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HarleyEarl

Saab 9-2X

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http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05244/563326.stm

Saab wagon's interior uninviting
Thursday, September 01, 2005

By Don Hammonds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Saving money on production costs is clearly a top priority with automakers, which means the days when each make would have its own engine, frame, body and styling are gone, replaced with one platform and set of components to make a wide variety of models.




Saab
Saab's 9-2X retains the carmaker's identity with its front end, side profile and sharp alloy wheels.


That's OK, I guess, as long as each product still has a separate identity. But it can be a problem when identities don't mesh well, as is the case in some instances with Saab's new 9-2X, a sport wagon based on the popular Subaru Impreza.

For the most part, the transformation -- aimed at taking full advantage of Saab owner General Motors' partnership with Subaru -- has been successful, except in a very important area: the interior. (There's also a serious problem with low-end power, torque and acceleration with this car, but I'll get to that in a moment).

Our test model was the 9-2X Aero 5 Door with a base price of $26,950. That included such niceties as a 227-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine; all-wheel drive; air conditioning; full power accessories; and front-seat head, thorax and side air bags. The price can escalate quickly: An automatic transmission with cold-weather and sport packages, performance tires, sun roof and alloy wheels brought the total to $31,445.

The 9-2X's big calling card is its sporty, elegant look. Saab did a terrific job making this car really take on its corporate identity, particularly when you look at the front end, the side profile and the sharp alloy wheels. In dark colors such as the blue mica on my test model, it's a real eye catcher.

Then you move inside. Ouch. The only thing that says "Saab" about this car is the emblem on the steering wheel. The materials, the design of the seats and the presentation shouted "cheap economy car." I've seen better in some of those cheap economy cars!

The seats seemed unsupportive, the gauges looked so-so and the two-tone gray and black interior did nothing for making it an inviting place to be. If Saab has any chance at all to compete in this market, it will need to address the interior, and pronto.

The engine gave me pause, too. There's very little low-end oomph to speak of, even with the turbo factored into it. It's so slow, in fact, that several people asked me if something was wrong with the car.

Once you got into higher speeds, the engine suddenly came alive, providing lots of punch, strong acceleration and pretty decent passing abilities. Handling with this car is crisp, precise and with reasonably fast steering, so Saab has you covered on this angle as well.

To be sure, the car itself is a nice one, but Saab's challenge will be cross-shopping. When I can get an all-new base model BMW 3 Series, or a nicely equipped Audi A4 or an Infiniti G-35 for about the same money, somehow a Saab that's based on a Subaru doesn't quite come off right. It's not the car's fault; it's just the way the car's been positioned in the market.

There is a cheaper, nonturbocharged alternative. With a $22,990 starting price, the Linear model of the 9-2X makes a much better case for itself -- priced right down there with some very ordinary economy models. If you throw in two years of free maintenance, a four-year/50,000-mile warranty and some other niceties not offered by Subaru, the 9-2X Linear makes an even better case.

My advice to Saab is this: Get busy on that interior and add more flavor that says "Saab." And do something about low-end power with the turbo setup.

And my suggestion to you is this: If scorching fast performance is not a high "must have" on your plate, take a serious look at the lower-line model, the Linear, a terrific way to get Saab fun without a Saab price tag.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saab 9-2X


Price: $22,990
Engine: 2.5-liter, 165-hp. 4
Mileage: 22/29
Traction control: not available
Stability control: not available
Side air bags: dual front with head-protection chambers
Basic warranty: 4 years, 50,000 miles
Luggage capacity: 27.9 cu. ft.
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The 9-2X is a perfectly fine buy after GMS pricing. For $16-20K, the interior is perfectly fine as well, particularly with the two-tone textile or leather seating.
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I totaly agree with this review and have thought this ever since the 9-2x came out. Honestly, if GM wants to pass up a subaru as a Saab, they could at least go 100% and give it a genuine Saab interior. Ok, fine, don't need to re-mold a new dash, but at least give it some saab vents, a Saab steering wheel (not a subaru one with a saab badge) give us a Saab "font" styled gauge cluster, give us the Saab seats, not Subaru seats as they are very cheap and feel like nothing but a wire mesh carcase with cushions and cloth. That is the most embarasing. A saab needs to have either nice velour or thick leather surfaces. If GM infused a bit of cash, they could even slightly redesign the rear hatch and the angle it is set at to look more like a saab with the thick tapering pillar at the back. Last but not least, replace the freaking subaru engine with a B202 engine from saab's inventory!!!! that would eliminate their low power issues..... they always talk of saab's turbocharging heritage, well this is a subaru turbocharged system and not a saab one. Get that thing out of there and put in what is true to saab. Over and Out. Edited by TurboRush
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I had the chance to sit and drive the 9-2x Aero over a period of three months and I really liked it. It would be the perfect car for me. The interior although a little awkward looking especially with the cheap looking radio wasn't economy car looking. It seemed to be very well put together(not surprising) and the plastic had a decent feel to it. The seats had that cool two toned leather and while it's not necissarily up to par with the competition, it was exactly what I expected it to be. A cool rally Saab that fills out the brand's lower end. Of course this was just a quick fix but I'm glad they used this car and not the Cobalt as a starting point.
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The 9-2X is a perfectly fine buy after GMS pricing. For $16-20K, the interior is perfectly fine as well, particularly with the two-tone textile or leather seating.

[post="10331"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I agree, at our dealership we sold our allocation VERY QUICK with the GMS pricing. It was cheaper than the Subaru. Customer satisfaction was also VERY high. The SAAB also had features that the comperable Subaru did not have. The best part of this though was we were able to screw the local Subaru dealer out of car sales...........ahhhhhh, refreshing.
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I agree, at our dealership we sold our allocation VERY QUICK with the GMS pricing. It was cheaper than the Subaru. Customer satisfaction was also VERY high. The SAAB also had features that the comperable Subaru did not have. The best part of this though was we were able to screw the local Subaru dealer out of car sales...........ahhhhhh, refreshing.

[post="14757"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



Ha, Ha now that's really funny. The only way to sell the Saabaru is to actually sell it for LESS than the equivalent Subaru model. And GM loses money as a result.

And people are trying to say this car was a smart move by GM???
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