Saab has released photographs of the 9-4X before it is shown in the metal for the first time at next month's Los Angeles motor show.

The crossover model will be vital to the newly-independent Swedish manufacturer's future prospects and will slot into its range between the ageing 9-3 and the recently introduced large 9-5 saloon.

The 9-4X will have a turbocharged 2.8-litre 300 horsepower petrol engine, which seems to sit oddly with the 8.3 seconds the company says the new car will require to sprint from rest to 62 mph – unless it is pretty heavy. The 9-4X will have a six-speed automatic gearbox and Saab's AWD transmission, producing a drive-train set-up apparently designed to appeal more to US buyers than European customers; they will probably need to be offered a fuel-efficient diesel and a decent manual gearbox option if they are going to take the 9-4X seriously.

It is not yet clear whether the 9-4X will also be offered with two-wheel drive, although this is an option that is being offered on more and more crossovers and SUVs, even those from off-road specialists such as Land Rover.

Another clue to Saab's plans was provided when the company entered into an agreement to buy 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines from BMW last month, although it is not clear whether this move gives any indication of likely future engine options for the 9-4X.

The 9-4X goes on sale in the USA in May 2011, and in other markets, including the UK, later in the year.

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