Car Review Of The 2005 Saab 9-2x Compact Near Luxury Wagon
Base MSRP Range: $22,990 - $26,950
Base Invoice Range: $21,841 - $25,603
MSRP As Tested: Not Available
Versions: Linear, Aero
Vehicle Category: Compact Near Luxury Wagon
Engine Location: Front Engine
Drive Wheels: All Wheel Drive
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 2.5 Liter Manual 21/28, 2.5 Liter Automatic 22/28, 2.0 Liter Turbocharged Manual 20/27, 2.0 Liter Automatic 19/26.
Standard Safety Features: Driver and front passenger airbags, power-assisted disc brakes, ">Antilock Braking System (ABS).
Competition: Volvo S40, Infiniti I35, Infiniti G35, Acura TSX, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat, BMW 325I, Audi A4 1.8T, Lexus IS 300, Lexus GS300.
Hellhole Palms, CA -- Nice, but nutty. That's what we call the GM marketing people who told us the buyer demographic for the 2004 Saab 9-2x is a single guy, 28 years old, urban dweller, making $75,000 a year. WWWWHHHHAAAATTTTT? There can't be more than 5,000 of those kind of people in the entire country! "That's why we're only making 8,000 of them," said our nice, but nutty, marketing person.
The Saab 9-2x was designed to compete in the new "premium compact sport sedan" market started by Volvo, with the launch of their S40, about 5 years ago. While we don't think the 9-2x is quite "premium" enough to compete with the S40, it is nonetheless a very cool car. It's fun to drive, and looks great. But it is not a premium, or near-luxury car by any stretch of the imagination.
In their rush to bring an upscale compact product to market, GM's Saab Division has taken GM's Subaru WRX wagon, reskinned it, and put in Saab seats. Other than the seats, the interior is the same as the WRX, which is definatly not premium.
The base model Saab 9-2x Linear, costs a whopping $5,000 more than the comparable Subaru Impreza wagon. The upmarket Saab 9-2x Aero, with 227-hp, costs $2,500 more than the Subaru WRX wagon. We don't think there are many people willing to pay these premiums just to get a Subaru product with a Saab logo on it. However if you are willing to pay the premium, and you don't mind that the Swedish Saab you bought was made in Japan by Subaru, then you'll get a great car that handles well, brakes hard, and is a blast to drive on twisty roads.
This vehicle launch confirmed our suspicion that Saab is getting GMized -- assimilated into the Borg collective, and thus resistance is futile. Saab is loosing its identity as a Swedish car company. The 9-2x is proof. But the saddest part is that historically Saab has been one of the few automakers willing to take risks and offer truly unique products. GM's influence is eliminating them as one of the benchmark companies in automotive design.
If you don't mind the fact that your Saab, isn't really a Saab -- the key is inserted on the steering column and not on the center console as with all previous Saabs -- then you'll get a satisfying vehicle.
General Motors jumped the gun on this product introduction. They were over anxious for Saab to have a product to compete in the new Premium Compact Sport Sedan market. They should have given Saab a little more time to introduce a vehicle of their own into this segment.
The 9-2x is only available as a wagon. This because it is targeted at one-person households, thus it has to serve multiple purposes as a sports, commuter, daily hauler and weekend getaway car.
The car has a traditional Saab three-opening grill. The nose is not quite as tapered as Swedish-built Saabs as the redesigned skin is stretched over a longer Subaru front end. The Aero version is turbocharged, and intercooled, so there is a large opening on the hood to conduct air. Overall the 9-2x looks like a Saab and is a more attractive, sophisticated, and refined than the Subaru WRX. It's like the difference between a gangly teenager, and fit 28-year old man.
There is one special color available for this product called Desert Silver Metallic. Get it in this color. It makes the car a little bit more collectible.
The outstanding interior features in the 9-2x are the Saab seats with whiplash protection. These are much better than the Subaru seats, and hold you in place when whipping the car around on mountain roads. Having an anti-whiplash protection system is worth paying extra for.
Volvo's S40 has a lovely interior with excellent fit and finish. The Saab 9-2x is really an economy-level Subaru interior with Saab seats. But because the interior really isn't near-luxury, the 9-2x can't compete with the Volvo V40. Blame this on GM's rush to market.
There are two engine options for the 9-2x. The first is available in the Linear model. It is a 165-horsepower, 4-cylinder, horizontally opposed, normally-aspirated Boxer engine.
The Aero version has a 227-horsepower, turbocharged, 4-cylinder, horizontally-opposed Boxer engine. This is a great engine. It really performs, and the acceleration is fabulous. The Subaru WRX, with the same engine, is a race-winner in the World Rally Championship. This speaks volumes for the engine and product overall. If you are considering the 9-2x we highly recommend the Aero version. It's the only one to buy.
Ride and Handling
The 9-2x is the only Saab available in the US with all-wheel drive. This is great for tough winters in the north and rainy summers in the south. Given that the Subaru WRX also has all-wheel drive, it is likely most buyers will opt for the less-expensive product since there is little that distinguishes between the two.
There are two transmissions available. Standard on the base model Linear is a 5-speed manual transmission. This is a good transmission, as good as what is in a Toyota, or Mazda. It's easy to shift, and has a nice short throw for optimal "whipping around." It is an option in the Aero, but it is the right transmission to have in the car.
There is an optional 4-speed automatic transmission. While one might need it for fighting daily traffic, you'll miss the fun of the manual when you get to take the 9-2x into the mountains. Opt for the manual.
Saab has a good reputation for safety. The body structure is heavier than the Subaru, making it a bit sturdier. The Saab seats and whiplash protection are the only things setting the 9-2x apart from the Subaru WRX. The 9-2x has done well in Europe's NCAP tests, so we expect it to do fairly well in the NHTSA and IIHS tests. But those have not been conducted yet.
While the 9-2x is handles well, has loads of acceleration, is fun to drive, and is more radical looking, it really is not worth the premium over the Subaru WRX, especially the Linear. It does everything Saab says it should do, except the interior is not premium. Competitors like the Volvo S40 are building great interiors, so GM needs to rethink what it will allow Saab to do.
Pros: Great performance and handling. True rally race car. Stick-to-the-road performance. Great brakes, acceleration, and seats. More radical exterior design than the WRX
Cons: The car is not worth the premium price over its sister, the Subaru WRX, especially the Linear model. If you try to impress someone in-the-know with your car choice, you won't succeed. They'll know it is just a re-skinned Subaru WRX.
- Style: 8
- Performance: 8
- Price: 6
- Handling: 8
- Ride: 7
- Comfort: 7
- Quality: 7
- *Overall: 7.2
Where Built: Japan.
Major Options: Premium Package, Sport package, Cold Weather Package, Power Sunroof.
Number of Rows: 2
Length in Inches: 175.6
Warranties: 4 years/50,000 Comprehensive warranty, 6 years/unlimited corrosion, 3 years/36,000 free scheduled maintenance, 4 years/50,000 free roadside assistance.
Weight in Pounds: 3,070.
Maximum Payload in Pounds: Not Available.
Maximum Gross Vehicle Weigh in Pounds: Not Available
Towing Capacity in Pounds: 3,330.
Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 15.9
Destination Charge: $695