2010 Saab 9-3 model news

UPDATE: text amended below. There will be both a FWD and an XWD version of the Aero model.
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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.
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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?
BUT……
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.

Reader’s thoughts: driving the Saab 9-3 2.0T XWD

I got this one through via email and initially I was a bit concerned about publishing it as it’s not all positive (though mostly).

But this place is supposed to be one that shows neither fear nor favour, so here we are. I’m willing and hoping to believe the suggestion that the problems Stingray encountered were particular to the test vehicle he was given. If you’ve got a 2.0T with XWD then perhaps your thoughts as an owner would be worth committing to ‘paper’ and sending in for a fuller perspective.

Personally, I’d love to give one of these a try. The 2.0T is one of my favourite engines and the XWD system is, even by Stingray’s evaluation, a cracker.

So here were go. My thanks to Stingray for sending in the following…..

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Driving thoughts, 2009 Saab Sport Combi 2.0 XWD.

A week ago I was in contact with the salesman who recently sold me my first Saab, a CPO 2006 SportCombi Aero… A car I enjoy “flying” very much. I was eager to try out another Saab they had on the lot, a 2008 TurboX! This could be my only chance to drive a TurboX so I was making arrangements to take it for a drive when he mentioned they had just got in a 2009 XWD Combi… I was shocked as I didn’t think they had hit the states just yet… so off to the Saab dealer I went. Keep in mind, I am a aircraft mechanic and a car enthusiast, in no way a professional driver or writer!

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My first impression was mild as it was a creamy white color that seemed like it needed something… maybe more metallic, maybe more pearl effect… there was just a lot of white. It looked like any other Combi, except for the little XWD badge on the deck lid.

Sitting inside I felt at home in that Comfy Saab Seat that I just recently learned to appreciate… the dash arrangement was a little different from my 06, but still familiar. The brushed stainless look from my Aero was replaced with wood grain and the steering wheel had some perforated leather like material that I did not like.

I turned the car on and right away noticed the “buzzy” little 4 cylinder…. vibrations to the steering wheel…. Terrible. As I pulled out of the parking lot, right away I noticed “this is no V6”. The engine was peppy…. but not earth shattering. Still, it took my commands and responded with zest!

Driving the XWD was a dream, it took the 90 degree and “S” turns effortlessly….. it rode every bit as nice as my Aero… but I felt like I was riding higher….. I think the XWD is 30mm higher than the standard combi. Let me just say, this thing grips! The XWD grabbed hold of the road and would not let go.

On the open highway, the XWD got up to speed and cruised as if we were at 30,000 feet with no turbulence. I would imagine that this car would be great in the winter driving season here in the North Eastern United States. Overall a very nice car, but the engine at idle had a terrible vibration that transferred to the steering wheel, which shook like a bunch of drunk girls in a disco. I mentioned that the tech should take a look and see if something was amiss.

I wish I could see it with a V6 and some more aggressive looks for the XWD……like all the press photos from Geneva. If it had been a V6, and in Red, it would be in my driveway….. no.. it would be parked in my “hangar”, after all they are “Born from Jets”
74 Stingray

Saab 9-3SC TTiD owner’s review

We haven’t heard from Kaz in a little while here at the TS/SU collective so before you read this review, I’d better give you a little backstory.
Kaz is a regular here at the site and we’ve covered a good number of his cars over the years. Yes, that’s cars – plural. Kaz is on some sort of sweet deal where he gets a new Saab every five months or so. Well, a new GM car. He just happens to choose a Saab.
All that is going to change, of course, when Saab move away from the GM fold, so Kaz is quite upset by recent events. He’s managed to fight back the tears, though, and mail through this owner’s review of the Saab 9-3 TTiD SportCombi that’s currently gracing his driveway.
Take it away, Kaz……
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There are no pictures here. Just words. But I think words are enough. When I first ordered the 9-3SW TTid Aero, I knew I was going to get a special car. Yes, I’m mainly a convertible guy, and I adore the V6 engine. But even I freely admit that the Aero TTid in Wagon form is probably the best all round vehicle in the Saab stable at the moment.
I write this review with a hint of sadness. With everything going on at GM and the move towards independance for SAAB, it means that they are now no longer available on the list of vehicles I can choose :(. I must say that I have certainly been spoilt, and am grateful to have been so lucky to savour so many different Saab configurations. In doing so, I have learnt one incredible thing from my experiences. Most cars have lost their character.
Thankfully, the 9-3 still has some. It has flaws, as do all cars, but the faults I’ve had during my Saab journey so far have endeared me more to the brand. There is a bond that develops between man and car which is often forgotten in the modern era. Can you really love an Audi or a BMW? I don’t think so. you can certainly admire them, but do they smile at you? No.
The 9-3’s I’ve had the pleasure of driving over the past 4 years or so have all been unique in their personality. I’ve had 2.0T’s, 2.8V6’s I’ve even sampled a 120bhp 1.9 Tid Arc. All have been fabulous. But you know what, the real gem is this TTid engine. There is a mutual respect when driving the 9-3. It’s almost as if the car is reassuring you that you can have fun, but it will still look after you. After many country road journeys’, I have learnt that this car is not just a car, it’s a friend.
The functionality and practicality of the Wagon is well known. What isn’t so well known is how easily that practicality is forgotten. You get used to it. So much so that I often forget how much you can actually pack into the car. Our house has a set of steep steps to the porch, and I have often cursed my over enthusiasm of loading the boot to the brim when the need comes to unload everything back into the house. The 9-3 wagon takes it all, and no matter how heavy the load, the amazing torque from the TTid engine just keeps driving forward.
Unladen the Aero TTid is more agile than the 2.8V6. There is a very tight country road close to my place and it consists of a long tight right hander, followed quickly by two tight left handers and a medium right hander. I’ve got through it much quicker in the TTid than I ever did in the 2.8V6. The 2.8V6 in comparison feels a little lumpen when changing direction, understeering a little more before the Re-Axis system kicks in properly and helps you round the corner.
The wave of torque the 9-3 Aero TTid offers is truly astonishing. Mid range, it will keep up with much more exotic material. All of which have barely a fraction of that thing called character. I could have sworn my Aero TTid winked at me the other day, some may call it a defective indicator bulb, but it has been fine ever since, and it happened after we had some immense fun on a road known as the A6 between Luton and Bedford.
The tip tronic system works well, and the sports mode is very effective. In normal mode, the gearbox can be a little slow to react at times, so if you are ever at a roundabout that requires a quick get-away, make sure you use the sport button in tip-tronic mode.
This will be my last Saab for a while. At least until we move out of the UK (that is another story). And I write this with a little tear in my eye. Saab needs to survive.
Like I said earlier, there are no pictures here, just words. SAAB may well get bullied by some corners of the press. It may be called nasty things by the Audi and BMW crowd, heck even some saabisti have lambasted my little friend. But you know what, I don’t care. I love my 9-3, it loves me. The world has lost many characters in the car world. Where are the modern Alfa Suds? Where are the modern 900 Turbos? They are dying. But at least there is a hint of that character still left in SAAB.
You get better handling in a BMW, you get better materials inside your Audis’, you get more horsepower in your Mercs. But you know, I really don’t care. You want to know why?
Because my car smiles at me.
Peace, and good luck to Saab. I always save a smile for you.
Kaz

Hirsch interior for the Saab 9-3 – it rocks!

One of the guys at Hirsch has just posted some new photos to his Flickr account. The feature the carbon leather dash and the carbon leather trim kit that Hirsch offer for the Saab 9-3.
It’s always bittersweet seeing these. How good would it be if all Saab interiors were comparable to this?
I’m sure we’ll see an improvement in materials once the 2010 Saab 9-5 arrives. In the meantime, kudos to anyone with a Hirsch interior – you’ve got the best there is.
Click to enlarge and check the details. There’s also one of the exhaust and carbon fibre body kit at the bottom.
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The first 2009 Saab 9-3 in Oz – a stunner!

As mentioned earlier this week, Saab dealers here in Australia have had a hard time ordering 2009 vehicles for customers. They’ve got a bucketload of 2008 vehicles left on dealer lots and have been discounting them heavily prior to releasing any 2009 models from storage.
One dealer did manage to beg and plead successfully, however. They had to take a $5K deposit in order to do so, but they got their car ordered and it was delivered last month to happy new owners in Adelaide.
It’s a 2009 Saab 9-3 in Vector spec, finished in Laser Red with a parchment interior. It’s fitted with the 2.0T four-banger and 6-speed manual gearbox. Extras fitted include the luxury pack, Bose stereo, sport chassis, cornering headlights, sunroof and finally, the genuine sports exhaust.
Spectacular!
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The Saab 9-3 button dashboard – do we miss it?

My thanks to Rogan for preparing a page for the 2003+ Saab 9-3 range in the car pages here at Trollhattan Saab. Reading through that page prompted the following entry.

Regular visitors to this site will probably know that I love interiors. To me, the styling and layout of the interior is more important than the exterior appearance of a car. It’s where you spend all your time, where you engage with the car as you drive. The seats, the dash, the controls and switchgear – all of it have to combine to provide the right experience, the right level of control.
When I went to the 2003 Saab 9-3 premiere here in Tasmania a number of years ago, one of the first things I fell in love with was the dashboard. It was very much how I pictured a modern Saab dashboard should be: no nonsense, very functional, simple looking and very modern.
And that was before I saw it at night!
At night, any Saab 9-3 or 9-5 dashboard is a masterpiece to look at. You want to talk about jet heritage? All it feels like you’re missing is the wings.
Here it is:

And in a darker light, the real night-time view:

This view is a big part of it for me. My 9-3 Viggen had more of a 9-5 style dash layout but it still lit up like this at night and driving with this display on was a beautiful experience. Every function you wanted to perform had a button there for the purpose, meaning one-touch instead of a range of adjustments as on a dial. If you wanted to change the heating vent from windscreen to floor, you press the floor button rather than progressing through a number of settings via a dial.
Ergonomists will probably be able to tell you which one is better, but I always found the buttons easy to use once you got used to them.
It was to my personal chagrin, then, that Saab ditched the button dash in MY2007 in favour of a more generic dial setup, whose hardware could be shared between various models in the GM family. The heating controls turned to a simple 3-dial system and the radio was a common stock GM bowtie unit (albeit one that gave comparatively better sound than the original button dash unit in the 2003-2006 Saab 9-3).
The new (current) dash:

Notably, the new dashboard also lost the dashtop Saab Information Display (SID), which was a firm favourite amongst 9-3 owners. The SID moved to a small display in with the gauge cluster.
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If I’m going to be honest here (and I should) then the newer dash layout is less cluttered and the dials are probably a little friendlier to most people.
But geez I miss that button dash. The ambience of the green lighting was fantastic and that old dash made the Night Panel button a major source of amusement and wonder. It really was a classic setup that was quite sophisticated and one that definitely elicited an emotional reaction – for this Saab blogger at least.
So what say you? I think I’ve made my own bias fairly clear, but I know mine may not be the consensus opinion.
Comments are open.

2009 Saab 9-3: US model details

New for 2009

    * Saab XWD cross-wheel-drive system available on 2.0T models (as of October 2008)
    * More powerful 280-horsepower (209 kW) engine on Aero models
    * Electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD) standard on Aero V-6 XWD
    * Aero-type appearance and performance package available on 2.0T “Sport” FWD models
    * Carbon-fiber interior finish trim on Aero Sport Sedan and SportCombi
    * OnStar 8.0 hardware with Turn-by-Turn Navigation* and Bluetooth hands-free calling
    * Matte chrome finish roof rails available on Aero SportCombi model
    * Sleeker roof rail design for SportCombi model
    * New 17 x 7-inch wheel on 2.0T XWD-equipped models
    * Newly designed 17 x 7.5-inch, five-spoke alloy wheel, standard on 2.0T 1SD, Aero Convertible models
    * Available additional convertible top color: Grey
    * Exterior colors: Carbon Grey Metallic, Glass Grey Metallic (all models) replace Parchment Silver, Smoke Beige (all models)

2009 SAAB 9-3 RANGE expands XWD CROSS-WHEEL-DRIVE TECHNOLOGY to 2.0T Sedan AND SPORTCOMBI, MORE POWERFUL V-6 Engine on AERO MODELS AND NEW 2.0t ‘sPort’ MODEL
Saab 9-3Fresh from the major exterior redesign it received for the 2008 model year, the Saab 9-3 range broadens its customer appeal for 2009 with available XWD cross-wheel-drive technology on 2.0T Sport Sedan and SportCombi models, a more powerful, 280-horsepower (209 kW) engine on all V-6 Aero models, and a new, available Aero-look exterior appearance package for 2.0T Sport models.
Other enhancements include interior trim, roof rail and wheel changes, as well as new, standard OnStar 8.0 hardware that enables Turn-by-Turn Navigation (available in late 2008) and Bluetooth hands-free calling capabilities.
For 2009, the Saab 9-3 range includes the 9-3 Sport Sedan, 9-3 SportCombi and 9-3 Convertible in 2.0T and Aero models. XWD technology is standard on Aero Sport Sedan and
SportCombi models.

Intelligent all-wheel drive

Originally available in the 2008 model year only on the V-6-equipped Turbo X or Aero Sport Sedan and SportCombi models, Haldex Gen 4 XWD cross-wheel-drive technology brings additional functionality to four-cylinder 2.0T models while preserving the fun-to-drive attributes and Scandinavian sensibilities that characterize Saab vehicles.

Read more

Saab 9-3 tuning magic by Hirsch

Have you seen the Hirsch 9-5 yet?
Accompanying that gorgeous black 9-5 SportCombi is this Lynx Yellow 9-3 Convertible.
It too has received the Hirsch tuning treatment, lifting its output to 275hp. It’s also got a set of lowering springs, 18-inch Hirsch Performance rims and the full leather treatment on the dash, doorhandles and handbrake.
Again, click to enlarge.
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