Throughout its history, Swedish car maker, Saab, has been building some of the most recusant cars on the road. While extremely modern in concept, Saab vehicles were never seen as conformists to auto industry norms. The company has been a developer of many new technologies throughout its existence, such as the turbo charger, yet has also held on to many traditional design and engineering elements, like its center consol mounted ignition key, despite what the rest of the auto industry has done. Since General Motors took over, however, many have feared that Saab would be forced to conform to General Motors' ways. The 2008 Turbo X XWD is Saab’s newest creation. The question is, does it retain Saab’s quirky “born from jets” character, or embody a more familiar American persona?
Although you can no longer separate yourself from the pack of sports sedan owners with the purchase of a 5-door Saab fastback, you can still be proud of the fact that the trapazoidal-grilled front fascia of the Turbo X remains true to Saabs of yore. With a choice of only one color (Metallic Jet Black), the limited edition Saab Turbo X will likely be considered a collector’s item in certain automotive circles. Only 300 Turbo X sedans and 300 Turbo X SportCombis (Saab speak for sport wagon) will come off the line in its first year of production. Some features that distinguish the Turbo X from the 9-3 are the X's deeper front lip spoiler and integrated air intake as well as a functional spoiler sprouting from the X's rear deck lid.
While much of the X's cockpit switchgear has been simplified to a more familiar rotating knob design, the Saab interior designers made sure to throw in some traditional Saab seasoning to keep loyal Saab fans happy. For example, the boost gage in the Turbo X is actually a throw back to the gage found in the original Saab 900 Turbo. Other interior touches that further distinguish the Turbo X from the rest of the 9-3 lineup are carbon fiber trim, an instrument display that can be programmed to read “All Systems Go” upon startup and can also be programmed by your dealership to display your name and vehicle production number.
While not the first all-wheel-drive vehicle to wear the Saab badge, the Turbo X is among the first to incorporate Saab’s
The only eyesores that remind us of the inevitable fact that the Saab Turbo X is indeed a member of the GM family are the inadequately disguised Black Tie stereo (common to most GM vehicles) and the Onstar controls. While it was important for GM to take cost effective measures to ensure that Saab would not go bankrupt back in 1994, this cost-cutting has gone unchecked and is now infringing on the visual characteristics of the car rather than just the underlying chassis.
Now that Saab sales are on the rise, it would be nice to see Saab-sourced switchgear and electronics return to the cockpits of all Saab vehicles. Furthermore, a revisit to promising Saab engineering programs like the Variable Compression Engine would put Saab back on the map of automotive pioneers and likely attract past Saab enthusiasts who were alienated when GM took the reins. Thankfully, there is hope, as the heart of a true Saab still beats enthusiastically under the Turbo X’s hood. The 280 horsepower 2.8 liter turbo charged V-6 engine is not found in any other GM vehicle nor any other Saab for that matter and it’s boosty power delivery, along with the turbine’s characteristic whistle, reassures you that the Turbo X’s jet-fighter DNA is still intact.
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