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First look: Saab unveils Oz-bound 9-4X

Holden power: Saab's new 9-4X packs a Holden-made 2.8-litre turbo V6 in its flagship Aero model.

Saab reveals the all-new 9-4X crossover that’s due here next year

19 Oct 2010

SAAB has revealed its vital new 9-4X crossover ahead of its world debut at next month’s Los Angeles motor show – and its Australian release by late next year or early 2012.

The bjorn-again Scandinavian brand has confirmed the 9-4X – seen previously as a concept – will be a volume-selling member of its model range in Australia, where the all-new 9-5 sedan flagship will be released by April following the re-introduction of the full 9-3 model line-up in early 2011.

For now, Saab promises the production 9-4X five-seater, which was inspired by the Aero X concept and will be built at GM’s Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico, will deliver car-like driving dynamics and best-in-class performance.

While the former is said to be the result of Saab’s proprietary XWD all-wheel drive system matched with the Swedish car-maker’s DriveSense adaptive chassis, the latter will come from turbocharged 2.8-litre version of Holden’s Australian-built Commodore V6, which delivers 221kW at 5500rpm and a bulky 400Nm of torque between 2000 and 5000rpm in the top-shelf Aero model.

Similar to the Holden-supplied engine that powers some Saab performance models built in Trollhattan – including the new 9-5 – the intercooled all-alloy 60-degree DOHC 24-valve transverse V6 displaces 2792cc, runs 9.5:1 compression and features an intercooled twin-scroll turbocharger and variable inlet and exhaust timing.

38 center imageNo official efficiency figures have yet been revealed, but Saab says the flagship 9-4X – fitted as standard with a six-speed automatic transmission – will sprint to 100km/h in 8.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 230km/h – despite a kerb weight range of between 2085 and 2135kg and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient of 0.38Cd.

Saab has also confirmed the 9-4X Aero, which goes on sale in North America in May followed by European sales from August, will ride on 20x8.0-inch ‘turbine’ alloy wheels with 235/55 tyres, while stopping power is provided by 345x30mm front vented discs with twin-piston callipers and 315x23mm rear vented rotors with single-piston callipers.

An ABS braking system with electronic stability and traction control will be standard, maximum towing capacity will be 2000kg and a flexible interior will offer minimum cargo capacity of 485 litres with the second row of seat in place.

Based on the same all-wheel-drive Theta platform as Cadillac’s SRX crossover, the 9-4X features MacPherson strut front suspension with aluminium A-arms and a linked H-arm independent rear suspension system with coil springs and anti-roll bars at both ends.

Its variable-assistance hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering system delivers a stated turning circle of 11.9 metres via a much tighter 2.84 turns lock-to-lock.

Saab says the aircraft-inspired exterior of the 9-4X, which is “aligned in looks and size between the 9-3X and new 9-5 saloon”, extends to a spacious interior that comprises a driver-focussed cockpit with carbonfibre-like trim and traditional Saab ‘joystick’ adjusters for the mesh-style air-vents, plus flexible cargo solutions.

Naturally, the 9-4X’s push-button ignition switch is positioned between the large front seats with standard eight-way power adjustment. Infotainment includes a 10-speaker Bose system with 5.1 surround sound and an eight-inch touch-screen, hard-drive navigation system includes a bird’s eye map view and 10GB storage for music files.

There is a Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice activation and (flat-bottomed) steering wheel controls and the option of twin eight-inch screens in the rear of the front seatbacks for the rear entertainment system.

Design highlights include Saab’s trademark wrap-around front and rear windscreens, deeply recessed three-port grille, ‘hockey stick’ waistline, adaptive bi-Xenon headlights, “ice-block effect” lighting themes including an LED light bar across the lower tailgate and twin rhomboid-shaped exhaust outlets integrated into the lower bumper moulding.

Although there’s an obligatory rear tailgate spoiler, there is no body-side cladding or chunky SUV-style wheel-arch extensions. Ground clearance is adequate at 200mm.

The XWD system includes an electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differential (eLSD) that can transfer up to 50 per cent of rear torque between the rear wheels, while the adaptive chassis function of the Saab DriveSense system uses real-time damping, throttle pedal and gearshift control to adapt to road conditions and features Intelligent, Comfort and Sport modes.

Standard equipment also includes dual-zone climate-control, a rear-view camera, powered tailgate, auto-dimming mirrors, foglights, rain-sensing wipers, perforated leather seats, front and rear parking sensors, matt-alloy roof bars, Saab’s trademark Nigh Panel instrument function, an electric parking brake, cruise control and power windows/mirrors.

Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said the 9-4X significantly broadened the appeal of the Saab brand.

“It gives us entry to the fast-growing crossover segment with a vehicle that reflects our brand values in key areas, such as progressive Scandinavian design and sporty, responsible driving performance,” he said.

“The 9-4X is an exciting package and we’re confident it will appeal to many existing Saab owners, as well as win new customers for the brand.”

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