My time with the Saab 9-4x – Part 3

If you haven’t already done so, you can read the following first:

And whilst you’re in the mood, check out the Saab 9-4x comparison table, which puts the 9-4x up against the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and the Volvo CX60

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Driving (briefly) the 3.0 Premium model

I took the Saab 9-4x Aero for my 1,100+ km journey over a weekend. On the Monday morning following that weekend, I met up with a colleague from Saab to do a quick switcheroo. Fredrik had taken a Saab 9-4x Premium 3.0 non-turbo model for the weekend and we thought it’d be a good idea to swap cars for a brief period. I hadn’t driven the 3.0 Premium before and it was also Fredrik’s first run in the Aero.

That’s the Premium on the left and the Aero on the right.

The Premium model doesn’t come with everything that’s on the Aero, but it is still a very well equipped package. Smart shoppers can get the best of the options list and still spec up a very good vehicle for less than US$40K (disclosure: personally speaking, I’m not a big fan of sunroofs – they heat up my head too much – hence that’s not included in my calculation).

The 3.0 non-turbo engine still delivers a healthy 265hp but suffers from comparatively low torque. The end result is very decent power but a slower track to using it.

The other thing this 3.0 engine has – and something that made a huge impression on me – is an absolutely fantastic engine sound. It’s a really throaty V6 warble that animates the driving experience in a way that I didn’t expect. I’m a big fan of engine noises, which is one of the reasons I love the old 16v Saab 900 engine and many boxer engines from other manufacturers. It’s an emotional response point for me. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to hear the note on the 9-4x Premium.

The 9-4x Premium can be ordered with or without XWD. You’ll potentially take a grip penalty with FWD-only whilst gaining a fuel consumption bonus. If you don’t experience slippery conditions that much where you live, it’s not a bad way to configure it. If you want the best grip you can get, XWD is the only way to go as the system is second to none.

This particular 9-4x Premium had FWD, the darker interior with wood-effect trim and it was specced up with the navigation/infotainment system. It was pretty much exactly how I’d order a Premium edition for my own personal use.

The drive was only a 20-minute affair before we headed to work, but it gave me a good feel for the car and I liked it a lot. Price-sensitive shoppers who can’t stretch to an Aero should feel very comfortable indeed about looking at the Premium edition. Shoppers who would rather use this vehicle for comfort, who don’t require the flat-out power of the Aero, should also feel quite good.

This car is definitely worth your consideration.

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Conclusions

I was really excited to finally get some seat time in a Saab 9-4x Aero and the experience exceeded my expectations. It’s perfectly proportioned, the interior is great, the seats are fantastic, it’s very well equipped, the power was brilliant, and it is without doubt the best looking crossover vehicle in its class. The drive is crisp, the car is very responsive and of course, the Saab 9-4x has stuck with the Saab tradition of safety in scoring a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.

Are there some improvements that could be made? Quite possibly. If the car could shed around 10% of its weight to match the competition at just over 4,200lbs then it’d be even more impressive in terms of performance and economy. Some of the Aero’s weight comes from its generous equipment levels which would see competitors gain weight before they get delivered. But it’d still be good if it could be done.

Some say that Saab got into the SUV/crossover market too late, and that fuel prices will shut this market down. Sales in the US market indicate otherwise. The SUV market is still a hot one and the crossover segment within that market is gaining steam as more car-like vehicles take over from the small trucks of yesteryear.

Saab have got in as quickly as they could, and the best part of it all is that they’ve got into the market with one heck of a good vehicle that they’ve wisely chosen to equip and price very well.

I suspect that we’re going to have a lot of very happy customers over the coming years, thanks to this car. I find myself looking forward to work each morning just so I can see one in the carpark. Coming from me, a small-car traditionalist, that’s high praise indeed.

Fit for a king……..

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Swade, what is the badge of the base and Premium 9-4x?
    I was asking only, because it doesn’t fit in the badging scheme introduced with the 9-5.

    BTW, after reading this report I think I would prefer the 9-4x over the 9-5SC as replacement for my DE9-5SC.

    1. This Premium didn’t have any badging, so I can’t say.  It’s a vehicle we use for training mechanics on the new car, so not one for sale.

      I think you’ll find the 9-4x will make for a good option, depending on certain criteria and how important they are to your needs.  It’ll certainly be worth a look.

    2. Ask your german Dealer about the “Order formular” for the 9-4x. The Base is Linear in Germany for 43.000 € and the Premium is Vector for 47.000 €. Aero starts from 52.500 €.

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