These days, you can still buy a wee piece of Saab. It just will be called a Cadillac.
GM is all tooled up to build the Saab 9-4X at its facility in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, alongside the car's platform mate, the second-generation Cadillac SRX crossover, which hit the market earlier in 2009.
Although the base model of the SRX has a 3.0-liter, 265-hp V-6 - which is a little soft in the pantalones, according to most reviews - the sporty, top-shelf SRX shares the sibling Saab's running gear: a 2.8-liter, 300-hp turbocharged V-6, six-speed automatic and Haldex-supplied all-wheel-drive system.
Saab has been building riotous, roguish turbocharged engines for three decades now - indeed, turbocharging is part of the brand covenant - so the buzz of a turbo V-6 makes perfect sense for the 9-4X. Cadillac is generally associated with a more gracious and refined delivery of large-displacement horsepower from V-6s and V-8s. Still, the turbo Saab engine is a good one, and it made for good economy of scale in Mexico. GM product planners said stick it in.
Now Saab is entering its existential twilight, leaving the Mexico-built Cadillac SRX 2.8L Turbo as the only new model with any Swedish character.
Here's the good news about the SRX: It looks grand, a large-caliber, Baccarat-glass slug aimed at the heart of the Lexus RX350, which rules the luxury crossover market.
If the two-row, five-passenger upscale trucklet segment were only a beauty contest, the other contestants - the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK350 and BMW X3 among them - could just go take a Roman bath.
Another spot-on expression of Caddie's art and science design idiom, the SRX sheet metal is charged with big vectoring strokes of energy and a cool and glowering masculinity. The turbo-equipped model I tested came with huge 20-inch wheels. Nifty.
Other good things: The interior is almost a duplicate of those in the CTS vehicles (sedan, wagon, coupe). The dash design is handsome, well-organized and thematically consistent. The French-stitched leather and pleather stand up to skeptical scrutiny. The switch gear is sturdy and appealing.
The SRX cabin ambience is as muffled as fresh snow. To be sure, the SRX cannot touch the Lexus in terms of tactile and material refinement or technological sophistication. Still, this is a well-sorted interior. The multifunction touch-screen LCD - which levitates out of the central console as if summoned by a snake charmer - takes some patience to learn, but it works well.
Perhaps the thing that buyers in this segment least care about - dynamic performance - is what Cadillac has spent the most time fiddling with. The turbo-equipped car is upfitted with a sport-tuned suspension, variable-ratio steering, 20-inch wheels and the asphalt-hungry all-wheel-drive system.
But what might have been a runaway reindeer feels a little like an anemic caribou. After a fairly successful run that gave GM some product cred in the midst of its business meltdown, Cadillac comes up short with the SRX Turbo.
The good news is that with Saab out of business, the SRX Turbo variant - too expensive, too slow, too thirsty besides - is probably not long for this world.
That's also the bad news.
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