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Re-starting with the 9-3 – is that enough?

January 19, 2012 in Editorial

If you look closely at the few news about Youngman’s plans for Saab it looks like they plan alter the current 9-3 so they don’t need GM’s IP. Of course this would mean that the current 9-5 and 9-4x are gone from Saabs portfolio as GM won’t license those models to Youngman. But why could the 9-3 work out without GM’s ok and how bad is the reduction to one model? Let’s take a look.

When the current 9-3 was developed the engineers hugely altered the Epsilon-I platform. It was said that this had been done to make sure the 9-3 was manufactured in Trollhättan only. As Spyker took over Saab this became a benefit as The 9-3 was the only model in the portfolio Saab did not have to pay license fees for. They still had a huge amount of GM stuff in the car but the IP of the 9-3 is owned by Saab. The task Youngman is facing now is to replace the GM stuff through other suppliers. This may be easy with certain parts but more difficult with others. In many cases it could even mean some improvement. The fact that Youngman themselves have big capacities when it comes to the manufacturing of parts will surely help here. Still, if Youngman want to start production within 15 weeks I’d expect this would not be enough to replace engines for example. Well, maybe GM would even deliver some parts – if they can’t block a deal, they could at least earn some money from Saab. But still, I am using common sense here and you can’t always apply that to GM.

So let’s get back to the initial question, is the 9-3 enough? Of course not in the long term. Saab needs a bigger family car like the 9-5 to serve their customer base and the 9-4x was a well received step into a new market segment. So it would surely be sad to leave those models behind but as it is now, this is not the point. I don’t see GM license their tech to anyone who wants to buy Saab. So for Youngman or anyone else who buys Saab continuing the 9-3 would mean lowering the loss that will surely occur until a complete model range based on the Phoenix is ready for the market. One model alone won’t let the company make profit but at least some money comes in, production can continue and Saab remains present on the market. Lots of benefits I’d say.

The 9-3 is a good base to make a car that people would buy. If you have to alter some components anyway you can easily add needed features like iPod integration that we missed up to now. The Griffin had improved a lot when it comes to the interior – so the base is there. You can even spec the car from a affordable base model to a performance (read Hirsch) model and serve a wide range of customers with Sedan, Convertible, Combi and 9-3x. So if you have to go with just one model the 9-3 is the best option.

Of course this path puts a lot of pressure on the next 9-3 that is likely to be the only Saab model available when it comes to market. But honestly, this pressure would have been there anyway. From what I’ve heared about the next 9-3 it is ready to take the challenge. And this would only mark the beginning of the new start for Saab, a true restart without chains from GM.

One may ask why it took so long for Youngman to take that route. The main reason should be that they need to have an alternative source for all the parts that GM won’t deliver. This takes time and even if they started this project before bankrupcy was declared it is not a small task. In any case they are there and if you believe di.se they are willing to spend roughly 560 milliom Euro on the purchase and the same sum again on development of the Phoenix and the next 9-3. Not enough to develop a comlete range but not too bad for a start I’d say.

This will still be a tough road for Saab. But tough roads are something that Saabs are really good at.

205 responses to Re-starting with the 9-3 – is that enough?

  1. I read at Bilsport that Youngman only want to sell the 9-3 in china!
    Anyone able to confirm this?

    • But develop and build the 900 in Sweden?

      • That will mean that Saab officially will be dead in all of its current markets by the time the 900 gets built!
        People thought Saab was dead for a very large part of 2010, just because the factory was down for a few weeks. Now it’s been down for the better part of 2011 and now noone’s going to be able to buy a Saab in any shape or form until 2013?

        Saab will by that time have the same chances as Dodge or Lancia to sell well in the west.

        • I agree, YM must do anything and everything to have the current 9-3 rolling out from THN and ADVERTISE it as a Golf/Jetta, Focus, Astra killer until the new 900 shows up. It never was that much more expensive anyways when you compared apples to apples.
          The only problem was that no potential Ford, KIA or VW customer even knew what SAAB stands for nowadays. Even my relatives believe the ‘old’ 9-3 SS is some expensive (luxury) car thanks to GM’s out of touch marketing. When in fact the car is a workhorse that just goes like a rocket when ever you need it to.
          Unlike a crummy 115, 120 hp Opel or Ford that you get sick and tired of after one year/30.000 km.

  2. All I have to say is that any solution is better than no solution.

    Given that these are indeed *public* posts and can be read by anyone, positivity is of key importance. Having Saab continue as whole is better than no Saab. It might be tough in the beginning, but it has to be. Things will get worse before they get better and we must give it time to flourish. If they need to start with one model (which is really a convertible, hatch (3 and 5 door?), combi?) that’s a good collection of their best model. We beg for Saab to survive, so we must be happy with what we can get in the short term and for a good long term solution with our support.

  3. I’ve read many, not all, of the 118 comments.

    From a dealer’s perspective:

    1. Current 9-3 only: Not happening unless they content it to the roof with every option available and price it thousands less than where it is now. The product is too old and too far behind the competition. Even then, I’d doubt the dealer network could really survive on that alone.

    2. China market only: Forget the Global dealer network. They will have moved on, cut their losses and you will have lost your network through which you sell your product. Putting the dealers on ice for 2+ years cannot be a serious consideration by anyone with half a brain, can it?

    3. Responsibility to dealers and owners: If the deal goes through (which seems highly unlikely from my seat) If they don’t reinstate customer’s warranties and dealer’s receivables, then re-entering the US market will by an insurmountable task as the faith in the brand will dissolve.

    I’m not trying to be negative, just giving you the perspective from a dealer.

    • I just googled “Audi A4″. It received a minor facelift in 2009. It now looks more like the current 9-3, but I’d say the 9-3 still looks better and more modern.

      Audi A4 usually costs more. What exactly is it about the 9-3 that stops you from selling it?

      • “I just googled “Audi A4″. It received a minor facelift in 2009.”
        The 2009 A4 is on a new platform…not a facelift. What the Saab 9-3 got in 2008 was a facelift.

        I live, eat, breathe, sleep this product and our competition is in my face all day / every day. The A4 is far ahead of the 9-3. I’m sorry…It pains me to say this as I am not an Audi fan. Saab die hards will not buy the current 9-3 over and over and over and no one is going to jump from another Euro / import brand into a 9-3. There’s just too many steps backwards in technology and advancements.
        The business model may make sense in China but it doesn’t make sense anywhere else that has had this product for 9 years relatively unchanged except for a few ‘facelifts’.

        • Yes the A4 was put on a totally new platform for MY 2009, the B8 platform. It was not just a facelift. It was a completely new chassis, with the engine moved back behind the front wheels to make it less front-heavy than the previous A4s, similar to what Saab did with the current 9-3 back in MY 2003.

          The A4 is a much better car than it was in its previous incarnations.

          And Saabdealer has a good point, I’ve driven the competition, and I’m sorry to say but the 9-3 is no longer competitive. At all. It was competitive when it came out in MY 2003. In fact, I felt it was a better car than the B6 Audi A4, and certainly competitive with, and a better car in some aspects, than the B7 Audi A4, but the B8 is simply, far and away, a better car, no question. I would say the same for 3-series, C300, G37, and even the new S60.

          The 9-3 has been out for 9 years in the states. That is forever in “car years”.

          Saab needs a new car in this segment, like….yesterday….as they say. If they want to compete with Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Infiniti, etc., etc.

        • The new A4 still does not look as good as the ‘old’ 9-3.

          Also, XWD (w/eLSD) vs Quattro: are you telling me that the latest generation Haldex combined with eLSD is less advanced than Quattro..? How about the amount of bhp compared to CO2 emission? Finally: what about the price?

          It sounds like you guys are stuck focusing on the little details (such as interior) where the 9-3 admittedly needs a little tl&c (IMO quite solvable), but you miss the fact that the 9-3 does have its share of new fancy stuff as well.

    • If it really is true that Saab will be selling only in China then you are correct that that’s the end for Saab in the US. It will take 3 to 5 years to develop and homologize a Phoenix based Saab for the US market. No one will risk becoming a Saab dealer at that point and the general public will be very suspicious of the brand.

    • Agree 100% with this analysis. Couldn’t have said it better myself. 9-3 is too old, and let’s just be honest now, there will be no more 9-5′s and 9-4x’s. Sadly, I think whatever the outcome here, Saab is dead in the US and we US customers need to move on. Even Swade has moved on (see Swadeology.com)…

      The only possible outcomes I see are:
      - Youngman wins: Saab becomes an entity selling in China and Sweden. If they’re successful enough with great product, maybe they then start expanding to the rest of the world in about 10-15 years.
      - Brightwell wins: Same thing. Saab becomes an entity selling in Turkey and Sweden. If they’re successful enough with great product, maybe they start expanding to the rest of the world in about a decade or so.

    • > 3. Responsibility to dealers and owners: If the deal goes through (which seems highly unlikely from my seat) If they don’t reinstate customer’s warranties and dealer’s receivables, then re-entering the US market will by an insurmountable task as the faith in the brand will dissolve

      . . . along with 35%-40% of SAAB’s market.

    • All parties are beginning to make their bids this month. After all I don’t believe that the guys who are serious in SAAB have only just started looking at the current value and projected value of the company. I say more bids the better! Personally hoping for Mahindra to do a ‘JLR’ on SAAB but who cares as long as SAAB remains in Sweden!

    • I’d like to see a copy of a signed approval from GM to build current models in THN.

    • Re; ”Any transaction will require approval from Saab’s former owner, General Motors Co. (GM), as well as the Swedish government and the European Investment Bank, Ahmed said ”.

      Not sure why GM approval, will be needed, unless they want to keep GM parts in their system.

      Swegov approval will only be needed if they ask for help, surely??

      EIB, loans will be repaid from monies received from the sale of Saab parts AB & whatever other sureties they have….

      • This i found strange also Terry…. If those three clowns are still involved.. That is not going to be any help at all.. Free of them is the only way it would work… But after what gm did recently…don’t expect the chinese government to want gm in china or make it difficult for them.. :) That i would love to see… Hopefully pack there bags for them

    • OT:

      Many Western manufacturers are dropping like fly’s & it can only get worse, with the onslaught of the Chinese……

      • The Chinese may have caused the downfall of many a Western manufacturer but not of Eastman Kodak. The reason for their Chapter 11 was simply bad business strategy.

        Ivo

        • First comment back here in a long time… I own a little Kodak camera, and the photos it takes are pretty darn nice! However, other aspects are unpolished and junk, just like Kodak’s business model. I consider my little Kodak “lovable” and “quirky,” which is why I keep it. With the right management team, Kodak can shine.

          I believe that Saab will be sold. I haven’t given up on my dream of starting an entrepreneurial venture in Saab when I grow up quite yet! A world without Saab is a world without character. A world without character is one I don’t want to live in.

          The show must go on.

  4. My guess is that the bid from Youngman is more like this:
    Continue selling 9-5 and 9-4X in Saabs current marketsplace. Therefore not competing with this models in China or in any other new markets. Also GM will make the most profits from the cars sold.
    The current 9-3 and all its models will start selling in China and new markets. The new model 9-3 will be remodel so that GM do not have the right to intervine. After the launch of the new 9-3, the current 9-3 will migrate in to a Youngman car.
    The current 9-5 will not achieve any facelift or changes it will be replaced with a new ona soon as possible. Again with GM only as a supplier if they wish to.

    • After the launch of the new 9-3, the current 9-3 will migrate in to a Youngman car.

      +1 Great idea

      • And can compete with the 9-3 from before that, built by BAIC… Actually, IMHO the first series 9-3 was a better and more handsome car than the 9-3 SS series, especially the very first years with Trionic 5 engine management with a lot less risk of black sludge. Maybe Youngman could buy those engines from BAIC? They did buy the Saab engine plant after all, didn’t they?

        Ivo

  5. 9-3 is the bread and butter model. The big seller. So it makes some sense. Not use that selling in China only is a good idea. Especially if the cars are built in Sweden, but on the other hand it’s in China Youngman have a dealer network.

  6. Why outdated ? Because the average customer needs a new form of sheet after a while so that everyone can he see he has the money for a “new” car ? IMHO the 9-3 is in no way outdated ! My 9-3X SC – the design is fresh and extraordinary. Smooth and fast acceleration with the 2.0T, about 10l petrol /100 km. Well designed and worthy exterior and interior – o.k. except the interior door handles. The technical equipment is very good – apart from the Bose radio, maybe nav function ;-) – the sound of the 150 W- seven speaker in my OG 9-5 was much better ! BTW my OG 9-5 went 150000 km without any technical problem and I sold it without any problem.
    Just put the 9-3 among other German cars – the Saab is still a sporty eye catcher. The question is how to find paying customers for this wonderful car. At first all Saab fans with their 900, 9000, and OG 9-3 could change … ;-)
    Perhaps less pricing, nav and other options included ? May be it fills the break until the Phoenix arises.

    • Just put the 9-3 among other German cars – the Saab is still a sporty eye catcher.

      +1 +1

      Saab 9-3 looks way better

      • Thanks for your support.

        • I have driven the competition: 3-series, C-class, Infiniti G37, Volvo S60.

          The 9-3 is simply no longer competitive.

          As Saabdealer said above-the proof is in the pudding-nobody is going to go from an Audi A4, a BMW 328i, or a Mercedes C-Class into a Saab 9-3. It just doesn’t happen.

          • Decontent the vehicle and stop trying to compete with Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Saab failed because they abandoned their roots—-which is to say that they stopped offering value leaders and moved way too far upmarket. A basic 9-3 for less money would find a lot of new buyers. And it’s still competitive enough that a loaded 9-3 will still appeal to traditional Saab buyers. I can tell you that if I were in the market for a new car—-there aren’t any that come to mind that I would pick over a 9-3—-except maybe a 9-5. I’d have no problem feeling very good about purchasing a 9-3 sport combi.

    • Part of the problem is that most Saab fans have already owned the 9-3. Some of them owned it twice already. I don’t think anyone wants to own it 3 times. It’s not bad, just been there for a very long time already. It isn’t wrong to want something new and exciting. Sell it in China where it is a new (and very nice looking) face.

      In the US at least, SCNA should just try to renegotiate a way to sell the 9-4x for a while longer. No technology sharing licenses needed. Just a plain old resell of what GM manufactures at a break even point if possible to keep dealers and brand active. Then blow everyone away with the new 900 in 24 months.

      • I see – it is just difficult in these times.

      • There is at least one guy who wants to own it 3 times, me! I had 2005, 2008 and 2011. I guess I am a bit crazy but happy :) The exterior is still looking good but the interior needs a design upgrade. It’s an excellent car (9-3 Aero 2.0T) for the money. Very well equiped. But I hope the next one will be the new 9-3 or 900 or whatever they call it in 2014 or 2015. As long it’s a Saab. :)

    • I love our 2003 9-3SC XWD but the car needs some serious improvement in the interior and electronics dept. The car is a nice car but it is definitely behind. I think that it has some life left in it, but really needs replacing sooner than later. When I go from the 9-4 to the 9-3 it is like stepping back in time.

  7. Interesting stuff from sr.se regarding the brand:

    “Saab AB, which owns the Saab brand (edit, co-owns with saab auto), and therefore must approve of any new owner can use the name Saab, does not have any negotiations with the bankruptcy estate stakeholders.

    – We do not have any such discussions, announces Eric Magni, Saab AB’s press department.

    What is required to Saab AB is required to approve a new owner uses the name Saab?

    – We can not comment on until we got something to consider. But it is important that we share the view of the brand, its meaning and how it will develop in the future.”

    • hmm I hit enter prematurely, this sounds good to me, the general opinion in Sweden regarding the brand seems to be that there´s no chance at all for a “new” saab to get the brand-name. But this proves that it´s quite possible, anyone who wants to buy Saab auto must like and share the view of the brand as it is now.

    • Saab as a brand, what is it known for?
      Scania? Not really, ask a truck driver and they will answer Scania and Volvo if asked about Swedish trucks, they do not call a Scania a Saab.

      And if you ask a person in the street in the US or in Europe what Saab is I think that a clear majority will answer that it is a car. Not so many will talk about fighter aircraft or defense equipment.

      The other Saab companies actually have a lot of free boost from the Saab auto branding. The last years have been a bit negative, but with the right owner etc I do not think that it is impossible that Saab can be used for new cars in the future.

  8. IMO 9-3 is the most beautiful Saab ever built.

    9-5NG is only for a lucky few, can not sell big numbers.

    I would like to see a cheaper new 9-3 being sold for many many more years, it looks just dammn good.

  9. Indeed – now it is time for a 9-3.

    • i’ve owned a 99GL, 2 X 90, 2 X 900GLE, 2 X 900 AERO16 S, 2 X 9000 CDE, 3 X 900S, 2 X 900 TURBO, 2 X VIGGEN, 4 X 9-3 CONVERTIBLE plus others, currently on a 9-3 ss aero 2.0T hirsch now looking at a 9-5 2010 but unsure at this time as present car so much fun !!!!

      • Whew, that makes me dizzy, you are a specialist, absolutely. I dare to say that I just owned two 9-5´s since 1999. :-)

      • Go for it…..I got a new 95 in April, it’s fabulous…..had 9000 years ago, had 93 four years ago then this one. Big car, drives like small car, it’s best car I’ve ever had…..just hope Saab can come through and continue with this fabulous machine. Quality of interior and fit is great.

  10. i think having only to build the 93..and having acquired it at a very low cost….Youngman will be wise to sell it very cheap and well equipped. just one trim level…loaded with nav…manual or auto……just like honda does with the se models in the final year…they need to feed the dealer network and keep the factory at full capacity….they should call it the phoenix edition.

  11. Here are my initial thoughts, without having had the chance to go through all of the earlier comments yet. I think a start with just the 9-3 can work if: It’s a really nice 9-3, and priced right. The current 9-3 is a great car, but is getting a bit dated. Competition is getting tougher and tougher, but it’s a solid car and I think it will sell. It may need to be priced pretty low to get some traction in the market, though. Thinking about how many people thought Saab was dead just a few months ago, people will really be confused when the Phoenix rises again (the proverbial Phoenix, not the concept car, yet:))

    Along with the 9-3, there need to be some plans for the rest of the lineup. It’s got to be firm enough that consumers will believe it – *plans*, not ideas or hopes. Something along the lines of “a new 9-5 (or whatever), a small hatchback, and an SUV in the next 3 years…”

    Starting with just a 9-3 is probably the fastest way to get some money flowing again without spending a ton on R&D, and waiting to launch a full lineup. Now, that ton of R&D does need to be spent, and we need to get the new cars out there, but I think it’s important for Saab not to leave the scene completely for too long, and to get some cash coming in.

  12. Having one great car (in several variants) is better than no car and could certainly sell well while work is done to expand the rest of the model line. Maybe it is ultimately a better business model to make one great car than trying to have a size and shape that fits everyone’s needs. From that one car you have a coupe, a hatchback, a wagon, a convertible and within those you have a base, a diesel and a Viggen. You’re selling 12 different cars already from that one great 9-3 design.

    Mini dealers sure weren’t hurting all those years selling just one car prior to the Clubman, Countryman and the Roadster being introduced. Of those, the Countryman is really the Mini that isn’t based on the coupe model. Of course, Mini was well funded and that would hopefully be the situation that Saab finds itself in in the future.

  13. Big qeustion remains; how fast can we put the 9-3 on the market again. 15 weeks, i don’t think so. How about re-engineering a new gearbox/engine and so on to put in place and what about validation (-time)?

    Furthermore the 9-3 model is allmost to its end, There has to be something new (a hatch?) or at least a feeling of something new after such a long time of absence.

    In short: work has to be done and quick.

    And last, we need more Saab-drivers next to existing. So a modern,reasonably priced car must convince to get them all out there audi’s/bmw’s.

    We allready are waiting for 9 months. We’d better give it some more time for uplifting an intermediate 9-3!

    • Sell the cool looking facelifted new 93 in China, it will kick alot of butts of VW and Audi´s and BMW´s.

      IMO 70% of Saab´s future market is in China.

      Just imagine in 2020 Chinese annual new car sales will hit round 40 millions.

      Take just 1% of the cake, enough

  14. As much as I dont want Saab to die I seriously doubt Saab would go far on the 9-3 only.

  15. still I want to buy a 9-3 in the colour blue sky. There are many people who purchase a massive auto though so that German newspapers will criticize. had only managed to reduce the final price of the car by 15-20% of the sale could be continued the next four years to develop a new model or models. 9-3 x or convertible are those who do not look on these cars are in good price? 9-3 only one without GM. Yes Man

  16. Do what Scion does here in the US, build all the cars that leave the factory exactly the same aside from color, it stream lines the process and saves money, it’s why Scions are much cheaper than Toyotas and have no haggle pricing. Spec up all the 9-3s and sell at a discount, if they were AWD with hot wheels, an ipod hookup, a sunroof with leather, I’m sure they could move a few until the new 9-3 arrives. Don’t waste time of money on advertising, let the negative press fade from people’s mind and then hit the ground hard with a big reintroduciton of the brand with it’s iconic small, premium, turbo hatch model.

    • To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know why we are debating whether or not Saab needs the 9-5? It wasn’t supposed to be the car that saved Saab but the hope was that it would bridge Saab until it was saved by the new 9-3 and it failed at that. We have a million excuses on here as to why it didn’t but it had nothing to do with a lack of advertising, etc. It was a good car but not a great car and most of all it didn’t appeal to the BMW or the Saab crowd that embraced the original 9-5. Here in the US at least, the old 9-3 still outsold the new 9-5, dump it, it’s dead and those who have em, now have a very unique car. If Saab really wants to attract people and have a revival it needs to learn from the Mini story, start with a car that reminds all the people around the world why they loved Saab in the first place, don’t muddy the message with a very large GM sedan and SUV.

      • The 9-5 SC was the one we were hoping would bridge the gap until the launch of the new 9-3. That, combined with the low-CO2 9-3 Griffin, with a little nudge from the 9-4X.

        Many waited to buy the 9-5 because they wanted the combi version. Do not forget that. This has been said from early 2010.

        As for advertising, there was a guy who recently posted a comment here accusing someone of embezzlement because he had seen absolutely no trace of any Saab ad for the last couple of years… (I have seen a few billboards locally here in Sweden and some internet ads — I do not watch TV so naturally I have not seen any there)

        I think most of this is irrelevant. A new owner faces new challenges and have different means of meeting those challenges. YM seem confident that they can do a one pony show until new models are developed. I suspect they will be able to borrow money if need be, plus they have other businesses going that helps cash flow. Their situation is very different from the previous owner.

        In the end, I think it will be the dealers who will pay the price. But: Some production is better than no production and there are some prizes to be collected on the road ahead.

        Meanwhile, there are now more than one bidder. I remain hopeful.

  17. Alex, you are very correct. Yes, Saab can move on with the current 9-3 body. It’s only 9 years old, 2-3 more years, sure of course. Also remember, most of the surviving dealers are mutli- GM dealers so they don’t have to sell a lot of Saabs for the first couple of years. I know the all-Saab dealers disagree with this. The problem with Websites like SU is that it is often dominated by all- or- nothing over the top fanatics who sometimes don’t see the world as it is, but as they want it to be. I think you are right about the 9-5.

  18. I think the 9-3 can carry things for a couple years, while something new is finalized. Would the line include Sedan, convertible and Sport Combi?

  19. I strongly disagree. The 9-5 could be a far greater success than it has been. Market the 4 cylinder car heavily, offer it with XWD and stop focusing all the attention on the Aero V6. The original 9-5 sold far better as a four cylinder car than a V6 as has always been the case with Saabs because the 4 cylinder cars were more traditionally Saab and thriftier. There are many reasons the 9-5 has not been a strong seller, advertising being just one-a focus on the $50,000 aero being another. The 9-4 also has the ability to succeed. In its standard 3.0i XWD format approximately $40,000 it makes a very good argument for itself against the competition, particularly the “normal” competition like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. It is an excellent car that could sell well. Before the meltdown the small Saab dealership I use said it was generating traffic and they were selling well for them. Re-establishing Saab could be done, go back to a Bob Sinclair approach and make the purchase of a car very personable, it will build customers for life. Anybody else remember getting their key rings, mug and Saab history book?

    • I really think the 9-5 just needed more time to take off (aviation pun not really intended…). It is a bigger car than I think a lot of Saab people go for – me included – but I think it’s a great car.

      The 9-4x would have done really well here in the States, if it would have had a chance. My wife drove one as a loaner while the oil was getting changed in the Combi, and really liked it.

      • Saab, and Volvo as well, large cars have never been huge a huge hit, but they have always sold. My wife’s 9-3 is too small for my tastes, it frankly feels smaller than my classic 900s, but the 9-5 is perfect (like my favorite 9000.) I need an SUV for my day to day activities and travel needs, I bought a Highlander when the 9-7x was the only Saab offering and was prepared to buy another Highlander or Pilot until I laid the cars features (as well as Volvo XC60) out on a spreadsheet and the Saab won. I must say, I also love the way the 9-4 drives. It is solid and heavy feeling like an old Mercedes, but it handles beautifully on the small Vermont roads I have to travel day in and day out.

  20. So does anybody know if the 9-X would be an option or if its tied up to GM? I would seem that a compact car like that would do well anywhere.

  21. The following assumes that the light at the end of the tunnel continues to glow brighter as we approach April . . .

    Alex740 makes a very good analogy with Mini in terms of the next-gen Saabs – get back to basics in order to rekindle the love from a wider buying public and then truly spring forward to the future. In my opinion this in no way excludes larger cars, because they certainly should remain in the line-up, but it would refocus the historic heart of Saab on smaller and mid-sized value-for-money (meaning not cheap, but affordable), stylish and sturdy family cars with a distinctive design language. Further down the line, a halo Sonett type car would be great too…

    In the meantime, in order to woo those who are already willing, I agree with the view that the current 9-3 has viable, marketable life left in it for 2-3 years. This depends on the price being right; ie, reduced, and the improvements and upgrades to the gadgetry and some of the systems that others have highlighted being introduced. A fairly substantial refresh of the interior, paying particular attention to materials, would be a chief requirement. The interior in my 9-3ss is ergonomically brilliant, so the basics are all there already. The mere fact that the speedo is the chief display instrument and is not fighting for attention with the rev counter as in other cars is something I hope they hold on to as a design principle. But that’s just me!

    If the current car can host efficient new engines, such as the BMW 1.6 engine, while retaining its powerful low-emissions diesels, and XWD can be deployed as an option on all 9-3s, not just the X variant or the Aero, then these would make it more attractive too. That the 9-3X diesel to date has never been available with XWD in the European market is one astoundingly dumb decision that can be rectified as part of this process (along with cosmetic improvement to the plastic bib on the nose, in my view!) and therefore my own personal next dream Saab will be ready to roll even before the next-gen Pheonix models arise.

    I too am feeling a growing optimism!

    AB

  22. One of the early posts on this topic is from saabdealer. He states clearly that the 9-3 is no longer competitive and that he is doubtful that dealers can survive with just the 9-3 even if it is loaded with options and the price is reduced thousands of dollars (in other words even if every car is sold at a loss). Not everyone agrees with his assessment, but he is the one in the trenches. No doubt many of us would rather own a new dated SAAB than something else, but is this enough to support an extensive dealer network? Also, selling the current 9-3′s at low prices will make it difficult to sell a new generation 9-3 a price that generates a profit. One of SAAB’s problems was that it didn’t have enough customers willing to pay anywhere near MSRP. Continuing to sell cars for less than it costs to build them won’t help this situation.

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