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9-3 Turbo X Wagon: Saab’s Munster Koach – Colorado Daily

From Jan-Willem Vester
Manager, Saab Automobile USA Corporate Communications

Saab 9-3 Turbo X Wagon: Saab’s Munster Koach – Colorado Daily

By Casey Williams — Monday, October 13, 2008 

Load up the kiddies, the Cannondales, the kayaks and blast them to Hades – Saab has the most evil-looking wagon since George Barris created The Munsters’ Koach. Although the Saab doesn’t run on embalming fluid or a Mustang GT V8 engine, it does share the Koach’s black paint and sinister, road hugging, persona. 

Now almost synonymous with Turbo, Saab debuted its first one on the 99 CombiCoupe in 1978. As with the original turbo 99 and 900 models, the dark and ominous 2008 Saab Turbo X features jet-black paint – now metallic. A matte black grille treatment simulates titanium while eighteen-inch 3-spoke wheels, twin tailpipes, and a rear spoiler further distinguish it from lesser 9-3s while linking it to its ancestors. Interiors are outfitted with bolstered black leather sport seats, carbon fibre finishes on the dash and doors, special gauges, and a thick-rimmed steering wheel. It looks ready to slay Volvos, feeling the part as soon as you slip inside. 

Along with all other 2008 9-3 models, the Turbo X was designed to reflect a more aggressive aero-inspired exterior and Scandinavian interior themes driven from the recent Aero X concept car. Smoked taillamps and upswept headlamps with “eyebrow” lighting are modern and refined. Interiors are less cluttered with fewer niblet-sized buttons, adopting GM’s Black Tie radio design and ergonomic climate controls. Saab’s traditional driver-focused dashboard, large analog gauges, businesslike controls, and console-mounted ignition switch are as they should be. The nighttime lighting mode, which extinguishes all but essential gauges, is nice to the eyes. True to Scandinavian tradition, everything is high quality, but never ostentatious. Think IKEA with attitude. 

Boring people may drive the sedan, but enthusiasts with a sense of adventure will choose the SportCombi wagon in which there is plenty of cargo room, especially with the rear seats folded, to tote your IKEA wares. While I had the car, I picked up my grandmother for lunch. Not only was she comfortable in her leather-bolstered seat, but her walker also fit very easily beneath the rear hatch. A bicycle, stroller, or tailgate party consumables can be consumed in whole. 

Unlike the original “black turbos” that spun power from four-cylinder engines, the latest one makes whoopee with a 280-horsepower, 24-valve, 2.8-litre V6. An eager amount of torque (295 lb.-ft.) comes online at 2,150 rpm and stays until 4,500 rpm. Peak horsepower is made at 5,500 rpm. What you notice is surging power off the line and open lungs way above legal speeds. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated 15/24-MPG city/hwy. 

Saab’s XWD all-wheel-drive system gets all of that power to the ground without drama. Very sophisticated, the system can shift power from front to rear and from side to side, depending on traction and road conditions. 

Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability control, electronic brake force distribution, and traction control insure every bit of friction is used to the max. Engineers tuned the chassis for a stiff and solid ride for a good balance of performance feel and long-distance comfort. The car was also lowered 10mm to coax even more ability from of the car’s chassis. 

One look at the Munster Koach tells you Mr. Barris had little concern for safety. Saabs, on the other hand, offer exemplary safety. Like any good European car, the 9-3 comes standard with dual front airbags, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers. Almost everything in the cabin is softly padded, including front knee bolsters, to protect soft humans. Front seats feature active headrests that move forward in an accident to prevent whiplash. All seating positions hold passengers in with three-point belts. Of course strong safety cage construction beneath the skin works to prevent intrusion from the front, rear, and sides. 

Saabs are as sophisticated in safety as they are in active handling and performance. 

Whether you choose the Turbo X sedan or SportCombi wagon, you’ll drive a world-class car that can run with some of the best sport sedans and wagons in the world, but with a sense of practicality that can only come from Sweden. A powerful turbocharged V6 engine, angry ground affects, and black paint give it attitude that would make George Barris proud. 

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