The 9-3 is positioned as Saab's entry-level sedan, and it competes with the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Volvo S60. The 9-3 is available as a convertible, SportCombi (read, wagon) and sedan. Base models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder. The Aero is the uplevel trim in all body styles, and all Aeros come with a turbo V-6. Saab's all-wheel-drive system, which the automaker calls XWD cross-wheel drive, is available on certain models.
New for 2009
The 9-3 gets a 280-horsepower V-6 standard in Aero models, and an Aero option package that's available on 2.0T front-wheel-drive models includes styling and mechanical tweaks.
9-3 styling features include a coupelike silhouette, an integrated grille and headlights, short front and rear overhangs, and a steeply raked windshield and back window. The 9-3 measures 182.5 inches long, 69 inches wide and 56.8 inches tall. It is very similar to its competitors in width and height, but is the longest in overall length. Wheels are available in 16-, 17- and 18-inch sizes. Some exterior changes for 2009 include:
- Newly designed 17-inch wheels
- Optional 16-, 17- or 18-inch wheels
- Aero-type appearance option package available on 2.0T front-wheel-drive models that includes bright-finish tailpipes and 17-inch wheels
XM Satellite Radio and OnStar are standard on all models. An upscale Bose Centerpoint sound system is optional on base sedans and SportCombis and standard with the Aero trim. The 9-3 sedan accommodates up to five people, and its trunk holds 14.8 cubic feet of cargo.
- Power driver's seat
- OnStar 8.0 with Turn-by-Turn Navigation and Bluetooth technology
- Carbon fiber interior finish trim on Aero Sport Sedan
- The Aero-type appearance option package includes sport-bolstered seats and metallic interior accents
- Standard dual-zone climate control
- Standard cooled glove box
Under the Hood
Base models come with a four-cylinder, while Aero models get a V-6; both engines are turbocharged. Depending on the model, transmissions include a five-speed automatic, a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. XWD cross-wheel-drive models also have an optional electronic limited slip differential that allows torque proportioning between the rear wheels. The V-6 in XWD models has increased torque output, totaling 295 pounds-feet.
- 210-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 221 pounds-feet of torque
- 280-hp, 2.8-liter turbo V-6 with 295 pounds-feet of torque (262 pounds-feet in convertible)
- All-wheel drive now available on 2.0T models
- Electronically controlled rear limited-slip differential on Aero V-6 XWD
- The Aero-type appearance option package includes upgraded brakes and what Saab calls a sport-tuned chassis
A long list of standard safety equipment includes side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, Active Head Restraints, traction control, and an electronic stability system with all-disc antilock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution. Convertibles have side-impact airbag head extensions in place of curtain airbags. Across all configurations, Aero models get slightly larger disc brakes. Other features include:
The convertible features the same chassis dynamics as the sedan. Saab says the 9-3 convertible is nearly three times as stiff as its soft-top predecessor. The chassis features a supplementary "ring of steel" reinforcement that compensates for the loss of structural rigidity that convertibles ordinarily suffer. The seat belts are integrated into the seat frames, and the rear seats have pop-up roll bars. For 2009, convertibles get a new gray roof option.
All convertibles come in either base or Aero form, with the 210-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder in base models and the 280-hp, turbocharged V-6 in Aero editions, though that engine produces slightly less torque (262 pounds-feet) in the convertible. Leather seats are standard. In base models, a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic is available. Aero models offer a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
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The SportCombi wagon completes Saab's 9-3 lineup. The SportCombi is a station wagon that features a signature wedge-shape profile ending in vertical, LED-lit taillamps and an integrated roof spoiler.
The SportCombi comes with either the 210-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or the 280-hp, turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 that makes 295 pounds-feet of torque.
Backseat headroom and toe space are abundant, but legroom suffers if the front seat is adjusted rearward. The center occupant must endure a high, hard perch and straddle a tall floor hump. Cargo space is appealing.
The 2009 SportCombi has a sleeker roof rail design, and matte chrome finish roof rails are available on the Aero package. A carbon fiber interior finish trim is also new.
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