By Kevin Miller
Saab has announced their pricing and model updates for 2009. The biggest news is that the phenomenal XWD (cross-wheel drive) all-wheel drive system highlighted by the limited-edition Turbo X will be available in four-cylinder 2.0T 9-3 Sport Sedan and SportCombi variants. The XWD system also becomes standard in the V6 Turbocharged Aero versions of those bodystyes, where it was introduced as an option in 2008. Saab’s XWD is not available on the 9-3 Convertible, because it has a unique floorpan that cannot accommodate the rear-wheel-drive components.
Saab XWD is a fully automatic, on-demand system capable of sending up to 100 percent of engine torque to the front or rear wheels whenever necessary. The system is activated only when required, limiting the impact on fuel economy. This technologically advanced all-wheel drive system includes two innovative features: pre-emptive engagement of the rear wheels to optimize traction at take-off; and an electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD) that allows variable torque transfer between the rear wheels. The eLSD, however, is available only on Aero models; it is not available on 2.0T models. Saab’s XWD system was fitted to the Turbo X SportCombi we tested earlier this year offered a very impressive balance of power delivery and handling.
Also for 2009, Saab 9-3 2.0T Sport Sedan buyers can choose a Sport appearance and performance package which includes Aero-type dual bright finish tailpipes, sport bolstered seats, metallic interior decor, upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned chassis and new, sportier-looking 17 by 7.5-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.
Fuel economy figures are not available yet for the 2009 9-3 2.0T XWD. In 2008 the Aero FWD was rated 16/26 MPG, while the Aero XWD was rated 16/24 MPG. If the 2.0T XWD only loses 2 MPG Highway, that will give it a rating of 19/27 MPG vs. the 19/29 MPG rating of the front-wheel drive car. That compares favorably to the Volvo V50 AWD’s rating of 17/25 MPG, though it’s city rating would be beaten by the Audi A4 Avant Quattro’s 21/27 MPG rating.
The prices for the XWD vehicles look expensive compared to their front-wheel drive counterparts, but know that they come with much more equipment standard. The Saab 9-3 2.0T XWD Sport Sedan and SportCombi will come standard with additional equipment including winter package, moonroof and automatic transmission, though a 6-speed manual will be available. Looking at a 2009 9-3 2.0T XWD with an MSRP of $36285, and subtracting the value of the packages- winter package ($550), Moonroof ($1200), and automatic transmission ($1350)- and given last year’s standalone XWD option price of $2645, the basic price of the SportCombi has only gone up $180 from last year.
Realistically the price increases are fairly modest, with the exception of the inexplicable jump in price of the 9-3 Aero V6 Turbo convertible, which has jumped a whopping $3225, from $46385 to an eye-watering $49610. I’ll be reviewing the 2008 version of this very car for the next seven days, and will be paying attention what it does well to command such a big chunk of cash. It is surprising to see this vehicle priced $9005 more than its four-cylinder 2.0T sibling.
For Saab’s 9-5 and 9-7X models, there are few changes in 2009. The 9-5 range gets revised power window switches in the center console and new exterior colors, with Aero models receiving a high-gloss black metallic interior finish and new 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. Enhancements to 9-7X models include new Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity that interfaces with the vehicles’ audio system, as well as two new exterior colors and return of the Altitude Edition package, which includes DVD navigation infotainment and highly-polished 18-inch wheels.
Perhaps the biggest Saab news for 2009 will be the introduction of the 9-4X Crossover which is expected to happen this January in Detroit. This crossover, which was designed in Europe but will be manufactured in North America, will be a thoroughly modern vehicle jumping into a hotly-contested segment. That introduction should be closely followed by the premiere of the new 9-5, which is aimed directly at the best European sedans. That premiere should happen in Geneva in March, with vehicles on sale about a year from now. Both the 9-4x and 9-5 look to feature available all-wheel drive and efficient turbocharged engines.
While we had reported earler this year that Saab’s European Delivery Program was intended to return for the 2009 model year, that program is still on hold until further notice. As the program’s popularity is largely seasonal (read: springtime and summer), more details may be forthcoming as next spring approaches.
Saab U.S. Model Year 2009 Pricing (excludes $ 775 destination charges)
• 9-3 2.0T Sport Sedan: 28,835
• 9-3 2.0T SportCombi: 30,265
• 9-3 2.0T XWD Sport Sedan: 34,870
• 9-3 2.0T XWD SportCombi: 36,285
• 9-3 Aero V6T XWD Sport Sedan: 41,885
• 9-3 Aero V6T XWD SportCombi: 43,165
• 9-3 2.0T Convertible: 40,605
• 9-3 Aero V6T Convertible: 49,610
• 9-5 2.3T Sedan: 38,830
• 9-5 2.3T SportCombi: 39,650
• 9-5 Aero Sedan: 39,400
• 9-5 Aero SportCombi: 40,765
• 9-7X SUV 4.2i: 40,935
• 9-7X SUV 5.3i: 43,665
• 9-7X SUV Aero: 47,425
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