DETROIT --- Saab is set to introduce the 9-3X -- a new addition to the 9-3 range -- at the Geneva motor show in March.

Saab said its designers raised the chassis of the two-wheel drive 9-3 SportCombi 35 mm (1.4 inches) higher, so the 9-3X can handle a rugged driving terrain. The vehicle is specifically designed for motorists who frequently hit gravel or unpaved roads, without compromising the driving experience on asphalt. The Saab 9-3X will become available in the 2010 model year.

The sporty 9-3X features Saab's XWD system -- an intelligent, active system that continuously distributes engine drive torque between the front and rear axles as required for stability and grip in all conditions, the company said. The hardware includes an electronically controlled Torque Transfer Device (TTD), which varies power delivery between the axles. A valve increases or reduces hydraulic pressure on wet clutch plates inside the TTD to progressively engage or disengage the rear axle. The degree of "slip" dictates how much drive is transmitted to the rear wheels. A standard rear limited slip differential (eLSD) operates on the same principle, splitting drive across the axle to whichever wheel has more grip.

As part of the Swedish manufacturer's right-sizing strategy, the 9-3X will come to the U.S. with Saab's 2.0-liter gasoline turbo-charged four-cylinder powertrain, offering 210 horsepower. The engine is mated with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

"The 9-3X is an efficient all-rounder for anyone who doesn't want or need an SUV-type vehicle," said Simon Padian, Saab brand design chief. "Simply put, we are offering a trekking shoe that will do what's required in more comfort and style than a heavier mountaineering boot."