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April 20, 2011

Saab is getting back into the large wagon segment. The 2012 Saab 9-5 SportCombi, a pumped up version of the 9-5 sedan, is making its entrance at the New York auto show this week.

Originally unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show, the 9-5 SportCombi shares the 9-5 sedan's available all-wheel drive, with either a 220-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 300-horsepower 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 engine. The SportCombi also includes Saab's XWD all-wheel-drive system and features such as: Saab DriveSense adaptive chassis control, adaptive cruise control, Bi-Xenon Smart Beam adaptive lighting, keyless entry and starting, tri-zone air conditioning and a Pilot Head-up Display which projects information, aircraft-style in the windshield.

"The launch of the 9-5 SportCombi is a much-awaited next step in the roll-out of our new product offensive," said Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile's chief executive. "It will take Saab back into the large wagon segment where we have established a strong presence in many key markets with our previous offering."

Design wise, the SportCombi takes fashion notes from Saab's Aero X–the concept created to explore future design direction. The low-slung Saab Aero X two seater sports coupe has a jet aircraft inspired cockpit canopy and no doors or windshield pillars.

The SportCombi exterior features 'wraparound' window glazing, a steeply raked rear screen, a dramatic sweeping roof profile with ultra-slim roof rails and a low stance. The 'ice-block' rear light bar, which wraps into light units at either side, is a continuation of the signature Saab styling theme seen on the 9-5 sedan and 9-4X crossover.

Although the 9-5 SportCombi looks cooler than a grocery hauling wagon, the vehicle has an adaptable multi-fold floor, flexible U-rail load space configuration and under-floor stowage with a handy, sealed wet storage compartment. A programmable, powered tailgate is also available. With the seatbacks lowered, the cargo deck is just over six feet long with an adaptable load capacity of up to 56 cubic feet with compartments in the side walls for small items and a 12-volt power outlet.

Although we have not driven the 9-5 SportCombi yet, one Swedish journalist has. He gave this account, "After some tortuous miles outside Trollhättan, one can conclude that the new 9-5 SportCombi has every chance to take back market share in the segment.

"The large estate market has just gotten a lot more fun and interesting. Sweden is obviously much more dull without Saab."

Let's hope that sticks for Saab. Last week it was thrown another lifeline by the Swedish Government. At this week's NYIAS we're cheering them on.

The SportCombi will arrive in the US in the Fall of 2011.

 

HOLLY REICH writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on uptownlife.net.

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