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Saab 9-3

9-3 Mk2

Saab logo1 Nov 2002

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

This couldn’t come quickly enough for Saab.

Built on a very different variation of the General Motors Epsilon platform that also underpinned various Opels (Holden Vectra) and Chevrolets (the rear suspension was purely Saab’s for instance), the 2002 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 fresh new face.

But sales haven’t matched expectations, simply because this 9-3 – for all its refinement, comfort and performance – isn’t as distinguished to the eye as previous (and offbeat) Saabs.

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.

The engines (all-new 1988cc 2.0-litre DOHC 16V units in various turbo sizes and outputs) and variants, from the base model up, now read: 110kW/240Nm Linear 1.8t 129kW/265Nm Vector (sporty) and Arc (luxury) and (from May ’03) the high-performance 155kW/300Nm Aero 2.0t.

All transmissions were either a five-speed auto or manual gearboxes, or a six-speed manual on Aero models.

For 2007 the 9-3 range includes TiD turbo-diesel versions of the popular four-seater soft top, along with the expected sedan and SportCombi wagon variantsThe 9-3 diesel arrives in two specification versions – Linear 1.9TiD and Linear Sport TiD.

Shared with a number of European-sourced General Motors and Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia vehicles, the TiD unit is the same 1.9-litre, twin-cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine found in manual versions of the Holden Astra CDTi.

The 1910cc cast-iron engine delivers 110kW of power at 4000rpm, and 320Nm of torque between 2000 and 2750rpm, with 90 per cent of that available between 1750 and 3250rpm.

Driving the front wheels is an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transmission, while the manual TiD features a new cable linkage six-speed gearbox.

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When it was new

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