NEWS

Saab 9-4X Concept Could Be Ready for 2009

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The Saab 9-4X Biopower may be a concept, but it has the potential to become a real product. In short, this is the midsize SUV (or crossover) Saab fans wanted when they got the 9-7X instead. The 9-7X is based on the Chevrolet TrailBlazer. Saab says this is on a separate, all-new platform, and if it were to be made into a production model, it would be the first GM vehicle on that platform. If it hits the market, it would be at the end of 2009. (Car executives never rarely talk this way if the concept in question isn’t likely.)

The 9-4X is a sharp-looking sport wagon that — apart from its pearlescent paint, which probably cost more than a 9-5 — looks like it’s nearly showroom ready. The interior is another story, with its rich materials and outrageous detail.

Tech note: The drivetrain is significant not because it’s flex-fuel — capable of running on E85 ethanol as well as gas — but because it’s designed to better exploit the E85. Ethanol has less energy than an equal amount of gasoline, but it has higher octane. Most flex-fuel cars can give roughly the same power on E85 as on gas, but they burn more E85 to do so (which translates to lower mileage). The 9-4X’s turbocharger allows for widely varied compression ratios, which can turn E85 into high-output performance. Ultimately this kind of engine will happen, but no one’s saying it will do so in a real 9-4X … if there is one.

More info and photos on the Saab 9-4x BioPower Concept (Cars.com)

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Former Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder, a Cars.com launch veteran, led the car evaluation effort. He owns a 1984 Mercedes 300D and a 2002 Mazda Miata SE. Email Joe Wiesenfelder

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