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Saab gives its mid-size 9-3 range a much-needed mid-life facelift

6 Nov 2007

WITH sales of the bigger 9-5 almost non-existent in Australia, Saab’s volume-selling 9-3 model has become even more vital to the Swedish brand. With the second-generation model introduced in 2002 not quite clicking with buyers, this mid-life facelift takes on even greater significance. This is reflected in the level of restyling undertaken, altering the look of the car considerably over the rather conservative original, which dated quickly. Not a lot has changed inside or underneath, but a massive selection of 48 models ensures that potential buyers will have to spend plenty of time studying the specification charts. Engines include a 1.9-litre turbodiesel, 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbos (in two levels of boost), a 2.8-litre V6 turbo and, for the first time, a BioPower version that enables the 2.0-litre turbo to run on up to 85 per cent ethanol (which is claimed to be environmentally better, but which is yet to become commercially available in Australia).

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 November 2007 to 1 January 2012

Previous model

Saab 9-3 Mk2

Released: November 2002
Ended: November 2007
Family Tree: 9-3

THE second-generation 9-3 in 2002 could not come quickly enough for Saab, but sales never matched expectations. Built on a very different variation of the General Motors Epsilon platform that also underpinned various Opels (Holden Vectra) and Chevrolets, the MkII 9-3 was a vast improvement, offering an attractive and spacious body, much better steering, ride and handling attributes, safety and security improvements and a new face. The now-100 per cent GM-owned firm abandoned the favoured hatchback body configuration for a blander three-box four-door sedan, but the new two-door convertible from October ‘03 retained something of its predecessor’s character.

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