2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2007
    • Celebrates 30th anniversary of Saab turbocharging
    • Design evokes the look of the classic black Saab 900 Turbo
    • Based on the Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan and SportCombi
    • 2.8-liter V-6 rated at 280 hp
    • Functional special aerodynamic styling
    • Introduces XWD, innovative all-wheel-drive system
    • Sport-tuned suspension, brakes and wheels
  • Only available in metallic Jet Black


According to Saab, it was 30 years ago when the Swedish carmaker put turbocharging on the automotive map. The car was the Saab 99, first introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1977. The turbocharger bolted to the 99's 2.0-liter engine boosted horsepower by 23 percent-equivalent to an engine 50 percent larger in capacity. With the turbocharger, Saab had changed conventional wisdom that equated engine power with engine size.

The 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X pays tribute to the original Saab 900 �Black Turbo,' a direct descendant of the Saab 99. With 280 hp and a sophisticated performance-tuned all-wheel-drive system, the Turbo X is a tribute to three decades of Saab turbocharging, and a performance offering to automotive enthusiasts.

Model Lineup
The 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X will be available in Sport Sedan and SportCombi body styles. Mechanically identical, each will be equipped with the unique 280-hp Turbo X engine and XWD, Saab's innovative permanent all-wheel-drive system. Each body style is offered with a choice of fully synchronized 6-speed manual or an electronically controlled 6-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted controls.

The exterior features all-new sport body styling. At the front, a deeper spoiler with integrated air intake reduces drag and increases airflow to the engine and intercooler. At the rear, the bumper has been re-profiled to reduce drag and assist high-speed stability. The Sport Sedan features a rear spoiler, while the SportCombi utilizes an existing spoiler on the taller rear roofline.

The cabin of the Turbo X continues the �black turbo' theme. Standard black leather covers the sport seats, and a carbon-fiber finish has been added to the main fascia, door inserts, glove box, and gearshift console. A thick leather-wrapped steering wheel is also standard.

Regardless of chosen body style, the only available exterior color is metallic Jet Black, paying homage to the first Saab 900 Turbo.


Powering the Saab 9-3 Turbo X is a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 rated at 280 hp with 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The 24-valve lightweight all-aluminum engine is manufactured with a 60-degree angle between cylinder banks for perfect balance. The V-6 features variable valve timing, twin-scroll turbocharging, and an intercooler. Offering significantly more horsepower and torque than the 9-3 Aero model (rated at 250 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque), the front-wheel-drive system on the standard 9-3 models has been replaced on the Turbo X by XWD, Saab's all-wheel-drive system.

The chassis of the Turbo X has been fitted with performance upgrades not offered on the standard Saab 9-3 and Aero. The suspension has been lowered 10 mm, and the springs and dampers stiffened. Self-leveling shocks are standard on the rear. Brakes have been upgraded to larger discs, on each axle. Standard wheels are 18-inch aluminum alloy.

Saab 9-3 models are equipped with driver and passenger adaptive air bags and torso side air bags, while head-curtain side air bags protect passengers in both front and rear outboard seating positions. The front seats feature safety belt pre-tensioners, belt load limiters, and Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR). Lower child-seat anchorage points, and top-tether anchors, are standard on both rear outer seats.

Standard active safety features include a traction control system, electronic stability control (ESP), anti-lock braking system (ABS), and an Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) system. Daytime running lights are standard.


Saab "XWD" is an innovative active all-wheel-drive (AWD) system designed for handling and vehicle stability. Electronically controlled, the system distributes torque between the front and rear wheels automatically. Unlike most AWD systems, Saab's XWD is also able to distribute torque between each rear wheel, much like a sophisticated limited-slip differential. To accomplish this, data from the ABS/ESP sensors-reading wheel speed, yaw rate and steering angle-is interpreted by the Saab XWD control module. Computers instantly apply the proper amount of torque to balance oversteer and understeer. eLSD, Saab's name for their electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential, can transfer up to 40 percent of the torque to whichever wheel has more grip. XWD and eLSD work together to improve roadholding and stability in the 2008 Saab 9-3 Turbo X.

Ratings for the 2008 Saab 9-3 Sedan
Ratings and details for all Saab models

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