The 2008 Saab 9-3 week in review

What a bumper week it was for 9-3 watchers.

I first broke the news of a re-skinned Saab 9-3 for MY2008 back in October 2006 and prior to it breaking I don’t think anyone had an idea of how big or how fundamentally different this new 9-3 would be.

Make no mistake, this will be a huge boon for Saab in 2008.

The week started with a look around the Haldex website, where we managed to gather some information about what they’ve been doing, the crucial part of which was the development of a fourth generation all wheel drive system that was actually referred to on the Haldex site as “XWD”.

As it happened, I received an email from Jacob, who’d done a search and picked up that Saab Automobile AB had trademarked the term “XWD” in July 2006 for use in standard characters on automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks, vans, engines therefore and parts thereof.

Then the photographs came and all hell broke loose:


Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet ran this photo and a series of others showing different views of a test mule that was spotted in northern Sweden. This image shows the obvious Aero-X influence that’s been incorporated into the front of the new 9-3.

It gets a deeper grille. The headlamps appear to be more rounded at the sides and there’s some solid talk of a strip of LEDs running across the top of the headlamp as daytime running lights.

The hood is now a more Saab traditional clamshell shape, though it will likely still open from the back rather than the front.

Other images, much clearer, debuted at Left Lane News shortly afterwards (and were subsequently removed from TS). These images showed that the 9-3 will get flatter shaped doors, with handles similar to those on the Cadillac BLS.

The front and rear bumpers on the SportCombi mules that were sighted appear to be new as well and the rear lights of the SportCombi have been rumoured to feature LEDs as an option.

Finally, there was this photo, from which a friend of mine and a former Saab tech could identify the rear differential – the first proof in photos that the XWD system was in testing.

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  1. I used to be a tech at a Saab dealer, and I’m still in good with the guys there.
    I learned today that they were shown “a bunch of stuff” about a certain Saab model being brought back in late 2008 as an ’09 model on GM’s Kappa platform. The Sonett’s coming back as a rear drive roadster with a 2.0 liter turbo and a six speed.

    They also told me that the 9-5 just might get a small refresh in ’08 or ’09 before the next gen 9-5 shows up.

    Add that together with the ’08 9-3, the 9-1 in the works, which I’ll bet money on being an Opel Astra on steroids, and the other models in the pipeline, I’d say all is well.

  2. 290 hp is much closer to the right looking number then 250 hp…. as long as its planted by all wheels or the rears.

    0 – 60 mph (0 – 100 kmh) in under 6 is nice, but I’d like to see a sleeper-Saab. Something the muscle cars pull-up against and get blown away by. That kinda’ power with the finesse, sportiness, safety, efficiency and comfort of a Saab is guaranteed to be a hit.

  3. I hate to rain on the parade but IMHO, it will be very hard for Saab to maintain present sales, which even at record levels are still to low for profitability. What is no more than a standard facelift for the 9-3, albeit AWD will be a small boost, and yet another facelift for the 9-5, which is already light years behind the competition, will not be enough to relaunch the brand, even if a Kappa-based Sonett is on the way (hope they think of adding a trunk in this one) and an Astra-based 9-1 (a fancy Saturn?). As for the 9-4x, it will be arriving very late at the midsize X-over party…yawn. Worst, the way things are going, everybody at GM will benefit from the Epsilon II platform before Saab. Don’t get me wrong about the 9-5. It’s a great car and I should know cause we love ours but as noted in Gripen’s account, perception is more important than reality and the 9-5 is unanimously perceived as an outdated car, which to a certain extent, it actually is. No matter what models you add to the line up, Saab will be profitable when they finally offer, at the same time, a truly updated 9-3 and 9-5. This has never happened since the introduction of the 9000 (the original 9-5). Cheers to all and let’s hope I’m wrong.

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