It’s been more than five years since the last Saab rolled off a production line, but the brand’s heyday lies far deeper in the past. In the ’80s and ’90s, it and Volvo represented a Swedish one-two punch of slightly-offbeat premium cars for yuppies and suburbanites. Sales were good; the products, like the groundbreaking 9000 sedan and 900 hatchback, were better.
Still, even in the mid-2000s, the brand’s future seemed reasonably sunny. Under the more-or-less-steady hand of Old GM, the company was cranking out more models than it had in years; the 9-7X SUV that shared its bones with the Chevy Trailblazer and Buick Rainier was admittedly a bit of a stretch for the brand, but the rebodied Subaru WRX wagon known as the 9-2X was undeniably cool, and the new 9-3 kept the distinct character of the brand alive better than either of them.
It’s one of these last-generation Saab 9-3s that’s just surfaced on Bring a Trailer — but not just any example. No, this 9-3 could be the best example of a Saab to emerge from the brand’s final decade.
For starters, it’s one of those rare, beloved unicorn that drive gearheads wild: a manual-transmission performance wagon. Granted, it’s no Cadillac CTS-V, but this 2008 Saab 9-3 TurboX SportCombi does have a turbocharged 2.8-liter V6, a six-speed manual and all-wheel-drive. In this case, though, the engine has been boosted by a MapTun Stage 1 ECU tune and an aftermarket Do88 intercooler, pushing the output past the stock rating of 280 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque (though the seller doesn’t specify by how much).
Jet Black Metallic paint — the sole color found on the 629 9-3 Turbo Xs that made it to the U.S. — gives the sleek two-box shape a timeless menace, a look supplemented by the Hirsch lowering springs and struts and 19-inch Hirsch Performance Viking wheels added after the car rolled off the line. The brakes have been upgraded, as have the tires; the wheels now wear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber for added grip.
Inside, as you’d expect from a Saab, there’s a black leather interior with the key slot between the seats. The seller’s subtle modifications extend inside to green accent lighting, a beefy Hirsch steering wheel that looks better than stock and added leather trim, among other minor tweaks. (Perhaps most handy, however: the added backup camera.)
With just 42,000 miles racked up over the last dozen years, it’s no surprise that this cherry of a Saab isn’t liable to go cheap; right now, the auction sits at $21,000 with six days remaining. Still, even if the price closes in on $30K, it’s safe to say this 9-3 Turbo X would be something of a sweet deal…or at the very least, a Swede deal.
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