Thirteen Days of Pre-Recession GM Christmas: The Saab 9-2X

What do you mean ‘Pre-Recession’?

After the year 2000, but before the economic recession of 2008, GM was making some weird cars. Retro styled cars, cars with high performance trims (for seemingly no reason), cars with LS motors mounted sideways, and of course, Saabs.

Why these cars came about is complex. If somebody is willing to offer a theory, I’m all ears. However, I’m not here to explore the roots of this issue, only what fruit it ended up bearing. While many of these cars may have continued production after the recession of 2008-2010, most if not all were born of the white heat of stupidity that lost GM $82 billion before this time. I say stupidity of course, because most of the following vehicles I would like to own one day.

The Saab 9-2X

Yeah, so I fucked up the math somehow. So what?

Image result for saab 9-2x

The Saab 9-2x is, for all intents and purposes, a nicer Subaru Impreza wagon. It is very nearly mechanically identical to the Impreza and WRX wagons. In fact, many people today take them to Subaru dealerships to get serviced. So, you may be wondering; How did GM end up selling a Saab that was actually a Subaru? 

GM completely owned Saab. This was a decision that Bob Lutz cited as being ‘confusing’ when he was hired to revamp GM’s products during the pre-bailout period. It was explained to him as a way to make GM seem more sophisticated, but that didn’t work of course. 

On top of this, it was popular with many American automakers at the time to own small pieces of Japanese car brands. Chrysler owned a bit of Mitsubishi, Ford owned a little bit of Mazda, and GM owned a taste of Subaru and Isuzu. 

However, GM wasn’t really sure why they bought a piece of Subaru, and the two automakers couldn’t sort out a good project for them to collaborate on. So, they just re-badged an Impreza as a Saab, called it the 9-2X, and sold it in North America for two years (’05-’06). If the 9-2X was a Scooby-Doo villain, Fred would pull off Saab’s mask to find GM, and then pull off GM’s mask, to find Subaru. Very strange.

When I say it was ‘just re-badged’ I’m being a little dishonest. There were definitely changes. Just enough to make a small list.

  • The front and rear fascias are different than the Impreza, as are the fenders, tailgate, and hood
  • The car has additional sound deadening, primarily around the firewall, roof, floor, and rear window seals
  • Many of the bushings in the suspension were changed
  • The shocks were re-calibrated
  • Various improvements in interior quality such as better switchgear & thicker carpets
  • The Aero Version received the ’06-’07 WRX steering rack and stiffer chassis bushings

These changes may seem minuscule, but they were sort of like an update that the Impreza deserved but never got.

Also, as a result of being a cloned Impreza, the performance specs are also the same. The base 9-2X got a 2.5 liter EJ25, making 165 horsepower. This engine was mated to either a four-speed automatic, or five speed manual transmission. Every Saabaru had AWD. Just as the base car had the same specs as the base Impreza, the Aero version had the same specs as the WRX (besides the aforementioned changes). In 2005, it was equipped with a 2.0 liter EJ205, and had 227 horsepower. In 2006, it had the 2.5 liter EJ255, and made similar horsepower.

I’m not a ‘Subaru guy’, but I’ve always considered buying a 9-2X. It’s like a WRX without any of the WRX baggage. You basically buy a nicer Impreza and never have to hear any comments about vaporized nicotine, or your sexual orientation. Plus, Jim had one in The Office

They made about ten thousand of these cars total (9,292). They made 3,628 Aero versions, which are the most desirable. Of those 3,628, about 2/3 (2,173) were manual, which is nice.

If you would like to pick one up, they’re somewhat rare, but not too uncommon. The basic versions are a dime a dozen, and can be had from about $3k to $7k. The Aero versions are typically priced between $7k and $12k. If you’re in the market for a used Impreza, I would check these out.

Now is not the best time to buy them though, that was about fourteen years ago when they came out. According to Zack Klapman from /DRIVE, “When they came out they fell under the GM “Red Tag/Friends and Family” sales deals, so people were buying them new for about $21,000, which was way under WRX MSRP. A few people in CO sold them 2 years later for a small profit.”

Everybody says they would kill baby Hitler if they had a time machine. I would have to make a quick stop before I did that.

Reviews from the time they were released are all but overwhelmingly positive. It seems like Saab took the Impreza and taught it some manners. Even if this car wasn’t really a Saab, it was still good. Production ended after GM decided owning a bit of Subaru didn’t really make any sense, so they sold some of the company to Toyota, and the rest back to Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru’s parent company). This was for the best.















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