Saab History

Saab 9-2X – Saab’s First Four-Wheel Drive Car

Saab 9-2x

The Saab 9-2X, according to many connoisseurs of the auto industry, is an almost perfect example of General Motors’ “indifference”. Turbo technology, a strong focus on safety and thoughtful solutions that deviate from the mainstream are the themes that unite Saab and Subaru.

Perhaps the management of General Motors was “playing” with these themes when fifteen years ago it decided to take advantage of its then Subaru and Saab holdings by creating the Saab 9-2X. During the several years when the GM corporation had a share of ownership in the Subaru company, several interesting cars were created that were placed on the world market with variable success. And only one such model was the Saab 9-2x.

Saab 9-2x - The luxury and styling of a Saab, the reliability and Drivetrain of a Subaru
Saab 9-2x – The luxury and styling of a Saab, the reliability and Drivetrain of a Subaru

To set you up, during 1999, General Motors took over 20% of the shares of Subaru, and then several joint projects were created, such as the Saab 9-2X, which was based on the Subaru Impreza model, and there is another project, the Opel Zafira powered by all four wheels (the Subaru Traviq). This cooperation did not last long and General Motors soon sold its shares in Subaru.

The first four-wheel drive in the Saab range

The Saab 9-2X had the honor of being the first four-wheel drive Saab passenger car in the history of this Swedish company. The reason, of course, is the second-generation Subaru Impreza that hides under the surface of the 9-2X model.

At first glance, the Saab 9-2x had only a few visual differences compared to the Impreza, such as the front bumper, a few changes in the interior and a few minor differences in the rear, everything else was the same as the Subaru Imreza.


"Saabaru" - All the perks of a WRX with a bit more quality control
“Saabaru” – All the perks of a WRX with a bit more quality control

The car was only introduced to the US market in 2005. In addition to external changes, the sound insulation of the body was improved and some parts were carried over from previous models of the second generation Impreza. Also, in the promotional materials, it was possible to read that the chassis of the 9-2x car was fine-tuned by the Swedes: among other things, the bushings and shock absorbers were adjusted differently from the Impreza.

With the power of a boxer engine

The model was based on a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre unit boxer engine that developed 165–173 horsepower, depending on the model year.

The flagship was the Saab 9-2X Aero, which received the Impreza WRX’s turboboxer: for the 2005 model year, it was 2-liter (227 hp), and for the 2006 model year, the displacement increased to 2.5 liters and the peak power to 230 horsepower. A five-speed manual or four-speed automatic was offered for both options. All versions were four-wheel drive.

Despite the fact that on paper it sounded like a great idea from GM because it was a more refined, so to speak “gentleman’s WRX” – as we know, the model was not eagerly accepted neither by Saab fans, nor by Subaru fans.

The Saab version of the Imreza model was not successful – can we count that as a surprise?

The two-year production volume remained at just over 10,000 cars. Apparently, the brand change, which was only slightly more thorough than the logo change, did not inspire Saab car lovers, but neither did typical Subaru drivers to switch to the Swedish brand. Success came mostly in IIHS crash tests.

The Japanese-made Saab was not lucky to be long-lived: already at the end of 2005, General Motors decided to sell off its entire 20 percent stake in Subaru’s host company Fuji Heavy Industries (since 2017 Subaru Corporation): 8.4 percent was sold to Toyota (this is where the GT86/BRZ started) and the rest to Fuji Heavy Industries bought it back for itself.

Of course, after this episode, an even sadder fate awaited the Saab company: already in 2008, General Motors questioned the future of the brand, and just a few years later, the brand became history.

After this market adventure, Saab’s manager refused to give up the idea of a smaller car of that class, so he planned a new 9-1X model for 2009, which was to be based on the GM Delta platform, and which was to be shared with the then-future Opel Astra. As time has shown, all of this backfired due to the faltering of the Saab company.

In addition to the 9-2x model, another Saab was to be derived from the Subaru range. As a basic model, it was the Japanese SUV Subaru Tribeca, on which another Saab SUV was to be created. It was a Saab 9-6x from 2005 that remained only at the concept level, and can be seen in the Saab museum in Trollhattan.

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