Saab's re-badged-Subaru 9-2X, an all-wheel-drive, five-door model based on the Japanese firm's Impreza, will be unveiled at a special event in mid-December in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Its world debut in the US was confirmed at the Tokyo Motor Show by Peter Augustsson, President and CEO of Saab Automobile AB.

The 9-2X is the first production Saab to have all-wheel drive and will be offered in two versions will be available, both with five-door body styles and all-wheel-drive as standard. The entry level model will be powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre 'boxer' engine and the top Aero model will feature a 227 bhp, 2.0-litre turbo unit.

"We see a rapidly emerging segment in the United States for a premium, small car below the 9-3 Sport Sedan and we intend to be among the first in the segment," says Augustsson. "The 9-2X will help introduce Saab to a younger customer group."

"The Saab 9-2X is the result of a collaboration between two like-minded companies. We both have a special aircraft heritage [Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries evolved from the WWII-era Nakajima aircraft company] and a successful history in rallying, and our cars are known for being dynamic, safe and fun-to-drive. It makes a lot of sense to combine our strengths in creating a Saab that can be brought to market quickly."

The 9-2X is scheduled to go on sale early next summer in the USA and Canada, with other markets still under consideration.

The car will be produced by Fuji Heavy in Japan, beginning in the spring of 2004.