2008 Saab Turbo X

Sam Smith
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2008 Saab Turbo X

Generally speaking, history-mining special-anniversary-edition models make us a little queasy. In the new-car world, few things are less appealing than a brand so desperate for modern cachet that it resorts to mining its past successes for a minor bump in sales. If you've got any sense of history and perspective at all, these sort of things just make you feel dirty.

That said, we're not entirely against Saab's limited-edition Turbo X, a car that exists solely to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Swedish company's first foray into production turbocharging. First, we like the way it looks. (In homage to the first Saab 900 Turbo, all Turbo Xs will be painted metallic jet black and fitted with matte grey trim, something we find enormously cool.) Second, while it's hard to forgive a company that put its entire marketing might behind a lame slogan like "Born From Jets," we have to admit: The 900 Turbo was a bad-ass car, and anything done in direct tribute to its sleeper/Swedish land missile bad-assness is okay by us.

The Turbo X is an amalgamation of some of the niftiest stuff that Saab has on offer these days. An all-wheel-drive system (Saab's recently announced "XWD" system; the Turbo X is its first production incarnation) is standard, and it features an electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential that helps manage torque between the rear wheels. An uprated version of the company's turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 lives under the hood, and it produces 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. (Buyers will get to choose between a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, so at least they get to decide how their poison is delivered to the wheels.) Larger brakes, stiffer springs and shocks (complete with a ten-millimeter drop in ride height) and 245-width, eighteen-inch tires round out the package. (Nineteen-inchers are available as an option outside the U.S. and Canada.)

Like every other special-anniversary edition since the dawn of time, the Turbo X comes complete with a host of cosmetic updates. A new front and rear fascia are standard, the leather sport seats are available only in black, the main dash is finished in faux carbon fiber (along with the shift lever and door panels), and a unique steering wheel is fitted. Topping things off, the Turbo X's boost gauge is a visual copy of the original 900 Turbo's display.

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