Saab's 9-3, which we rated a rather middling 7.6 out of 10 overall in our Car Reviews section, is slated for an AWD option in its base model, to be named the 9-3X. Currently, AWD can only be had on the range-topping Turbo X model with the turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6, helping to quell its torque steer as well as giving it all-weather capabilities.
Other news from Saab is a redesigned 9-5, likely based on the Opel Insignia chassis and blessed with AWD. Most predict this model will debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show held in September. It will likely be powered by existing gasoline and GM of Europe diesel engines, possibly receiving the 2.8-liter turbocharged V-6 found in uplevel 9-3 models.
2009 Saab 9-5Enlarge Photo
The addition of AWD to base level 9-3s likely won't make it that much more competitive. It's an adequate, uniquely-styled small luxury vehicle, but its price range forces it to play in a segment crowded with more refined vehicles featuring more sophisticated platforms. The new 9-5 marks an urgent update for that model that has existed largely unchanged (styling tweaks here and there) since 1998. Over in our Car Reviews, we gave the current 9-5 model a low 7 of 10, underscoring the need for an overhaul to keep it alive and kicking.