European Rides: A Swedish anniversary and a British bad boy

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2007 Saab Aero
If you drove a Saab in the 1980s, you were doing quite well in the eyes of others. It?s 2007 now and the look and feel of today?s vehicles has changed drastically. Except for Saab. Automotive Rhythms was invited to attend Saab?s 60th Anniversary Drive in San Diego, Calif. Our road course through the San Diego Mountains gave us the chance to open up the 9-5 Aero Sport Sedan.

From 0-to-60 M.P.H., the 9-5 Aero handled its business rather impressively. 260-horsepower and 258-pound feet of torque, the vehicle is not a beast of the road, but you will command respect as you control your turf. It?s available with a five-speed automatic transmission or as a six-speed manual coupled to a 2.0 turbo engine. The brakes were more than adequate with electronic brake-force distribution and standard ABS. Stability is handled by a traction control system and electronic stability pro-gram. The 9-5 is offered in two packages: a four-door, five-passenger Sport Sedan and SportCombi (wagon).

Cool little brother 9-3 comes available in three packages, including the popular two-door, four-passenger convertible. Saab has introduced two distinct anniversary colors for the 9-3 and 9-5: a metallic ice blue and grey. A premium six-disc changer with XM and On-Star is standard for the 9-5 and optional on the 9-3. Both the 9-5 and 9-3 get approximately 30 miles to the gallon, a valuable attribute in today?s high-priced gasoline market.

2008 Land Rover LR2
After attempting to create a more affordable vehicle, Land Rover introduced the Freelander to the U.S. market in 2005. Like the British Red Coats of colonial times, the Freelander?s journey to the States was not well-received. Even with the Land Rover badge, there was nothing spectacular about this vehicle. Land Rover heard U.S. voices and answered with a brand-new entry-level model labeled the LR2.

From a design and mechanical standpoint, the LR2 should appease many Land Rover enthusiasts. Entering the ranks as a premium compact SUV, the LR2 has the most luxury and off-road prowess of any other SUV in its class for $34,700. From the exterior, the LR2 is certainly imbued with signature Land Rover attributes. A stepped roof, jewel-like wraparound headlamps and meshed side and front grills inform all that you are driving a Land Rover. The LR2 is well-equipped with full-time four-wheel drive, leather seats, MP3 hookup and such premium features as a soft-touch dashboard and metallic trim throughout the cabin. Under the hood lies a spunky 233-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine that produces 234-pound feet of torque and is capable of towing 4,409 pounds. On- and off-road control features include a four-channel all-terrain anti-lock braking system, cornering brake control and hill descent control. The LR2 rides on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels and premium 235/60VR 18 tires.

Land Rover was daring enough to provide us a 30-minute tumble through the sand dunes of Pismo Beach on the coast of California. The LR2 truly showed off here. Swooping in and out of 50-foot sand dunes as if they were virtually invisible, the ?British Bad Boy? proved it can handle any terrain. Overall, the LR2 provides an exciting and adventurous ride. For all the bells and whistles your price tag will be close to $40K.????????????????????????????

Kimatni D. Rawlins is the publisher of Automotive Rhythms and host of ?The Urban Automotive Experience.? Visit www.AutomotiveRhythms.com.