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The Seven Cars That Killed Saab

Illustration for article titled The Seven Cars That Killed Saab

Assisted suicide is illegal in Sweden, explaining why Saab, a brand born from jets, died such a slow and painful death at the hands of GM and others. The seven vehicles most responsible for killing the Saab brand below.

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Model: Saab-Lancia 600

Years Produced: 1980 - 198?

Basic Specs: 1.5-liter I-4, 85 hp, 91 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive, four-seat hatchback.

What It Drove Like: A Lancia Delta, but slower.

Deadly Swedish Quirk: When you hear Lancia Delta, your mind immediately jumps to the much-bonkers Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16V. Jump back. The Saab 600 was based on the Lancia Delta, which Trolhättan had a hand in developing. Unfortunately, the Swedes and Norwegians only got a rebadged, stripped-out version of the front-wheel-drive Lancia with a weak 1.5-liter four under the hood. In addition to being uninspiring, it was the first in a long line of badge-engineered Saabs developed out of necessity rather than desire.

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Photo Credit: Peacetek

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Model: Saab 9-5

Years Produced: 1997 - 2009

Basic Specs: 2.3-liter turbo I-4, 260 hp, 258 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive sedan or wagon.

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What It Drove Like: The 9-5 was a class-leader when it debuted, offering capable front-wheel-drive performance. Thirteen years later, the car is still being produced. It was long ago left in the dust by the competition.

Deadly Swedish Quirk: They never redesigned it! (Well, unless you count this). It wasn't like it couldn't use the help — GM should've let Saab mess with it instead of just playing around with headlights and engines.

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Model: Second-Generation Saab 900

Years Produced: 1994 - 1998

Basic Specs: 2.0-liter turbo I-4, 185 hp, 194 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive hatchback, wagon, or convertible.

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What It Drove Like: Neutral handling, decent performance if you chose the right engine, and a nice mix of sportiness and comfort.

Deadly Swedish Quirk: Despite carrying over its predecessor's hatchback profile and refined Swedish looks, the second-generation 900 was an Opel in disguise. It was also the beginning of the switch from Swedishn sweet to GM platform pimping.

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Model: Saab 9-7x

Years Produced: 2005 - 2009

Basic Specs: 6.0-liter V-8, 390 hp, 400 lb-ft. All-wheel-drive SUV.

What It Drove Like: The biggest, heaviest, body-on-frameiest Saab ever.

Deadly Swedish Quirk: Lovingly referred to as the Trollblazer, the 9-7x only serves to reaffirm a time-honored maxim: A Chevy Trailblazer is a Chevy Trailblazer is a Chevy Trailblazer. Ugh.

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Model: Saab 9-2x

Years Produced: 2005 - 2006

Basic Specs: 2.5-liter turbo H-4, 230 hp, 230 lb-ft. All-wheel-drive hatchback.

What It Drove Like: A Japanese-platformed, Swedish-bodied, American-sold car. In other words, a Subaru WRX. Which is what it was.

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Deadly Swedish Quirk: Saab loyalists flipped their shit over a vehicle that was, sadly, a better drive than anything else in the Saab catalog at the time. Even though GM's product plan was all about platform prostitution, the Saabaru was a Subaru in everything but name. Like the 9-7x, it was a bridge too far. Although the vehicle sold, it was given an early death, a victim of GM's sale of Subaru to Toyota. In the end, the 9-2x was little more than a Japanese-car gateway drug for legions of latte-swilling liberal academics.

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Model: Second Generation Saab 9-3

Years Produced: 2002 - 2010

Basic Specs: 2.0-liter turbo I-4, 210 hp, 220 lb-ft torque. Front- or all-wheel drive sedan, convertible, or wagon.

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What It Drove Like: We loved the Turbo X, but there's really nothing wrong with the basic, Epsilon-platformed 9-3 unless you pick the unsexy-flexy convertible. All-wheel-drive 9-3s ride slightly harsher than front-wheel drive ones, but they also handle better.

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Deadly Swedish Quirk: They discontinued the awesome and practical hatchback in favor of a sedan, killing most of what made the 9-3 a Saab.

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Model: Saab 9-4x

Years Produced: Never

Basic Specs: None

What It Drove Like: Probably a lot like a Cadillac SRX, because it was one.

Deadly Swedish Quirk: If you want to glimpse the future of a GM-owned Saab, just picture one more platform-prostituted SUV. The 9-4x looked great, but even if had been better than its platform twins, it still would have had no reason to exist.

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DISCUSSION

graverobber
Rob Emslie

You know, despite its inherent Trailblazeriness, the 9-7x was the best version of that platform built. Still, I agree, it was a gas-guzzling stake through the heart of the Trollenberg brand.