Badge engineering has produced some cars with truly bizarre identities. The new Mazda2 hybrid is nothing more than a Toyota Yaris by another name, while Suzuki sells two badge-engineered models also from Toyota - the Swace (Corolla estate) and Across (Rav4 PHEV).
It’s not a new practice, of course, especially for General Motors. Nowadays, it sells the same car with Vauxhall, Buick or other badges depending on which chunk of the Earth you live on, and its stewardship (ruination) of Saab in the 2000s resulted in several half-baked models. There was the 9-7X, based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer and available with a 6.0-litre Corvette V8, its 9-4X successor (a short-lived SUV based on the Cadillac SRX) and this, the Saab 9-2X.
The Saab 9-2X, as you can probably tell, was a Subaru Impreza WRX wagon with a more Swedish face. Think of it as meatball-sushi fusion food. Often called a Saabaru, most of the parts were shared, but Saab still managed to incorporate extra safety features. The front seats had active head restraints, aluminium rear suspension arms were fitted and extra sound insulation kept the engine noise in the bay.
Only 10,346 Saabarus were built in 2005-06. Both the nat-asp 2.5-litre and turbocharged 2.0-litre engines were Subaru lumps, and the latter was fitted in the hot 9-2X Aero model you see here. Linked to a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto, the Aero produced 224bhp and had standard-fit four-wheel drive. The speedo nudges 140mph, and the rev counter goes up to 7000rpm.
This particular example is up for online auction on Bring a Trailer. Painted in Desert Silver Metallic, it’s a low-mileage 2005 example with around 27,000 miles racked up. It’s not perfect - there are bodywork scuffs and alloy wheel imperfections, and the accompanying Carfax report notes that this 9-2X has been crunched by another car in 2014 and 2019. You’d probably need to budget for the timing belt service if it hasn’t been done, too.
Still, it’s weirdly appealing, especially listed with no reserve. Bidding is at $4000 (£2980) as I write this, so whoever wins is getting a cheap all-weather hack with plenty of power and very few miles. And not so many Subaru stereotypes.
It seems like it was quite inexpensive when new, too. Rumours suggest that dealers would have to knock considerable amounts off the sticker price just to get standard 9-2Xs offloaded. These 9-2X Aero versions were apparently more desirable, as you’d expect given the extra power and features. Among the listed features are cruise control, auto climate control, a six-CD changer and sport suspension.
Would you drop a relatively small amount of money on this unusual Saab/Subaru mashup?