Next 9-3 to use eXWD and 2.8L V6?

As we already know, the next 9-3 will be available with e-AAM’s new eXWD setup. Up until now we’ve been told that it works in conjunction with the 1.6L engine from BMW to achieve somewhere between 220-240HP combined during temporary boosts. As we’ve seen in videos, the electric motor’s high torque helps with difficult traction situations, and its torque vectoring keeps you going in the direction you want. What we haven’t yet heard (correct me if I’m wrong) is that it will be available with the current 2.8L V6. An article over at claims this, and they say they’ve heard this directly from senior Saab officials.

Cutaway of eXWD system from PhoeniX video.

Says the article:

The next generation Saab 9-3 will introduce the Swedish maker’s first hybrid drivetrain, senior company officials confirmed during a conversation with, a system that will provide an electric alternative to the current, mechanically-driven Saab Cross-Wheel-Drive system.

The new system will use the current Saab V6 to drive the front wheels of the new 9-3 but a motor and clutch assembly to power the rear wheels, explained company managers during a discussion of future product programs.

The hybrid drivetrain is expected to yield a number of advantages, including both improved mileage and better performance.  But it will also eliminate the need for a driveshaft running from the 9-3’s transverse-mounted engine to the rear axle.


69 thoughts on “Next 9-3 to use eXWD and 2.8L V6?”

  1. Wow, if true that’d be a minimum of 280hp up front, plus whatever output is achieved in the rear via the electric drivetrain.

    But (pardon my ignorance) will that make this setup essentially FWD, with “RWD” kicking in only as needed ? As far as I understand it, the current XWD system allows up to something like 90%(?) of all available power directed to the rear axle (then via eLSD to torque vector split to each of the rear wheels). With a hybrid drivetrain, the rear motor has a finite total output (for example, 75hp equivalent), so even if the rear is at full output, the total vehicle power output biasing is still dominant at the front.

    Sorry for the questions, look forward for anyone to shed light on that for me. Thx.

    • I don’t know how XWD on the TurboX exactly works, but passing 90% of the torque to the rear wheels only makes sense while accelerating from low velocities or still-stand.

      In that situation the lower power of the e-engine is not as important, but the big amount of torque it can deliver at low revs, what the IC-engine can’t do. At higher velocities it can still help the IC-engine to increase the mileage.

  2. Well, why couldn’t it be used with more than one? I guess it will be available with a diesel too. Perhaps they talked about the V6 to impress those Americans 😉 I thought the V6 was quite an old engine, thirsty etc. I’m still pretty certain that eXWD will be used with the 1,6l BMW engine. If I remember correctly Mats Fägerhag stated in some interview during the Geneva show that his ultimate vision is that every Saab sold would be fitted with the eXWD (making all Saabs 4WD hybrids!!) 🙂

    • There’s no reason why it couldn’t be I suppose, but I was under the impression that the 2.8L was on its way out too. I’m just reporting what these guys were– I’d rather see a more efficient 2.8L too. I think I’m in the market for the 1.6L myself. Btw, thanks for sticking your neck out on autoblog and correcting the naysayers rodmylon. 🙂

  3. Love the eXWD, glad to see its getting closer to production as many have suggested it, myself included, years ago.

    Everybodies V6s though, are a WASTE of space, fuel and money. 19/25 doesnt cut it. Even when oil was $70/bbl. The number of Saab owners that remain after V6 ownership was not good with the early ones…time will tell if the latest ones faire any better.

    • As an owner of three Saabs now, with my current being a FWD V6 9-3 Aero, I don’t find the engine to be a waste of money at all, it just depends on what you’re looking for with performance given the available options at the time for the car. I’ve driven the 2.0 equivalent of my car and it is woefully underpowered by comparison for -my- taste.

      I think it’s important that people here understand that just because a vehicle configuration isn’t what makes sense for them, it’s not ludicrous for other people to want those options.

      • I agree with you, Aaron. I’ve owned a ’06 9-3 Aero 2.8T V6 and currently have a 2010 9-5 Aero XWD V6. I love the V6 for its refinement in everyday driving compared to the 4 banger in the ’05 9-5 Aero 2.3T I had for a year. The power/torque is there quicker in the V6. I think the eXWD with 1.6L might drive similar to the 2.8 with the instant torque from the electric motor.

    • I really do think that the V6 being a “waste of money” is up to us Aero V6-owners to decide. I wouldn’t trade my Aero V6 for a four cylinder Aero, even if I was about to get, say, 200 km extra with a full tank. I’m driving my Saab for the joy of it, and not to save some bucks a month.

  4. Good question, saabken.
    I think you’re right. There is only a finite amount of power from an electric motor. I don’t think it is true xwd like we’re used to. I think it may be more of a stardard hybrid feature where, when travelling at low or constant speeds, it only uses the electronic motor, adding efficiency.

    I’d be interested in hearing about official response from saab as to how it would work. I’m getting more and more excited about the ng 9-3!

    • Ditto for me. The fact that they didn’t reference the 1.6 engine even once tells me Eisenstein just plain overlooked it. I would go so far as to wonder whether he’s aware that Saab don’t sell a V6 in the USA 9-3 right now.

    • I think some editor read of heard 1.6 and thought: A 1.6? That MUST be a mistake, it has to be a V6. So, they corrected it.

  5. It would have been a great combination!
    But just a thought, you can not get more power from the V6? .
    or have they simply got the maximum out of it?
    i just think that if saab is about challanging audi, bmw and merc they should have a more powerful engine.. like the s4, m3, amg..
    sry for the poor english..

    • This is the only case I can think of that this article could be remotely true– if Saab were actually interested in a high performance edition of the 9-3 at some point. We know the engine can get to 330HP with relatively minor and already certified Hirsch upgrades, Saab could add these at minimal cost from the factory. Combined with the extra 30-40 hp boosts from the electric motor, you’re up to 360-370HP with XWD. I could see a business case for that…

      • Business case is crystal clear to me! First glance some of the best news I’ve read on these pages in some time!

        Though we’ve heard that PhoeniX promises 0-60 in 5.9 seconds with the tiny BMW engine (in tandem with 50 mpg), I’m sceptical (hopeful, of course) that will translate to production.

        Beginning to think about what comes next (after the Turbo X) I’m mindful that the all the usual German suspects HAVE NOT abandoned their six-cylinder (gas or diesel) offerings, rather improved them (more power, better fuel economy, better mpg, lower CO2 –certainly better than 19/25–hybrid in some instances). Case in point Mercedes: 302 HP mated to quick shifting 7 speed auto will be a formidable challenge in the market we’re after (unless I have the market wrong). Unfortunately, I have yet to experience a smooth-running, torque-y 4cyl engine in this class (and especially not Saab’s). And the HiPo versions from The Germans (twin-turbo 6s) are delivering better than 400 HP (and Torque).

        Saab desperately needs a ‘Range’ and even if such an Audi S4 Killer will only notch a few direct sales it will help cast off the diffident pale of current offerings (thus resulting in ‘Sales’).

        Glad (Hoping against hope?) we’re BMW Hunting again!

        • I was fortunate enough to drive an Audi RS6 for a day last week. Holy cow is that a car.

          Now wouldn’t it be good if we could have a halo SportCombi 9-5 to grab attention like that? Perhaps if Hirsch built them to order or similar?

          • Indeed the RS6 is a great car, but it doesn’t have the soul or character of a Saab, or at least not the character I like….

      • “Combined with the extra 30-40 hp boosts from the electric motor, you’re up to 360-370HP with XWD”

        Somehow I have the feeling that you cannot add up rear and front horsepower in that way, especially not if there is that much discrepancy between the two.

        • Well, to the wheels is what I mean. And it’s only when there’s enough battery power to deliver it. It will actually be interesting to see how they rate the horsepower for the 1.6L eXWD 9-3, will they give a number like 200 (230+e)? Adding that to the list of questions in NYC.

    • Nicke,

      When I was talking with Frank from TrollSpeed last summer, he indicated that GM had put a lot of restrictions on the V-6 engine and didn’t allow Saab to use that engine to its full potential. If that is the case, makes you wonder what it can really do . . . ..

  6. Yes it seems out of line with the more “fuel efficient” way that Saab is trying to go. Plus, I don’t see GM continuing to supply Saab with engines in the next gen lineup. It would be great if it were true because while 2.8L is a bit thirsty, I just love how I can pass anyone on the highway in my ’06 9-3 Aero. =)

    Does anyone know anything about GM engines in future Saabs?

  7. My guess is that they misunderstood what Saab was telling them, and that the eXWD setup will be available in the 9-5 with the V6. That would make a lot more sense, especially since Saab claims that they will make eXWD available throughout the range.

    • Sorry Bernard–missed your entry on first read. Agree with you (and immediate performance boost without violating any of the restrictive convenants imposed by GM regarding boosting performance of the engine…because the eXWD is not an engine per se…I have no inside information on that BTW :))

      Just that I’d like to see that in the 9-3 too!

  8. oh, so saab is not aloud to make it more powerful? That sucks..
    Well even if its not so enviorment freidly its very image (sport) freidly ..
    I think saab need to do some magic like what they did on the 1,9 ttid when they made something “impossible”..
    I think they can do the same whit some engine? just go out and chock people??
    1,6 t with 280hp and JC magic on a really slippery body and e-xwd..but still low CO2..
    Make something that mini cant do better..

  9. Why o’ why do you want a V6 in Saabs?
    Opels straight four (I believe that Opel makes it) that they use in the new 9-5 has pleanty of power, 220 hp is more than enough and if you don’t agree then you can tune it to 260 hp via Hirsch.

    An alternative I wish for though is bringing back and update the old Södertälje turbo four that was used in the 9-5 until 2009. Either that or a teamwork with Sintercast (which’ll never happen).

    That’s my dream.

    • Echoing my statement above, why not have the option of a V6? It’s clearly not going to be the only option available. But when you can have 280HP without a tuning surcharge instead of 220 and can tune it to 300+ instead, there are obvious reasons why someone would want that, regardless of fuel economy.

    • I agree Oscar. The GM/OPEL made 4 cylinder (220hp) engine is more than powerful enough…if not…you can tune it to 260hp (Hirsch). But what really excites me is the 2012 SAAB 9.3 1.6L eXWD being able to produce (220-240hp). I really didn’t expect the car to have that much horsepower…I’m impressed. I really don’t see the need for more than 260hp??? To have a car with more than 300hp…you need to own a small oil field in Kuwait just to keep it operating…

      • When you say 220 – 240 hp, do you mean 200 hp petrol + 20-40 hp electric? :S

        I get so confused when people add the horsepower from electric and petrol engines, you never know what’s what 🙂

  10. I don’t care what engine the setup uses, just as long as it has 0g/km CO2 output, and does about 1,000 miles/gallon. Demanding? Me?! 🙂

  11. Let me go on record that I love my 2009 9-3 SC Aero V6 with eSLD and XWD including the design of it. I am a 30+ year Saab owner and this is the best one I’ve ever had.

    • I’m very much on the fence right now between trading my 08 FWD Aero in for a TurboX or waiting for the new 9-3. I fear that this sort of drive system will eliminate the possibility of a manual transmission for the new 9-3 which was something I was hoping to get as I traded my auto for a TX (among other obvious enhancements…).

      Been trying to make this decision for close to 6 months now.

      • I was in similar shoes recently, I decided to wait. This car is going to be so uniquely Saab that it’s worth the wait.

      • Aaron,

        The PhoeniX concept shown in Geneva had a manual transmission. The electric rear axle isn’t linked to the gasoline drivetrain, except through the road, so there’s nothing forcing the use of an automatic..

  12. Why did Saab stop using the V6 in the 9-3 in the US of A? So why should they use it in the new one?
    Maybe cos they want to aim higher again but does that sound like Saab thinking? No I think that the V6 in the next 9-3 never going to happen unless they tune it into a really fuel efficient engine. I think they can do wonders with it but thats not enough when gas prices rices all the time, it´s a dead end. So they are going for the 1,6 engine with “only” 200-270 hp and I think thats enough, don´t you!

    If Saab can´t install a automatic gearbox that´s fuel efficient they can´t lift in sales in the US, and on top of that the V6. No, that´s much better way to go than that. Downsize with enough power is going to be the reallity even in the US in a few years.

    Another thing, A heavy engine/gearbox do other bad things to “fun driving” unlike a light one. Less is more.

    Yet another thing, Saab doing everything they can to reduce weight, then why use a heavy V6 witch only ad new problems. If they do, It´s only for Americans who doesn´t care about the costs and I dont think these clientele is the future for any car maker. Or am I missing something, after all I´m Swedish and not American.

  13. If you do not look at mileage and go after output only . there will be no volume and no survival….

  14. 4 cyl is without doubt the way to go for Saab in Europe right now, however it may be a different story in the US or OZ, Saab had it right all along with the 9-5 Aero 2.3T, just thinking about driving one makes me grin. Look at Audi, they ditched their 3.2V6 in favour or a much more efficient 4cyl 2.0T engine with similar power in both the TT and A3, expect to see the same in the A4/A6 soon? Saab have been ahead of the game so many times in the past, even with out of date models. I can’t wait to see what Jason C has done with the NG 93?

  15. I certainly think the 1.6T with 200HP and eXWD boost will make a fine car for nearly everyone. However, i think perception from the US market will be that 1.6L is one tiny engine, the classic 2.0L turbo SAAB will be much more likely to gain support. Either in the shape of the current 9-5 220HP engine with Hirsh option to 260 + eXWD or the more frugal and even higher performance BMW 2.0T slated for the next gen of BMW’s.

    For the performance enthusiast’s, a eXWD 9-3 2.0T with very decent economy and a combined output of 300HP+ will be a great successor to the Viggen.

  16. I just think that Saab really need a 350+ hp..
    If they are ment to be a sporty brand..
    Shure for most people 220hp i good enough but do they know that if they dont know much about cars..
    I do belive that people look at numbers alot..

  17. I think Saab need to be able to compeet with s4, m3 and amg models just because it look good on paper, it gives status to the brand!
    Just look at volvo s60 R.. I think it was a big boodt for the brand, Saab needs to have that..
    And not as aero-x, it was a great boost but Saab needs a car that people can buy..
    Saab needs a drivable and buyable pheonix..

  18. I think the 9-3’s replacement (whatever it’s going to be called) needs a bigger engine option than the 1.6T, but I’d prefer to see a bigger four cylinder than to see the 2.8 litre GM V6 being used again. It’s becoming a bit dated and it’s hardly been a gem of an engine anyway.

  19. Just look at the amount of comments in regards to this possibility! Saab needs to take this seriously. There is a market for the premium performance car that is not truly in the “Halo” category: BMW 335i, Audi S4, Infiniti G37, Lexus IS350, etc. They did get purchased by Spyker after all, not Honda. They should put out a serious performance model. Especially with the XWD system. My 9-3 V6 was good, but the 335i was better. Would love a drivers reason to come back to Saab………they have to earn it in this segment. Time will tell.

      • “Small” might not be the right word 😉

        What Bmw does well shall not be overshadowed even though this is a Saab fanpage, they are better than Saab in the sports segment at the moment.

        Because of the fact that Bmw is better at the moment it would be fun to see “the underdog” (Saab) strike back, but works well for me if they carved their own path as well, that’s mostly what they are famous for in my mind. Carving their own path and sticking to it 🙂

    • You are spot on Joe and agree in full with your view. I’ve had a hotted up 9-3 Aero 02 coupe that wished never sold to get my TX. It was (and still is together with the Viggen) an amazingly looking car with a great performance etc etc…but it will never bee the same as V6. No need to regurgitate the same old arguments that I’ve sent already as these are all listed again. Weather we like it, agree to it or whatever Saab needs to be very careful (more than ever) to satisfy market demands too regardless of its core values, vision etc etc. There is clearly a segment in which all key competitors (A, B, M and all the Japs) are delivering luxury and smart compact models with High Performance specifications. There are M3, 135s, E63 AMG, S4, RS 4 etc etc. Owners in this segment are not particularly worried about MPG, fuel efficiency and many other particulars. They want Power from a grunty well heeled and equipped engine. Saab will have to deliver comparable options and models or risk not being seen as a true player in this segment. Market reality folks !!!

  20. I think many are right with the comparison of the 2.8 in comparison to the older 2.0 engine. Because the 2.8 has always been a twinscroll setup, which the 2.0 didn’t receive until recent years. I’m sure if the 2 engines are tested today the leap in fluidity that the v6 once had is gone. Yes it is more powerful naturally but the turbo lag that’s in the older 4cyl engines should be all but non existent in the updated powerplant…

  21. Sorry folks, forget about the 2.8 v6 in the next gen 9-3. It’s a great engine as long as you don’t consider fuel efficiency – which willl be even more crucial in next gen cars. Just compare figures betwen PhoeniX and TurboX. Performance is similar but when it comes to fuel economy the Phoenix concept travels twice as long on the same amount of fuel (which also translates into a 50% reduction in Co2 emission).
    What we could hope for in terms of performance is more torque/ power without the bulk of a V6. Let’s face it Saab thinks different.

  22. I love the 2.8 in my Combi… but I do wish it had better MPG numbers. In the end, I’d buy the Aero with a 2.8 again because I like the pep and willing to pay the price for it.

    • Again, spot on and proves that all comes with the territory. I also wished for my TX will give me the same mileage as my 2 lit 4 Cyl Aero engine, but I want to drive/own a V6 with that feel. I have to pay for this. Besides this, my employer pays for the petrol so, I am very lucky in this respect. Will get another one any day.

  23. Where the hell were you people when I raised this issue twice in the past few days?!?!?!?

    It would be suicidal for them to release a brand new 93 with power output at or below the competition. I would much rather have a 4 banger over a large six! There is just sooo much room ABOVE 1.6L on a four that NOT going there would be equivalent to making a statement at a cost to sales.

    The Mini is fine, but the 93 is not a mini. It’s a slightly wider, possibly longer 9-3 that we all know and love; well dimensionally anyway.

    Whether they can pull a rabbit out of the hat with this hybrid setup, remains to be seen; as details haven’t been released yet. But 1.6 with minimal power from the back, or power meant to only affect handling… this thing is not going to have the oomph to pass a 335 from 60-90mph… or the new Sonata for that matter.

    There simply has to be a HOT variant. All the discussions here concerning output suggest that Saab will trick out the 1.6 to get decent numbers… well that’s for the basic versions. How does this leave any room for performance variants?

    I don’t want the GM six either!

    93 eXWD, dark grey, five door hatch, turbine wheels, wheel mounted shift paddles, LEGROOM!, infotainment.

    In a year or so, we’ll all look back on this and chuckle. Griffin up! Indeed.

  24. A quick question…I live in the USA. I saw a number of OPELs in Spain…Switzerland and Germany….Does OPEL make a good car or engine??? Just curious….I really liked the look of the OPEL Insignia and Insignia sportcombi….

  25. @74Stingray; I agree 100%. I had an 04 SS with the small 175bhp engine I believe the smallest one Saab made for that car) and then upgraded to my current Saab, a 2008 SC Aero with the six. I loved that little engine with the amazing gas mileage but now that I have my Aero, I would never go back. This car is so fun to drive; so much power. The only ‘wish’ I had was XWD, there is almost too much power for the front wheels, I constantly find myself spinning the front wheels : )
    I guess I have to start driving less aggressive… on second thought, NAH!

  26. @BellaAsil,

    I had a 2006 9-3 Aero V6 – now I have a 335i coupe. Hoping Saab can bring something to the table that is as rewarding to drive, but they have their work cut out for them, that’s for sure. Love the Saab styling, just getting a bigger smile driving 300HP and 300LBS of Tourque that just doesn’t ever stop……You know it’s saying something when Saab starts buying it’s power plants from BMW. A very good move IMOP. We’ll see.

  27. @Joe Lobo – You are bang on here. Everytime I hear about the new 9-3 coming in all these Eco low HP engine options I have a hard time thinking that will really compete in it’s class – at least in the US. Maybe in EU people are more concerned with emissions and MPG – but you said it – in our market people will still pay the price for performance. And a big price – in units and in cost to own, gas, etc. So I hope that Saab surprises us and brings something to the table that will finally launch it into the “Car Review Circle” with the 3 Series, A4, etc. where I feel it should be, and I think we all do for that matter.

  28. I think we can assume that if B*, A*, M* make big-engined versions of their cars, and manage to sell them in Europe/UK (fuel GBP1.40/litre), then there’s a market for them! SAAB need a slice of that market somehow. I’d like to see big diesel halo SAABs with proper XWD (plus the hybrid thing worked in if possible) capable of sub-8min Nordschleife times straight off the Trollhättan lines. 😉

    However, SAAB have always majored on 4-cyl turbo as alternative to the added internal friction of 6- and 8-cyl engines. (See their promotional material since the year dot)

  29. If saab would sell the hirsch upgrade car ,for example,260HP—300HP with xwd. That is the very quick and economic way to reach the performance as S4, BMW335i,etc. I think the 2.8L engine is not the saab engine ,It is a very heavy one .And i knew that the saab 9-3 with 2.8L had more trouble even in china .So that is the reason you won`t see it in the 2011 saab 9-3 list.The eXWD saab car is the right way to go on.And we really need a strong one .If you strong enough you don`t worry about the less buyer.

  30. I doubt that they will introduce a petrol v6 engine in the next generation 9-3, especially a GM engine. The current engine won’t be able to match upcoming requirements on fuel consumption due to low efficiency and high weight. Also it takes up a awful amount of space in the engine bay, this is a clear disadvantage when it comes to crash worthiness.

    Why won’t SAAB be using a v6 in the next generation 9-3?
    – Too low efficiency leads to high fuel consumption.
    – Too high weight leads to high fuel consumption.
    – Poor weight distribution leads to poor handling.
    – Takes up a lot of space, bad for front impact.
    – Fuel prices will rise
    – Greenhouse gas penalty (too high fleet average) in Europe/US.
    – SAAB can’t spend as much money as BMW, Mercedes or even Volvo on reducing fuel consumption.

    I’d like to see that they spend all their resources on four cylinder petrols and gasoline engines.

  31. People are focused on the 1.6 BMW engine while ignoring the 2L turbo they have annunced for the 1 series and base 3 series. With 246 HP add that to the eXWD and you have 286 HP which is PUH LENTY. I also kinda wish SAAB would approach Huyndai and try and purchase their superb 2l GDI engine. 270 HP, no brand conflict whatsoever, regular fuel.. would be AWESOME. Then we would get 310 HP total which would just be the cats meow!!!

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