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Review (2/2)

Cockpit-Inspired Cabin

The spacious cabin provides comfortable accommodation for up to five adults and is defined by a signature Saab, driver-focused cockpit layout. The center console, center stack and main instrument display are presented within a single form that sweeps up around the driver. For the 9-4X Aero, this is finished with wood or carbon fiber-effect trim.

Other subtle references to Saab's aviation heritage include a selectable, attitude style speed read-out, green illumination for the needles of the three main dials and traditional Saab 'joystick' adjusters for the mesh-style air vents. The ignition - a start/stop button - is, of course, located between the front seats, in true Saab tradition, adjacent to the shift lever.

Large, supportive seats include a standard, 8-way electrical adjustment for the driver and an optional electrical adjustment of the foot pedals. Rear passengers enjoy particularly roomy accommodation as rear space is not compromised by the presence of a third row of seats. They also benefit from an independent, three-way manual adjustment of the rake of each 60/40 fold seatback.

Ample onboard storage includes double-decked pockets in all doors, a two-tier front glovebox and a deep bin in the center console with 12-volt, USB and AUX connections. Rear passengers have additional storage in the rear face of the center console and the center armrest.

Available infotainment includes two audio options, a seven-speaker or top-of-the-line Bose system with 5.1 surround sound. The optional 8-inch, touchscreen hard disk based navigation system includes a bird's eye map view and 10 GB storage for jukebox' music files. Communication on the move is supported by OnStar and integrated Bluetooth hands-free phone system, which functions via voice command and steering wheel controls.

In the rear, passengers can enjoy independent climate control, in addition to the standard dual-zone system, and select their own onboard audio/visual entertainment through a dedicated unit in the back of the center console. This optional equipment has a video AUX input and two 8-inch screens in the rear face of the front seatbacks.

2.8-Liter V6 Turbo Engine

The Saab 9-4 Aero is mated to an efficient all-aluminum V6 turbocharged engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. This light and compact, 24-valve motor features variable valve timing, on both inlet and exhaust sides, and boast power ratings typical of larger displacement engines.

Available exclusively in Aero specification with Saab XWD, this all-aluminum engine has a classic 60° angle between the cylinder banks to give optimum balance for vibration-free running. It generates 300 hp at 5,500 rpm and an impressive 295 lb-ft spread of torque between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm.

On the road, it delivers giving zero to 60 mph acceleration in 7.7 seconds and combined city/highway fuel consumption of 18 mpg. Like all turbo engines, it offers performance typical of a larger engine, while delivering better fuel economy when boost is not required, under highway cruising, for example.

The single, twin-scroll turbocharger is mounted centrally above the transmission and fed by both banks of cylinders. The use of two inlet tracts, one for each cylinder bank, separates the exhaust gas pulses, improving gas flow, reducing energy losses and raising turbocharger efficiency. The turbo is water-cooled and uses air-to-air intercooling to increase intake charge density.

The six-speed automatic transmission for this engine includes an integrated electronic control module, which eliminates the need for any external wiring. It features an adaptive shifting logic similar to that of the 3.0V6i transmission, while adding manual gear selection via steering wheel controls to complement manual gear selection with the shifter.

Dynamic Performance

The 2012 Saab 9-4X Aero brings car-like handling and ride qualities to the crossover segment. Key to its dynamic performance is a unique body structure, purpose-designed for a crossover application and free from compromises through adapting an existing sedan or wagon format.

Advanced driving technologies include Saab XWD, the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, which infinitely varies drive torque between the front and rear axles. This pre-emptive, light and fast-acting system offers optimized grip in virtually all driving conditions, dry or wet, smooth or loose. It is combined with an electronically-controlled, rear limited-slip differential (eLSD) which can transfer up to 50% of rear torque between the rear wheels, to whichever has more grip.

Driver and vehicle in the 9-4X Aero are brought even closer together by Saab DriveSense, an adaptive chassis function which uses real time damping control to help the Saab 9-4X react to how it is being driven and to changing road conditions. In addition to the default 'Comfort' setting, the driver can select 'Sport' mode, which introduces a firmer range of adjustment for the dampers, as well as a sharper throttle pedal response and raised gear shifting points. An 'Eco' mode also re-maps the throttle pedal and gearshifting patterns for optimal fuel economy.

Other driving aids include variable effort steering, a function of Saab DriveSense, and bi-xenon adaptive lighting, which provides better illumination of upcoming bends by linking the direction of the headlamp beam to the steering angle.

Adaptable Cargo Carrying

The trunk of the 9-4X Aero is optimized for space and ease of use. The 60/40 split seatbacks fold down in a single movement, without having to move the seat cushions or remove the retractable head restraints. They provide a completely flat cargo deck, offering a total volume of 61.2 cubic feet.

The front section of the trunk floor is hinged and can be opened via an aircraft-shaped handle to reveal additional under floor storage. Floor space can be tailored as required by the, U-shaped track with a telescopic cargo divider, which can be moved to any position to keep items in place.

For additional convenience, the deck lid is available with a remotely controlled, hydraulically powered operation. It can open fully, or to a programmable lower position if there is restricted clearance overhead, such as in the garage.

Saab 9-4X Aero: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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