6 June 2005

Saab has given the go ahead to its own version of Subaru’s B9 Tribeca. Expected to be badged 9-6X, the car will be built by Subaru at its US factory in Indiana. The plant has capacity for up to 15,000 Saabs per year, around half of the number of B9s that Subaru is planning per year.

Saab sources have indicated that 1000 left-hand-drive models will arrive in Europe by the end of the year. Right-hand-drive production begins in spring 2006.

The 9-6X’s unique styling has been inspired by the 9X concept (especially around the nose), although it’s thought that the interior will be basically the same as the donor car. At launch there will be one engine option, a 3.0-litre flat six hooked up to permanent four-wheel drive. The car has seven seats, though the third row is probably most suited for children.

Saab had planned to show a concept version of the 9-6X earlier this year. When it failed to appear, speculation grew that the project had been canned, partly because of the slow sales of the Impreza-based 9-2X. Meanwhile, it looks likely that the next-generation Saab 9-5 will be built by Opel in Russelsheim from 2008 alongside the next 9-3 range.

Production of the old and new generation cars will overlap. Sources are also suggesting that Saab’s Trollhätten factory will survive after mainstream production ends by building ‘niche’ models that have total production runs of between 20 and 40,000 units.

Also, prices have been revealed for the new 9-3 SportWagon. It kicks off at £17,995 for the entry-level 1.8i and £19,995 for the 1.9 diesel. The flagship Aero 2.0T costs £25,495 and the 2.8 V6-engined Aero £27,795.

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