Despite being a decade older than the STi, Kayla finds her 9-2X to be a much more enjoyable ride.
Right before purchasing this 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero, Kayla sold her 2015 Subaru WRX STi. It wasn’t that the STi didn’t live up to its expectations, or that she had become bored with the car; it was because of the monthly payment. By comparison, the 9-2X was one-third of the cost of the STi, and that was just one of the benefits. For those who aren’t aware of the connection, the 9-2X is essentially a rebadged Subaru WRX, and is also affectionately known as the ‘Saabaru’.
You see, Kayla bought the 2015 STi a year after graduating from Penn State. She landed a secure position with a promising small business that treats its employees well. She felt she had finally worked hard enough to partake in “Treat Yo Self Day 2016,” and what better way to do that than by purchasing a sweet new ride? It’s a sentiment that many of us, especially Millennials, can relate to.
I assisted Kayla in finding the STi of her dreams, which was either a 2010+ hatch or a newer 2015+ sedan. At the time, I tried to get her to consider cheaper alternatives, but when a car junky gets fixated on a new desire it’s nearly impossible to ween them off. In her defense, she was giving me a taste of my own medicine. And as soon as she laid eyes on a metallic black 2015 Subaru STi sitting on the lot at the Fiore Toyota dealership in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, I knew she fully intended to drive home with an (almost) new car. I say ‘almost new’ because the Subbie had just over 9,000 miles on it when the owner traded it in on a Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro.
As more and more months went by, buyer’s remorse began to set in. Kayla began to wonder if the highly-coveted STi was worth the cost of ownership. We ended up plasti-dipping the car with a custom blend of Jade Green and Purplue pearls, and used the then-new ‘glossifier’ from DipYourCar.com (That’s right. We plasti-dipped the Subbie. Deal with it.) The change in color gave Kayla another breath of infatuation, but with no room in her schedule to get some seat time and exploit the STi’s capabilities at the track, Kayla eventually became dissatisfied with it yet again.
It was this sense of dissatisfaction Kayla was feeling when I showed her a rather interesting Saab 9-2X Aero I found while searching through Craigslist and Cars.com listings. The 9-2X had been on Kayla’s radar since we spotted one during a car meet organized by the Penn State Car Club in an effort to raise money for THON, the university’s student-run philanthropy.
I wasn’t searching for anything in particular, in fact, you could call it a form of procrastination, so I didn’t really think Kayla would end up buying it. It was more of a, “oh, hey, check this out” sort of gesture. The seller, a full-time mechanic, had swapped in a JDM drivetrain from a 2007 Subaru Forester STi, meaning this 9-2X has a six-speed transmission instead of a five-speed. The swap included everything from the transmission to the struts and shocks, and all of the components had about 35,000 miles on them. In addition, the seller had installed a brand-new, OEM short-block with a new turbocharger, refurbished head, and some new accessories.
The shorter gear ratios make for a much more exciting drive when compared to the 5-speed WRX transmission that the 9-2X came with from the factory, and the obnoxiously loud exhaust put a huge smile on Kayla’s face. The modified 9-2X wasn’t as capable as the 2015 STi, of course, but Kayla still enjoyed driving it more. As far as she was concerned, there wasn’t much that was being lost by making the switch to a car that was 10-years older. In fact, the 9-2X had a better stereo system, it got brownie points for being a wagon, and, most importantly, it cut her loan term in half and drastically reduced her monthly payment.
Kayla plans on tracking and/or autocrossing the 9-2X this season, so you can look forward to seeing footage of that this summer. We’ll also talk more about the 9-2X in a future post, and the difference in driving dynamics between it and the STi. For now, we encourage you to browse through the images of the aforementioned vehicles in the gallery below.