Saab 9-3, 9-3X ,9-4X, 9-5, 9-1
It's ok to Saab at the end of a marriage.
Whatever Saab's future holds, we know it will be independent of General Motors, which has said it will cut ties to the Swedish automaker by early 2010. For Saab's new owner (which may be identified by the time you read this), the question is how much of the brand's future model program it will retain, given that it is so heavily entwined with either Opel or Cadillac models. Naturally, the near-term entries are less subject to disruption than those several years out.
That means the 9-3X wagon, unveiled at Geneva and due to go on sale this fall, is a sure thing. Thematically similar to the Volvo XC70 or the Subaru Outback, it features standard all-wheel drive and a 1.4-inch-taller ride height, and it can be identified by its gray lower-body cladding. A 210-hp turbo four is the sole engine, but buyers have a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions. Also set to appear before the end of 2009 is the long-overdue new 9-5, offered in sedan or wagon form and based on the Opel Insignia.
Another tardy arrival is Saab's first crossover, the 9-4X (pictured), a handsome, five-seat entry previewed by last year's concept. A sister model to the new Cadillac SRX, it replaces the ill-conceived, Chevy TrailBlazer-based 9-7X and is due to reach showrooms in 2010. For the next 9-3, set for 2011, GM's idea was to separate it from the 9-5 by moving the 9-3 down in size and price, basing it on the Chevy Cruze. The daring plan featured three body styles - a long-roof two-door hatchback, a four-door wagon, and a convertible, but no four-door sedan - powered by turbo four-cylinders ranging from 1.4 to 2.4 liters (200 to 300 hp) and a trio of diesels. An even smaller entry, the 9-1, was to be paired with the next Opel Corsa and would use engines as small as a 1.0-liter three-cylinder. The 9-1 wasn't likely before 2013, by which time Saab's GM-laid plans might seem like ancient history.