Saab desperately needs hot new product: The new 9-3 is a great car that so far has not struck much of a chord in its crowded market segment. Saab (and parent General Motors) hope that a restyled Subaru WRX wagon will put the Swedish marque back on people's shopping lists. The entry-level (for an upscale brand) 9-2 is being built in cooperation with Subaru, which is partially owned by GM, and will be offered as an all-wheel-drive, five-door hatchback beginning in spring 2004. Power will be supplied by the Subaru Impreza's 165-horsepower, 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder in the base model and the WRX's 227-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer four in the 9-2 Aero. The 9-2 has GM vice chairman of product development Bob Lutz's fingerprints all over it: He is a great supporter of Saab within the GM family and in fact drives a 9-5 wagon personally. The WRX's only real weaknesses have been its slightly shoddy interior materials and, to some eyes, its boy-racer-ish exterior, so it will be interesting to see what sort of new wrapper Saab stylists create for the superb Subaru mechanicals.
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