New Whiplash-protection in the 2014 9-3

December 4, 2013 in Editorial, Technical

FH-406There has been a lot of discussion regarding the new seats in the 2014 9-3 and if they still have the famous Saab Whiplash-protection built into it. This morning I talked to Mattias Bergman on the matter.

The former seat manufacturer LEAR Corp which was located in Trollhättan closed down its facilities in 2012, shortly after Saab Automobile AB went bankrupt. Since LEAR no longer were able to supply the Saab cars with seats NEVS had to look at other solutions. The requirement for the seats were that they had to be even more safe than the previous version of SAHR2. The seats had to take in to account peoples different body shapes, lengths etc. Extra focus was placed on women since they often suffer injuries more often and sometimes more serious injuries than men. The reason for women being more fragile than men is probably due to a weaker muscle structure in the neck region. Such seats were found with an OEM supplier and the seats installed in the 2014 9-3 are equipped according to NEVS requirements on protection.

There are several suppliers of seats and whiplash-protection systems and since Saab developed the SAHR2 a lot of progress has been made in its development. New OEM developers have created systems where not just the neck-rest moves but also the whole seat. Today most companies use similar systems where the whole seat moves rather than just the neck-rest. Volvos system which has undergone a lot of development in recent years is built largely on this concept which can be seen in the movie below.

More details of the system will be revealed once the specifications of the car is released.

63 responses to New Whiplash-protection in the 2014 9-3

  1. Interesting. Looking forward to reading the specs.
    And good to know that Nevs obviously considered SAAB’s safety heritage and image by opting for a state-of-the-art solution instead of just replacing LEAR by just another manufacturer that happended to be available. An improvement, actually.

    • I hope we can get better leather quality than in the previous 9-3 as well…

      • I’ve bought a new leather couch shortly, at it is amazing how different leather can be if I compare the leather from the seats of my 9-5 with the leather of my new couch. :-)

        • I feel a rather obvious solution would be to install the leather couch in the car..? :) (Top Gear style!)

          • The couch has no headrest, and the lateral support of the couch is not that perfect. The couch would rather fit in a ’50 -’60 car.

            Option B, is to take the leather of the couch a refurbish at least the drivers seat of my 9-5, but I think, if I do so my wife would kill me.

            • Maybe the loveseat version would fit nicely, and whatever you give up in headrest protection you would gain in… well use your imagination.

      • Completely agree! The leather in my 03′ 9-5 Aero is so much nicer than the leather in my 06′ 9-3 Aero; An obvious cost-cutting implementation on the 9-3. Then there was one or two years (correct me if I’m wrong) where you could order your 9-3ss with “Premium Leather” interior. I would have thought a top-of-the-line 9-3SS Aero package should have already come with that. I could understand them having a more base model with cheaper leather to sell at a lower price point. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my 9-3SS though… Just something I had noticed.

  2. It is not the reason to make such ugly chinese seats…

    • So you know that the seats are from China? Thats interesting since I heard they were from Belgium? But you might have a better source than I do?

      • Belgium is not a bad address for seats. And it would explain one comment here on SU about the seats.

      • Your condescension is showing and it isn’t pretty.

        • Pointing out that they are chinese in order to criticize them, even though the writer had no clue of where they actually come from is stupid.

          So yeah, I have a bit of condescension in that comment…

          • Also, the country of origin doesn’t matter so much in a quality sense anymore. High quality products can be manufactured anywhere…and so can garbage. We’re seeing some very high end products coming out of Chinese factories these days—-so it’s really a matter of the parent company exercising strict quality control and not accepting anything that falls short. The seats can be made in Belgium, in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico…wherever. If they meet specifications, I don’t think it matters much where they’re sourced from.

          • I apologize for not being more specific. My comment was directected at you being a site owner and your response to the original comment.

            China and/or Belgium is perfectly fine as long as quality product is the end result.

            Sorry for the confusion on my part.

    • I think the seats look fantastic! Nice new look, and the steel brackets, nice finishing touch!

      • I like the steel brackets too. They look functional and solid—-not like a “designer” touch.

  3. Lets just hope that the seats are as comfy as the Saab seats. Good seats have always been something Saab has been recognized for. I hope we do not get oem seats in the final version of the car. It rips out some of the characteristics of the car.

    • Lear was an OEM supplier, but they made Saab designed seats. I have no doubt that this will be the case in the future again…

      • As long as they are more comfortable than my mom’s Subaru Outback, I’ll be happy. All those Subaru seats are flat as a pancake and FIRM. Yuck! Love my Saab’s seats!

  4. Tim, do you have any feedback about whether the seat area is shorter than before for leg support etc? There have been some suggestions that this may be the case.

    At 6ft 4″ (193cm) this becomes an issue.

  5. spent commuting time today comparing new car headrest design and all are similar to NEVS offering.

    off topic @ Tim did two German VIP’s attend the NEVS’s media event?

    • Dont know who was there since I wasnt there either :(

    • If you can read German look at There where two VIP out of German. (suppliers, the names are not revealed for obvious reasons)

  6. I saw how Volvo’s system works in a TV transmission (in Italy it’s named Top Cars.. previously called Fifth Gear.. maybe this sound more familiar to you).

    They explained that is a “one time” system which after the collision brokes some parts which needs to be replaced to have the seat back to its function. As we see in the video.. it brokes into two parts.

    Is the Saab system working the same? If the answer is yes, how much do those parts, which needs to be replaced, cost ?

    • From what I’ve heard from insurance companies, safety related equipment such as seat belts and whiplash equipment is always inspected after a crash and if needed replaced. These costs are covered by your insurance company so the cost for you is not really relative. Safety equipment also needs to be replaced by a trained mechanic so its not really something that you can do yourself anyway.

      • Except, it makes everyone’s insurance rates skyrocket.

        • Just a reminder that safety equipment specs in all autos is government derived. So if you’re gonna blame anyone, blame your government. Insurance companies don’t build cars, they just insure them.

          • Government does drive safety standards (and not always in the right way) but the auto insurers are also involved in the process since they have a large financial stake in minimizing pay outs for injuries and repairing cars. In fact, organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (in the US) have created de facto standards for crash testing that exceed government standards in an attempt to get automakers to make improvements based on competitive pressure.

          • I agree with you Nick—-I’m not blaming insurance companies—-just the regulatory bodies for making owning a car more expensive than it needs to be—-and it’s deliberate.

  7. Johnson Controls for seats?
    Good news though, the new SAAB is getting safer than the previous versions, as base-line.
    I find the seats in my (wife´s?) new Pathfinder very comfortable (zero-gravity?), but with very little side support.
    Hope Tim will write all about it after the test drive!

    • If its Belgium, then it can’t be JCI.

      • Why not ?

        Johnson Controls Assenede
        Automotive Experience
        Production Plant
        Stoepestraat 7C
        Assenede, 9960 Belgium
        Phone: +32 93418700
        Fax: +32 93478787

        • Yes you are right, the JCI site is quite strange. That seat factory is near by the Volvo factory in Gent, so maybe there is a Swedish connection there. I thought Faurecia had also a plant ion Belgium, but that part of the world belongs to the Netherlands. :-(
          I should learn to read a map !!!

          • BeNeLux…. Same same…???
            Anyway, from wherever the seats are coming from – Great that the safety theme is not forgotten!

      • The big production plant in Assenede was bought by Johnson Control from ECA. ECA still excists but they only provide small series and custom interiors. They have a lot of expertise and do a fantastic job.
        Since NEVS is currently aiming at “smaller” numbers, it could well be ECA themselves doing the seats.

    • Johnson control? I didn’t know you could get seat bolsters for that. Great news, I’ll be able to wear my loose shorts in summer without fear!

  8. Most comfortable seats I’ve ever had were in an ’88 Peugeot 505. I’ve owned Cadlilacs, Buicks, one Saab and other luxury/large cars. Nothing beat the Peugeot for support and ride quality—-and these were not even leather, they were upholstered. My ’04 Saab 9-5 seats are probably a close second. Based on this entry, I think NEVS considered the seats carefully—-didn’t just “throw in whatever we can get.” That’s good news—a good sign.

    • I dunno. Volvo XC70 seats in 2006-07 were the best I have ever sat in. High quality leather and superb support. My ’99 9-5 were pretty darn good, as well.

  9. Sound real reassuring. Looking forward to the facelift and more Saabish designed seats. :-)

  10. That’s hilarious – I beat you guys to this story by 2 days 😀 and all I got were insults…

  11. Once I saw that close-up photo of the front-seat headrest, I was asking myself the same question about how it compared to the prior design. Thanks for picking up on this and providing an explanation.

  12. I remember SAAB seats having a reputation as some of the most comfortable in any car, and they also looked pretty cool (9000, 900 era), a design that seems to have been ‘borrowed’ in other up-market marques. I hope NEVS can remember some of these scandinavian design cues that makes SAAB stand out from the crowd. Good to hear the new seats are safe though.

    • You do realize of course that some of the “Scandinavian design cues” for those seats were inspired by the space ship in the Muppets “Pigs in Space” sketch! :-)

  13. By looking at the photos though, one thing can be concluded for certain. They don’t seem to have the same kind of side support that the previous Aeros had, or 02+ 9-5 Aero or viggens… Which does not seem right for this “Aero” model…

    • You cant compare the Viggen nor the 9-5 Aero seats with the 9-3, you have to compare 9-3 SS with 9-3 SS and the previous version 9-3 SS Aero seats had next to no side support at all… so this one is a huge improvement compared to that…

      Just a note, the Viggen seats were the most expensive and best Saab had ever made

      • Tim seriously, hold on for a minute now. At first when I heard allegations about you being 100% pro Nevs no matter what they do or come up with, I thought it was a bit unfair but then you stated this.
        “(…) you have to compare 9-3 SS with 9-3 SS and the previous version 9-3 SS Aero seats had next to no side support at all… so this one is a huge improvement compared to that…”

        This is not true at all. Have a look at the picture in the link below. It almost looks like the ng9-3 sports BETTER side support than the 9-3N, at least from what could be seen from the current pictures at SU. The picture is from a 2003 ng9-3 Vector. The side support is very good. Might be a sport option added to the seats because I’ve sat in ng9-3’s with less support than this one.

        Let me know if the link is broken and I’ll find another upload site.

        • Allegations?

          My girlfriend owns a 9-3 Aero 2009, the side support is minimal compared to for example the 9-5 Aero from the same year (I own one such car)… It looks like NEVS has increased the side supports in their new car…

          If you compare the 9-3 Aero 2009 with for example the seats in a Viggen or the 9000 Aero the side supports in the 9-3 2009 is almost non existent in comparison. If you also squeeze the side supports of the 9-3 2009 you’ll feel that they are very soft and doesn’t at all have the density as the 9-5 2009, Viggen or the sport seats in any other version that Saab made.

          • Did you check out the link (I couldn’t add the pic like you did)? Now, you say it is about the density of the non existing side support :) OK, fair enough, I can accept the fact that if a side support is made of thin air and some dust, it will not support a body moving sideways while cornering. But that is a matter of taste as well. Still, NEVS’ looks similar or even “smaller” than both og9-3 viggen in your pic and ng9-3. At least, that is how I see it judging by the NEVS pics. Either way, big deal if something was better now or then. The important thing is that the factory is up and running again. I too wish for a lot of things, most of them will unfortunately not happen (i.e Biopower). And yes I too loved both Viggen and og9-5 seats.

            To sum it up: Saying ng9-3 has non existing side support is not really fair.

            About “allegations”, I was referring to comments here on SU, not IRL =) I should have written “comments” instead of allegations. Sorry about that.

          • The lateral supports in Gustaf’s photo are very tall—-I don’t care if those are stuffed with loose cotton balls—-those will definitely keep your tush in the seat! In addition to comfort and support—-another demand should be longevity. The seats should be made to last, with regular use, at least 15 years. With good care—-the leather should hold up at least that long and so should any frame materials, springs, etc. My 20 year old BMW has fantastic seats—-still feel great two decades in. NEVS appears to have put a lot of thought into the seat selection and that is a good thing.

      • Just a reminder that the 9-3 sedan had a base seat that was much less padded than the sport one, up to some point.
        Tim, as a pilot I understand you like the very supportive versions 😉 but there are also those who prefer a “looser fit” better. I’m pretty sure you could order the comfy seats for the 2009 Aero and that is what you guys must have.
        Personally think a Volvo seat like the one MY14 9-3 has now could be the perfect compromise. After all it must be the best part of a V…..

  14. The seats in the NG 9-5 Aero were outstanding; however, the leather is terrible. If NEVS is seeking a replacement COTS seat I say find out who makes the seats in the Audi S4 and put them in all Saabs.

  15. Lets just hope the leather quality is as good as it was on early 9000s and classic 900s. The leather seats in the later 9-3s (2002 onwards) were very poor quality IMHO! 😉

  16. I am a grown person and if I sit in the back seat of a 9-3 it is tight if not real tight for my legs to fit behind the seat in front and my knees is pressed against the front seat. What will happen with my knees if there is a hit from behind and the front seat collapses like the Volvo system does?

    • Funny thing Dave—-laws of unintended consequences can be troubling sometimes. Happens to people all the time—-especially government mandates. They solve one problem and create 10 more, often worse than the one they think they solved. In this case, I have no idea if it was a Volvo/Saab safety initiative or some sort of compliance. But you know, I’ve driven all sorts of cars all my life—-and have felt safe in all of them. I’ve been in accidents—bad ones—-in cars from the 1970s and walked away. I think sometimes we get a little crazy with trying to build cocoons.