Here in the northeast, Saabs are a fairly common sight. Although the number of Saabs on the road has certainly dwindled in the past decade, rarely a day goes by that I don’t see a 9-3 sedan or 9-5 sedan or wagon on the streets of Boston.
Beacon Hill, with its yuppies and million dollar historic townhomes, is full of Saabs. Which is why what I though was a black 9-5 wagon, parked up the street a little ways, didn’t stir much excitement for me. But as I was getting closer, something about its proportions just didn’t seem right, until. . . It’s a 9-4X! An actual Saab 9-4X casually parked on a Beacon Hill side street!
Now I should let you know I actually have seen two of these on the road before. However, they were moving so this is the first one I’ve ever seen up close. I haven’t been able to find the exact number of completed 9-4Xs that made it off the production line, as the numbers online vary. The highest number I was able to find was less than 600. And I doubt all of those were sold in the U.S. I think it’s safe to say that the 9-4X will go down in history as the rarest production-model Saab.
The 9-4X not only shared its architecture, engines, and many other components with the second-gen Cadillac SRX, but was built along side it in Mexico, not in Trollhättan, Sweden. So although not a “true Saab”, the 9-4X was certainly a better effort than the lackluster “Trollblazer” 9-7X. At least the 9-4X was given completely unique sheet metal, as well as a totally different interior than the SRX. No one would be mistaking this Saab for a Cadillac; or a Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, or Oldsmobile Bravada.
The dash design was in typical Saab cockpit style. Similar the new 9-5’s, it was very monotonous with subtle, yet attractive wood trim on base and premium models or carbon fiber trim on Aeros. Engine choices were either a naturally aspirated 3.0L V6, standard on base and premium trims, or a turbocharged 2.8L V6, standard on top-line Aero models. In typical “European car” fashion, base 9-4Xs were equipped with leatherette upholstery. Leather was standard in premium and Aero models. All-wheel drive was available on base and premium, standard on Aero.
Saab’s death was like a slow, painful disease. After being fully acquired by GM in 2000, Saab suffered a decade of product starvation and declining sales. With its well-known financial troubles in 2008, GM began looking to dump Saab. After talks with several international buyers failed, in early 2010, GM was eventually able to find a buyer for Saab in Dutch supercar-maker Spyker. As part of the agreement, GM would continue to supply engines and transmissions to Saab. They would also continue to build our featured CC, the 9-4X, in their Ramos Arizpe, Mexico factory. The first fully redesigned Saab 9-5 in 13 years also entered production at Trollhättan during this time. However, Saab remained on life support, as Spyker struggled to fund what they’d gotten themselves into.
Saab officially filed for bankruptcy on December 19, 2011. They hadn’t produced a vehicle in their Trollhättan factory since April of that year. Rumors have been buzzing ever since then about new buyers. Most recently it was announced that a Hong Kong-based company purchased Saab’s assets and is planning on building electric vehicles based on the 9-3 in Trollhättan within next year or two. Although it would certainly be amazing if a vehicle actually makes it off the assembly line, I won’t raise any hope until I see one on the streets of Boston. Until then, rest in peace Saab!