A drive in the new 9-3X last night has got me contemplating one of the most interesting and pertinent questions in car-making right now: where does Saab go next?

Last week the Swedish government agreed to guarantee a loan from the European Investment Bank that promises to provide a new dawn for the company free from GM control.

If the Koenigsegg Group’s acquisition of Saab goes through, the firm will finally be free to do things entirely its own way. So where will the company’s famously independent streak, known to cause General Motors’ accountants much frustration, take it?

I’ve never found it easy to understand Saab; always had to work at it to appreciate the ‘alternative, progressive appeal’ of its cars. That’s probably because, under GM, the brand has never been at the height of its powers.

The 9-3X, for example, isn’t a bad car. The one I drove, a 2.0-litre Turbo, had a fine powertrain, a sophisticated ‘cross-wheel drive’ system and pretty decent performance and refinement. For a Saab.

But that, of course, is the problem; as modern car-buyers, we’ve grown so accustomed to this company producing cars that don’t quite measure up to the competition in so many ways.

Cars that aren’t good enough, in terms of performance, dynamics, ergonomics, quality and more, to worry a Honda or VW, let alone an Audi or Mercedes. And while they’ve grown accustomed to making average cars, we’ve grown used to accepting them.