Date: Thu, 01 Jul 2004 11:53:10 GMT
From: "J.  Harris" <jackharrisnospamct-o-cutor.comdamnspam>
Subject: 9-2x Review

2005 SAAB 9-2X DATE IN FLEET: April 16-22 AS-TESTED PRICE: $30,195 POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter turbocharged H4; awd, five-speed manual OUTPUT: 227 hp 4000 rpm CURB WEIGHT: 3100 pounds MORRISON: The 9-2X is only a couple of grand more than an equivalent WRX, but I still think Saab could have a problem on its hands. The reason I say so is because the 9-2X is clearly nothing but a WRX (thanks, Captain Obvious), and I don't think Saab is making any attempt to cover up the fact. Price questions aside, I like this car--maybe more than I like the WRX. The 9-2X feels a little more compliant, sounds a little quieter and gives an overall more refined, luxurious feel. But it still goes just as hard and fast, still handles well. I think the subtle exterior mods work well, though the cabin gets the typical Rainier-like makeover: just a nicer radio face and some seemingly higher-quality plastic trim pieces. I think the seat-cover material may be a bit different, too. Overall, there isn't such a big improvement in quality as to surprise you too much, and I don't think the car's overall character is different from the WRX's in any meaningful way. Personally, I would buy the Subaru and save a grand or so (depending on trim level and options), but I can see a certain type of buyer making the leap. RAYNAL: Mr. Morrison makes a semi-valid point: It's true that $30,000-plus is too high. Where I differ slightly is that this car shouldn't cost any more than a WRX. It shouldn't be "a couple of grand more." It should be exactly the same. Why pay more for a Saab badge and slightly softer suspension and more sound-deadening material over a Subaru badge? Badge snobs will do it, the rest of the thinking car consumers will scoff, and go with the Subaru. As they should. WRXs are good cars. Maybe even great cars. As is this one. There's plenty of power, oodles of traction, decent build quality, and in the form of a station wagon it's muy practical. Plus it's a lot of fun to drive. But in my opinion there is absolutely no reason to pay a premium for the Saab badging.

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