• First Saab positioned in premium, compact sport sedan segment
• World class chassis dynamics enhance driver involvement
• Long wheelbase and wide track for good handling and spacious interior
• New powertrain includes lightweight, aluminum turbo engine
• New five-speed automatic transmission and six-speed manual gearbox
• In-house Saab electronics for sophisticated powertrain behavior
• Fiber optic electronics for advanced, modular ‘infotainment’ systems
• Exceptionally strong body for good handling, refinement and safety
• Second generation Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
• Load-limiting seat-belts, dual stage front airbags and side curtain airbags
• ‘Profiler’ customization program and choice of four specification levels
The all-new 2003 Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan is the first step in the biggest product development program in Saab’s history. It spearheads the arrival of an entirely new family of cars, each focused on meeting the particular requirements of a different niche in the market.
As Saab’s first contender in the premium, compact sport sedan segment, the focus for the new 9-3 is dedicated to delivering a unique, fun-to-drive experience that promises to set new standards for the class.
The coupé-like silhouette, with steeply raked windshield and rear window and short front and rear overhangs, communicates a strong, sporty stance, which is reinforced by negative wheel cambers. The overall look is designed to convey a sense of movement even when the car is stationary. The shape of the windows and the wedge-like profile also combine with the sleek integrated headlights and grille to give the car its distinctive Saab identity.
Excellent aerodynamics including a highly competitive 0.28 drag coefficient, resulting in low lift forces at the rear axle, improving high speed stability and braking. Careful airflow management also benefits the driver by helping to prevent road grime building up on the side windows and taillights.
The new model comes with a choice of two new, 2.0-liter, all-aluminum turbocharged engines, ranging in power from 175 to 210 hp. The front-wheel-drive transmissions include five- and six-speed manual gearboxes and a five-speed automatic with Saab Sentronic manual selection and the option of steering wheel controls. There will be three “Forms,” or specification levels: Linear, Arc, and Vector.
Compared to its predecessor, the new 9-3 offers more spacious accommodations, particularly for rear passengers, within the same overall length. Front and rear width is increased by 2.16 in. (55 mm) and the wheelbase is 2.8 in. (71 mm) longer.
It is price-positioned to compete with the BMW 3-series, Audi A4, and Volvo S60. Sales start in October 2002.
The main features of the new 9-3 contribute to an enriched, sporty driving experience in four key areas: driver involvement, refined performance, driver adaptability and driver-centered design.
The new 9-3 is the product of the most exhaustive development program in chassis dynamics undertaken by Saab. The handling of the car, its sensitivity to driver inputs and a high degree of feedback all combine to deliver a level of driving involvement and pleasure that challenges the class benchmark.
The main highlights include:
• ‘ReAxs’ passive rear-wheel-steer characteristic. The kinetics of the rear suspension are tuned for a unique rear-wheel-steer response designed to improve handling and stability.
• Four-link independent rear suspension. High lateral stiffness adds stability and grip; longitudinal compliance enhances ride comfort.
• Low mounted steering rack gives excellent feel and precision with progressive power assistance and fast response.
• Front suspension is MacPherson struts with lower A-arms mounted on a hydroformed, rubber-isolated sub-frame. High lateral bushing stiffness improves steering response and precision; high longitudinal compliance contributes to ride comfort.
• Advanced chassis electronic systems. Chassis features Saab-tuned “user-friendly” ESP (Electronic Stability Program), EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and TCS (Traction Control System).
• Optimized braking power. Front and rear brake discs are larger than previous model; varying in size, depending on specification level.
• Minimized unsprung weight for better ride quality. Hub carriers and toe and lower rear suspension links are aluminum, while anti-roll bars are hollow section steel.
• “Shear” bushing at top of rear shock absorber mountings adds to the compliant ride quality and effective vibration suppression.
Saab is a center of expertise within General Motors for the development of turbocharged gasoline engines. The 2003 Saab 9-3’s new powertrain adds enhanced refinement and driveability to Saab’s traditional strengths of high torque for strong, mid-range pulling power. It also delivers a level of sporty performance in keeping with the chassis dynamics, further reinforcing the new car’s driver focus.
The main highlights include:
• New all-aluminum 2.0-liter turbo engine. Saab developed and tuned two versions of the new engine for 175 hp (badged 2.0t) and 210 hp (badged 2.0T) with high torque for confident passing. All internal components are unique to Saab. Balance shafts and dual-mass flywheel offer greater running refinement.
• Sophisticated powertrain performance. Highly sensitive and precise throttle control, adaptive torque delivery and smooth power on/power off characteristics are benefits of the new Trionic-8 engine management, the latest version of Saab’s own 32-bit in-house system.
• More transmission choices. Updated five-speed (175 hp) and all-new six-speed (210 hp) Saab manual gearboxes are available. A new five-speed, adaptive automatic transmission with Saab Sentronic manual gear selection and optional steering wheel controls is available.
• Unique “pendulum” engine mounting. Engine noise and vibration is reduced by installation of rods at the base of the engine for optimal torque control.
In addition to its driver-focused chassis dynamics and powertrain performance, the new 9-3 is also designed to adapt to a wide range of driver needs, establishing a close interaction with its owner.
Main highlights include:
• “Profiler” customization. A wide range of functions can be pre-set according to personal preference, including: anti-theft alarm, parking assistance, rain sensitive wipers, and automatic climate control.
• Advanced electronics. The new Saab 9-3 features the most complete automotive systems use of fiber optics. With a signal capacity 50 times greater than conventional wire circuitry, fiber optics provide a high-speed platform for advanced in-car “infotainment.”
• Dual zone air conditioning with automatic balance control. The system senses changes in sunlight or shade outside the car and automatically adjusts airflow to keep interior temperature constant.
• Three specification levels. “Linear” features an understated interior with attractive leather upholstery and anthracite trim. “Arc” adds more luxury, with 16-inch alloy wheels and leather interior with poplar wood trim. “Vector” adds a sporty flair, with 17¬inch alloy wheels and a sports leather interior with matte chrome trim.
• Inaugural Linear Launch Package. An optional package will be offered for the Linear form that includes 16” 10-spoke alloy wheels, in-dash 6-CD player, upgraded stereo system, power sunroof and driver’s seat, and lower body color match trim.
• Additional load-carrying potential. A standard 60/40 split folding rear seat with ski hatch provides additional utility to carry extra cargo.
• Lower running costs. Longer service intervals and reduced maintenance times minimize inconvenience for the owner. Vehicles are covered under the Saab No Charge Scheduled Maintenance Program for 3 years or 36.000 miles, whichever comes first, for factory-recommended scheduled maintenance performed at an authorized Saab dealer in the United States. On-board algorithm adapts oil change cycle to how car is used.
• Host of comfort features. Designed to make living with the new 9-3 as convenient as possible, these include: a remote window and sunroof operation, “halo” perimeter lighting at night, automatic dimming interior mirror, and integrated garage door remote.
Built Around the Driver
Consistent with all Saab vehicles, the new 9-3 is built from “the driver outwards.” That means the cabin ergonomics, the instrumentation, the controls, and the seating position are all developed from the driver’s perspective. Its advanced safety features benefit all who use the car.
• Cockpit feel. The instrument panel arcs around the driver, with a logical layout and tactile feel to controls. Steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach. Green instrument illumination and Night Panel function contribute to safe night driving.
• High position display. Saab Information Display (SID) is located on top of the fascia near the base of the windscreen, close the driver’s natural field of vision. Screen shows radio settings and driver information.
• Structural strength. With added torsional rigidity, the body is more than twice as stiff as its predecessor’s. This contributes to outstanding ride and refinement, handling and safety properties.
• Designed for Real-life Safety. Many dozens of different crash configurations were carried out during development, utilizing Saab’s database of more than 6,000 real-life road accidents. Tests include truck-to-car side impacts, car-to-car frontal impacts with a closing speed of 74 mph and replica moose impacts.
• Second generation Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR). Pioneered by Saab, SAHR helps prevent neck injury for front seat occupants in rear-end impacts. Integrated into the seat backs, this safety system is improved for even quicker action.
• Integrated safety features. Restraint systems include seat belt pre-tensioning and load limiting for front seating positions, combined with dual-stage front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags and new side curtain airbags.
Announcing the arrival of the new model, Saab Automobile President and CEO Peter Augustsson, commented, “This car offers a level of driver involvement and responsive performance never seen before from Saab. The integration of a fine-handling chassis with the new, refined powertrain delivers a true ‘fun-to-drive’ package.
“It is a formula designed to appeal to young, premium-car buyers who place a priority on a rewarding driving experience, but who also want to express their individuality through choosing a distinctive, less commonplace brand.”
Chassis, brakes, steering
Sporty Dynamics Engineered for World-Class Handling
• Sporty handling to challenge class benchmark
• Saab ReAxs – unique rear-wheel-steer characteristic
• Braking system includes electronic driver aids
• Excellent steering response
• Saab-tuned Electronic Stability Program, ESP
“This car will put a smile on the face of anyone who appreciates a fine handling chassis. It’s a premium sedan with the responses of a sports car!”
– Ekkehard Schwartz, Chief Chassis Engineer
The new Saab 9-3 fulfils its role as a fun-to-drive sport sedan by displaying exceptional handling characteristics that not only set new standards for Saab, but also promise to set a new class benchmark. The result of a rigorous development program, the most exhaustive ever undertaken by Saab, the 9-3’s exceptional handling is designed to combine the benefits of front-wheel drive – predictability and excellent driver feedback – with new levels of chassis control for a more rewarding driving experience.
The new 9-3’s exceptionally stiff body and all-new suspension provided Saab test drivers with a solid foundation on which to achieve outstanding chassis dynamics, exemplary ride refinement and impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness. The chassis’s innate talents are backed up with a full alphabet of standard electronic driver aids, including ABS (Antilock Braking System), TCS (Traction Control System), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA) and ESP (Electronic Stability Program).
The top priority of the new 9-3’s chassis development program was to achieve best-in-class handling characteristics. This was an essential requirement for a car targeted at drivers whose priority is a satisfying, high-performance driving experience. Saab’s chassis engineers are confident that anyone who drives the new 9-3 will immediately appreciate its quick responses to steering, throttle and braking inputs, together with its impressive levels of grip, driver feedback and body control. In all respects it behaves as well as, or better than, its class rivals.
Compared to the previous model 9-3, the key dimensions of new car offer several changes that contribute to improvements in handling and grip. The front and rear tracks (59.8 in. and 59.3 in.) are, respectively 2.8 in. and 2.5 in. wider. Combined with a 2.7 in. increase inwheelbase, a .4 in. (10 mm) reduction in ride height, a lower center of gravity and an inherently stiffer sedan bodyshell, the dynamics of the new chassis are more competent in every respect.
ReAxs – passive rear-wheel steering
The adoption of a four-link rear suspension layout has allowed engineers to dial in a unique, passive rear-wheel-steer characteristic (Saab ReAxs) by carefully tuning both inboard and outboard suspension bushings.
When cornering, the kinetics at the rear axle induce a very slight deflection of both rear wheels in the opposite direction to the steering input, ie. toe-out for the outer wheel and toe-in for the inner wheel. Depending on the radius of a bend and the consequent loadings at the rear axle, one degree of movement at the front wheels would typically produce a small but significant response of about one hundredth of a degree at the rear.
This is sufficient to prevent excessive understeer, where the driver is forced to apply progressively more steering input to turn the front end of the car, increasing the scrub angles of the front tires. The ReAxs characteristic overcomes this “crabbing” effect, helping the tail of the car follow the direction of the front wheels, instead of its nose. For the driver, this gives the car a better balance, helping it turn in and respond more precisely to steering inputs.
The front suspension includes McPherson struts with de-coupled top mountings, separating the damper and spring loadings. The lower control arms are attached to a hydroformed (hollow section) front sub-frame, including a hydraulic bushing on the rearmost mounting each side for optimum damping. For good directional stability and ride comfort, the layout is designed to be largely impervious to lateral forces and compliant longitudinally.
The independent rear suspension is also mounted on a sub-frame and incorporates three transverse and one longitudinal link. Compared to the rigid, torsion beam used for the previous model, the new layout has far more longitudinal compliance. Like the front suspension, bushings are stiff for lateral forces and relatively soft longitudinally. The new suspension allows greater scope for optimizing both handling and ride characteristics, as well as helping to prevent road noise entering the cabin.
New for Saab is the adoption of shear bushings in the rear shock absorber top mountings. These effectively dissipate vibrations from the road by absorbing small vertical up and down movements before they are transmitted directly into the mounting and the structure of the car. This feature improves ride quality and also plays an important role in further attenuating road noise.
Reducing unsprung weight
To deliver the high standard of ride quality expected in this class of car, Saab engineers carried out a thorough program to minimize unsprung weight. As a result, all four wheel carriers (hubs) and brake calipers, lower control arms in the front suspension and the toe and lower links in the rear suspension are made of aluminum.
Elsewhere, weight-saving materials are used wherever stiffness is not compromised. Both front and rear anti-roll bars and the shock absorber piston rods are therefore made from hollow section steel.
The powerful steel disc brakes (ventilated at the front) are a match for the performance of the new 9-3. The Linear model will feature discs that measure 11.8-in. (300 mm) at the front and 11.4-in. (290 mm) at the rear. The Arc and Vector models will feature even larger 12.3-in. (312 mm) front discs.
High speed braking stability sets new standards for Saab thanks to the ReAxs control of the rear suspension geometry. This effectively preloads the rear tires by applying some lateral force through toe-in as braking commences.
An automatic brake boost feature, Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA), is introduced for the first time. This increases braking pressure from the master cylinder when the driver stomps hard on the brake pedal – such as during a panic stop. Activating ahead of the car’s ABS, this is designed to stop the vehicle more quickly.
A four-channel ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and TCS (Traction Control System), with additional throttle control, is standard on all variants. A series of electronic brake control functions also utilize the ABS wheel-speed sensors and variable valving at each wheel.
Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) is designed to ensure that optimum braking force is always applied at both axles for maximum stability under heavy braking.
New for Saab is the introduction of Cornering Brake Control (CBC), which is activated when the car is cornering during heavy braking. Brake pressure is individually varied between all four wheels to help keep the car stable, designed to minimize the possibility of snap oversteer or understeer characteristics.
All four brake discs have full size dust shields to help ensure braking performance is not impaired by large amounts of snow, mud or dust jamming the calipers.
The power steering on Saab cars is widely acknowledged for achieving just the right balance between assistance and feel. In the straight-ahead position, there is virtually no power assistance, in order to give the driver as much direct control as possible. Even at low speeds, the driver’s feel for the road surface is not impaired by excessive power assist.
The rack-and-pinion steering system for the new 9-3 continues this tradition. The hydraulic pump is camshaft-driven and the rack is mounted low down at the back of the front sub-frame. The geometry and tuning of the front and rear suspensions also combine to give the steering its distinctive feel, linearity and responsiveness. At just 2.97 turns from lock to lock, it is the quickest steering yet fitted to a Saab car.
As a general indication of the tautness of the new 9-3’s chassis, tests show its lateral acceleration response time – the speed at which all chassis response to a steering input is completed – is about 30 percent faster than average for this size of car.
Advanced Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
The fine chassis dynamics of the new 9-3 is supplemented by an advanced, Saab-tuned ESP system which is designed to gently counteract over-exuberance or misjudgments from the driver.
The ESP has been honed by Saab technicians using dedicated software to match the behavior of the 9-3 chassis. The “intelligent” system is extremely progressive in use and is designed to function almost imperceptibly, avoiding harsh interventions when the chassis has already reached the limits of adhesion.
A yaw sensor in the center of the car detects movement around the vertical axis and a sensor on the steering column measures the steering angle being applied. Inputs from these sources are then correlated with the speed of the car.
The system is extremely flexible and it is programmed to execute whatever actions will most effectively assist the driver in controlling the vehicle. Depending upon the chassis’s disposition, it is possible for braking to be applied via the ABS system to any or all of the four wheels, as well as control of the electronic throttle.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus – Making the Right Noises
Stefan Svedhem’s brief in the development of the new 9-3 was a simple one: turn noise into sound. His role was to ensure that the improvement in levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) was at least equal to the progress made in the chassis’s ride and handling qualities. While that meant eliminating unwanted noises, it also required sophisticated “noise management” or, as Stefan prefers to say, “turning noise into sound.”
“Noise is usually something irritating and unwanted,” says Stefan, manager of Saab’s Noise and Vibration Center, “whereas sound is something we appreciate and feel positive about.” The work of Stefan and his team included everything from eliminating squeaks and rattles and checking “click” quality from the switchgear to making sure noises from the road and powertrain were the “right sounds.”
In addition to making hundreds of hours of sound recordings from different positions inside the cabin, the team also used a powerful, finite element computer model. With over 400,000 elements, this was the main tool in combating structure-born noise and vibration inside the car.
“We have made a lot of progress with low frequency noise, typically the bump/thump from the road transmitted through the suspension,” says Stefan. “And we have balanced this with improved insulation for high frequency sound, such as tire and wind noise.”
Good NVH does not necessarily mean eliminating noises altogether because sounds, such as engine or road noises, can be provide relevant signals for the driver. It would be disorientating to be placed in a complete “noise vacuum.” “Our work with noise,” adds Stefan, “usually involves what I call the ‘three I’s’. Information, where the driver should hear what he expects, such as when turning the starter or operating a switch.
Impressiveness, where noises should become nice sounds, such as when the engine is being revved up or when the door closes with a nice thud. Lastly, there is irritation, and these are noises we don’t want to hear at all, such a poor door seal and, of course, squeaks and rattles.”
Saab’s Turbo Expertise Charges Forward
• All new, aluminum 2.0-liter turbo engine
• Excellent torque, driveability and refinement
• New Trionic 8 engine management system
• New automatic and manual transmissions
“The closer integration of the new engines and transmissions has given us a far more sophisticated and refined level of performance.”
– Kent Bovellan, Project Leader, new Saab 9-3
Exceptional turbocharged performance delivering new levels of mechanical refinement and driveability were the objectives of powertrain development for the new Saab 9-3.
Saab engineers have long been regarded as world leaders in the art of turbocharging, a distinction recognized by Saab’s appointment as the center of expertise within General Motors for turbocharged gasoline engine development. Now with the launch of the new 9-3, Saab has matched the renowned torque of its engines with a more progressive power delivery.
A new, all-aluminum 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, based on the L850 series, has been developed by engineers based at Saab’s engine plant in Södertälje, Sweden and is configured for U.S.-specification cars with two levels of power output: 175 or 210 hp. Transmissions include both an improved five-speed and a new six-speed manual gearbox, as well as a new five-speed automatic transmission with Saab Sentronic manual gear selection and the option of steering wheel controls on the Vector.
Advances in electronic engine and transmission control deliver appreciable improvements in throttle response, torque delivery and power-on/power-off behavior. The smooth, turbocharged performance of the new Saab 9-3 is the perfect complement to its superb chassis dynamics for a rewarding, fun-to-drive experience.
New lightweight 2.0-liter Turbo
The all-aluminum, four-cylinder 2.0-liter gasoline engine is 33 lbs. lighter than its predecessor. It is smoother, quieter, more compact and better packaged. It also operates with lower frictional losses for improved fuel consumption and lower exhaust emissions.
The block is perfectly “square” in configuration, with a bore and stroke of 3.38 in. (86 mm), and carries a unique Saab four-valve cylinder head, maintenance-free chain-driven camshafts, counter-rotating balancer shafts, a dual mass flywheel and an integrated oil cooler. It is controlled by the latest Trionic 8 version of Saab’s own, in-house engine management system, the most powerful in commercial production.
All main internal components are unique to the turbocharged application in the new Saab 9-3. These include a five-bearing forged steel crankshaft, strengthened connecting rods, redesigned pistons, piston oil cooling jets and reprofiled camshafts. The cylinder head is a unique alloy casting optimized for turbocharging, with substantially revised inlet porting, modified inlet valves and sodium-cooled exhaust valves.
A major innovation for Saab is the in-board location of the turbocharger, behind the transversely-installed engine. This position allows an even quicker warm-up for the front exhaust catalyst; giving improved fuel consumption and lower cold start emissions, as well as benefiting weight distribution.
A Garrett GT20 turbocharger is used for the 175-hp engine, with maximum boost pressure set at 0.7 bar or 10.15 psi. A larger Mitsubishi TDO4 unit, operating at 0.85 bar or 12.3 psi, provides boost for the 210-hp version, which also has more aggressive camshafts. Both turbos have integrated by-pass valves.
The power characteristics of both engines set new Saab standards for running refinement, throttle response and progressive torque delivery, as well as yielding even better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.
In common with all Saab gasoline engines, outstanding levels of torque are generated at low engine speeds, with 90 percent of the peak value available from below 2,000 rpm. Maximum power and torque figures are as follows:
2.0t 175 hp @ 5,500 rpm 195 lb.-ft @ 2,500 rpm
2.0T 210 hp @ 5,300 rpm 221 lb.-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Improved driveability from new Trionic 8
Saab is alone among the world’s premium carmakers in producing its own engine management system. The Trionic system is specifically tailored to the characteristics of turbocharged engines, and allows Saab to carry out speedier, more effective development work. Ignition timing, fuel injection, turbo boost pressure, air mass measurement and the throttle setting are all key engine functions controlled by the Saab-written Trionic software, making it the most sophisticated engine management system in commercial production for turbocharged engines.
In the new Saab 9-3, Trionic 8 now incorporates engine start-up and temperature control and further developments for improving torque management and throttle response. It is this in¬house capability that provides the key to achieving one of the powertrain development team’s main objectives: better driveability.
The torque delivery of the engine is now more linear. Under acceleration, Trionic can sense, for example, if there is insufficient traction available for a given throttle setting and will modulate engine torque accordingly. The adjustments may be hardly noticeable, but effectively make the driving experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Uncomfortable jerks, which can be experienced when suddenly lifting off or stomping hard on the throttle, are also largely eliminated. Trionic is able to “read” and anticipate different driving situations, cushioning the transitory effects of large throttle movements by comparing parameters such as road speed, engine speed, engine loading and gear selected. The end result is a smooth, powerful and extremely pliable powertrain, free of driveline “lash” under sudden throttle movements.
The Trionic system enables Saab to constantly achieve improved operating efficiencies, and is a powerful electronic platform for Saab’s own future engine technologies.
As a measure of its sophistication, Trionic is unique in monitoring ionization rates at each spark plug to individually control and adjust the combustion process for each cylinder. This involves about two million calculations per second! To avoid such complexity, many competitors’ systems simply apply an average taken from all cylinders.
Unique engine installation
As part of the extensive program to minimize low frequency noise and vibration, Saab engineers have adopted a completely new “pendulum” technique for the engine mountings.
In order to absorb the primary torque forces, which are generated at the bottom of the engine, the entire powertrain assembly is, in effect, suspended from two top mounts, one hydraulically damped, in the engine bay. Two short, aluminium torque rods, with rubber bushings at both ends, are also fitted low down, between the back of the powertrain and the rear of the front sub-frame. One is attached to the oil sump and the other to the transmission. These act like mini shock absorbers, allowing lateral movement, in or out, of up to 20 mm, equivalent to a swing of 4.5° from the vertical, just like a pendulum.
This sophisticated installation directs forces to the bottom of the car’s structure and away from the passenger cabin, playing an important role in isolating the interior from unwanted engine noise and vibration.
New automatic transmission
A new “smart” five-speed automatic transmission is available, which includes Saab Sentronic, a sequential manual gear selection, and the option of additional steering wheel gear-change controls on the Vector model. The greater manual control offered by Saab Sentronic means that “sport” or “winter” mode settings are no longer required.
This transmission, produced by Asin AW, is adaptive to both the driver and road conditions and is programmed to fully exploit the Saab turbo’s power characteristics. It can sense changes in engine performance, engine load, road gradient or altitude and will quickly find the right gear without any irritating “hunting” between gears. It will also automatically engage neutral when braking to a stop.
For closer driver involvement, the shift lever can be moved across the gate to “manual” Sentronic mode, giving sequential “up” or “down” changes at will with full torque converter lock-up in all five speeds. This process is taken a step further by the option of steering wheel buttons, which bring gear-shifting control right to the driver’s fingertips.
Six-speed manual gearbox
Saab’s transmission plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, is a major supplier of manual gearboxes to General Motors. For the new 9-3, a completely new, six-speed manual gearbox has been designed.
The six-speed will be standard in the Arc and Vector models, and is capable of handling extremely high torque levels, up to 300 lb.-ft. It features improved syncromesh for better gear shifting quality and double output shafts for lightness and compact size. The additional sixth gear is extremely tall for economical, high speed cruising.
Improved manual gear shift
The gear shift quality of the current five-speed transmission is substantially upgraded for the new Saab 9-3 by the adoption of a cable linkage, instead of rods, from the gear lever.
The driver now enjoys a faster gear shift with a much smoother and more positive feel. In combination with the dual mass flywheel, noise resonance and vibration are also reduced. It is another small part of the powertrain team’s mission for improved on-the-road refinement.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus: How Saab “turned the corner”
Saab engineers love to “talk torque,” because it is an engine’s pulling power that defines its true performance. The ability to deliver strong, low-down power has always been an outstanding feature of Saab turbo engines.
It is graphically summed up by that classic “Ayers Rock” torque plateau, depicting the impressive power delivery of Trionic-controlled Saab turbos. Now, instead of Ayers Rock, the torque curve is more like the Houston Astrodome!
Saab experts have succeeded in “turning the corner,” getting rid of that sudden, sheer cliff face. The smoother contour of the dome-shaped curve translates to an engine that’s more progressive, delivering more torque earlier and slightly less later, during pick-up from idle (at just 670 rpm) to 2,000 rpm. Once in the mid-range, towards the crown of “the dome,” it’s business as usual, with no shortage of power!
Trionic 8 brings the turbo in slightly earlier and a clever, electronic sleight of hand is used at low engine revs, very briefly opening the throttle slightly more than requested in order to spool up the turbo quicker. It’s all possible thanks to the drive-by-wire, electronic throttle and the power of the Trionic “brain.”
“The driver communicates with the engine through the accelerator pedal,” says Birger Schlaich, Manager, Powertrain Integration, “and we want to make that experience as precise and pleasant as possible.
“Another good feature for better driveability is the programming of the signal from accelerator pedal itself. At low speeds, there is much more movement for a given amount of power in order to make the car nicer to control, such as when parking and reversing. At higher speeds, less movement is required, and that’s better for a quick response when overtaking, for example,” he added.
“For the new 9-3 we have done a lot of fine tuning such as this to make the behavior of the powertrain as seamless as possible. We are quite pleased with the results.”
Design & Aerodynamics
Distinctive Sport Sedan Styling
• Sporty, coupé-like exterior styling
• Wider body, longer wheelbase gives more spacious cabin
• Distinctive Saab design harmonizes exterior and interior
• Excellent high speed stability, low lift forces, low 0.28 Cd.
“Saab’s design DNA runs right through this car. It looks clean, modern and sporty, combining some traditional Saab styling cues inside and out with the best timeless qualities of Scandinavian design.”
– Michael Mauer, Executive Director, Design
The styling of the new 9-3 clearly positions it as a sport sedan from Saab. The harmonious lines are soft and organic, yet well defined, communicating the car’s sporty character through an impression of power and strength.
The gently arching roofline flows between the steeply raked front and rear windows to create a coupé-like profile. Within this format, the design team has stamped out the car’s distinctive Saab personality by combining sweeping lines and harmonious curves for both the exterior and interior.
Compared to its predecessor, the new car is 2.1 inches wider and benefits from a 2.8-in. longer wheelbase. The shorter front and rear overhangs mean the overall length of the car is similar at 182.5 inches. The more purposeful stance is also reinforced by a small .4-in. (10mm) reduction in ride height.
The swept back, frontal styling clearly establishes the new 9-3’s sporty credentials. The “delta” effect of the Saab grille with its integrated headlamp units steeply angled back is a striking evolution, the rearmost corner of each housing being swept back 17.7 inches behind the center point of the bumper. It is a similar angle to the delta wing in the Saab grille and also matches the traditional wraparound proportions of the windshield.
The finely-proportioned profile of the car also incorporates widely-recognized Saab styling cues: the combined teardrop form of the side windows with a disguised B-pillar; the wedge shape and high waistline culminating in that distinctive “hockey stick” curve into the C-pillar; a single swage line running the entire length of the car and, of course, the oval-shaped door handles.
The new 9-3 becomes the first Saab to incorporate a “monoside” body pressing, the inset mounting of the doors allowing extremely fine shut-line tolerances, giving the car a strong rock-solid appearance, as well as further improving aerodynamic efficiency.
On most variants, the lower ride height is emphasized by the deep, color-keyed side sills and front and rear bumper moldings, making the whole body appear low-slung and close to the ground. The curvature of the wheel arches, with reduced clearances, and the location of the wheels (15-, 16-, or 17-inch) close to the outer edges of the bodywork with negative camber contributes to a more purposeful stance. The new 9-3 Vector’s sporty styling is taken one step further with discreet side sill flares and bumper extensions.
At the rear, the triangular, side cut-out of the light clusters is another Saab design signature, as is the subtle, raised rear lip of the trunk lid first seen on the Saab 9-5 sedan. The rear proportions of car are particularly clean and well-balanced, the horizontal sweep of the rear light clusters providing a counterpoint to the vertical lines of the tail. Apart from a Saab emblem on the hood, the trunk lid carries the car’s only other visible badging: the 9-3 model designation on the left and the engine denomination on the right, flanking the Saab badge.
“The car’s shape is intended to reflect its essential character, which is dynamic and sporty. It also avoids any ‘faddish’ styling, which is not the Saab way and dates very quickly,” explains Aamer Mahmud, Chief Designer, Saab 9-3.
“The coupé-like profile, the teardrop shape of the side windows, the shorter front and rear overhangs and the way the wheels fill out the wheel-arches are all features intended to make this car look like it is moving even when it is standing still,” he added.
The artistically sculptured interior of the new Saab 9-3 provides spacious and comfortable accommodation for four adults. It is larger in a number of key dimensions than that of its predecessor. The use of high-quality materials and the standard of fit and finish is everything you would expect – and more – from a premium-class manufacturer such as Saab.
The generous shoulder width is 3.2-in. wider in the front and 2.6-in. wider for rear passengers. The longer wheelbase means that rear passengers also enjoy a useful 1.5-in. increase in legroom.
The overall design echoes the soft curves and flowing lines of the exterior. In the same way, its unfussy styling is clearly a natural evolution from previous Saab models. The dash fascia layout, the supportive seating, the shape of the door panels and the feel of the tactile, soft-touch controls are all very modern interpretations of classic Saab styling themes. It is a harmonious interior that could only come from Saab.
Attention to detail, so typical of Saab, is everywhere to be seen. The gentle contours in the B-pillar trim are a precise continuation of the lines in the door panels. The rear seat belts are neatly housed just above the rear seatbacks, avoiding unsightly slots in the C-pillars. The LED for the alarm is integrated into the dash-top sun sensor. Even the seat height adjustment levers are coated in a soft-touch plastic finish.
The interior is presented in a choice of parchment or gray tones and three interior specification levels or “Forms”: Linear, Arc and Vector (see Interior Features section for details).
The final shape of the new Saab 9-3 is the product of a close liaison between body stylists and aerodynamicists. Saab’s decision to move from a hatchback shape with a relatively narrow track to a wider sedan format posed a tough challenge to the ingenuity of Chief Aerodynamicist Hakan Danielson and his team. Their mission was to produce a shape that slices through the air as efficiently as possible, giving good high-speed stability, optimized fuel consumption and low wind noise inside the car. The result is an impressive drag coefficient of 0.28, equaling best-in-class performance.
“We have managed to reduce the Cd value by more than 10 percent compared to the old model, even though the increased width of this car means we are punching a bigger hole in the air,” says Danielson.
The team concentrated their efforts on achieving a smooth airflow over, around, through and under the car, paying particular attention to points of flow separation at the rear in order to reduce turbulence, by reducing the size of the car’s wake, and improve stability. The shaping of the side sills and the radius and curvature of the rear corner of the C-pillar also helps reduce drag.
The rear edge of the hood rises to smooth the passage of air over and around the windshield. The team also worked hard to reduce disturbance where the bottom of the rear window joins the trunk deck, a particularly sensitive area in notchback shapes. The subtle upturn of the rear edge of the trunk lid is, in effect, an integral lip spoiler that helps reduce the size of the car’s wake, the area of turbulent air that trails behind the car at speed.
Good airflow management also contributes to keeping the windows of the car as free from road grime as possible. For example, the door mirror casings have a small spoiler-like profile in the bottom surface to reduce contamination of the side windows.
In addition to its excellent low drag shape, the team has made major strides in improving stability. Compared to its predecessor, lift forces at the rear axle – an important determinant of high speed stability, especially under braking – are reduced by an impressive 30 percent. A value of 0.11 Clr (coefficient of rear lift) is again on a par with best in class.
Low wind noise
Special attention has been given to reducing wind noise. The adoption of monoside body pressings, with inset doors and seals, makes a significant contribution. There has also been fine tuning of the A-pillars and door mirrors.
The traditionally deep curvature of the windshield reduces the acceleration of the airflow as it approaches the A-pillars, which have a flattened radius where they connect to the windshield to minimize airflow disturbance. The bottom edge of the door mirror casings is also extended rearwards by .2 inches (5 mm) to further reduce the likelihood of wind noise at speed.
Good airflow management even plays a safety role in the new 9-3. The wraparound rear light clusters have an optimized radius that gives a distinct separation for airflow along the side of the car. However, careful shaping of the angle actually helps the air “turn the corner” first before it separates. The creation of a flow over part of the light clusters has the effect of helping to reduce the build up of road grime, which can impair the visibility of the lights.
Under the car
Airflow underneath the car is becoming an increasingly important area for fine tuning. The forward lower link of the rear suspension has been aerodynamically shaped to reduce wind resistance and minimize the accumulation of road grime on the wheel rims. It is the first time Saab has aerodynamically shaped a suspension part.
Shielding of the ventilated air from the cabin reduces disturbance where it exits behind the rear wheel housing. Airflow under the hood, within the engine bay and at the bottom of the front footwells was also closely scrutinized.
Advanced CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) modeling now replaces a great deal of laborious work in the wind tunnel and also allows faster, more effective communication between project team members. For example, CFD played a vital role in the visualization of airflow and speeded up fine tuning in the wind tunnel.
CFD was also the main tool for optimizing internal airflows: in the engine bay to control heat build-up from the engine and in the passenger compartment for best possible comfort.
Full-scale optimization work was carried out in the wind tunnel at Stuttgart University, using a rolling road. But before that work began, advanced test methods developed by Saab made it possible to test up to 70 different body shapes in one-fifth scale during an eight-hour shift in the tunnel. In this way, aerodynamicists and designers work very closely together and a large number of suggested changes can be investigated to meet aerodynamic targets.
Further wind tunnel testing was also carried out at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) in the United Kingdom and in Detroit, for wind-noise suppression.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus: Handling the Handshake
First impressions are always important. A firm handshake, for example, inspires confidence and that’s what the door handles of the new Saab 9-3 are designed to do. “It’s like meeting someone for the first time,” explains Aamer Mahmud, Chief Designer, Saab 9-3. “The door handle is the first contact a customer has with the car and it should make the right impression.” For Saab that means having a very robust, strong and easy-to-use design. Saab’s signature oval door handles can be gripped easily from the top or bottom, whichever is most comfortable. Women do not risk damaging fingernails, and gloves do not need to be removed. And in the unlikely event of a door being jammed shut in an emergency, a rope or chain can be easily looped around the handle.
“The handles are robust and honest in the Scandinavian way, where form should follow function,” adds Mahmud.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus – Unique Front Wheel Spoiler
“From my point of view, it would be great if the new car was about a foot narrower and six feet longer,” jokes Hakan Danielson. “However, we are designing a road car, not a land-speed-record breaker!”
Behind the jocularity, Danielson makes the point that he can never achieve aerodynamic perfection in the real world. Instead, his team must concentrate their efforts where the return is greatest. As a result, they have developed a unique “two-step” spoiler ahead of the new Saab 9-3’s front wheels. Although subtle, the carefully shaped molding makes a significant contribution to the smoothing the passage of air under the car.
“We have put a lot of work into this area,” says Danielson. “There is a great deal of turbulence around the front wheels and inside the wheel arches. This disrupts the smooth flow of air under the car, so we have carefully shaped the spoiler to lead the air away from these areas, channeling it exactly where we want it to go.
“No one has put as much effort into this feature as we have at Saab, and we are convinced it has been worthwhile. The results in the wind tunnel prove how effective it is.”
• Most extensive systems use of fiber optic technology
• Platform for advanced infotainment systems
• OnStar telematics standard
“The advanced electronic systems in this car give us a powerful platform to accommodate all likely developments in the fast-moving fields of infotainment and e-services.”
– Patrick Lundblad, Infotainment and e-services specialist, new Saab 9-3
All major mechanical and electrical functions in the new 9-3, including numerous driver and passenger comfort features, are precisely and reliably controlled through an advanced digital signal network.
It incorporates the auto industry’s most extensive systems application of fiber optic technology. This provides a signal capacity 50 times greater than the fastest conventional wire links and offers a secure platform for the application of advances in telematics and communications, enabling new 9-3 owners to conveniently install new functions as technology evolves.
The entire electronic and electrical network uses databus transmission – often referred to a “multiplexing” – to connect groups of electrical subsystems and pass on signals from all the car’s sensors. In this way, a CANBUS (Controller Area Network) uses just one or two wires with microprocessors, transistors and LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to replace a complicated wiring harness and all its associated relays, switches and bulbs.
CANBUS technology offers great benefits in weight saving, reliability and data transmission capacity. It is used to connect the new 9-3’s main subsystems: powertrain, chassis, body, “infotainment,” OnStar telematics, and climate and comfort systems.
A battery of sensors are the “nerve endings” of the new 9-3 and the data they provide is dispatched as packages of digital signals, or buses, along three information “highways,” stopping where required at 44 sub-stations, or microprocessors, for analysis and subsequent action. A powerful control module governs each of these highways and their substations; all three integrated with each other to ensure there are no “traffic jams” or conflicting requirements.
If all the functionality of the new 9-3 was to be achieved using a traditional, complex wiring harness, it would weigh twice as much, at least 90 pounds, and be twice as long, at more than 5,000 ft.
A single wire highway, or “low speed” Bus, with a capacity of 33 kbits per second, connects functions within the car: the ignition switch, steering column lock, airbags, the main instrument panel, interior lighting, doors, mirrors, windows, security alarm, gear-shift position and, when equipped, the sunroof, electrically-operated seats and parking assistance.
Powertrain control, the Trionic 8 engine management system, ABS, TCS, ESP and related functions are all connected by a dual wire, ”high speed” Bus, with a transmission capacity 15 times greater at 500 kbits per second.
Fiber optic innovation
The third highway is the largest yet fitted to a passenger car, using fiber optics instead of wire to give a massive capacity of 25 Mbits per second, 50 times greater than that of a dual wire bus. It is utilized by the audio systems, including the available in-dash 6-disc CD changer, and OnStar telematics.
The fast-moving world of information technology is likely to place increasing demands on the in-car time of drivers and passengers, and the new Saab 9-3 is configured to accommodate all likely future developments in digital communication to and from the car.
General Motors’ OnStar telematics service is standard on the Saab 9-3 in the United States and will be available for the European market when the infrastructure is in place.
Utilizing an AMPS phone and GPS tracking, OnStar provides a range of services including 24-hour access to an emergency support center, an automatic alert following airbag deployment and stolen vehicle tracking. Dozens of additional convenience services are also available, such as route guidance, roadside assistance and carrying out numerous information, booking and reservation requests. The OnStar support center can even assist in locating the car in a crowded parking lot by activating its lights and horn. Twelve months of OnStar Safe and Sound program service is included at no charge.
OnStar also offers Personal Calling, a wireless, hands-free phone service, available for an additional usage fee. An additional feature, Virtual Advisor, allows the user to configure and customize Internet-based information services to allow the driver to hear news, weather, sports, or even e-mail using simple voice commands in the car.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus: The Electronic Key?
The Electronic “key” to the new 9-3 is, of course, simply a means of operating a transponder. But what shape should it be? A car ignition key may now look like a credit card or a rubber ball, either using a unique PIN code to initiate a signal or sending a signal through a transponder.
Saab found the answer in a long-held Scandinavian design principle which states that “form should always follow function!”
Using a “credit card” activation key also means pressing a “start” button. It may be fun, but it is not good ergonomics. Two separate movements are not necessary when one traditional “engage” twist, is all that’s needed.
“The design department was involved from the start in deciding the shape of the Electronic key, “ says Saab product marketing specialist Fritz Magnusson . “We have something different which is quite hi-tech but still very ergonomic and easy to use. It is an item the owner can identify with and represents the sophisticated character of the new car. If the car ever has a flat battery, you can simply pull out the metal blade and still get into your car.”
More Space and More Grace
• Focused driver’s environment
• “Profiler” customization function
• High position display
• Three interior “forms” – Linear, Arc, Vector
• “Intelligent” dual-zone automatic climate control
• Advanced infotainment and audio systems
“The interior is designed to be light in appearance. A consistent design theme for the shape and layout of all the controls and displays keeps them well integrated so they are pleasing to the eye.”
– Aamer Mahmud, Chief Designer, Saab 9-3
The new Saab 9-3 is designed to provide superior ergonomics as well as a near perfect driving position for the vast majority of drivers, almost regardless of size, thanks to a carefully formed, multi-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel adjustable for rake and height.
The main instrument panel gently arcs around the driver, an evolution of the same theme in the previous model. In typical Saab fashion, the controls are all logically grouped, those most frequently used bring nearest to the hand and closest to the driver’s natural field of vision. The short gear shift lever is just a hand span away.
The main dials – a large speedometer, with a compressed scale above 90 mph, flanked by a smaller tachometer and a combined fuel/water temperature/turbo boost gauge – are recessed in traditional Saab fashion. They are white on black and continue to be softly illuminated in green as Saab believes this is the best choice for night driving.
Also located in the main instrument panel are twin adjustable air vents and audio or infotainment system with a monochrome display to show numerous functions such as radio presets.
The “Profiler” feature, standard on all models, can store custom settings for a wide range of functions. The system is particularly user friendly, allowing the driver to make selections with a single, rotating button linked to on-screen prompts. The operation of the air conditioning system, including air distribution, fan settings and defrosting; the clock/alarm; speed scale illumination, anti-theft alarm, and optional Saab Parking Assistance, rain sensitive wipers and heated seats can all be tailored in this way.
Saab’s unique Night Panel feature allows the driver to switch off all main instrument illumination at night (except for the speedometer). This helps removes visual “clutter” and potential distraction, allowing the driver to better focus on the road. Gauges will illuminate automatically when needed.
New for Saab is a center-mounted high position display, located in a housing at the top of the dashboard, near the base of the windscreen. For safety reasons, this is as close as possible to the driver’s natural field of vision so that information can be seen without any head movement or much eye re-focusing. The Saab information display (SID) shows local time, outside temperature, radio settings and various warning signals. It also shows information about the Profiler function and the car computer.
As befits a sport sedan, the three-spoke steering wheel is slimmer and sportier than previous Saab designs. It can host buttons for the infotainment system, telephone, and even gear shifting.
A substantial central console below the main instrument panel is inclined slightly towards the driver and sweeps elegantly down between the front seats. It accommodates the air conditioning or automatic climate controls, more minor switchgear, the gear shift lever, ignition switch, handbrake and a large central storage area with smaller, roll-top compartment and cup-holder.
A particularly innovative feature is the “disguised” handbrake, which is integrated in the edging trim of the console. It is a Z-shaped lever, self-adjusting and with a positive, easy-to-use action. On the other side of the console, mirroring the integrated handbrake is a ‘Smart Slot’ detachable sleeve, for further storage of small items.
In true Saab tradition, the ignition switch continues to be located alongside the handbrake, between the front seats. It is now entirely electronic in operation and the customary, mechanical Saab reverse manual gear lock is now replaced by an automatic, electronic steering column lock.
Saab has earned an enviable reputation for class-leading seating comfort and the new Saab 9¬3 continues that tradition. All four seating positions are upholstered to be comfortable and supportive, without being too firm. The front seat lower cushions and backrests are well bolstered to give excellent under thigh and lateral back support.
The seats are clad in soft genuine leather on all models. The Linear features textile door panels, which the Arc and Vector models have leather door panels. The rear of each front seatback is also fully upholstered, including a large storage pocket, and carefully shaped to optimize rear seat leg room.
All four seating positions offer similar standards of comfort. Rear seat passengers in the new 9-3 benefit from with their own adjustable heating/ air vents, reading lights, cup-holders, a center armrest and generous storage facilities.
Saab’s new generation active head restraints (see Safety section for details) are installed in both front seats. The rear head restraints can be folded flat for improved rearward visibility without compromising seat comfort.
Each of the three “forms,” or models, for the new 9-3 is designed to create a distinct ambience or atmosphere inside the car. They can be specified in a “light room” (parchment) or “dark room” (charcoal gray) color scheme for seats, door panels, other main interior trim and carpets. However, the door cappings are always anthracite, as part of their integration with the dash fascia and main instrument panel, and the interior headlining is always off-white.
The line-up starts with the “Linear” form, intended to communicate a Scandinavian understated and modern environment. The seats are leather and door panels are covered in fabric. The door trim inserts and the center console molding for the gear lever are finished in anthracite.
“Arc” adopts real wood veneer and leather to hint at a more luxurious ambience. The seats and door panels are leather and the door trim inserts and center molding are finished in a satin-finish poplar wood.
“Vector” is more progressive and performance-focused. The main instrument display dials are highlighted with a chrome surround. The leather seats are sportier in shape, with more bolstering in the front seat cushions and backrests. The door trim inserts, center molding and steering wheel spokes are finished in matte chrome.
Heating and ventilation
All variants of the new 9-3 are fitted with highly efficient, Saab developed air conditioning systems, either manually or automatically controlled. The variable displacement compressor is programmed to cool only the volume of refrigerant that is required to maintain a temperature setting, thus eliminating unnecessary and wasteful running.
Both systems draw air into the interior through an extremely dense, chemically-charged filter which, for manually-controlled air conditioning, can extract dust, pollen and particles as small as three microns in size. For automatic systems, the filter also prevents odors from entering the cabin. Rear passengers benefit from adjustable, twin air vents at the rear of the central console, as well as outlets under the front seats.
The manual air conditioning is standard on the Linear model and is operated through familiar rotary controls. The automatic climate control, standard on Arc and Vector, is fully programmable and dual zone, allowing different temperatures to be selected for the left and right sides of the car, as first seen in the Saab 9-5.
The system is now taken a step further in the new 9-3 by incorporating an automatic airflow balance control, which compensates for changing conditions outside the car, such as the effects of direct sunlight or shade. A sensor at the base of the windscreen detects the position of the sun and the intensity of sunlight reaching the car. A balance control program is then activated, directing airflow inside as required so that passenger comfort levels remain constant.
The heated front seats now also benefit from an automatic temperature control, which will progressively lower seat temperatures as the interior warms up. Like the ACC system, this function can be pre-programmed using the Profiler customization menu.
The new Saab 9-3 benefits from one of the most powerful electronics systems to be installed in a series production car (see Electronics section for full details). Fiber optics are used to provide a high speed platform for the car’s extensive “infotainment” (communication and entertainment) functions, the first time this technology has been used in the automotive industry for a complete network. It is capable of handling likely future requirements in the fast-developing field of infotainment and driver communication, making it easy for owners to upgrade.
The cabin of the new 9-3 sets new standards for Saab in terms of interior refinement and noise suppression and it has allowed technicians to take audio acoustics to a new level. The interior is designed to provide excellent acoustics, regardless of seating position, and the new 9-3 offers a choice of two modular audio systems which can be changed or upgraded easily.
The ES1 system, standard with Linear specification, includes a 150-watt amplifier integral with the radio, single-slot CD, seven speakers and a single antenna integrated in the rear window. Redundant steering wheel controls provide easy tuning or volume adjustment.
The ES2 system, standard for the Arc and Vector models and optional on Linear, includes an additional, external amplifier (total system, 300 watts), 13 speakers, radio, in-dash 6xCD changer and telephone keypad. Sound quality is nothing less than outstanding.
Storage and load-carrying
Although the new Saab 9-3 is a sport sedan, in the practical tradition of all Saab products, it offers excellent on-board storage and load-carrying facilities.
There are more than a dozen places in the passenger compartment where various items can be stowed. Up front, there are two good-sized door bins; a large air-conditioned glove compartment (cooled to 46°F); two pouches at the front of the lower seat cushions; The multi-functional central concole incorporates coin slots and a 12-volt outlet for a battery charger within the main storage compartment under the arm-rest, as well as that input socket for an MP3 player and the roll-top compartment with a cup-holder. The Smart Slot provides convenient storage for items such as credit cards, pencils and a small wallet or notebook. A CD disc holder, cup-holder and ice scraper are available as accessory items for this feature.
Rear-seat passengers are also well served. In addition to the two door bins, there are large pockets in the front seatbacks and a flat storage area in the center armrest. A double cup-holder is also spring-mounted in the front of the center lower seat cushion.
The trunk is deep and tall with a wide opening and an ample 14.8 cu.ft. capacity. Two pull handles in the top of the trunk lower the 60/40 split rear seat-back, which includes a ski-hatch, to give a flexible and impressive load-carrying potential. The floor of the trunk also has four tie-down loops to safely secure heavy items.
New Saab 9-3 in Focus – World’s most advanced cupholder!
Most of the work of Saab engineers is, of course, a serious matter. But once in a while an opportunity comes along where they can indulge a creative extravagance. Designing the “ultimate” cupholder was just such an occasion.
The cupholder in the front of the Saab 9-5, which automatically swivels through 90 degrees from a vertical position, has earned wide acclaim for the beauty of its design. Indeed, one journalist from a leading UK national newspaper was so moved by its dynamics that he likened it to watching a Saab Gripen fighter jet rolling out of formation and lowering its undercarriage before coming in to land!
So when it came to designing a dashboard cupholder for the new car, the Saab team was determined to do something special as their “encore.” The result is “the Butterfly.” Here there are two separate movements in different directions, one for the base and one for the retaining hoop (the “wings” of the butterfly), both hinged from one arm. The highly geared action of the wings opening and closing as the arm moves in and out is, indeed, impressive to behold.
“It is, perhaps, a little over the top,” concedes interior safety engineer Richard Lindstrand, who coordinated the Butterfly’s development. “A number of us in the project team wanted to do something a bit special and most of the design work was, in fact, done in our own time. It really was a group effort and we like to think the Butterfly will bring a smile to the faces of a few people.”
Body Structure & Systems
Built on a Solid Foundation
• New standards in torsional rigidity
• New jointing technique adds strength
• Second-generation “crash boxes” prevent body damage
• Aluminum hood
• Unique halogen headlamps
• Bi-xenon headlamps
• Powerful windshield washing system
“This is the strongest structure we’ve ever produced. It was developed in close cooperation with the design, chassis and safety departments who all had their own specific requirements.”
– Kerry Andersson, Project Leader, body in white
The body structure of the new 9-3 Sport Sedan is the stiffest yet produced by Saab engineers and it is the solid foundation on which the car’s exemplary handling, ride and safety characteristics are built.
The use of high-grade steels, laser welding, and galvanizing of all external components and advanced joint techniques has produced an extremely strong and durable body. Effective “crash boxes” in the front bumper help to minimize body damage in low-speed impacts, up to approximately 9 mph.
The power of the lighting system, which includes the option of bi-xenon headlamps, as well as the efficiency of the windshield wipers and washing systems continue to uphold Saab’s reputation for safety.
An exceptional level of structural stiffness was a top priority in the design of the new 9-3. It is high torsional rigidity that helps give that reassuring rock-solid feel, which is communicated every time a door is closed or the car negotiates a poor road surface. And it makes a major contribution to eliminating squeaks and rattles, vibrations and resonances.
A stiff body is also a prerequisite for the work of chassis engineers. The car’s handling can only be effectively honed through its suspension and steering if the structure on which all these components exert force is solid and predictable.
Finally, but probably most importantly, the car’s ability to withstand a heavy impact is largely due to the strength of its passenger compartment and the ability of the structure’s crumple zones to help prevent energy from reaching it.
A four-door sedan body is inherently stronger than a five-door hatchback format because there is no large rear tailgate opening. This design, and advances in technology, contributes to the 9-3’s exceptional torsional rigidity of 5,000 lbs. per degree of deflection, which is more than double that of its predecessor. To put that figure into perspective, the body structure is as strong as a meter-long rod, fixed at one end, that would bend just one degree under the weight of fully-laden large car – or a small elephant – placed on the other end!
The Saab design team has adopted unique bracings above the rear wheel housings to provide a structure that is more than a match for premium-class competitors, despite some potential loss of stiffness through having the versatility of a split/folding rear seat.
While 59 percent of the new 9-3’s body weight is composed of high-strength or ultra-high-strength steel, a far more important consideration is how all the elements – 332 structural body parts are used in the new 9-3 – are connected. In other words, how they interact in sharing the load-bearing task. The strength of a good design is far more than simply the sum of its parts.
The body of the new 9-3 is essentially a monocoque construction fabricated from beams and pressings. Saab structural engineers have used CAD techniques and finite element data models with a resolution of up to 500,000 cells representing the new 9-3’s structure.
Special attention was devoted to the design of seams and joints. It is pointless using high-strength steel for different sections if the technique used to join them together is not at least as strong. For example, there are no joints at any of the corners of the safety cage, where stresses are likely to be greatest. Instead, joints between beams are carefully welded in place with overlaps of at least 20 mm on straight sections.
In order to be sure that extra strength does not necessarily mean extra weight, Saab engineers have made great use of new technology in using “tailored blanks” for large structural components. For example, the two main bearers that extend from the front of the car to the rear bulkhead are made from pressings of high-strength steel. These are produced in different thicknesses, according to the localized loading demands at any point in the car’s structure. The extra strength or weight is located only where it is required.
Both front and rear bumper assemblies are designed to be “self-repairing,” in that they can absorb impacts up to 5 mph, minimizing damage and the need for repair. The bumper “skin” is simple and quick to replace after a minor collision – a very practical benefit in minimizing the nuisance and cost of “parking lot” incidents.
For higher speeds, Saab was first to introduce deformable “crash boxes” behind the front bumper on the second generation Saab 900 in 1993. These are intended to absorb and contain relatively low-speed impact forces in order to prevent damage to more expensive bodywork components.
Other manufacturers have now adopted crash boxes, and in the new Saab 9-3 the technique is perfected still further. More than 100 computer simulations were carried out to ensure their effectiveness – a testimony to the extreme attention to detail that went into finalizing the new 9-3’s structures.
The finished design is a hexagon shape with a conical profile and “accordion” sections that are designed to protect the structure of the car, including its front body panels, from damage in impacts up to about 9 mph. The boxes are now also bolted, instead of welded, to the front beam to make their replacement even easier.
Where there are no structural demands, Saab engineers were able to consider the further use of weight-saving materials. For the new 9-3, they have adopted aluminum for the hood, saving 50 percent or 20 lbs. in weight compared to steel. It is also slightly stiffer and more resistant to dents.
The design of the trunk lid was also the subject of detailed research and the solution adopted is typically Saab. For users of the new 9-3 to be able to exploit the load carrying capabilities of a 60/40 folding seat, it was important that trunk opening be as large as possible. That is why the design team chose “swan neck” hinges for the once-piece trunk lid.
The use of a more conventional strut and multi-link pivot arrangement would have resulted in an unacceptable 4-inch, or 15 percent, reduction in opening width. The compact, spring-loaded “swan-neck” hinges, in fact, provide an even easier, almost weightless opening and closing action.
The doors are inset-mounted, as part of the monoside body pressing. With substantial ultra-high-strength steel reinforcements, they play an important occupant protection role. A particular feature of note is the way the bottom edge of the door frame overlaps and interlocks with the strong, reinforced side sills. This allows the doors to spread heavy impact forces by enlisting the support of stronger sections of the body.
The strong lighting performance of Saab cars is widely acclaimed, serving as an integral element in Saab’s overall safety initiative.
The headlamps of the new 9-3 are housed within neatly integrated units. These are now molded clear plastic, which is lighter and less prone to stone chips, cracking and condensation than glass.
The standard equipment headlamps use halogen bulbs behind projector units for excellent illumination. In order to meet demanding Saab requirements, the reflector surfaces are uniquely made by the supplier, Hella, from magnesium, instead of the commonly used steel, which allows more complex shaping for better lighting performance.
New 9-3 customers can also go one step further by specifying exceptionally powerful bi-xenon lights, an option for all variants. These gas-discharge bulbs give an extremely bright, much whiter light than halogen units. Saab is among the first manufacturers to offer this technology for both low- and high-beam – hence the term, bi-xenon. Where a normal halogen bulb will emit 1,500 lumens of lighting, a xenon unit will give 3,200 lumens, more than twice as much power, giving a 60 percent better spread of light.
The effective control of such a powerful beam is essential for the benefit of fellow road users, as well as the driver, which is why the bi-xenon lights have a dynamic, self-leveling function. Under acceleration or braking, sensors detect body motion at the front of the car, and electric motors in the headlamp units automatically adjust the height of the beam to compensate for any changes in level.
The performance of the headlamps, no matter how powerful, is badly compromised if the lens becomes covered with dirt or road film. For the new 9-3, powerful spray jets with 50 psi (3.5 bar) of pressure are activated with the windshield washers, to help keep the plastic unitsclean. These automatically retract when not in use.
At the rear of the car, the single fog light automatically disconnects when the ignition is switched off, an added precaution to prevent it being inadvertently left on when no longer necessary.
The high, center-mount rear brake light is now an LED unit, as tests show this illuminates more quickly than a conventional bulb, giving a more efficient warning signal.
Cleaning power for visibility
Keeping a clear windshield is vital for driving safety. The 9-3’s large wipers are linked to three pairs of powerful washer jets, all working at 50 psi (3.5 bar) pressure, twice the power of most other systems on the market.
The wipers are two-speed with an infinitely variable intermittent wipe. An automatic rain-sensing operation is available as an option, including driver adjustment for sensitivity.
In true Saab tradition, the 1.3-gallon washer reservoir is exceptionally large, with two liters more capacity than normal. User trials show that jets working at such high pressure do not, in fact, require more washer fluid because they are generally used in shorter bursts.
Safety Optimized for the Real World
• Improved safety cage and deformable structures
• More “Real life” crash configurations
• Second Generation Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
• Side curtain airbags for certain side and severe frontal impacts
• Sophisticated sensing for airbag/seatbelt pretensioner deployment
• Excellent driving safety with EBD, CBC and ESP
“This is a car loaded with safety. We have incorporated some of the most effective features in the marketplace today.”
– Per Lenhoff, Head of Crash Safety Development
Saab has a long tradition of successful work with car safety. But the pursuit of improved safety is a never-ending quest. The design of an all-new car, such as the new Saab 9-3, has given engineers a great opportunity to apply some of the lessons of real life, raising their safety benchmark ever higher. As a result, the new Saab 9-3 is expected to be one of the safest cars in the world.
For Saab, car safety involves two key areas: crash safety (often called passive safety) and driving (or active) safety. The new 9-3 features important advances in both.
Crash impact resistance benefits from a number of structural systems first seen on the larger 9-5 model, and the introduction of new occupant protection measures, including second generation Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) and Side Curtain Airbags. Front and side impact sensing is more precise, and the deployment of counter-measures, such as the dual stage front airbags and seatbelt pretensioners, is more occupant-friendly.
Greatly improved chassis dynamics, including steering, brakes and suspension, keep the driver even more in control and, therefore, better able to avoid a crash. Driving safety is advanced still further by the availability of EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and optional ESP (Electronic Stability Program). These systems are described in the Chassis section.
More “Real-Life” crash configurations
Saab crash tests are designed to replicate what happens in real crashes on real roads, based on the findings of Saab’s own database covering more than 6,000 real-life accidents involving Saab cars.
The structural design and counter-measure deployment of the new 9-3 is, therefore, designed for real-life safety. It has been evaluated in dozens of different crash configurations, which take occupants of all sizes into consideration and is a record number for Saab in a new model development program.
Prototype tests are carried out in the laboratory and outdoors in a wide range of speeds and configurations including, frontal car-to-car, moose impact, frontal under-ride, side swipe, truck-to-car side impacts and roll-overs.
Advanced crash simulations, using finite element methods (FEM), help find the right solutions before any prototypes are built. Support by simulation is used throughout the development process for structural design, as well as for tuning the occupant protection systems, such as seatbelts and airbags.
Saab’s strongest -yet steel safety cage is designed to help protect the passenger compartment. It is fabricated from high-strength steel with most sections completely closed for additional strength, and all joints are designed to help prevent tearing under severe impacts.
The front and rear crumple zones are made up of carefully shaped steel members designed to absorb, distribute and deflect as much impact energy as possible to help more effectively shield the passenger compartment.
Three distinct load paths on each side of the front structure channel impact forces through the front sub-frame, along the longitudinal members and through the upper rail. The longitudinal members have large sections that extend right through the floor of the car to the rear seat area.
The three load paths are connected transversally via cross-members, the most important of which is the bumper beam. This is made from boron alloy steel with a very high yield strength. This highly effective design is a development of the system first seen on the 9-5. The beam is designed to spread impact forces across the front structure, allowing acontrolled and predictable deformation, almost regardless of the point of impact.
For side impact protection, Saab engineers have developed the B-pillar, side sills and door beams to behave as a single, integrated structure, designed to deform in a controlled and predictable way. A key part of this strategy is the “pendulum” movement for the B-pillar, a concept also used on the 9-5.
In effect, the B-pillar is “hinged” from the roof rail of the safety cage. It has highly strengthened upper and middle sections so that, in an impact, it is designed to bend inwards at the bottom, deflecting lateral forces downwards towards the floor, away from the more sensitive occupant head and chest areas. The door beams support this structure and the bottoms of the doors also interlock with the reinforced side sills to allow the whole side structure to play a load-sharing role.
The door beams also have a major load-carrying function in side impacts with narrow objects, such as a tree, when the B-pillar is not engaged.
At the rear, two more longitudinal members are designed to buckle and deform downwards in a two-phase action. In rear-end impacts, they are designed to dissipate impact energy towards the lower C-pillar area and at the same time also force the spare wheel, mounted flat in the trunk, to rotate to a more vertical position for additional rear passenger protection.
The fuel tank is mounted low down in front of the rear axle, far away from any point of impact. Saab has long experience in working with safety regarding fuel system integrity.
Second generation Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
Crash investigation findings have already demonstrated the effectiveness of the innovative Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) in helping to protect front-seat occupants against neck injury, one of the most common forms of injury.
Now Saab has developed a “second generation” version for even faster activation in rear impacts at lower speeds. The head restraint is activated as soon as the lower back is pressed into the seatback by the occupant’s inertia during a rear impact.
The restraint is fixed to the top of a frame inside the seatback, which pivots at its mid point. As the occupant’s lower back comes into contact with the bottom of the seatback, the upper half of the frame carrying the head restraint moves forward in the opposite direction. In this way, the occupant’s head movement during a rear-end impact is minimized, helping to prevent neck injury.
The SAHR system is entirely mechanical and, after activation, the restraint automatically springs back to its passive position ready for further use. It is designed to give adequate protection, even if the adjustable restraint is set at an incorrect height. Although for best protection, it should always be adjusted to the prescribed height directly behind the occupant’s head.
Side Curtain Airbags
The new 9-3 becomes the first Saab to include a roof-mounted airbag. It can play an important function throughout an entire crash sequence and is programmed to deploy in severe frontal, as well as side, impacts.
The Side Curtain is installed from the A to the C-pillar, up in the interior headlining above the side windows, and offers head protection to both front- and rear-seat occupants. To improve cushion kinematics during inflation, it is activated from the B-pillar area. The airbag remains inflated for up to 3 seconds in order to help prevent a passenger’s head from striking the A-, B-, or C-pillar, or exterior objects, during the course of an impact sequence. In side impacts, it is activated together with seat-belt pretensioning and the seat-mounted thorax side airbag. It is also deployed in severe frontal impacts, where stage 2 activation of the front airbags is used.
For improved impact sensing, there are now two side-impact sensors in each side of the new 9-3, one in the sill near the B-pillar and the other in the lower part of the C-pillar. These sensors measure acceleration rates and a decision on airbag deployment is taken by the central sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) in a few milliseconds.
Adaptive front airbags
Dual stage, front airbags are revised for a more occupant-friendly deployment in frontal impacts. Two sensors in the front bumper beam detect impact severity, a sensor in the seat track communicates seating positions and a switch in each front seatbelt buckle indicates whether or not the belt is being worn. All this data is sent to the centrally located SDM, which within milliseconds, chooses between activation of the seatbelt pretensioners alone, or in combination with a single or two-stage inflation of the airbags. In a severe impact, where stage 2 of the front airbag is used, the Side Curtain Airbag will also deploy for additional head protection.
A crash with a relatively low level of impact energy would, for example, require less airbag pressure and, therefore, a slower rate of inflation than a more severe, high-energy impact. Likewise, a short driver sitting close to the steering wheel or a front passenger sitting close to the dash fascia would also benefit from a softer, lower pressure inflation.
Conversely, if the occupant is not wearing a seatbelt, the system also takes this into consideration. In this way, the airbags can be deployed differently for the driver and passenger, depending on their requirements.
Seatbelt load limiter and reminder system
Despite the use of airbags, seatbelts are still the single most important occupant restraint system. Three-point belts are used on all five seating positions.
For all outboard occupants there are belt pretensioners and load-limiting functions to remove belt slack and to help reduce belt loads in severe crashes. The pretensioner is mounted on the belt retractor and is activated by a signal from the airbag sensing system, igniting a small pyrotechnic charge that retracts the belt.
The load-limiting function consists of a torsion bar inside the retractor that, at a pre¬determined load level, will start to deform and thus reduce the belt load.
Saab has used a seatbelt reminder function since 1974, and to further inform customers of the importance of belt usage, a more advanced system is now introduced. This system uses tell¬tales and warning sounds, based on speed and time to independently remind the driver and the front passenger when they are not wearing their seatbelts.
A great deal of expertise has gone into designing the interior surfaces and materials to be “occupant-friendly” in a collision or rollover. In particular, the front areas of the cabin near the knee and lower leg, the headlining and all pillar linings are well bolstered to help prevent occupant injury.
In the foot area, protective padding reduces the risk of foot injuries and the driver’s pedals are designed to break away in a severe impact. The steering column and steering wheel are energy absorbing also.
Passenger safety is the main reason why door armrests and inner door handles are always recessed inside a Saab. It is also one of the reasons why the new 9-3 retains Saab’s traditional floor-mounted ignition switch, well away from sensitive knee and leg areas.
Another Saab tradition in passenger safety is the importance of ensuring good protection against the hazard of shifting loads. The split-fold rear seatback has been carefully engineered for strength in this area, and robust tie-down loops are also installed on the floor of the trunk to help secure cargo.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus: Non-stop, stop lights!
If one of the rear stop lights fails, driving safety will be not be compromised, thanks to a dual function built into the rear lights.
The stop light function – extra light intensity whenever the brake pedal is pushed – is programmed into the outer of the two light bulbs in each rear light cluster. If this bulb fails, the brake light function is not lost because it is automatically switched to the other bulb. This is possible because the usual voltage restriction (13.3 > 6.3v), which is lifted whenever the brake pedal is pushed, is applied to both bulbs. Normal service is automatically resumed when the broken bulb is replaced.
Security and Convenience
A Secure and Comforting Environment
•Advanced anti-theft, anti-intrusion measures
•Highly rated by insurance companies
•Designed for sophisticated immobilization, anti-theft and alarm systems
•Useful comfort and convenience functions
“For today’s customers, good car security is almost as important as safety. We have now taken the opportunity to arm our car with safeguards designed to tell any would-be thief not to bother.”
– Lars Evensson, Project Leader, Security
The new 9-3 is, quite simply, the most secure Saab ever built. Its defense system enlists an arsenal of anti-theft devices that includes almost all practical technologies that are currently available. Security is focused on preventing the car being stolen or vandalized.
With security comes comfort, and there are also a host of features to ensure the new 9-3 is easy, convenient and rewarding in everyday use.
Highly rated by insurers
Representatives of leading insurance companies in Sweden and elsewhere have been consulted throughout the development of security systems for the new 9-3. They were asked what they believe to be the most effective measures available, as well as examining and assessing the car’s security performance.
The front door is fitted with a “freewheeling” lock cylinder, which is designed to immediately disengage from the door unlocking mechanism if any device other than the correct key attempts to force it open. Efficient “shielding” of the locks inside the doors also prevents tampering with specialist tools.
Even if a thief were to gain entry, there would be little point in removing any of the car’s “infotainment” equipment. Apart from being uniquely designed to fit only a Saab car, they are electronically ”married” to their original host car. They could only function in another Saab after being re-programmed at a Saab dealer.
Prevention of car theft
To help prevent the car itself being stolen, the immobilizer system uses both an electrical steering column lock and disablement of the engine management system.
When the ignition key is inserted in the floor-mounted switch, a remote sends a signal to a control unit, which then communicates with all systems in the car through the central integrated control module. The “start” message is encrypted in a complex, rolling code from the key’s transponder, which would take an estimated eight years to “crack” in the unlikely event that a would-be thief could make the correct electronic connections.
Further measures have also been taken to combat the so-called professional thief who may be stealing a car with high technology. Barriers have been put in place to help protect the car’s electronic systems from digital intrusion with illegal scanning devices.
As the car’s original key is such a vital component in the chain of security precautions, confidential measures are put in place at Saab dealers to help ensure there is no fraudulent issue of a replacement or duplicate key.
As a further back-up to the car’s perimeter security features, an advanced alarm system is standard equipment on U.S.-specification Saabs. This engages a siren and flashing lights to discourage anyone from entering or trying to move the car.
The alarm will be activated if any illegal attempt is made to open the hood, trunk lid or any of the doors. Inside the car, an extremely sensitive ultrasonic beam is designed to detect any movement, including pieces of flying glass or an arm reaching inside following a break-in.
For greater personal security, the car’s alarm can also be activated by pressing a “panic” button on the car’s remote control/ignition key, or by pressing and holding the interior central locking button on each front door.
Comfort and convenience
A range of features are designed to enrich the experience of driving and traveling in the new 9-3. Although often small refinements, they can make a significant contribution to developing a rewarding, interactive relationship between the car and its owner.
“Smart” door mirrors
A typical Saab innovation is the button for tilting the mirrors down. This function normally operates automatically when reverse gear is engaged. But it can be just as useful to tilt one or other mirror when going forwards, following a curb or low wall, for example. A push of the button gives you the choice in the new 9-3.
Remote window and sunroof operation
In many circumstances, it can be useful to remotely close or open the windows, and even the sunroof, after leaving the car. This can now be done simply by holding down the lock/unlock button on the remote control unit.
For example, this function makes it possible to close a window or sunroof that has been inadvertently left down, or it can serve as final check that the windows are fully closed. Likewise, the windows and sunroof can be opened, or set to a desired position, to let heat out of the car.
Variable speedometer illumination
The Night Panel feature allows all main dashboard illumination – except for the speedometer – to be switched off when driving at night. The Profiler function also enables the driver to restrict illumination of the speed scale to the range, 0-90 mph. It will, of course, automatically illuminate if these speeds are exceeded.
Variable heating for the front seats
The thermostat for the heated front seats can be set at one of three temperatures (91, 98.6 or 107°F) by simply pressing the relevant button once, twice or three times. The setting can also be permanently stored via the Profiler function.
“Intelligent” windshield washing
When the windshield is washed at speeds under 12 mph, the wipers will automatically make an additional sweep after an eight-second delay in order to clear the windshield of residual streaks.
Washer fluid saver
When there is less than one liter left in the washer fluid reservoir, the headlamp washer function will automatically de-activate in order to prioritize washing of the windshield.
Vertical wiper parking
If you want to cover the windshield – to prevent frosting up when parking outside or to help keep the interior cool in hot weather – the wipers can be parked in a vertical position by removing the key fob and pressing the wiper control stalk once.
Automatic air recirculation
To avoid the unpleasant smell of detergent in the windshield washer system entering the interior, the air conditioning can be programmed (through an authorized dealer) to briefly switch to “recirculation mode” whenever the driver operates the washer system via the stalk control.
“Lead me to the car” lighting
When approaching the car, a simple blip of the remote control unit will turn on the exterior and main interior lights. With a range of up to 65 ft., this feature can help identify the car at night in a crowded parking lot, illuminate the immediate surroundings and discourage anyone from attempting to enter the car when it is being opened.
A bright welcome always awaits the driver, courtesy of automatic soft footwell lighting, with “theater” dimming, and “puddle lights” in the bottom of the front doors to illuminate the ground outside. Likewise, at night the main interior light will switch on when the ignition key is removed so the occupants are never left completely in the dark.
“Follow me home” lighting
When leaving the car at night, one press of the lighting stalk will keep the headlights on for 30 seconds. This is a useful aid for walking up the drive to the door or when parking in an unfamiliar area.
Saab Enters Premium Compact Sport Sedan Segment
•First Saab in premium, compact sport sedan segment
•Focused on involving, “fun to drive” experience
•Sedan format broadens appeal
•Saab customer profile analysis
•Saab Unlimited customer focus
“The new Saab 9-3 is for modern, youthful professionals who are independent thinkers. They want a great driving experience and a car that sets them apart from the mainstream.”
– Knut Simonsson, Brand Director, Saab Automobile
The new Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan places Saab head-to-head against the established players within the premium compact sport sedan sector, offering a new, alternative, more self-expressive choice.
The new 9-3 will see Saab compete for the first time with a four-door sedan in the growing entry luxury, or compact, segment where it will be targeted at youthful, professional and business-oriented customers who want to enjoy a product offering sporty, dynamic performance without following the crowd.
In replacing the three and five-door bodystyles of the previous model, the new 9-3 Sport Sedan spearheads the biggest model roll-out program in Saab’s history. The launch of a four-door sedan format is the first stage in the creation of a bold, new family of cars, each model adopting a unique bodystyle and focused on the particular requirements of a different niche in the market.
Putting sporty appeal first
A key requirement in the design brief for Saab’s new sport sedan was the development of a clear “fun-to-drive” appeal; to deliver a rewarding experience with a high level of driver involvement.
Designed and built from “the driver outwards,” the new 9-3 gives Saab’s traditional philosophy a new focus. The outstanding qualities of the chassis, the refined performance of the turbocharged powertrain and the driver-orientated cabin are integrated as never before. The more sophisticated and involving driving experience sets a new benchmark for the brand.
It is a formula aimed at winning new “conquest” customers from other premium-class brands, as well as appealing to existing customers and those aspiring to move up from the “volume” sector of the market.
The development program for the new 9-3 has included the most intensive benchmarking process ever undertaken by Saab. The performance of key competitor products was compared across a wide range of parameters including: handling, ride, steering, braking, powertrain performance and refinement, interior functionality and ergonomics, build and materials quality, comfort and, of course, safety. The performance of the new Saab 9-3 in all these areas is designed to exceed, or at least equal, the best in the sector. Overall, it promises to set a new standard for the class.
Targeted customers are 30 to 40 year-old professionals. The new 9-3 is designed to appeal to a growing proportion of the market who want a sport sedan that is more distinctive, yet less ostentatious, than other products in the segment.
The typical Saab owner in the U.S. differs slightly from the segment averages. They are more likely to be female, married, have a graduate degree, and a higher household income.
Saab Owner Entry Luxury Segment Average
Married 72% 65%
College graduate 86% 70%
Post-graduate 43% 33%
Annual HHI $135,870 $111,405
Gender split 51% female 49% female
In the U.S., the qualities buyers require from a premium product, regardless of brand, can be summed up as: exterior style, reliability, fun to drive, manufacturer reputation, and safety.
In adopting a sedan format, Saab is confident that the appeal of the new 9-3 will be significantly broadened. Research shows that there are many more potential customers for a premium sedan than there are for a premium hatchback. The product range is structured to appeal to each of its target customer groups.
The range-topping 210-hp 2.0T Arc and Vector variants are expected to provide a highly-competitive alternative to current products from the established segment leaders. For the first time in the 9-3 segment, Saab combines the widely-acclaimed performance of its turbocharged engines with a sport sedan bodystyle.
For those moving up into the premium sector from a wide number of “volume” manufacturers, the Linear variant, with 175-hp 2.0 turbo engine, focuses on an attractive value while maintaining superior performance, safety, and impressive standard equipment content.
For current 9-3 owners, the new range is an opportunity to enjoy Saab’s latest technology, promising a significant step forward as a more sophisticated and much stronger, even more fun-to-drive automobile.
The new Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan offering addresses the entry luxury customer preferences. The entry luxury segment market is dominated by four-door sedans – with 98 percent of sales coming from that bodystyle. Over 75 percent of intenders prefer a four-door sedan compared to only 16 percent selecting a hatchback.
Saab’s entry into the premium, compact sport sedan segment is being complemented by the development of a new marketing and retail strategy, Saab Unlimited.
At the start of sales, 300 dealerships in major markets around the world will have been upgraded and appointed in prime locations as Unlimited Partners. The branded style of these facilities and the services provided will meet the highest standards of customer care.
At a small number of prestigious, cosmopolitan locations, there will also be City Centers, aimed at taking the Saab brand out to where potential customers work, travel, shop or simply socialize. These sites are designed to give Saab optimum exposure as shop windows for the brand.
Ownership and Accessories
Owning and Enjoying the New Saab 9-3
• Extended anti-corrosion warranty
• 30 percent reduction in scheduled servicing costs
• Low-speed accident damage protection
• Favorable insurance ratings
• Large design and lifestyle-oriented accessory range
“This car will be as rewarding to own, operate and live with as it will be to drive.”
– Thomas Lindskog, Executive Director, Aftersales
The improved build and materials quality throughout the new Saab 9-3 is reflected in a longer anti-corrosion warranty and a substantially reduced cost of ownership, including lower servicing and insurance costs.
Good serviceability, improving the cost and convenience of ownership, was the main focus of the “Aftersales” group, which communicated with the project team throughout the new 9-3’s development.
In addition, an exclusive range of accessories is available from launch, giving owners a wider scope to enjoy the full potential of the new car.
Extended anti-corrosion warranty
The anti-corrosion warranty, covering body perforation, is extended from six to 10 years, a result of Saab’s confidence in under-body joint and sealant treatments and new electro-galvanizing procedures.
The body-in-white is prepared, sealed, galvanized, primed and painted at Saab’s expanded paint shop, one of the most modern in Europe, where quality standards are considered to be class-leading. All primer and paints are water-based, except for the final clear lacquer finish.
Reduced servicing costs
Longer service intervals and reduced workshop times for the new 9-3 are designed to give scheduled maintenance savings of up to 30 percent compared to its predecessor.
The excellent quality of major mechanical components, due to better machining and finer tolerances, has allowed Saab to move away from rigid time and distance restrictions for scheduled servicing. It is now more important to monitor how the vehicle is actually used by its owner.
The engine management system logs key usage parameters, such as the number of cold starts, journey distance and engine speeds used, and applies an algorithm to inform the driver when an oil change is due. The maximum service interval is now every two years, or 15,000 miles. At any time, the driver can also request notification of when the next change is due.
With engine coolant filled and sealed for life, the only other major service items for the new 9-3 are brake/clutch fluid, spark plugs, the interior air filter and tires.
Quicker repairs, lower insurance
Saab engineers have worked closely with representatives of leading insurance companies to introduce ways of minimizing accident repair bills, as well as improving vehicle security and anti-theft protection. It is hoped that this close liaison will result in highly competitive insurance classifications and lower premiums.
A number of design elements in the outer body will make accident and other repairs easier and faster. For example, electrical wiring and connection points are routed and located away from areas more vulnerable to crash impacts, making repairs easier as well as improving safety. For example, there is just one connection point between the engine and main wiring harness and this is in a well-protected position behind the battery.
Low-speed frontal collision protection, through “self-repairing,” energy-absorbing bumpers (for impacts up to 5 mph) and deformable “crash boxes” (for impacts up to 9 mph), now bolted in position for quick replacement, helps protect the body structure from serious damage that would require expensive repair. The front fenders are also bolted to the main structure to make removal and replacement easier and less time-consuming.
Accessories tailor-made for individuality
True to its tradition as a sporty and multi-dynamic brand, Saab is launching the new 9-3 with the large range of accessories, available through Saab dealerships. These include new sporty performance items, and practical and lifestyle-oriented accessories.
For a more distinctive look, inside or out, there are a number of sporty design enhancements. Exterior items include: front spoiler, rear spoiler, sill extensions, fog lights, sport exhaust and a range of alloy wheels up to 18 inches. For the interior, there are poplar wood or alloy trim inserts for the doors and the gear shift lever and housing, manual or automatic. Saab’s leather/wood steering wheel continues to be offered as an accessory.
“Lifestyle” accessories are designed to support new 9-3 owners in the enjoyment of their leisure pursuits. They include: cycle, ski, snowboard, surfboard, canoe and kayak holders; roof rack, roof cage and roof boxes and removable or fixed tow bars. Cargo mats, luggage boxes, cargo nets and fold-out rear bumper scratch protectors are also available.
Comfort and security
Pre-wiring facilitates the addition of entertainment and communications equipment. Owners can purchase a hands-free phone kit, CD changer, a pedal extension kit and a range of engine heaters. A first-aid kit, spare-bulb kit and towing line are also available.
New Saab 9-3 In Focus: Creating Space
Extra storage room inside a car is always welcome and in the new 9-3, Saab designers have ‘created’ space in an unlikely place, the Smart Slot, opposite that ‘hidden’ handbrake between the front seats which can be used for holding credit cards, pens or a small wallet or notebook.
It can also be put to good use as home to a choice of three accessories: an ice-scraper, a six-disc CD holder or an expanding cup-holder.
STANDARD ON 2003 SAAB 9-3 SPORT SEDAN LINEAR MODELS:
2.0t: 2.0-liter 4 cylinder turbocharged 175-hp engine
5-speed manual transmission
Electronic Traction Control System (TCS)
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic Stability Program (ESP) incl. EBD, CBC, MBA
5-spoke 15-inch light-alloy wheels
215/55 R 15 all-season radial tires
Adaptive driver and passenger front airbags
OnStar telematics system
Side-Curtain airbags, front and rear
•Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR), front seats
•Torso side airbags, front seats
•Protection against “submarining,” front and rear
•3-point seatbelts on all seating positions
•Automatic front seatbelt tensioners
•Child seat anchorage points, rear
Manually activated “childproof” rear door locks
Color-keyed 5-mph impact resistant bumpers
Saab anti-theft protection alarm w/engine immobilizing
Split wide-angle exterior mirror, passenger side
Daytime running lights
Protective bodyside moldings
Aerodynamic headlamps, flush lenses, halogen bulbs Front (2) and rear (1) fog lights
6-jet high-pressure windshield washer
Side-mounted direction indicator lights
Undercoating and anti-corrosion treatment
Headlights with delay (“follow me home” function)
“Halo” remote lighting function
INTERIOR & SEATS
Leather appointed seating
Textile door inserts
Head restraints for four seats, provision for a fifth
INTERIOR & SEATS
Air Conditioning, CFC-free
Double cabin air filter, electrostatic & absorptive charcoal
Side window demisters, front
Power windows, front with express down
Electrically operated and heated exterior mirrors
Remote lock/unlock and anti-theft system
Central locking, with remote
Tinted heat-absorbing glass
Dual illuminated vanity mirrors Interior light with delay/door instep illumination
Illuminated glove box
Storage compartments in the doors and seat backs
Cupholder in dashboard fascia
Cupholders in center console (1) and rear seat (2)
Overhead grab handles, all outer seating positions
Internal trunk release
Closing handle inside trunk
Rear seat foldable entirely or 60/40 split
Center rear armrest with lockable pass-through opening
Cargo anchorage loops and illumination in trunk
Plush carpet floor mats
CONTROLS & INSTRUMENTATION
Analog instrumentation (speedometer, tachometer, boost gauge, fuel & temperature gauges); digital odometer, incl. trip
Dashboard Night Panel feature
Warning lights: open door or trunk/failed light/low fluids
Saab Car Computer (SCC)
Electronic speed control
Variable intermittent wipers
Steering wheel adjustable for reach and height
Leather trimmed steering wheel, handbrake and gear lever knob (also gaiter on manual)
Audio system radio/CD, 150w, 7 speakers
Audio remote controls in steering wheel
Integrated rear window dual antenna system
STANDARD ON SAAB 9-3 ARC MODELS: In addition to or instead of equipment on Linear
2.0T: 2.0-liter 4-cyl turbocharged 210-hp engine
16-inch 10-spoke light alloy wheels
215/55R 16” All season tires
Poplar-trimmed interior accents
Leather appointed seats/leather door panel inserts
Electrically adjustable front seats with 3-position memory driver’s side (mirror settings and tilt-down pass-side mirror)
ES2 audio system, radio/CD, 300w, 13 speakers
Auto dimming rear-view mirror with integrated garage door opener and digital compass
Comfort close windows (express up/down with pinch protection & remote operation)
Color matched exterior trim
17-inch Twin 5-spoke light alloy wheels
225/45 R17 performance tires
Tire pressure monitors
STANDARD ON SAAB 9-3 VECTOR MODELS: In addition to or instead of equipment on Arc
Vector-specific exterior styling package
Leather sport seats w/ sport steering wheel
Metallic finish interior accents
Saab Engineer Creates Marketing Image
During the early development stages of the new 9-3 Sport Sedan, Saab’s chief chassis engineer, Ekkehard Schwartz, was asked to describe the car’s core appeal. His immediate response was a quick sketch, but not of the car itself. He drew the image of an exhilarated driver.
The whole idea, Schwartz explained, was to build the car around the driver, focusing on achieving a rewarding, interactive experience behind the wheel. Every element of the design of the new Saab 9-3, therefore, aims to enhance communication to and from the car, involving rather than insulating the driver. That includes the design of the chassis, the powertrain, the steering, all controls and the immediate driver’s environment, the cockpit of the car.
The key element of the sketch is the big grin to the driver’s face, Schwartz emphasized. The pure joy of driving is, ultimately, what it’s all about. Schwartz’ original sketch has now been adopted as the central image in an international marketing campaign to announce the arrival of Saab’s first compact sports sedan. “My artistic abilities may be rather limited, but it is clearly the message that counts,” he noted. “Although I think I’ll stick to my career in chassis development work.”
The announcement of the all-new 2003 Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan is backed by the biggest investment program in new models and production facilities in Saab’s history. It also signals the Swedish manufacturer’s most competitive entry yet into the largest segment of the premium car market, going head-to-head with sedans from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
Saab’s all-new 2003 9-3 Sport Sedan, announced May 13, replaces the current range of three and five-door hatchbacks and is the first step in a carefully phased five-year growth plan targeted at raising annual sales and production figures to over 200,000 cars, up from current levels of approximately 130,000 cars.
Almost alone among the world’s premium manufacturers, Saab has continued with its traditional hatchback formula. However, the premium car segment is dominated by sales of sedans, which account for almost 60 percent of total sales. The remaining 40 percent are wagons, convertibles and coupés.
Saab has already had tremendous success with its 9-5 sedan, which replaced the 9000 hatchback in 1998. Annual U.S. sales of the 9-5 have been nearly 70 percent higher than the 9000’s best sales of 11,858 units in 1988. Now with a new 9-3 Sport Sedan model, instead of a hatchback, Saab is positioned to compete head-to-head with the other sedans in this large and growing marketplace.
A sporty, fun-to-drive focus is an essential qualifier for this type of car. Customers in this part of the segment are younger on average, aged 35 to 45 years old, and place a higher priority on a sporty, performance-oriented experience. In this respect, the positioning of the new sports sedan draws more strongly on Saab’s tradition for fine chassis dynamics and turbo-inspired performance than in any previous model.
Research also shows that if versatility is an important requirement, customers often prefer a wagon to a hatchback. Hence, the significance of the 9-3 Sports Sedan as the first, core product in the roll-out of a number of distinct variants.
While the arrival of the new Saab 9-3 initiates the first phase of a product-led growth plan, Saab has already laid the foundation to deliver higher production volumes and quality levels with a $450 million investment in new facilities and machinery at its Trollhättan, Sweden plant. Saab has, in effect, built the equivalent of a new factory.
Production of the new 9-3 will utilize a 226,000-square-foot expansion to the assembly shop – the biggest investment in this area for more than 40 years. Last year, a 135,000-square-foot addition to the body shop was completed, allowing different body parts for various models to be produced simultaneously. And a new, fifth press line has also been added to the press shop, as well as new efficiencies that allow a 30 percent increase in productivity. Include the addition of an entirely new paint shop, among the most modern and cleanest in the world, and all the main production processes at Trollhättan have been enlarged and modernized.
“We have the tools to do the job,” said Saab Automobile’s president and CEO, Peter Augustsson. “We have the products we need under development and we have the capacity we need to meet our goals, including the highest levels of quality assurance.
“It is fair to say that Saab is raising its game. For the first time, we have what we need to consistently build our market share year on year.”
The investment in new products and production facilities is the largest in Saab’s history and has been planned and resourced with the full cooperation of owner General Motors. It is a clear statement of GM’s commitment to the expansion of Saab as the leading European premium brand in its portfolio of auto manufacturers.
“We have also done a great deal of work in identifying and clearly defining the key characteristics of the Saab brand,” commented Mikael Eliasson, vice president, sales and marketing. “We have examined how we should best communicate the brand. Apart from more tightly focused marketing, that also means taking the Saab brand out to locations where our customers work, socialize and travel. For example, there are innovative ‘shop windows’ for Saab, such as brand centers at airports and railway stations, and new retail outlets at prestigious, metropolitan locations around the world.”