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 (or wagon), sedan and a more-rugged wagon called the 9-3x. All models come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Saab is now owned by Spyker Cars, a Dutch carmaker that acquired the Swedish brand from General Motors. The current 9-3 was developed under GM’s ownership, so it still uses GM engines and other major components. Saab says a redesigned 9-3 is due for the 2012 or 2013 model year that will have less GM influence.
(Skip to details on the: 9-3 Convertible or 9-3 SportCombi, or 9-3x)
There are no significant changes for 2011.
9-3 styling features include a coupe-like silhouette, an integrated grille and headlights, short front and rear overhangs, and a steeply raked windshield and back window. Exterior features include:
- Available 16-, 17- or 18-inch wheels
- Available 18-inch performance tires
- Available power moonroof
XM Satellite Radio and OnStar are available 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. Interior features include:
- Power driver’s seat
- OnStar and Bluetooth technology
- Standard dual-zone climate control
- Standard cooled glove box
All 9-3 models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 210 horsepower, available with either a manual or automatic transmission. A turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 is no longer offered. Front-wheel drive is standard on all three body styles, and all-wheel drive (what Saab calls XWD) is available on the sedan and 9-3X SportCombi wagon. Mechanical features include:
- 210-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 221 pounds-feet of torque
- Six-speed manual standard on base Turbo4 sedan and no-cost option on other sedans
- Five-speed automatic available with front-wheel drive
- Six-speed automatic on XWD models
A long list of standard safety equipment includes:
- Side impact airbags
- Side curtain airbags
- Active head restraints
- Electronic stability system
- Antilock brakes with brake-force distribution
- Front seat belt pretensioners and load-limiters
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.
The convertible comes in base or Aero form, both with the 210-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder found in other 9-3s and front-wheel drive. 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. Back to top
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 wagon comes with the same 210-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as all other 9-3 models in Turbo4 and Aero trim levels with front-wheel drive and as a version called the 9-3X with all-wheel drive.
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. Back to top
The Saab 9-3x is based on the SportCombi’s wagon body style and designed to offer more off-road capabilities. Its ride height is about 1.3 inches higher than a normal SportCombi, and the 9-3x comes with standard all-wheel drive.
Like the other 9-3 versions, the 9-3x is powered by a 210-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 9-3x offers either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Other features include:
- Protective dark gray moldings around bumper, wheel arches and side sills
- Skid panels with aluminum finish
- Roof rails
- 17-inch wheels Back to top