Thirty years ago, Saab chose the Frankfurt auto show to unveil a new performance model. That car was the Saab 99 Turbo, Saab’s first attempt at using turbocharging to pump up engine performance, and it gave the little hatchback more than 140 horsepower. Limited color choices for the 99 Turbo and its successor, the 900 Turbo, meant the cars became known as the “Black Turbos.”

Ever since, the Swedes have used turbocharging to boost performance throughout their model range, and Saab has emerged as GM’s center of expertise for boost. So it’s fitting that Saab would use this year’s Frankfurt show to pay homage to the cars that started it all.

But what really sets the Turbo X—and the new 9-3 on which it is based—apart is that they introduce all-wheel drive to the 9-3 lineup. Frankfurt will be the first auto-show appearance for the 2008 9-3, with an AWD system that can not only transfer 100 percent of available torque to the rear wheels but also split torque between the rear wheels.

The automaker plans to showcase the 2008 Saab Turbo X AWD with a more powerful, 280-hp version of the turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 that is in front-wheel-drive versions of the 9-3 Aero XWD.

The limited-edition Turbo X cars will be styled to resemble the original Black Turbos. That means pumping up the testosterone and returning to Saab design cues that some modern offerings have lacked.

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