The 2008 Saab Turbo X is a car that’s highly recognized in the Saab community, primarily because it was a special edition of the 9-3 that was limited to just 600 units in the United States.
Part of what made it so special was the fact that it stayed true to the expected comfort you get with Saab vehicles, but received a few enhancements that, in my opinion, greatly set it apart from a base model 9-3. They’re the sort of differences you’ll see between the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback GS models and base Sportback models.
Unlike the Turbo X, however, you cannot get the Regal GS in wagon form, a decision that’s been criticized by many auto enthusiasts and journalists alike. Some feel that it would’ve been a ‘return of GM’s hot wagon’ since Cadillac didn’t make a third-generation CTS-V wagon. That said, there is the Buick Regal TourX, which should be mighty appealing to those who were enthralled by the design, comfort, and capability of the Turbo X SportCombi, or longed for the 2010+ 9-5 SportCombi.
For the comparison being discussed in this post, we’re going to focus specifically on the Turbo X in sedan form. Technically the 2018 Regal GS is a lift-back design, meaning the entire rear hatch opens up, as opposed to just the trunk opening of traditional sedans. It’s essentially a sedan that’s poised to have the usability of a crossover. In the end, it’s still a five-seater with four doors for its occupants.
The reasons why one would want a Turbo X, other than its exclusivity, was that it had the Goldilocks-effect. It wasn’t too rough for daily driving duties, but it boogied right on down canyon roads without any fuss. It wasn’t the fastest thing on the market, but it delivered power in such a satisfying manner, even if it did feel a bit porky at higher revs.
For me, the Turbo X is an object of desire simply because it was limited availability. It wasn’t enough to appreciate the car for what it was, I had to have one for my own. But we’ll talk more about that buying experience at another time, right now we’re focused on the comparison between the Turbo X and the new Regal GS.
If you compare the base price of a 2008 9-3 Turbo X sedan when it was new, $42,510, to the base price of the 2018 Regal GS, $40,000, you can start to see why things didn’t really pan out for Saab—they were quite expensive when you compared them to the GM products that they shared platforms with. But to simplify Saab down to this point alone would be an injustice to the incredible cars it built.
Regarding the Turbo X, one could enjoy all sorts of creature comforts, from heated seats, to a 9-speaker Bose sound system, a sunroof, carbon fiber interior accenting, the works. These all might seem pretty commonplace in today’s market, but keep in mind the car was sold a decade ago. Today, as if to build on what the Turbo X offered – or more accurately what the previous generation Regal GS offered – the new Regal GS features all of those amenities and then some. For instance, how about massaging seats that are AGR approved? There’s also a modern touch-screen display, and an available heads-up display.
Again, you could say this is the expected progression after the previous Regal GS, but to be fair that car shared a lot of its DNA with the Turbo X. Interestingly, the differences between the Turbo X and the previous Regal GS, which came as a front-wheel drive car in standard form, are quite similar to the differences between the new GS and the old GS, meaning the new GS has more in common with the Turbo X than it does with the old GS. Or maybe I’m just trying really hard to project Saab’s identity onto Buick models so that I can buy one without too much remorse in the future.
If my hunch is correct, I’ll enjoy driving the new Regal GS for the same reasons I enjoy driving my Turbo X. And to drive home the point of this article, I think I’ll be disappointed in the same areas. The naturally aspirated 3.6-liter LGX V6 powering the new GS (no four-banger as with the prior Regal GS) offers similar power as the turbocharged 2.8-liter LP9 V6 that powers the Turbo X. Under the hood of the Regal GS the LGX makes 335 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque while the Turbo X’s LP9 makes 280 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque.
The biggest distinction between the two is that the Turbo X was available with a 6-speed manual transmission whereas the new Regal GS is only offered with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The lack of three pedals and the lack of a significant power bump mars a bit of the new Regal GS’s shine. If a manual transmission had been matted to the twin-turbo V6, like the LF4 which powers the ATS-V and makes 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque or the LF3 which propels the CTS V-Sport and makes slightly less power, then I could see folks rushing to dealers to trade in their tired Saabs. But when the biggest differences between the two cars are seemingly a few bells and whistles, then the prospect seems much less enticing. Instead, one would probably be better off investing in a vehicle they already own, especially when it’s as unique as the Turbo X.
That said, I’ll report back after I’ve gotten better acquainted with the 2018 Buick Regal GS.