sticker price. Saab would have looks and pedigree but the Subaru a slight price advantage and reliability. I haven’t seen the revised Saab interior. I think I may need to do my own comparison test this fall.

  3. While I suppose a 2k option for XWD isn’t that bad, maybe it’s other factors that put me in doubt.

    Perhaps Saab needs to look at their cost “cap” for a maxed-out 9-3 and work backwards. I think this will force them to re-exam their pricing, at least with the Aero model. You are already paying 6-7 grand more for the Aero, then throw in 2k for XWD??

    Most people will do the math and wind up at a BMW dealer. How many of you will say BMW’s AWD is horrible, but ask yourself if Saab’s XWD have proven anything yet or been around long enough?

    Maybe the Aero is just priced too high.

  4. joemama: Maybe the Aero is just priced too high.

    I agree here. Even with the incredible employee savings and rebates, I could not afford the extra $5500-6000 it would cost to get the Aero. I decided to get the 60th Anniversary Combi, which has a better (or just as good) trim than the Aero package IMHO, minus the 40 extra ponies. I felt it was not cost savvy. It would have been extremely tempting, though, had there been only a $2k premium from 2.0T to Aero.

    And I think that’s what Saab needs to do.

    Example Starting Prices:
    2.0T FWD (210 hp): $27k
    Aero FWD (255 hp): $29k
    Aero XWD (280 hp): $31k
    Turbo X XWD (280 hp): $33k(ish)

    You really can’t expect a buyer to pay more than $10k more for 70 more HP, all else aside. Certainly, there’s more to arguing with the Turbo X, but this sort of price matrix is more realistic. (Now this is only US terms, I can’t imagine the catastrophe when dealing with more “levels” like Linear, Arc, Vector, Aero, Turbo X, etc… in the international market!)

  5. Nevitz,

    The 9-3 Aero (pre-facelift) starts at A$70,600 here in Australia. That converts to around $58,000 USD.

    To get the same engine that you get in the 2.0T, we have to get a Vector, which is A$54,000 ($44,400 USD).

    You guys really don’t know how good you’ve got it in the US market.

    If the Turbo X stickers for less than $40,000 USD I’ll be very surprised. It’ll quite likely be well over A$80,000 here.

  6. Amazing. I guess I shouldn’t complain about the cost of living either, eh? šŸ˜‰

    Let me ask you a relative question. As maybe a Merc C300 or a BMW 3-series are the 9-3 market rivals in the same price category (even though the 9-3 is less than both) what do they go for in Aussie? Or, say, a Ford Focus, or whatever rubbish is the equal there?

    I see what you mean, but US buyers do have it so good, I guess, that we will pass up the Swede on price alone to get a Germ, with the better reputation and more cache.

    Swade, you know me enough to know my enthusiasm for Saab, and lack there of on other brands, but to play devil’s advocate, consider this. That same $40k for the Turbo X will buy a BMW 335xi with AWD and 300 HP. And I’m not even talking M3 here, sadly.

    While it is true the US market is, shall we say, “Competitively priced,” it is still hard to justify a minimal power boost for many thousands more, like offered from 2.0T to Aero (210 hp to 255 hp).

  7. Nevitz, not questioning your enthusiasm for the brand at all. Just making price notes. And with that in mind I’m going to do a comparo of 9-3s in different countries, converted to USD. It’s quite interesting.

    And I’d love to know what the M3 would have done in that slalom test they put the TX through. I don’t know how it would have compared and there’s more to comparisons than that measurement (materials etc all come into it) but it’d be interesting.

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