Based on the same General Motors Theta Premium architecture as the Cadillac SRX, the 9-4X was entirely designed while the Detroit automaker controlled the Swedish brand. New Saab owner Spyker says it has not made any major changes to the 9-4x since taking over the brand earlier this year. The 9-4X will be Saab's first crossover, although GM rebadged a Chevrolet TrailBlazer as a Saab 9-7x several years ago.
The 9-4X will be assembled alongside the SRX in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, built under contract by GM. Its basic design was previewed in 2008 at Detroit's North American International Auto Show as a concept car, but Saab had kept the production model under wrap until now. As these photos show, the 9-4x is essentially identical to the concept car.
Base 9-4X crossovers get a naturally-aspirated, 265-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 with direct injection and variable valve timing and either front or all-wheel-drive. Saab says a front-wheel-drive non-turbo model can sprint to 60 mph in about 7.9 seconds and sips fuel at an average of 20 mpg combined.
Saab will offer the 9-4X Aero with a turbocharged 2.8-liter, 300-horsepower V6, the same engine that is also optional in the SRX. The engine is based on a GM design, but Saab was responsible for turbocharging, so the automaker promises us that the engine is true to its Scandinavian form.
The turbocharged V6 pumps out 295 lb-ft. of torque spread between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission and is capable of propelling the crossover to 60 mph in around 7.7 seconds with all-wheel-drive. Saab says to expect combined driving to net around 18 mpg.
Saab's all-wheel-drive - dubbed XWD - will be standard on the Aero and optional on the base 9-4X. The system, already offered in the 9-3 and 9-5, features a Haldex center differential. It adds an electronically-controlled rear limited-slip differential called eLSD capable of splitting up to 50 percent of torque between the rear wheels. An adjustable DriveSense suspension with real-time damping shocks can be toggled between "comfort" and "sport" modes. A separate "Eco" button re-maps the throttle pedal and gear shift patterns for optimal fuel economy.
Pricing for the front-wheel drive 9-4X is set to begin at $34,205, with that price climbing to $38,075 for the mid-level Premium model. The range-topping 9-4X Aero -- which includes the 2.8T engine and all-wheel drive -- will list from $48,835. All prices include an $825 destination fee.
A look of its own
The 9-4X might share its structure with the SRX, but the two crossovers have their own design identities. The 9-4X was inspired by the automaker's Aero X concept car and it features a number of styling elements already shown in the Saab 9-5 sedan, including "ice block effect" lighting in a green-blue tint.
Blacked out windshield and door pillars give the 9-4X a "cockpit" look, while curved LED running lights provide a link to the 9-5 and 9-3.
The tailgate features another ice block-style light cluster running horizontally below the windshield.
Inside, the 9-4X is again visually similar to the 9-5 sedan. A wrap-around instrument panel focuses on the driver and can be detailed in either wood or carbon fiber trim. Leather seats will be standard, including power adjustment for the driver. Power-adjustable pedals will be optional.
A Bose 5.1 audio system and a touchscreen navigation system will be optional, as will dual rear-seatback-mounted 8-inch screens for an integrated DVD player.
With the second row of seats folded, the 9-4X offers 61.2 cubic feet of cargo room, about the same as the SRX. The Saab will offer a U-shaped track with a cargo divider to aid in securing luggage.
Look for the 9-4X to hit showrooms in May in the United States.