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2008 Saab 9-7X Aero: 390HP SUV. Just What Saab Needs

Slow-Selling 9-7X Range Adds Aero Model for 2008MY
Saab borrows the 390HP 6.0L V8 that Chevrolet used to create the TrailBlazer SS for a 9-7X Aero for 2008MY. With the power, the Aero gets polished aluminum twenty-inch wheels, a specific paint color (Carbon Flash Metallic), and Aero embroidered leather seats inside. The Aero also takes a heavy-duty rear axle with a limited-slip differential and increases braking power with larger rotors, iron twin-piston calipers, and high-performance brake pad lining. These mechanical differences are the same changes applied to the TrailBlazer to create the SS, though the Saab 9-7X already had a lowered suspension compared to the Chevy. (Aside from adding the Aero model, there are only color and wheel changes to the 9-7X range for the 2008MY.)

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The Saab 9-7X is on its way out, and losing what little relevance it had. The product gave Saab a quick and inexpensive SUV, but one so un-Saab-like that it did not help brand image. Joining the club of offering excessive power from an already thirsty product, especially in the midst of media and public concern over fuel economy and “global warming,” seems misguided. Luxury entries from brands with performance history like BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne offer high-output performance-oriented models to help keep brand image up, but adding a 390HP Aero 9-7X does nothing for Saab’s overall brand image. Saab cannot disguise the fact that the 9-7X Aero is an American-mindset product. Even as Saab used jet references in announcing the Aero, describing the Aero’s performance as “jetlike” and the 9-7X Aero as taking off and TV commercials play on the jet theme, they can’t make this round product fit into Saab’s square product hole.
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Still, putting image and brand personality aside, our experience with the Aero’s mechanical twin Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS gives us confidence that the Saab variant will be an entertaining drive. The Aero may bring in a non-traditional Saab buyer, but Saab has nothing with which to keep them, nor are they developing new products in the same vein.
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