Tapping into the burgeoning wagon-based crossover market, currently dominated by the likes of the Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70, Saab has released a new contender in the form of the 9-3X. Set to make its world debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the 9-3X is ideal for those looking for off-road capability without the drawbacks of a fuel-hungry SUV.

As expected, the 9-3X is essentially the current-generation 9-3 SportCombi sitting on 35mm raised suspension (20mm higher on the FWD diesel model). New front and rear bumpers feature a dark grey, grained finish that is also applied to the side sills and the edges of the wheel arches as a protective covering.

This treatment is complemented by skid panels with a matt aluminum finish, curving up towards the door opening at the rear and adopting a wing form in the lip of the lower front bumper. These are matched by matt, aluminum-coloured lower door strips and roof rails with the same finish. Other details include twin exhaust tailpipes, new fog lights, and five-spoke 17in alloy wheels.

Inside, the 9-3X interior features unique trim, adding a dark metallic finish to the door trims, glove box and gearbox surround. The unique sports seating features grey fabric inserts in the black leather upholstery. Split fold seating in the rear, meanwhile, offers up to 1,287L of storage.

The 9-3X is available with either a 210hp (157kW) 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine, combined with the technically advanced XWD Haldex-sourced AWD system, or a 280hp (134kW) 1.9L TTiD turbodiesel engine with FWD. Both a six speed manual and automatic transmission are available.

This drive system includes an electronically-controlled Torque Transfer Device (TTD), which varies power delivery between the axles. A valve increases or reduces hydraulic pressure on wet clutch plates inside the TTD to progressively engage or disengage the rear axle. The degree of ‘slip’ dictates how much drive is transmitted to the rear wheels. Also included is a limited slip differential on the rear axle.

The faster of the two models, the 2.0L petrol turbo, will accelerate from 0–60mph in 8.2 seconds.

The first models should arrive in showrooms by the middle of the year.

2010 Saab 9-3X crossover