UPDATE: text amended below. There will be both a FWD and an XWD version of the Aero model.
First, let me take you back to news that broke at Trollhattan Saab in October 2008:
Heard from some reliable sources that there is talk, (or already even determined?) that there will be no v6 in the 9-3. Low volume and emissions being the reason. Originally planned to be updated to the v6 today in the Insignia. Now, its scratched.
Is this the last year you can order a v6 in the small Saab?
That news came from someone who set up an email account with the name “Djup Strupe” (and for those who are new around here, Djup Strupe is Swedish for Deep Throat, and is the name I ascribe to all inside sources)
My comments at the time were primarily concerned with the image loss that Saab will suffer as a result of a decision like this. Saab have been on-again and off-again with offering a V6 for years now and former SaabUSA chief and Saab guru Bob Sinclair himself stated that he wanted a V6 offering for years, and that Saab lost a number of customers because they didn’t have one.
Today I can confirm that the 2010 Saab 9-3 to be offered in the US market will not have a V6 available in any trim level. The V6 is off the list for all models – sedan, Combi and convertible.
I’ve received this information from Djup Strupe and the source is rock solid reliable.
The full specifications of the 9-3 range were not made available to me but it seems the Aero will be offered with the same 2.0T engine as the base model, with the main differences being in terms of trim level and perhaps the specification of the XWD system.
In short, there will be a base model FWD Saab 9-3 2.0T, a XWD Saab 9-3 2.0T (I assume with no eLSD) a FWD Aero Saab 9-3 and an XWD Aero Saab 9-3 (I assume it will have an eLSD option), which will also have the 2.0T engine.
Added to that, of course, will be the Saab 9-3x, which will come with the full XWD system (incl eLSD and self-levelling) as standard.
From what I can tell, the Aero version of the Saab 9-3 will be close to a Turbo X spec car but without the V6 powerplant and available in both FWD and XWD spec.
Aside from the V6, other items gone for 2010 include premium natural leather seats, some of the walnut trim, Fusion Blue and Polar White paint on the sedan/combi and Steel Gray and Electric Blue from the convertible.
New colors for 2010 will include Glacier Silver Metallic and Arctic White, though their availability will be limited to specific models.
So, there’ll be no V6.
I should mention that at this stage, I don’t know if this is worldwide or just in the US market. My hunch is that it will be worldwide.
My first reaction is one of concern. No-one likes losing something as good as that V6 engine and the damage it may do to Saab’s reputation is something that must be considered.
I’m also concerned for Saab’s dealers and salespeople. If Saab can’t lower prices in accordance with a major shift like this then dealers are going to be left in a pretty difficult situation. Saab expect around 15% or more of sales to be Aero models. If the price doesn’t come down, why would anyone bother?
Remember that this is a 2010 change.
In 2010 there will be a new Saab 9-5 and as I said back in October last year, I’ll donate a kidney to my neighbor’s cat if the 2010 Saab 9-5 doesn’t come with a V6 option.
So the 9-5 will be further differentiated from the 9-3. Not only will it be noticeably bigger, but it’ll be the vehicle with the V6 option. I’m not totally convinced that it needs to be the only vehicle with a V6 option, but that’s Saab’s choice.
Given Saab’s low volume expectations over the next 12 months, I can see why they might have taken this decision. The Aero is a small proportion of sales and total sales are going to be small in the next 12 months anyway.
Still, for a brand that wants to position itself amongst the bigger players in the premium market (and make no mistake, they still have Audi and BMW in their sights from what I’ve seen) the lack of a smoother, more refined engine option doesn’t read like a positive step.