10 January 2008

Detroit show preview: Saab 9-4X BioPower

Saab's nearly-production-ready SUV is the latest Detroit embargo casualty

Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept

Back on Tuesday we showed you the Cadillac Provoq, a concept based on the same platform as Saab's soon-to-arrive 9-4X SUV.

Well, we weren't expecting to see the latter until next week, but thanks to another healthy dose of embargo-busting from some naughty Dutchmen, here it is: the Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept. 

Concept it may be called, but the 9-4X is, like its Provoq cousin, all but ready for production and set to hit the roads in 2009. Which means the clean, sculpted styling will remain, along with that panoramic roof and the inevitable Saab 'aircraft' touches. 

That pillarless windscreen draws on 2006's Aero X concept and gives the 9-4X a similar profile to Land Rover's LRX concept: indeed, the two cars should be locked in competition by the end of the decade. 

On the inside, there's a slide-out ski holder within the rear cargo deck (which, we concede, might not make it to production), as well as a dash that Saab describes as 'driver-focussed' and we describe as 'suspiciously green'. 

The 9-4X is powered by a dinky two-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which puts out some 300bhp and 295lb ft of torque when running on E85 bioethanol. That means an impressive 150bhp per litre, a 0-60mph time of just under eight seconds... and plenty of driver interest thanks to Saab's 'Cross-Wheel Drive' (XWD) system already seen on the 9-3. 

XWD is a torque vectoring system that shifts power between both the axles and the rear wheels through an electronically controlled limited-slip diff. It might sound complicated, but it basically spells a whole lot of fun both on- and off-road. 

The wraps officially come off the 9-4X in Detroit next week. We'll be on hand with all the news.


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