Speaking about the interior of the 9-3 …

On my last Post many have pointed out the difference in appreciation between the interior and the exterior of the 9-3, most of all after the update in 2006.

Well voices say that NEVS had planned an interior facelift of the 9-3, and although I do not know nothing about the extend of this facelift, I merely expect an upgrade in materials and the change of the GM-Corporate parts like this one


or this one


as rumours have already indicated that the 9-3N will be 100% GM-free.

So at the end the timeless exterior design of the 9-3 may be paired with an interior that is at least at the same level.

73 thoughts on “Speaking about the interior of the 9-3 …”

      • Does the type of leather matter? Sure it does. It matters on furniture in your house, your shoes, wallet, handbag, belts—-so it matters in the car too. I believe Jaguar also used Connolly leather, at least back in the mid-80s. The owner of a company I worked for had a Jaguar coupe and that car had its share of mechanical mayhem—-but when it ran, it was sweet. And the aroma of that leather was exquisite. But all of that comes at a price. If NEVS were to make the move to upgrade Saab interior leather back to Connolly, how much would that raise the price of admission? Because if it were to be a big price hike—-more than ever, I believe it should be a stand alone option, or at least a stand alone option on base models, with a tasteful cloth/textile interior on the entry level car, to keep prices reasonable.

        • +10..GM really dilluted (RUINED) the brand after the 9000. Our 9-3 Aero SC (07) really has leather a step above painted vinyl. I do not mind spending $1000.00 more to get Aero 9000 quality again..First though you have to actually have a real live product!

          • I’m okay with spending more to get premium leather—-but I’d like the choice of passing on the leather for a car that costs 2K less—-with well done fabric instead.

  1. From one who actually preferred the ’07 + dash design to earlier:

    Everything is obvious and un-cluttered. The finishes were problematic, but mostly corrected via Hirsch [Expensive though…and for North Americans essentially unobtainable –until too late]. Pixilated font on stock bow-tie radio unfortunately carried forth about 3 model years too many.


    1. Took months to reconcile myself to an ‘OFF’ button having a green light affixed. Change this.

    2. In a 2014 model year car (with a rally tradition…forsakened?), ostensible claim to superior ergonomics and driver-focus: Must be HUD w Sat/Nav.

    3. For automatic cars: Leather shift boot. I find it un-believable that wasn’t ever rectified, not even by Hirsch.

    4. Premium seats must be lower weight. Challenge Suppliers to come up with something anatomical but shaves 10 Kg (at least) off each side. This is where latest material developments will surely figure.

  2. That would be the main issue with the 9-3 fixed. I bought a 2005 9-5 (last really well built interior in a Saab IMHO)although it was older than i would have preferred, the 2006 and later models had absolutely appalling plastics. The 9-3 plastics were also poor and the leather on later models so lacking in quality that on many examples the driver’s seat bolsters looked terrible after as little as a couple years.
    In summary, if the plastic and leather quality is fixed the 9-3 would be a much improved car.

    • I’m very happy with the plastics/vinyls in my ’04 9-5 ARC. I consider those materials to be better than anything else in a GM car during that period, including Cadillac. The leather on the steering wheel is a bit suspect—-always seemed inferior to my 1993 BMW leather steering wheel—-but it’s aging okay. Aside from that, the interior pretty much looks new.

      • I agree. The plastics/vinyls on the 9-5 up to 2005 and the first generation 9-3 look much better and wear very well. I’d be really happy to see this back. Whilst the outside is obviously important we spend most of the time inside our car looking at that cheap plastic.

      • Hi Angelo, your car will have the same dash, door trim etc as mine. Its built in a nononsense, quality way that really fits with what Saab should be about. Its kind of like the old Merc bullet proof build before they went bling.

        • Exactly. I told my brother once—-you don’t get quite as much in the Saab, but what you get, is better. I’m not into a lot of knobs/buttons/gadgetry. I like driving. My ’93 BMW 325i is even more sparse than the Saab I own—-and that has worn well too. “Bling” is a good way of phrasing what you are talking about.

    • I agree. The leather in my 2008 convertible was awful. After just about a year, the surface of the leather had worn down on the edges to the “grey cardboard” look underneath. Totally disgraceful. The black coating on the dash panel and door handles had pealed off in places (fortunately, after some fighting with the dealer, the dash panel was replaced under warranty albeit it taking 9 weeks to fix!!

      To be honest all these quality failings skimmed off a lot of the pleasure of that car and helped me to not miss it too much when I sold it.

      NEVS must look seriously at raising the interior quality of their new car – 2008 onwards Saab interiors really were carp.

  3. I drive an ’06 9-5 SC and ok so the styling around the climate control knobs is slightly different but I quite like the 3 knobs with the push buttons in the middle and I find it ridiculously simple to use… totally intuitive right from the word go!
    I’m not all that familiar with the plastics in the 9-3 but I do know that in the 9-5 things aren’t too bad though I DO admit they could be a lot better – the door handles especially!!
    The leather seats still look ok (but there are lots of smaller bits on the seats and the door cards that are not real leather – this should DEFINATELY be changed) however I treat the seats with Autoglym leather care about every 2-3 months.

    • The knobs to me aren’t bad although the ACC tries to be too smart and changes the air temperature while I’m driving because the temp outside changed by 1 degree or something. I wish that could be turned off because even when you manually select the fan speed, air discharge location and temperature, the air temp still changes on it’s own. I’ve been told the older ones didn’t do that but I haven’t had one to test out.

      The plastic in my wagon get more and more annoying all the time. The spot on the door for side view mirror adjustment is warped and doesn’t meet the door properly anymore is a big one. I have squeaks in the dash face around the stereo sometimes and recently around the window knobs. Yes, the door handles that just pop off way too easily (this probably sped up production time a little) and the black wears off easily. The plastic chrome trim around the headlights has warped and doesn’t fit together properly.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the car and love driving it. Long trips are very comfortable in the seats (unless the weather outside changes and you have to keep fighting the ACC to get the temperature right) and overtaking on the highway is a breeze but the plastics are like the rose’s thorns that I have to put up with to enjoy the rest of the great qualities of the car.

      • You are, of course, quite right things shouldn’t squeak or rattle (I’m lucky that is just the door cards on car and they can usually be fixed with a good bash!!!) and the plastics should not be failing so soon (mine aren’t) Howeverjust because a rose has thorns doesn’t stop it being beautiful or smelling sweet! 🙂

  4. I had a 2006 Vector SH 9-3 and I liked the dash design better than the subsequent version.

    Now I own a NG 9-5 w/HUD and I can say SID was very effective, similar to HUD.

    9-3 keepers: Seats ergonomy, SID, Night panel, dual scale tachimeter, green instrument lighting, linear minimalistic decluttered dash and instruments.

    A 7″ display can be ok provided it has nothing to do with those chromy, shiny, fashion, eastern-car things…
    Something like NG 9-5 can be ok.

    Please refrain to use shining parts that are glare-generators.
    My NG 9-5 gear stick metal frame is one example, steering wheel metal inserts are another one.

  5. I think the interior from 2007 – 2012 looks good. it is a cleaner design than previous version. So the design is good, but the material quality could be improved. Well, it will be interesting to see when the first photos are released!

  6. Bring back the best proven knowledge in human performance. We all know that driving a car is a at times a way to complicated task for the averege human to perform. I an not talking about a sunny day on the straight freeway to the beach. No it is that day in when the nature is working against us, darkness, snow, sleet and slippery roads with oncoming traffic on a non-divided small road.
    All attention needs to be focused outside the car to make sense of the present environment. It is a high demand mental work for a driver to make sense of what that often monochrome surrounding is all about.
    The information and interaction systems of the car must be driver-friendly and 100% based on security.
    So first of all make the illumination green, the numbers on meters green, the needled and hands orange/amber. Bring the most used switches and knobs up on the dashboard. If a nav/info screen is to be used it needs to be positioned almost “touching” the windscreen. Reduce the amount of gauges automatically if a screen is used to substitute 3 mechanical gauges.

    Audio/info/nav systems should all be replaced with an iPad Mini with a Saab developed APP. Get rid of the CD/DVD system (who uses that old technology today). A radio tuner could be the back-up system if the driver forgets his/her iPad Mini. By doing this Saab does ot have to put the money into development of Saab specific stuff.
    If the driver runs Navigon/Garmin software with the all new Garmin HUD there you have it. I am going to get one of the first units from Garmin any day to do some testing on. Will post a video here on not only that system but also on some clever camera systems for our beloved Saabs.

    • Trued, I’m with you with the green illumination and the amber needle hands, and I would love to have those colours back in my Saab instead of the bright white of my 9-5. But, there are many people that still think that green is old fashioned. Saab is not the only one selling cars with monochrome, low-res displays for the basic Information display, you get the same in a Merc or Audi, but the Saab display is perceived as low tech. only because of the green colour.

      Regarding the iPad thing. After reviewing the new IP of the newer Volvos a couple of times, I must agree that it has many benefits compared to a classics mechanic instrument panel, but at the same time it still feels like driving in a video-game rather than a real car.

      • Green can be marketed in a clever way….. nature, right type of energy / renewal etc. It´s all about building that corporate image and the story-telling!

    • “who uses that old technology today”

      Well, I still use 8-track tape in my C900, and cassette tape + CD in my 9000 and do not own or ever plan to own an ipad. No interest in them whatsoever, they are just useless consumer gadgets. The idea of not even having CD player available in a car seems kind of crazy and the AM/FM radio should be a primary concern, not a “backup system.”

      I would certainly have no interest in driving a car that, as Red J. says, feels like the inside of a video game.

        • 8-Track tapes are still fairly common at local flea markets, but I have stacks and stacks of them from years back.

          It’s a shame that you guys are going to shut down conventional broadcasting. It will probably happen here in the U.S. someday as well, though as far as I know unlike what happened with TV there are no definitive plans to terminate analog radio.

          Some day after everyone puts all of their communications eggs into the internet and satellite baskets there is going to be a major outage with those that will create chaos. It’s hard for me to imagine not being able to fire up a transistor radio in an emergency to get information.

          • There’s always shortwave radio—-and I have plenty of good ones from the ’70s and ’80s and a good modern Sony too. I wonder if it’s bandwidth that’s needed for something? Seems really stupid to ditch FM. Could be a risk to public safety too. Shortsighted.

        • Will they? The same was said of Germany for 2010, 2012 and 2015, iirc. No signs whatsoever that this will happen. Instead, lousy quality, high power consumption and meagre indoor reception for DAB.

      • Well, there is certainly room to disagree here, but I follow your logic. Still, I can’t imagine using CDs to store my music. They don’t hold nearly enough data and they are fragile. At the very least, I want Saab to include a well situated USB port so I can attach a large capacity digital archive without the need for any sort of mechanical transfer mechanism. A $10, 16GB stick is all I need for most driving.

        As an aside–I do wish Saab would fork out a little more money for a higher quality DAC than what comes in most every OEM audio system I’ve heard since Nakamichi went away. And please, Saab, no built-in EQ “correction” that I can’t defeat.

        Smartphone integration is expected now for handsfree calling, but I consider that a separate beast. The better separated the phone is from the music the better.

        It bugged the crap out of me that my Subaru would turn on my iPhone’s bluetooth audio stream every time I started the car (even when I was listening to FM). I would look down hours after turning the car off and realize its been playing in my pocket the whole time. That was a Harman Kardon product that they used as OEM in the Subaru. Total garbage. I sold the Subaru exactly because of that sort of half-baked thinking.

    • Please no, no iPad !
      I don’t want a loose thing in my car that I have to remember to take with me and that is yet another thing that attracts people to smash a window and steal it. No loose stuff.

      Offer the option to have a good built in version (IQon) and/or a bluetooth connection with a app for all echo system (iOS, Android) to those who want that, don’t make it the only option!

      • +9000 But I think we are outnumbered. I know this might not be realistic from an assembly line standpoint—-but I wish there would be a version without all the crap for people who want the driving experience, sans gadgets. And make the ones who want this garbage, pay for it.

            • Keys, wallet, cellphone is more then enough and with a kid, anything can be one thing to many. Besides, it’s not a good thing to force your customers to a echo system when there is a good chance they already have invested in another one.
              Platform agnostic is the way to go if your not supplying your own platform.

        • Saab has always attracted buyer in the higher educated community who are ON when it comes to internet communication devices etc. Saab better stick to that line to get back those customers. They have the money to pay for intelligent stuff.

      • Hey guy, reading your discussion and thinking, an idea popped up.
        as we like ergonomic cars, the things we use are natural, what do you need to drive your car?
        a … key (wether it is remote or not, you need one called a key), and that’s the point your preferred audio, radio stations, presettings, can be stored on your key. you can buy an extra key for every user of the car and he/she will jump in the same car with his personal sound.
        the key as a USB stick connection, so you can upload music at home with your pc.
        Let’s try to do thinking like we think we need from a Saab

    • I’m definitely with you on that a small brand like Saab should cooperate with 3rd parties with regards to satnav integration. Why not team up with said Garmin or TomTom, and design something that is a) possible to remove from the car and thus reducing theft risk, and b) something that can be updated a few years down the road?
      iPad/iPhone compatibility is something I would like to see, but it’s a can of android worms where you could alienate thousands of prospective buyers…

      • IQon would be good- use of third party apps for nav/music, ability to connect to smartphones/tablets via Bluetooth… would be awesome if it could integrate into a new version of the SID/HUD plus steering wheel mounted controls. It doesn’t make sense to have a modular system because not everyone has/wants an iPad docking solutions bind users to one device/ecosystem, especially considering the ports aren’t standardized and can change from year to year.

        Wireless connections are KEY.

        • Precisely, you should have the option to connect third party products to the car/system if you want but to solely rely on them for critical functions (AC, Stereo, Other Settings) is a big no no.
          Imagine selling the car later on.

          “But where is the controls for the stereo and ac ?”
          “Ohh, Yeah you see, you need this “xyzPad 4 itterations older then the ones available today” and a couple of adaptors to be able to use it. Mine got stolen/lost/broken but you might perhaps be able to find a used one that works with the correct adaptors if you are lucky. Then you might be able to use all the functions. If they haven’t updated the firmware on it passed version xyz of course.”

          I cringed when I saw I think it was the Mini with a (then) standard iPod/iPhone connector, the same year it came out, Apple changed it. Open standards like USB, 3.5mm, Bluetooth is the only way.
          Perhaps OBDII but then you are getting geeky.

          • You describe a real nightmare. Will any of these gadgeted up cars be viable 35 years from now? I have a ’79 Chevy Monza that’s completely functional. People are drivng other cars, 20 years older than mine—-or even older than that—-with all functions 100%. Is that going to be the case with “firmware update needed” computer crappola on these cars? Are we at the point where the useful life will be 10-15 years and then recycle it? No more room for classics? Nothing from 2013 to be a collectible in 2043?

              • That is really sobering. It’s hard to fathom—-that a really cool car today, with everything computerized, won’t be able to be driven, with everything working—-40 years from now. Look at the ’63 Corvette—–a beautiful design exercise that people routinely pay in six figures to obtain. No more of that classic to look forward to?

  7. My 9000 is a fine car. It is all that I need, and all that I want. I do not need distracting gadgets and wizmos, but intelligent and practical engineering should be what a Saab is about. If that market needs these things, fine. But mine can do without.

    • I’m with you. My 9000 is hands down the best car I’ve ever owned. The interior is very purposeful, uses high-quality materials, and isn’t loaded down with distracting bling. (Well, the lack of a glovebox is a bit of a pain, I would not recommend that as a design feature!)

      • The luxury velour upholstery/interior in the 9000 was according to ex-design boss Björn Envall way to good for “sane” economics in a car company, but still Saab opted for the best in the business. Made by a swedish company in Tidaholm to the highest specs.

  8. Taking this for what it is – a long ago memory of a conversation with a long time Saab independent service provider who was at the time part owner in a dealership. What he said was that Saab had designed an absolute “killer” interior for the 9-3SS, but GM nixed it to save $600 per car. And that he had an existing Saab customer who came in to look at the 9-3 – when the wife sat down in the 9-3 and looked at the trim, she immediately stood up and said to the effect that “this stuff is crap – we’re getting the Audi.”

    Say what you will about Bob Lutz (and there’s plenty of bad to say with regard to his dealings with Saab), this is exactly the kind of decision that he says infected all of GM at the time he arrived and he did his utmost to reverse: cost-based decisions that gut the perceived quality of the product for small gain that do incredible damage to image, total sales, and transaction prices, of which only the small “cost savings” can be measured in advance.

      • NEVS has to think long and hard about their strategy. I know everyone wants “the best” of everything, even for a revised 9-3 based on a design that’s well over a decade in service. You won’t accept a less than perfect engine, interior, materials for the interior, etc. Top notch all the way, spare no expense. But at what cost? Mercedes-Benz is now selling their CLA (4 doors) starting at under $30,000 in the U.S. Mercedes image, reputation, resale value for less than 30K. NEVS has to consider that when they price their “new” car.

          • I bought a 2013 Accord LX (manual transmission) last week. It is the absolute base model. $0 in options. It cost me $20,050 US dollars ($19,500 plus $550 processing fee). That’s a fine price for the Accord, and it is pretty much the baseline for expectations in a midsize family car today.

            It is much bigger than the 9-3 inside, but it drives small if you know what I mean. The 6 speed manual is slick and the new for this year 2.4 inline 4 is strong, sounds good when revved and returns very good MPGs. The whole car feels light, stiff, and strong, even though the suspension tuning is on the soft side for my taste (a bit too much roll is dialed in).

            An Accord is just an Accord. It is no better or worse than what it is: a basic, high-quality, mid-sized car that gives you a lot for your money and doesn’t break often. My point here is just this: Saab has to really try to earn the premium money they want, if they choose to go that route. You can get a LOT for very little from the established players today, and it’s easy to purchase and service these cars in any city in the US.

            • The Accord and Camry have been the benchmark for mid-sized family cars for a long time. The 2013 you bought—-for 20K—was that a new car or pre-owned? Just curious: Is that same no-frills model available with an automatic transmission as the only option? If so, how much does that add? For Saab to succeed, I think they have to fill a few very narrow niche markets. I would love to see a diesel in the U.S. A station wagon is something that most others aren’t doing well. If Saab can nail that, they’d have something that a lot of the competition doesn’t have. And a compact hatch by a luxury car maker—-with a low starting price—-that could be something Saab could capitalize on too. If they build a typical luxury sedan and price it like an Audi—-and if that’s what they pin their hopes on—-they’ll be out of business again faster than an Aero can do the 1/4 mile.

              • It is a new Accord. The CVT (I’m not a fan of CVT transmissions, but it is the only auto offered with the 4 cylinder engine) adds $800 to the price. You can add it as a stand-alone option.

                There is a “Sport” package available that adds a power driver’s seat, leather steering wheel / shifter knob, and 18 inch wheels for around $1700 more. I skipped that, but I see a lot of them on the road.

                I totally agree with you about Saab needing something to set them apart. We have disagreed in the past on how well electric Saabs would go over, but I thought electric-only would at least justify their attempts to reenter the market. It would be a tough but possibly rewarding niche to try to carve out for themselves. I worry now that they are going down a foggy path and just hoping for the best.

                • I think Saab can pursue EVs (or preferably hybrids) but to have that as their ONLY offering—-I think would eliminate a high percentage of people who were willing to buy Saabs in the past. We were willing to buy from a small volume manufacturer with a spotty dealer network—-because we loved the character of the cars. But a lot of us would walk away if the only offering was an EV—-just because we might not be ready to own one at this time. I’d like them to at least have a couple ICE options available for Saab purists and they can build on the “ELECTRIC” part of their plan—-and if in the future, the electric is their bread and butter that will sustain them, they could have the confidence to phase out ICE Saabs. But I think to start, they need both. On the Accord—-I’m not a fan of CVTs either, but I think they’ve gotten better. And based on the design itself, even though the driving excitement isn’t there—-I would think they might be trouble free because of the way they work. Seems like you could put more miles on one of them before you need a rebuild. I’m not sure about that—-but thinking that might be the case because of the moving parts. For most driving, I think a CVT serves well. But there are situations when you feel like it’s just not getting up and going fast enough. I wouldn’t want the sport package, especially at that price. I think I’d be very happy with one if I could get the CVT instead of a stick (I drive in a lot of traffic sometimes and don’t want to constantly be shifting.)—–and maybe a sunroof. If those two options are stand-alone, I’d be a candidate for one of those.

    • There is a “new” 175Kmile 06 93 Combi R+D prototype running on this “island”. It was a 2Lpetrol with a blown turbo auto remade into a 1.9 TiD 6speed. 45mpg and unreal 30-80 in third gear. Maybe faster than petrols?? Coulda sold 10Ks of these.

      The 99 95 grey leather vented seats were a HUGE improvement over the stock 93s.
      Would highly recommend NEVS to get the seats to at least this level.

      Spent some time heatgunning the hideous plastic wood off the dash of this poor car. Lutz, was this your idea?

      Now that Saab? has been unleashed from the spectacle that GM still is, hopefully the same mistakes will not be made.

      NO V6s. Very few sedans. Mostly Combis and CVs. Electric rear drive. Then there is hope for a successful business plan.

  9. I own a 9-5 ’06 and a NG9-5 ’10.
    I occasionally drive a 9-3 from various MY.
    My preffered interior:
    1. NG9-5
    2. 9-5
    3. 9-3
    For me it is not about the materials, but the amosphere. When I get in to the NG9-5, it relaxes me and gives me a very comfortable and “in control” feeling. The experience in the new and old 9-5 is similar, but the 9-3 just doesn’t have that. I hope NEVS finds a way to get that experience or feeling into the new model. The interior should be more wrapped around the driver. And please, keep away from the monochrome displays. The only way is full color as standard like the new 9-5 center display. Instument panel illumination is better on the NG9-5 and 9-5 ’06- than on the older models. Center console should be kept green, as it is on all curent model.Don’t forget the illumination on the steeringwheel buttons (in soft green)!

  10. They need to ditch all the buttons altogether and make it like the Tesla Model S. One gigantic touchscreen. It would give the old Saab something to distinguish itself in the very competitive marketplace. Would definitely get some attention which Saab will very much need.

    • Now there is a ridiculous car. Ugly interior with not a door pocket in sight. The entire thing looks like a badly put together kit car.

  11. well, one detail, nobody thinks about, but makes me ashamed to come up with with my Saab.
    I drove a new leased 9-5 SC 2005, I needed a stationwagon and for leasing it was cheaper than the just brand new 9-3 SC. I had a green 9-5 sedan on LPG before this one, that I blow-up at 180k KM. before I drove a 9-3 (900NG) on LPG, horrible driving experience for me (2L injection), no confidence in the driving behaviour. and therefore my first Saab a 9000 CD Auto, beautyfull car, I drove till 330k. Now I drive little, take a lot the train and so on, I bought first a 900S Cab classic and later I found a swiss model 9000 Aero SC Auto (to find back my first Saab experience). but my point is, or rather my shocking detail is the boot logo. they are such poor quality, peeling of, everytime I bought a new one, it’s too much a shame drive in a quality car like this. Some stupid detail that makes you angry, as even the dealer dosen’t notice and replaces it for you, to have a good image to show off.
    on the contrary the workshop attitude was very good here (in France), most of the time. Aware that they are somewhat far from your home they came to my ouse to pick up the car for servicing sometimes. or gave me replacement car.

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