Saab has a three-decade history of turbocharged performance cars, and many of the most notable from the early 1980s were black. It's fitting, therefore, that the all-new Turbo X is also clothed in black.

The limited-edition Turbo X made its debut last fall at the Frankfurt auto show and is just now showing up at dealerships.

Pricing starts at $42,510 for the Sport Sedan and $43,310 for the SportCombi.

Only 600 examples will be delivered to customers in the United States.

Sport wagons are terrific because they offer the hauling versatility of a small SUV with the ride, handling and comfort of a sedan. The Turbo X wagon is even cooler because it handles so precisely.

Saab said the 2.8-liter V-6 turbo, named as one of the "10 Best Engines" by Ward's AutoWorld magazine, is the most sophisticated turbocharged engine the company has offered to date. The engine uses a lightweight aluminum cylinder block, an aluminum oil pan and aluminum cylinder heads.

Out on the road, the engine has plenty of muscle. The 280 horsepower is accompanied by 262 pound-feet of torque.

One of the things I liked most about this engine is the way it accelerates from low speeds in third or fourth gear. The twin-scroll turbocharger spools up quickly and delivers boost in a very linear way that is much smoother than Saab turbos of 30 years ago.

The test car was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, but an automatic is also available. The six-speed is clearly the enthusiast's choice, and it's a delight to use because the shift linkage is light and direct.

The Turbo X is a performance car, not one for folks who are looking to squeeze the most miles out of a gallon of gas. The Environmental Protection Agency's rating is 16 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. I averaged more than 18 mpg in mixed city and freeway driving according to the onboard trip computer.

Power is key to the performance of the Turbo X, of course, but Saab's all-wheel-drive system also plays a huge role in supplying the car with great handling and traction in both good and bad weather. This unit, designed by Haldex, is activated only when required, and that helps preserve fuel economy. Saab said the system gives the car a rear-wheel-drive feel.

The Turbo X's styling enhances its aerodynamic performance and creates a distinctive appearance. The dark-gray 18-inch alloy wheels give the car a stealthy look.

Saab designs its gauges to look like the instrument panel in an aircraft. The main gauge package is simple and easy to read, but the center stack contains a host of small buttons for operating the climate control and audio systems.

Saab aficionados will be happy that the ignition key is still located in the console by the gearshift, but that location seemed awkward to me.

The leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for audio and telephone, and these are not only handy but also safe because the driver can keep hands on the wheel while adjusting the radio.

At night, the driver can turn off the lights on all instruments except the speedometer.

Safety has long been a Saab priority, and the new model includes second-generation head restraints that move forward to support the occupants' heads in the event of a rear-end collision. Front, side and side-curtain airbags are standard. The side-curtain airbags also provide head protection in a rollover.

Traction control, anti-lock brakes and vehicle stability control are standard as well.

Price

The test car had a base price of $43,310. Options included heated seats, headlight washers, rear parking assist and an auto dimming rearview mirror. The sticker price was $44,755.

Warranty

Four years or 50,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.