Screenshots – the 2011.5 Saab 9-3 front facelift

You guys do this so fast in comments πŸ™‚ Nevertheless, it should come to the front page.

Factory footage from the ‘Agenda’ story concerning Saab seems to have given us a first glimpse of the mild facelift to be made on the Saab 9-3 for the second half of the 2011 model year.

Here’s the money shot:

The red car in front appears to be the 2011.5 model. The grille at the front seems to be not quite as deep (though it could just be a perspective issue with the image – it’s pretty close to the outgoing model) and features a more prominent SAAB wordmark in the center, a-la the Saab 9-5.

Conveniently, it looks like there’s a non-facelifted 9-3 behind the red one so you can see the different openings in the bumpers, too.

Here’s a clearer image of a 2010 model for comparison:

It’s only a glimpse, and a fuzzy one at that, but it’s looking good so far.


Thanks to multiple persons for supplying screenshots. The one used above is from Brett, in comments.

80 thoughts on “Screenshots – the 2011.5 Saab 9-3 front facelift”

  1. That red one is looking VERY aggressive… I love it. If i had that one…It’d have to call her Christine!

  2. Could someone explain to me why there are a face-lifted and a non-face-lifted 9-3 on this assembly line? I would assume that everything coming out of production would be the latest greatest version.

    • Darn…. Just when i thought I could get away with selling you a 2008 Kia , painted black with some TurboX badges on it…

        • @ Zippster…
          pfft….. fooey doo doo. Passing the buck there Zippy? You’re far closer to me than Swade is,. πŸ™‚ just sayin… you’d look quite distinguished driving a Forte Coup with some blingy bling on it.

          πŸ™‚ and where is the avatar, you had a Viggen ( the flying kind) on it right?

          @ Till72… πŸ™‚ humor is always good, keeps us all sane…

          • 74, I changed my email address and it looks like I lost my avatar earlier today. If I get another avatar I have to change my username. Boo! I quite like that Forte Coup but Im a Saab man thru and thru.

          • The Master in his latest “Housekeeping: Comments” section disagrees:

            “Comments become a place for throwaway lines, online comedy auditions, ….”

            This is NOT a place for fun!

          • @zippy… there she is!!


            I am exempt from “double secret probation” as is my sidekick Zippy.

            I think Swade was referring to the raunchy comedy club humor that some people toss on here as if it’s a locker room. Zippy, Till, myself along with others chat friendly here as well as add real input to the discussions.

            Too many others epically fail at both, so says me.

  3. While I’ll admit that I thought that there was going to be more work done to it, it sure looks good!!!

  4. …and the Aero (Griffin?) version will get chrome surroundings just like on 9-5? Looks very sharp. I like what I see. Maybe thereΒ΄s blue (ice theme) headlights as well, but theyΒ΄re not visible on the pic?

  5. Oye vey. IMHO (from the images) the facelifted 9-5 looks like the guys in Trollhatten took a front fascia of a 2001 9-5 and used a high pressure vice to squish it to fit the 9-3. The front end also resembles a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am or a 1996 Mazda 626 (U.S. version). I think I am going to stick with my 2008 9-5 Aero and my wife’s 1998 9000 cse.

    • Ah the 2008 Saab 9-5 Aero. What a machine! Im on the lookout for one in New Zealand. Only got the occassional Linear on the market here.

      New Zealanders must have considered an over NZD$92,000 price tag for sedan, a car with underpinnings that span more than a decade to be unattractive and uncompetitive. I think its an excellent looking car which far outweighs anything else. For me its a car I want based on brand, looks and that super cool Saab 340 inspired fasten seat belts light. The performance is brilliant, efficient and the interior very comfortable.

      The new 9-5 would be nice of course but I would be equally as happy with the old Dame edna styled one.

      Does anyone know if the upgraded and much more modern looking centre window switches on the 2009 9-5 Griffin can be changed over to older dame edna 9-5 models?

  6. From what I can see, I really like the looks of the new 5-spoke wheels, they have some sort of “twist” to each spoke. Also, they seem to have brought back the rear trunk lip. So is it safe to conclude this is the Aero trim?

    • I would guess the Aero would have white/chrome “frames” around the foglight casing like the current 9-3 and 9-5 Aero do, so my money is on a Vector Griffin here. But who knows if there are even going to be Vector and Aero Griffins?

      Am I the only one surprised by the leisurely pace of the assembly permeating the report, and the amount of work done manually?

  7. I’m relieved. I thought the design had aged pretty well, I was concerned that they were going to try and graft on the 9-5 nose.

    Look at the shape of the headrests – is there anything else we can see?

    • I had a similar fear but it was probably silly of us to think that, would have been a lot of money for a year run, Saab is smarter than that.

  8. Still like the current 9-3 and the refresh looks fine. The 2T engine is great as you can now Hirsch it to 260HP which makes for a superb beast!!!

  9. Just a rant about the SAABUSA website… SAAB who is gonna buy your cars is you are too lazy to take proper pix of them. I was looking for pix of the 9-3 sport combi… APPALLING. It’s a great looking car, why not some nice clear multi angle shots of it? UNREAL!!!

    • You probably picked the worst time and worst thread to complain about a minute detail on the website. They have bigger fish to fry than having a few nice pictures of a car they’re going to have to rephotograph anyway for this new refresh which will be at dealers in a few months. Considering they are working hard on a new site, some patience would be nice πŸ™‚

      If you want some good shots, go to saab’s own new site, Actually, here’s a direct link to the pages you’re looking for. Clik to download all the pictures, a 4.13MB download. If you still can’t find good photographs of it, hrmph.

      Regarding the 9-3 refresh, I love the new wheels, and I really love the new front bumper air intakes. Way more aero-x/biohybrid. Very reassuring.

  10. Is it me, because I really don’t see any difference at all. Am I missing something? Am I blind? The grill looks the same as the current one.

    I was under the impression there was going to be more “significant” changes. Not a redesign by any means, but a more moderate facelift. Obvious stuff. Maybe its just that shot – too hard to tell.

    Or was it the interior/engine that was going to get more work done?

    • Its comparable to the facelift of the 2004 9-5 aero, with the new front and rear bumpercover, and circular foglights.

  11. Looks nice. My first impression is that it looks to me like a hybrid between the current model and the look of the ’07’s. Not that it’s regressing, that’s just how I’d describe the look in a nutshell – it seems softened up a little. And they’ve 9-5’d the foglight surround area up a bit. I like it.

  12. Not that I was expecting more than minor tweaks…
    But I don’t see anything either!
    [Also wondering if I’ll be able to retro-fit the larger SAAB wordmark on the Turbo X…probably not]

    Maybe somebody with markup tools (and younger eyes!) could make these changes a bit more obvious for us oblivious…

    • Heh, it’s subtle but for the grill differences you have to look not at the large mid section but at the two sections between it and the respective headlights. These sections are now less high and more rounded in their contour.

  13. So ……….. looks to me like the leading red 9-3 has a slimmer profile grille and side ports so all the “bottoms” line up with the bottom of the headlight housing. Is that it ?

    And it has larger (a la 9-5) foglight apertures.

  14. I was hoping for something a bit more substantial… πŸ™‚ Not that the current 9-3 needs it (it feel it doesn’t: it looks quite sharp), but just trying to have a glimpse of Castriota’s 9-3.

    • Only a couple of days ago somebody mentioned that the 2011.5 9-3 was already finished when Castriota arrived.

  15. I still think that the current 9-3, dated or not, is very attractive. This is especially true when compared to the competition, shes aged well.

  16. I agree. I find her also to be very attractive and aggressive despite her age.
    It might not look though so “low” and “wide” as the new A4 but she has an imposing and commending presence with lots of finesse in her style.
    I hope Jason and Saab will do their best to impress us also on the NG9-3.

  17. Looks good, I guess the front has the new lightpipe from the 9-5 as well. Too bad we didn’t get a closer look at the back of the car.

    I think it’s good to see that they didn’t waste a lot of money to make bigger upgrades since the 9-3 still looks quite modern.

    Hopefully there is a directors cut available from Agenda with a total 360 view of the car πŸ˜‰

  18. I really had to check some pics from the media pages to try and find some differences in the bumper. Maybe I haven’t been so precise on my looking before but now when focusing on the bumper it really seems to be a difference in it: The fog light hole is larger from the side than from the center. When looking at the Agenda footage you can easily compare the cars behind this one. The dark 9-3 after the red one and the 9-5 behind them both shows that the hole is closer to the 9-5 than the 9-3 in the middle. I can’t see any difference in the headlight, though. And I wasn’t even expecting any changes in any steel parts.

    To me this light facelift seems like the obvious choice. With one “part” changed you can make the biggest difference in the looks of the vehicle. Also the space behind the bumper is rather “empty” so the changes made to it can be done without changing many other parts. Having said that, the change might seem like a minor one, but the bumper mould (made of steel) that has been changed is a big one: the weight is probably several hundreds of kilos. And the manufacturing of the mould takes several weeks (I’m not sure I would like to know the price of it). I hope that the investment made in this facelift pays off as increased sales…

    Now, it would be nice to see some more pics of this facelift. The rear must have some changes as well. I trust this website will be the first one to show whatever information is available… as usual.


  19. Is the design changes made in such a way that it will also make the car leaner thus making it consume less fuel?

    It feels like it is gonna be this version of the 9-3 TTID SC that will make it below 120 g CO2/km.

  20. Looks good, subtle change! The only thing i dont like about the current 9-3 is the sedans rear light arangement. Looks a bit like an overpimped after market thing. Hard to see if they changed anything the in the facelift. Hopefully..

    • I like the rear lights on our 9-3 sedan in black… But i don’t think it looks very good with most of the other colors. Keeping the iceblock look without the black surroundings would be nicer…

    • Yeah, the taillights on the sedan have always been my sore spot with the last refresh of the 9-3. Great in black, not so much in most other colors.

  21. I like the current design more. Hope it still be possible to order pre-restyled 9-3 when Russian Saab dealers appear.

  22. Modest but tasteful changes, it appears. Good stuff as the 9-3 still looks handsome (or pretty if you call your car a ‘she’) πŸ˜›

  23. I like seeing the 2011.5 9-3 take on a little more of the 9-5’s exterior styling. It’s not a big change, but it will help create more fleet unity in styling. More importantly, though, in my opinion, what’s going to change with the 2011.5 9-3’s interior?

  24. I like the new look too. Very aggressive. It looks like the center part of the grill may have gotten just a touch taller too. I hope they apply the light bar across the back of the 9-3 too. Get rid of the black surrounds on the tail lights. I like the lights, but the black just doesn’t look right on light colored cars IMHO.

    The only thing the inside really needs to have changed (that I think they could actually change in this modest sort of update) is to move the aux input port off of the dash and into the glovebox or the center console. Surely it can’t be too hard to have the cord pulled out the back of the radio unit and routed away instead of hooking up to the front jack, or just install a smart Y adapter and have an internal feed that goes out to the glovebox. Whichever is powered up first, the other is deactivated temporarily. I have always hoped someone in the aftermarket business would offer that sort of update to the radio. Good deal.

    I wonder if they are going to use the 220HP direct injection engine?

    • A new dash, ‘9-5’ rear lights, an aux and USB input, anyone? (I believe the 2.0 DI is already confirmed)
      Man, I could really go for a car like that (one more time). Diesel SC, though.

  25. Looks like new grille, new headlights, new design around the fog-lights “ala new 9-5 Aero without the chrome”, new wheeldesign, and an added lip on the bootlid…

  26. That is very subtle but honestly what else should we have expected? Why would they invest heavily in a car that only has a model year left. Even with that grainy video I can tell the front vents and wheels give the car a bit more of what it needs without looking overdone.

  27. Must be me, but I don’t see any difference with the current front. What I do see, is a car at an angle rolling on the back wheels, and a distorted front view as a result.

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