Saab Automobile makes the headlines at this year’s Los Angles Auto Show by launching the 9-4X, its first crossover vehicle, and showing its 9-3 ePower, the prototype for a fleet of all-electric test vehicles.
While the 9-4X's styling is clearly the evolution of Saab's Aero X concept, the Cadillac SRX provides much of the crossover's underpinnings. It was developed during GM's ownership of Saab'. That means the 9-4X gets the GM Cadillac's 198kW 3.0-litre V6 or Australian-made 224kW turbocharged 2.8-litre V6, both mated to a six-speed automatic.
Inside, the cabin comes nicely equipped with leather upholstery, eight-way power seats, wood trim (faux carbon fiber in the Aero), mesh-style air vents, and a center console-mounted push-button ignition. Saab also offers a Bose audio system, GPS navigation (with an eight-inch touchscreen), tri-zone climate control, and a rear entertainment system.
Available in three trims, the 9-4X base model is powered by a 265-horsepower, 3-liter V-6 and will cost about $38,000. An all-wheel-drive version is also available using the same powertrain. The top-of-the-line 9-4X Aero, pictured above, employs a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 that cranks 300 horsepower and will cost about $50,000.
New Saab 9-4X: World Premiere. Scandinavian Choice for the Crossover Segment
- Saab enters growing crossover segment
- Progressive Scandinavian design inspired by Aero X concept
- Car-like driving dynamics challenge best-in-class performance
- Advanced Saab XWD mated with Saab DriveSense adaptive chassis
- Spacious cabin, driver-focused cockpit and ample storage
- Compact, light, efficient engines: 265 hp 3.0V6i and 300 hp 2.8V6 turbo
- Flexible cargo management system
The new 9-4X brings unique Saab design and engineering values to the growing mid-size crossover segment. With distinctive Scandinavian and aircraft-inspired looks, it also offers car-like handling and ride characteristics that challenge class benchmarks.
Making its world premiere at next month's Los Angles Auto Show, the 9-4X expands Saab's product portfolio to three car lines and will provide a fresh, alternative choice for independently-minded crossover buyers. It is an important next-step in the Swedish brand's renaissance as an independent premium car manufacturer.
Muscular and sporty to drive, the 9-4X is aligned in looks and size between the 9-3X all-rounder and new 9-5 sedan. Outside and inside, it communicates its Saab identity with clean, uncluttered design and signature motifs, such as its wraparound-effect windshield, ice block lighting theme, driver-focused cockpit and flexible cargo handling.
In true Saab tradition, the 9-4X delivers on its sporty persona. It is configured around a unique, purpose-designed crossover body structure, which has been key to delivering its exceptional handling and ride properties. Car-like driving dynamics are supported by Saab's advanced all-wheel-drive system, Saab XWD, and DriveSense adaptive chassis control.
Under the hood, nestles a choice of compact and efficient V6 engines, naturally-aspirated or turbocharged. The 265 hp, 3.0-liter motor for the entry-level model features direct fuel injection and variable valve timing; while the 300 hp, 2.8-liter exchanges direct injection for twin-scroll turbocharging and is exclusive to top-of-line Aero variants. Both engines are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions under adaptive, electronic control.
"The 9-4X significantly broadens the appeal of the Saab brand," says Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. "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. 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."
The 9-4X goes on sale in North America in May next year, with sales in Europe and other global markets due to begin from August. Prices will be announced shortly before sales commence.
Body sculpted by Saab
The 9-4X cuts a broad and powerful stance, with clean, uncluttered lines that echo Saab's Scandinavian design ethos. Its distinctive face, in common with the new 9-5 sedan, draws inspiration from the award-winning Aero X concept car, with a deep, three-port grille and ‘ice-block'-effect lighting themes.
Disguised windshield and door pillars create Saab's signature wraparound-effect, the single glasshouse graphic emphasizing the brand's traditional ‘cockpit' look. Other exterior Saab identifiers include the shaping of the headlamps, a ‘hockey stick' waistline and strong C-pillars complemented by a wraparound-effect rear screen.
The roofline is visually lowered and extended by a rear spoiler integrated in to the tailgate. At the rear, the lighting carries forward a signature introduced by the new 9-5 sedan. An ‘ice-block' bar lit by LEDs extends across the lower tailgate and wraps around the light units. Twin rhomboid-shaped exhaust tailpipes are also neatly integrated into the lower bumper molding.
Overall, the 9-4X's bodywork is noticeably free from unnecessary decoration or trim. A dark protective appliqué is applied to the lower body, but there are no wheel-arch claddings or protective body panels.
Entry-level variants are fitted with 18-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels and Aero models are distinguished by 20-inch, nine-spoke 'turbine' alloy wheels, as well as a black mesh front grille.
The spacious cabin provides comfortable accommodation for up to five adults and is defined by a signature Saab, driver-focused cockpit layout. The center console, center stack and main instrument display are presented within a single form that sweeps up around the driver. For the 9-4X, this is finished with wood or, for Aero interiors, a carbon fiber-effect trim.
Other subtle references to Saab's aviation heritage include a selectable, aircraft attitude-style speed read-out, green illumination for the needles of the three main dials and traditional Saab ‘joystick' adjusters for the mesh-style air vents. The ignition - a start/stop button - is, of course, located between the front seats, in true Saab tradition, adjacent to the shift lever.
Large, supportive seats include a standard, 8-way electrical adjustment for the driver and an optional electrical adjustment of the foot pedals. Rear passengers enjoy particularly roomy accommodation as rear space is not compromised by the presence of a third row of seats. They also benefit from an independent, three-way manual adjustment of the rake of each 60/40 fold seatback.
Ample onboard storage includes double-decked pockets in all doors, a two-tier front glovebox and a deep bin in the center console with 12-volt, USB and AUX connections. Rear passengers have additional storage in the rear face of the center console and the center armrest.
Infotainment includes two audio options, a seven-speaker or top-of-the-line, 10-speaker Bose system with 5.1 surround sound. The optional 8-inch touchscreen, hard disk-based navigation system includes a bird's eye map view and 10 GB storage for ‘jukebox' music files. Communication on the move is supported by an integrated Bluetooth hands-free phone system, which functions via voice command and steering wheel controls, as well as the infotainment panel.
In the rear, passengers can enjoy independent climate control, in addition to the standard dual-zone system, and select their own onboard audio/visual entertainment through a dedicated unit in the back of the center console. This has a video AUX input and two 8-inch screens in the rear face of the front seatbacks.
Adaptable cargo carrying
The trunk of the 9-4X is optimized for space and ease of use. The 60/40 split seatbacks fold down in a single movement, without having to move the seat cushions or remove the retractable head restraints, providing a completely flat cargo deck.
The front section of the trunk floor is hinged and can be opened via an aircraft-shaped handle to reveal an additional under floor storage. Floor space can be tailored as required by an optional, U-shaped track with a telescopic cargo dividing rail, which can be moved to any position to keep items in place.
For additional convenience, the tailgate is available with a remotely controlled, hydraulically powered operation. It can open fully, or to a lower, programmable position if there is restricted clearance overhead, such as in the garage.
On the move
The Saab 9-4X brings car-like handling and ride qualities to the crossover segment. Extensive development testing alongside competitor vehicles shows the 9-4X has a level of dynamic performance - in ride refinement as well as handling - that challenges the very best in its class..
Key to such excellent driving qualities is a unique body structure, purpose-designed for a crossover application and free from compromises through adapting an existing sedan or wagon format.
Advanced driving technologies include Saab XWD, the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, which infinitely varies drive torque between the front and rear axles. This pre-emptive, light and fast-acting system offers optimized grip in all conditions, dry or wet, smooth or loose, on road or off-road. It is combined with an electronically-controlled, rear limited-slip differential (eLSD) which can transfer up to 50% of rear torque between the rear wheels, to whichever has more grip
Driver and vehicle in the Aero are brought even closer together by Saab DriveSense, an adaptive chassis function which uses real time damping control to help the 9-4X react to how it is being driven and to changing road conditions. In addition to the default ‘Intelligent' setting, the driver can select ‘Comfort' and ‘Sport' modes. An ‘Eco' mode, activated via a separate button, also re-maps the throttle pedal and gearshifting patterns for optimal fuel economy.
Other driving aids include variable effort steering, a function of Saab DriveSense, and standard bi-xenon adaptive lighting, which provides better illumination of upcoming bends by linking the direction of the headlamp beam to the steering angle.
Efficient power packs
The powertrain line-up comprises two efficient all-aluminum V6 engines, both with a six-speed automatic transmission and Saab XWD. These light and compact, 24-valve motors feature variable valve timing, on both inlet and exhaust sides, and boast power ratings typical of larger displacement engines.
A 265 hp (195 kW), 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated motor for the entry-level specification includes direct fuel injection. It propels the 9-4X from zero to 100 km/h in just 9.0 seconds.
Available exclusively in Aero specification, the 2.8-liter turbo engine packs 300 hp (221 kW) and generates an impressive 400 Nm spread of torque between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm. It delivers zero to 100 km/h acceleration in 8.3 seconds. Fuel consumption figures for both engines are still being finalised.
Leading safety performance
Excellent safety complements strong performance, and the 9-4X benefits from more than 50 years of Saab experience in working with occupant protection. Saab crash testing and computer simulations are based on what happens in real collisions, on real roads. Many in-house tests developed by Saab are over and above those legally required or carried out by consumer test organizations.
The success of Saab's work is reflected in surveys of real-life collisions by the US Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Swedish Folksam insurance company, where Saab cars have consistently scored well, several times being ranked best in their segment. The Saab 9-3 and the new 9-5 sedan are also maximum 5-star performers in EuroNCAP crash safety tests.