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Car reviews - Saab - 9-3 - Arc sedan

Overview

We roadtest the mid-spec Arc version of Saab's all-new 9-3 sedan

Saab logo11 Nov 2003

By MARTON PETTENDY

FORGET about aggressive understeer, equally intimidating torque steer and narrow-waisted interiors. The new Saab 9-3 might look similar, but it is in fact an entirely new car that inherits nothing of the previous model’s bad habits. It’s light and responsive to drive, offers a decent sideways stretch that greatly benefits interior space and has an even more comprehensive safety package than before. The calculated "quirks" like central ignition key and night panel instrument lighting are still there, too. Perhaps the only problem is that it’s no longer a hatchback and therefore not as versatile a luggage carrier. But the new Saab 9-3 is very much a standout contender in the prestige class that gives way to virtually nobody in terms of quality and integrity, while having on-road dynamics that vie with the best. It’s not cheap, though.
Model release date: 1 November 2002 to 1 January 2007

Previous model

Saab 9-3 S hatch

Released: June 1998
Ended: November 2002
Family Tree: 9-3

Appearing Down Under in June 1998 in three and five-door hatch variants - as well as a two-door convertible - the previous 9-3 was itself a rehash of the early-90s-tech Saab 900 hatch. One of the current 9-3 Arc's direct predecessors is the 9-3 S five-door, which first appeared with naturally aspirated 2.0 and 2.3-litre four-cylinder engines before receiving a turbocharged 110kW 2.0-litre in early 2001.

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