The Saab 9-3X Side View
Saab 9-3X

But back to looking the part; the Saab 9-3X comes with dark-grey, textured front and rear bumpers with matching side sills and wheel-arch spats. As well as creating an image, they also provide protection from stone chips and mud.

Underneath the body, there are skid-trays for even more protection off-the beaten track. The one at the rear separates the two, round tailpipes and curves up, protruding into the bumper. The front 'tray' is just visible as a thin, matt-chrome strip below the chunky front bumper, which incidentally, also houses the fog lights. This Matt Chrome finish can also be seen as a highlight at the base of the doors and on the integrated roof-rails.

It is these differences and the special 5-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels that sets the Saab 9-3X apart from the normal Sport Wagon. The Arctic White body colour of the test car (one of eight choices) contrasted well with the protective skirts and panels and giving the impression that the robust-looking body was ready to take on as much snow as nature could throw at it.

That idea is a little on the ambitious side, but with the winter chill upon us and the likelihood that even a smattering of snow will cause chaos on the roads; any improvement in traction is an advantage. And, if it is cold on the outside, the heated front seats will warm your cockles, and these are just one of the standard features that make life that little bit more comfortable.

Definitely not standard is the interior trim, which is unique to the Saab 9-3X. It comprises sport seats covered in black leather with grey, fabric inserts on the bolsters. The gear-shift surround has a dark metallic finish that is repeated on the glovebox and door trims.

Saabs have a very particular style of interior design, which is hard to describe but I'll try a combination of robust, businesslike, and Scandinavian-stylish. The driver's side of the fascia is fairly flat and imposing, as it rises slab-like behind the steering wheel. The dark aluminium centre console is angled slightly, towards the driver and emphasising the cockpit-effect.

The Saab 9-3X test car came with the optional Business Pack priced at £1,937, which meant that the upper section of the console was dominated by a 6.5-inch colour touch-screen for the DVD satellite navigation, which comes with voice control. The screen is also used for the audio system. In addition, the Pack also comprises Bluetooth telephone integration system, while the controls for audio and telephone are already plumbed into the rake- and reach-adjustable steering wheel.

Another Pack fitted to the test car was the £1,174.47, Convenience Plus Pack, featuring powered front seats, with 3-position memory for the driver, electric folding door mirrors, which along with the rearview mirror are auto-dimming, and automatic wipers.

Saab 9-3X Review | Part Three
Saab 9-3X News

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