Saab banks on 9-4X
A chunky SUV crossover is going into battle, writes Paul Gover
THE most important new model in Saab’s comeback plan— the SUV crossover needed to battle back in the US — is finally public.
The 9-4X is revealed as a chunky five-seater that is more like a sedan than a four-wheel-drive, with a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 engine and Saab’s own all-wheel-drive system.
It will be shown for the first time at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month and is set for Australian sales at the end of next year.
The 9-4X sits on the same mechanical package as the Cadillac SRX, which means it was developed while Saab was still part of the General Motors family and before the company’s sale to Spyker of Holland.
It will be part of a Saab lineup in Australia that runs from the existing 9-3 to the coming 9-5 sedan and wagon and then the 9-4X.
‘‘ It’s the same platform as the Cadillac SRX. It’s is co-developed with the SRX, in the same way as the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg,’’ says Stephen Nicholls, Saab Automobile’s regional director
We believe the designers have done a great job in making it look like a real Saab.
for Asia-Pacific. ‘‘ We believe the designers have done a great job in making it look like a real Saab — and it also drives very much like a passenger car.’’
The 9-4X is sized between the 9-3 and 9-5, designed for five passengers, and has a luxury focus in the cabin.
The frontal design is similar to the all-new 9-5 and Saab promises a cockpit-style dash layout with everything from Bose sound with hard-disk storage to Bluetooth and USB connections.
Full details will not come until the LA show but the mechanical package is based on the 224kW engine, with 200mm of ground clearance, fully in- dependent suspension and the usual combination of ABS-ESP and airbag safety systems.
Nicholls says the exact timing of the 9-4X in Australia has not been finalised because of the emphasis on the US.
‘‘America is intended to be more than half the annual uptake,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s going to be around August or September before it goes into production in right-hand drive.
‘‘It will be towards the end of the year before we see it in Australia — or might even slip into the early part of 2012.’’
Nicholls says Saab is pushing ahead with its return to Australia as a factory operation, with dealers already placing orders for 9-3s to be delivered early in January.
‘‘It’s a rolling start. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.
‘‘For next year we’re looking at the 9-3, the 9-5 sedan and later the 9-5 wagon as the models we’ll be selling.
‘‘Hopefully we’ll be able to get the 9-3 first supplies to the dealers in the first week of January — and seven dealers are already committed.’’
High hopes: more like a sedan than a four-wheel drive, the Saab 9-4X has a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 engine.