This has been a long time coming: two years from the concept version, since forever as far as the idea of a mid-size Saab estate car (a highly marketable proposition, you might think) is concerned. Now it's here, based on the 9-3 and called Sport Wagon in the UK, SportCombi (echoing an old Saab 99 three-door name) in the rest of Europe.
Here, Saab hopes, is the riposte to those who are sad that the current 9-3 is a saloon, not a hatchback like its recent predecessors. The Sport Wagon is a good looker, roofline thickening rearwards in side elevation, rear pillars broad, aluminium tailgate flanked by tall tail-lights in clear plastic to give, so it is said, an icy, Scandinavian air. The wheelarches hug the wheels tightly, and inside an air of premiumness pervades until the parking ticket holder comes away in your hand and you find the moulding nodules on the interior door window surrounds.
The boot floor can be split into two levels, achieved by pulling an aeroplane-shaped handle (heritage and all that) and you can have a dividing net able to separate dog from shopping. And you can have a new 2.8-litre, 250bhp turbo V6 with a burbly exhaust note and a six-speed manual or auto transmission. Strangely, given the ample torque, the manual feels oddly flat while the auto comes across as a rapid machine with a smooth, responsive shift.
It handles keenly - thanks to a rigid structure and Saab's own passive rear-steer suspension - and rides neatly. This is so nearly a covetable car.
|Engine||V6, 2792cc, 24v, turbocharged|
|Max power||250bhp @ 5500rpm|
|Max torque||258lb ft @ 2000-4500rpm|
|Top speed||152mph (claimed)|
|On sale||September 2005|