Rumourmill: Aussie 9-3SC

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.

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  1. Jeez, good news for future SC buyers.

    Hate to think what news like that’s going to do for sales of new and second-hand 2006 models, what with a torquey diesel on the way as well.

    Look for some good 2006 run-outs at your dealers soon.

  2. You can contact me to get my bank info so that you can give your entire inheritance to me 😀 In fact, there is no difference at all in the software for the 110kw or 129kw engines. They have the same software and I think the VIN number and something else decides which power output it shall have.

  3. While I appreciate the positive spin you are desperately trying to put on this swade, the decision not to sell the mid range vector spec 93 s/c here can only be described politely as mystifyingly stupid. Even the most cursory glance accross the market would tell you that this car and price range is your money spinner, hands down. Its sold here as a sedan – what gives?!?!?@?$?!

    Can only guess that its due actual production shortages – which is not an excuse either if you take the global view.

    Truly, this is marketing 101, fish in a barrel stuff. Can someone please install some mirrors at Saab Aus so that people there ( other than Parveen who seems to have a clue) can take a long hard look at themselves from time to time.

    Keeping such a micro range is just plain poor business accume, cheap shortsightedness and yet another another example of GMs unwillingness to invest in Saab, even at point of sale.


  4. Not sure I’m trying to spin this Pete. I’m just happy that they may be doing something with the base SportCombi.

    As written earlier, my preference would be for the Vector as it’s similarly priced to the competition but blows them out of the water in terms of performance.

    If they go the 129kW option then they’re similar in terms of performance (similar, but better) and killing them on price.

    I think the Vector might have some more margin in it, but I don’t think they could sell it as a base model, it would have to be a 3-form lineup. I guess their thought is that the market here in Oz (and the dealership network) couldn’t sustain a 3-form lineup, as well as 4 forms of Sport Sedan and however many 9-5’s. You’ve got to have demonstrators of as many as possible, remember.

    Not making excuses mate, just trying to see the big picture and as mentioned, I’m just pleased they might be doing something.

    Vector = best option.
    Arc = realistic option.

  5. Psycho Dave,
    If the 9-3SC engines built similarly and the ECU programmed similarly to the 9-3 MY 1998-2002, than the software should be different.
    I don’t know these new Saabs but I know the first generations 9-3s.
    There is no any other differences between a low pressure turbo engine and a full pressure turbo engine but the ECU software.
    If you change a ECU of a LPT car and use a ECU comes from an FPT car, it will work on full pressure. The VIN doesn’t make any difference.
    (On early 9-3 versions there was one more difference: the injector nozzles are not the same. But the same trick you can do if you change also the injectors.)

  6. Dave,

    I’m also pretty sure it’s just a software diff between the Linear and the Arc. I believe the Vector has a higher capacity turbocharger, helping out with the bigger 154kW.

    If I’m wrong though, my entire 20cents and new pair of shoes is all yours 😉

  7. Software is all between 110kw and 129kw specs. What Psycho Dave means about the VIN is that there is a number assigned before build which determines which of the two softwares it is.

    Note also that in UK a Linear can be specced with four different engines, 1.8i, oiler, 1.8t and 2.0t.

  8. Having cooled my jets a little, ( like that? jets? …) I appreciate the development as you spell it out swade – something is better than nothing. However, I don’t buy that you need to have a demo of everything at every dealer. No one else does that, its all managed within dealer groups. Shit, imagine an AUDI, MB or BM dealership with EVERTHING – it’d take up a whole block. If you can source a demo within 24hours ( or few days) no serious buyer is going to complain.

    Anyway, its a decent development but you know where I’m coming from. Perhaps its a silly point but – there are only 9 million people in Sweden and I bet you can buy every modelthere. There’s 22 million of us here. I realise shipping costs but come on. These things cost about the same as a commodore to build and you make an extra $20k+ per car. Thats a lot of shipping.

    WHats the diesel range going to look like? I think you might have covered this but would appreciate a reminder.


  9. The software for the 110kw or 129kw engines IS the same, or you can also say that both versions is included in the ECU. I dont know how the ECU decides which of the two software to use but someone mentioned that the VIN was one part of it but there where also something else. If you take a ECU from a 129kw engine and put it in a 110kw engine you will still only get 110kw.

    You can not compare Saabs old engine in 9-3 MY 1998-2002 that used Trionic 5 and later Trionic 7 with this GM engine that uses Trionic 8.

  10. Pete,

    Wasn’t arguing that all dealers need to have every model, it’s just another expense that someone has to cover and we’re a small market as far as Saab is concerned.

    Anyway, diesel is the 1.9 and as I understand it’s coming for the 9-3 range, sedan and combi (writing off the top of my head here). No announcement on pricing as yet, probably in January.

  11. Dave,

    I’m sorry to disagree but as far as I know you’re wrong.
    1. If the software (I mean the complete content of the memory in ECU) would be the same there should be 2 different parameter matrix to be stored to give the control to the ECU to choose according to the VIN or something else.
    I makes no sense at all. It’s not logical to use double storage capacity, double parameter matrix.
    2. My friend is the local Nordic dealer, he has GM Tech2 diagnostic computer. He already worked on several 9-3 SS and he clearly proofed that the engine management software in 110 kW and 129 kW ECU are NOT the same. To switch the 110 kW to 129 kW you need to change the ECU or need to upload a completely new software.
    The essential structure of Trionic7 and Trionic8 software should be quite similar.

  12. As I mentioned before, I’m myself not familiar with the new 9-3.
    However, I suppose that it should be similar than the first generation.
    B205 engines also have the same codes, E= LPT, L=FPT, R=HOT.

    B204E (1998-2000) LPT, 154 HP, “big” turbocharger (Garrett T25), Trionic5
    B205E (2000-2002) – LPT, 150 HP, “small” turbocharger (Garrett GT17), Trionic7
    B204L (1998-2000) – FPT, 185 HP, “big” turbocharger (Garrett T25), Trionic5
    B205L (2000-2002)- FPT, 185 HP, “small” turbocharger (Garrett GT17), Trionic7
    B204R (1998-2000) – HOT, 200 HP, “big” turbocharger (Garrett T25), Trionic5
    B205R (2000-2002) – HOT, 205 HP, “big” turbocharger (Mitsubishi TD04HL), Trionic7

    So, in MY 2000-2002 there was no essential difference but the software between LPT and FPT.
    In MY 1998-2000 the LPT and FPT differed in software, and injector nozzles.

  13. Ivan (MuzX),

    I spend about 50% of my free time on Saab Turbo Club of Sweden’s forum, simply because it is probably the best Saab forum around. There are people from Saab, BSR, Nordic and Maptun frequently answering questions there. This forum is mainly a Swedish forum though.

    What does all this have to do with the software of this engine? Well this thread on that forum has something to do with it. What you see there is a comment from a person called Micke, what he writes is something like this (badly translated) “As previously said not even the software in Trionic8 differs….In other words the same software in 2,0t and 1,8t”. Well, there we have some guy of the street just claiming to know this, why shall we believe him? Micke is the person working on tuning Saab at BSR. He is not the only person with big knowledge of Saab tuning making that claim on that forum. Shall I believe your friend the local Nordic dealer or the person that actually tunes these software’s on a daily basis? I have made my choice…

    A have also been driving around with GM Tech2 diagnostic computer in my car, am I an expert now? 😉

    If you want I can dig up several threads about this but you have to do the translation your self.

  14. Dave,
    Ok, let me think over.
    I will meet today evening with both of the local Maptun/BSR and the mentioned Nordic dealer, who is not only a dealer, but the president of 9-3/9-5 club of Hungary, the best Saab expert in the country, he also have a close relationship with European Saab headquartes and some engineers from the Saab Racing Team (his Viggen got a custom software from them). So, he is not a simple dealer, I trust him just like myself.
    I will ask theme and will show your comments.

  15. Addition to the previous:
    Actually, I don’t know what software the mentioned Viggen has currently, maybe Nordic custom, but once it was that one I told above. My friend just use to upgrade his car every month, so I always suprised what new stuff he has… 🙂

  16. Ok guys, we discussed this software issue on the meeting yesterday.
    The president of the club (also Nordic dealer) told that he also heard about this rumour, that the 9-3 SS/SC 1.8t and 2.0t have the same software and only some control characters in some ID codes can decide which version will be activated. So, they tried to change it – and there was no result! Furthermore, they changed the whole software (from 1.8t to 2.0t) and the power changed accordingly.
    So, their position is that based on their experiences, the software should be different.
    However, it’s a circumstancial evidence, so I asked them to contact with BSR/Maptun/Nordic and ask them for a byte-to-byte comparison.

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