What is it?
It’s probably a bit portentous to call this car a very important moment for Saab – wait for next month’s Geneva show to see the stuff that will really shape the brand’s future – but the Turbo X matters because it’s the first outing for GM’s new Saab developed four-wheel drive transmission, and it adds a dash of sports saloon interest to the 9-3 range.
So it gets a slightly tweaked 2.8-litre V6 with 276bhp and upgraded brakes, the 4x4 drivetrain which can split torque to each rear wheel via a new electronic rear diff, a smart bodykit with a set of very interesting optional asymmetric wheels and some interior upgrades including a thicker wheel.
Black’s the only colour and the UK is only getting 500, so it’s always going to be a rarity.
What’s it like?
At last, a hot Saab that can put down its power on the road rather than wasting most of it in a flurry of front tyre agitation. Front drive V6 9-3s are a handful and feel clumsy – by contrast this is so much more competent and efficient, and makes a better job of using the available power. It also means the steering isn’t utterly overwhelmed when you’re pulling away – the drivetrain sends most of power to the rear at take off – which improves the whole demeanour of the car. And that means you can work the smooth V6 with more enjoyment and efficiency.