Rather sensible solution for many drivers
SAAB has always been a car-maker liable to do things a little differently.
So when the time came to develop the kind of SUV 4x4 that all its competitors had, the Swedish brand didn't bother.
Instead, we've got this – the 9-3X. In truth, this approach may have more to do with lack of development funds than any real willful desire on the part of the Trolhattan company to buck market trends but it does have the happy result of producing a car that could be a rather sensible solution for many customers.
The 9-3X joins a small but significant group of compact – and not so compact – executive estate cars that also offer some modicum of off road ability.
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At one end of this sector, there are cars like Subaru's Forester and Skoda's Octavia Scout: at the other, there are Audi's expensive A4 and A6 allroad models.
Originally priced mid-way between these two extremes, this Saab now looks great value on the used market thanks to this Swedish brand's demise and aims to offer the best of both. Let's check it out in used form.
The 9-3X still looks good now, with its well judged body addenda and modest ride height increase. Unlike many vehicles that campaign in this class, the Saab offers some serious carrying capacity.
There's 419 litres available with the rear seats in place and a whopping 1,273 litres of space available with the seats folded down. The recessed sub floor allows valuables to be stowed out of the view of prying eyes and can also be used to store wet or dirty gear without muddying everything else up.
Despite its sporting looks, the rear hatch is actually fairly steeply raked, allowing for additional carrying capacity. This is where rivals such as the Audi A4 allroad fall down, favouring style over practicality. Saab aims to offer both.
Prices have held up comparatively well, with many owners taking a relaxed view to the panic over spares that affected some.
A tidy 2009 9-3X 2.0T on a 59 plate showing around 30,000 miles can be yours for £12,500, while diesel models can be found from around £14,500. In both instances, an automatic gearbox tacks on around £800.
Although the 9-3X doesn't feel quite so ridiculously over engineered as some Saabs of yore, it still feels like a car that'll shrug off 150,000 miles with disdainful ease, so there's no need to scratch off some of the higher mileage ex-fleet cars from your list.
Front tyre wear is less of a problem than with powerful front-wheel drive Saabs but you will need to check the 9-3X for damage to the suspension and exhaust system caused by an overoptimistic expectation of the car's off-road capabilities.
Saab never really gave the 9-3X the final push in terms of development and marketing support their early work on the chassis really deserved.
As such, it feels like a clever piece of technology that's been shoehorned into a rather old car. Does this make it a bad used buy? Not really. It's a reliable and tough car with added capabilities, but if you expect a 2010 9-3X to feel like a modern Audi allroad or Volvo XC70, you're going to come away disappointed. Manage the expectations a little and you'll be rewarded with a solid all weather car that still looks handsome and desirable.