Point 1 – Saab Australia offer the 9-3 SportCombi in two variants only: the 1.8t Linear (110kW, 240Nm, $45,400) and the V6 Aero (184kW, 250Nm, $72,400).
Point 2 – Sales of Saabs aren’t broken down by model in the Australian statistics, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Saab Oz are disappointed by the number of 9-3 SportCombis sold. Saab’s improved figures for 2006 are primarily due to the 9-3 linear Sedan being re-jigged to slip under the $40,000 price mark.
Point 3 – The 9-3 SportCombi’s been praised everywhere for it’s Saaby character, versatility and performance. Given the price of fuel here in Oz it should be a lock for boosted sales with conquests from the SUV market, but it’s just not happening.
I’ve written about the 9-3 SportCombi in the context of the Australian market before. Just three weeks ago I covered a Malaysian test of the SportCombi and discussed how the model used in that test should be made available here. This is what I wrote back then:
With the enourmous price and power difference between the [Linear and Aero], I can’t help but think there’s quite a few $50-60,000 buyers out there in Audi and BMW showrooms that could be shopping a Saab if there was a mid-level variant with respectable output.
My thoughts for Saab Australia: Bring a 9-3 SportCombi in Vector trim with 154kW and 310Nm priced at $55,000, market it aggressively against the A4 Avant 1.8T ($59,200 base, 120kW, 225Nm) and BMW 3-series Touring (A$68,900 base, 131kW and 230Nm) and watch your market grow.
I’m now hearing whispers that whilst Saab Oz aren’t going to go as far as suggested above, they are looking at a power boost for the base Linear model whilst retaining a similar mid-$40K price point. This came in via email this morning from a guy chatting with his local Saab dealer:
For 2007, some form of the Arc will replace the 9-3 Linear Sportcombi. I asked if it was not just going to be an additional model in the range in between the Linear and the Aero. He was very clear that the Linear will be gone and the Arc will be in its place at about the same price point. He said this with absolute certainty ……… He explained that it has been decided that the Linear has been taking too much of a hammering over its lack of power, also being heavier than the sedan does not help.
I’ve received a positive response from another contact that’s heard the same rumour, though an email direct to Saab Australia has so far gone unanswered.
The 9-3 Sport Sedan in it’s Arc form has the 129kW engine (265Nm) and I’m willing to bet my entire inheritance that the only difference between the 110kW Linear engine and the 129kW Arc engine is 30 minutes with a software program.
It’s my educated guess then, that the 9-3 SportCombi’s base model, whether it be called Arc or Linear, is going to get this boost. This will close the gap between the base and the Aero a little, get rid of those 1.8t badges and provide for a much more respectable showroom presentation. Compare that mid-$40k price, 129kW engine against the Audi A4 Avant (noted above) just for starters!!
I’d be looking towards a possible announcement in line with MY2007, but again, I’m just guessing.
My thanks to “you know who you are” for the tip he got from his local guy. Names withheld to protect the almost innocent.