To a frozen lake in the far north of Sweden to meet up with Saab’s new 9-3X crossover estate and Per Eklund, the man charged with demonstrating it to me. Rally fans will know Eklund well, not just for the many successes in his career but also its length and breadth. In a competition history spanning more than 40 years, he’s won at rallying’s top level, won the FIA European Rallycross Championship and set a class record at Pikes Peak that has still to be beaten 10 years on.
Now 62, Eklund’s commitment remains undimmed and he wastes no time in demonstrating some of the more ludicrous tricks a man with his talent can make the 210bhp, four-wheel drive Saab perform. His approach – maximum attack and as sideways as possible – is not one you might expect a sedate Saab to respond to, but it soon proved game enough, even when Eklund went off to terrorise some other journalists and I had a go on my own.
Even at a likely £28,000, the 9-3X could prove popular in the marketplace. As people trade out of SUVs, this kind of compact ‘all roader’ offering good looks, an elevated driving position and all-wheel drive without the extra weight of a normal off-roader would seem a good option. I just hope Saab is around to savour any success. With GM saying it must be shot of it by the end of the year, the need to find
a buyer could scarcely be more urgent.