First Saab 9-4X rolls off the assembly line

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Chassis number 00001 of Saab's all-new 9-4X crossover rolled off the line earlier this week, marking the production start of a model that should do a lot to restore the iconic Swedish automaker's reputation back to its former luster.

"This is a great day for Saab," said Saab Automobile President & CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. "The arrival of the 9-4X is another important step in the fulfillment of our business plan. This sporty and distinctive product will significantly broaden the appeal of our brand and give us access to an important new vehicle segment that is still growing, particularly in the United States."

The new 9-4X is more traditionally Saab than the brand's previous attempt at selling an SUV. It's a large compact, relatively lightweight, powered by a turbocharged V6 and is based on GM's unibody Theta platform architecture designed for front-wheel and all-wheel drive applications.

The same undercarriage serves premium customers well when carrying Cadillac's edgy SRX, while mainstream buyers might be more familiar with it underpinning the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain.

Wearing Saab's famed griffin badge the new crossover looks every bit from Trollhättan, although true to our new totally global market it's actually produced in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

The model that rolled off the line is coated in Ice Pearl metallic, powered by a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 and all-wheel drive. Once its auto show tour duty is finished, Saab has a place for this particular 9-4X at its museum in Sweden.

Chassis 00002 and those following will hit the North American market in May. Saab currently has 13 dealers in Canada, but plans to rebuild its retail network now that it has separated from General Motors.

For a brief history, Saab, once revered for motorsport success as well as performance on the sales floor, at least within the compact to midsize luxury market where its 900 and 9000 models went head to head with Europe's best during the baby boomers 1980s boon time, was arguably mismanaged under General Motors control, especially when it came to expanding the product lineup beyond traditional realms.

At the lower end of the market GM forced Saab to join efforts with Subaru resulting in the 2005 9-2X, a good little car due to the Impreza hatchback it was based on, but it was no Saab. The "Saabaru" died in its second model year, technically due to the sale of Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industry) stock to Toyota, but it would have likely ended sooner as sales never came close to meeting targets. Likewise the Saab 9-7X was a short-lived GM concoction, built from 2005 through 2009. It was created off of the back of General Motors' GMT360 midsize SUV platform, which also supported the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender, and the Oldsmobile Bravada, (the TrailBlazer being why it received the nickname "Trollblazer" although it wasn't built in Trollhättan, Sweden, where Saab has a factory).

In more recent years Saab has received critical acclaim for its 9-3 sedan, wagon and convertible models, and most recently with an all-new 9-5 sedan. The new 9-4X is an important addition to the lineup, and will be key to the brand regaining traction as a credible player in the luxury segment.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Saab, 2012, 9-4x,

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