MY2008 9-3 SportCombi – Real Pics!

I think the dam is bursting!!

These first ever ever ever in the whole wide world photos are shown at SaabScene and linked to in comments by John:






These are a little different to the GM cgi’s posted earlier today. What we have here is confirmation of the inserts of the front air dams, the light strip atop the headlamps and the prominent hood crease is emphasised by the dark color. The beltline strips are indeed gone, which I think looks a bucketload cleaner.

What an absolutely magnificent looking beast!!

Of course, this is most likely the Aero trim level we’re looking at, so it’ll be interesting to see what the other models look like.

The other unknown, of course, is the interior. unfortunately, I have a disctinct feeling that it’s going to remain largely the same as the 07 model. It’s only been going for a year and I can imagine GM would consider that a reasonable enough time for something that takes some time and development.

Here’s hoping though. For the moment, just gaze at that angry beast and imagine yourself in it.


You may also like


  1. Yeah!! Looks very sharp and aggressive compared to excisting one. I want one, definitely. And there is some chrome on the lower bumper as it was on the cab spy pics. That okay.

  2. Well, I’m gonna stick my head above the parapet and say that I do not think it is very good.

    I can not eulogise about this mid-term facelift like a lot of people here. For me the design is incoherent and is not in context with the vehicle as a whole. Lots of angles at the front (excepting the top of the bonnet) and curves down the sides and rear.

    Once again, the Americans think that acres of chrome endows a vehicle with adesirable aesthetic. It does not. It looks crass and cheap. And the chrome around the front foglamps is reminiscent of a Ford Focus ST, which is a much more solid and, I think, desirable car.

    I suppose it does make a euro-box saloon look a little more aggressive and distinctive, so I’ll commend it for that.

    I suspect it will grow on me in time.

    Right, flame suit donned. Give it to me!

  3. What an exciting day:>)

    Can’t say i’m overly impressed with the chrome around the foglights. Overdoes it somewhat. The rest i like and will certainly make it stand out.

  4. According to the vehicle registry fot that car, it’s running on gas, has a automatic gearbox and and has 246 bhp.

  5. Yeah! Looks great!

    Guess that the chrome round the foglights are for the Aero only…..?

    This is somewhat like it should have been from the beginning. The 9-3 front today has never realy stuck out. And with the introduction of the SC the front looked weak. The Convertibles rear has also looked like something that has craved a front with much more muscle. Now it´s here!

    What americans think or not think about crome is not that important in the big picture. Hope it does well over there but hopefully this will make Saab bigger in countries like Germany and France. Look at the new Passat, The new Mondeo, The Peugeot 407, BMW 3-series, The new C-class… They have lots of blingish type features in the front and does so well. Why shouldn´t Saab stick their chin out? Rather be seen than not seen…

    Love it!


  6. LOVE IT – the front now says ‘move over 3-series and A4, Swede coming through!’

    Hope the saloon rear is more than shown in the cgi pics though, think it will be disappointing to just replace the light lenses – the rear deserves a modern touch like LEDs. Also the convertible needed to get slimmer lights – the rear lights were alwys vulgar and will look like a real cheap aftermarket kit if clear.

    White like my SC would be preferable if nothing can be done about their size…..

    But overall a big step forward, noticable more modern and will now stick out of the crowd!

  7. Horror – just realised what the rear of the saloon reminds me of – a Mazda 6 (yawn!). that chrome strip integrated into the handle and badge, combined with the ricer lights….pure rice dish…..shame

  8. First thought – Ford Focus STi.

    Second thought – Too much Bling.

    Third thought – not TOO bad, but the design feel mismatched – John is right, it doesn’t feel like the designs are coherent, it FEELS and LOOKS like an attempt to dress up the front and ran out of money to do the rest of the car.

  9. So do I. Now at least I can stick my tongue out at the A4s forever in my rearview mirror on my way to work every morning!

  10. I like it very much! It’s distinct and powerful and absolutely Aero-X-ish. Actually this looks like a brand new car and not only a facelift. Way 2 go, SAAB!

  11. WOW what a beautiful front end. I know some of you have been disagreeing but I do see some of the Aero-X design language coming through, but I think what is most important is this is very agressive without being angry. Saab has a home run with this face.. I cant wait to see it on the road!!! 🙂

  12. Looks rather awesome in my ever so humble opinion.

    Agressive without being vulgar. Let’s not forget, Saab grills used to be full of chrome :).

    This look I like a lot.

  13. I like this a lot, I think Saab have done a great job. Looking forward tto seeing this in sweden next month.

  14. What are they smoking at Saab, it looks like a chick car now!
    I swear they have no vision over there, sad how a great brand has fallen so much. RIP Saab 2008.

  15. I think this the refresh looks pretty hot. I also agree with Kaz that SAABs have had lots of chrome on their grilles and around the headlights before (i.e. the 99), long before GM had any control of Saab. I don’t think it’s fair to label the chrome as “American”. I think the clamshell hood looks especially nice, as well as the more aggressive headlights, grille and lower spoiler.

    FYI, someone mentioned the box that their friend got in the mail that had to be opened with a Saab key. I received this same box yesterday, but it’s the welcome package that you get for buying a new Saab (I bought my ’06 9-5 six months ago). It’s a pretty cool package, the front of it has a picture of the 9-3 interior and you have to use your key to “unlock” the box. Inside is a white paperback book with SAAB embossed on the cover. The book is pretty thick with lots of information and pictures on the history of SAAB, SAAB design and innovations over the years, pictures of Sweden, information about Erik Carlsson, etc. At the end they include a nice SAAB timeline that shows all SAAB models over the years. A nice little SAAB ‘welcome’ package, in my opinion.

  16. CrisG:

    Nice to see a welcome gift as that. I bought my latest Saab 3 years ago. Ok, it wasn’t new at the time (MY01) but still… I switched from Volvo to Saab, so I was a “new “customer to the brand.

    During these three years, I have received two (2) things from Saab. One mail in spring 2005 saying that I may have an extended warranty on the engine, and one mail autumn 2006 saying that I could change my DI-cassette for free.

    That’s all. Not one single pice of paper saying “welcome to Saab”, asking me whay a choose a Saab, telling me about new models (even about the Areo-X I have received zero info about).

    I still get my Volvo owners magazin four times a year (and that Volvo I owned was almost fifteen years old!), and also promotional info and invitations for testdrives from BMW and Alfa Romeo.

    My father bought a 1 year old VW last year (after 55 years with Volvo). Within a coupe of weeks he got owners magazines (current AND back issues), “welcome”-brochures, free gifts, key ring…

  17. I have to say, the real photos look really awesome, much much better than I was expecting after seeing the spyshots.

    I am not sure about the rear, I guess I’ll be able to judge it after seeing the official photos, not CGI, I somehow guess it will really depend on the colour of the car.

    BTW, I agree with John – the first thing that comes into my mind after seeing those chromed foglights is Focus ST – CGI’s don’t have the chrome and IMO they look a bit nicer, anyway, great look apart from that 🙂

  18. I think it looks beautiful. I’m glad they have the somewhat wrap-around lights again.

    BTW, take a look at the new Passat’s grill. It is literally, one big chunk of chrome on the front bumper.

  19. on the forums its really a hate it or love it opinion. some people are really digging the new style while some people think the old one looks more sophisticated.

  20. >>>>Yezzzzzzzz, man.
    It’s a real SAAB-Face, that’s it. I’m a bit sad that my actual 06 SC looks immediately very slow against that beast.
    I think it’s exactly in between chromy glossy decor elements and decent scandinavian design tradition.
    It’s sharp.

  21. Alright….Since I really like the look of the Acura TL I went on to the website and compared. True, there are definite similarities, but no twins here…no siblings…MAYBE second cousins…
    Naaa, this SAAB is waay(!) better looking than the TL!!!! I love it! Can’t wait to see the rear end.

  22. Saaboy,
    You are not kidding. After your comment I also went to check out the Passat. That Passat should incur an automotive design penalty – for IUC (illegal use of chrome)! This new Saab is veery nice!

  23. Denver> that’s not a bad idea. Yea, that much chrome on a passat is disgusting. My friend has one, it’s horrible. I like the last generation interior over the new one as well…

  24. I’m not a fan of a lot of chrome. I have stated this before…but this isn’t as bad as I thought.

    Upon first impression I didn’t like quite so much the pointy-ness of the chrome/face…but I admit after two seconds my mind switched over and declared “this looks like a jet with the side air scoops.”

    That’s ok by me.

    Look, they did a good job. Even if you don’t like this design, you have to admit that it will attract special attention when amongst its siblings. It looks meaner than any other lineup on Saab USA, for sure. So, I think it will turn heads and attract attention in a mean way, not just a bling blinged way.

  25. I really want to see one on the road before I make a judgement. I also want to see the car in Linear and Vector trim.

    Interstingly the latest 3 series is not selling well at with the over 40s or conservative buyers who like their wood ‘n’ leather trim and I suspect that the new 9-3 will be received the same way.

    Remember, this car is a 5-6 year old design with AeroX influences grafted on. I relly want to see the next 9-5 to see how SAAB design language will evolve.

  26. Well, I think I like it. Aggressive, but restrained. It’ll be interesting to see what the tail lights end up looking like (both US and other markets’ versions.)

    Somehow, I am reminded of this quote: “Potential victims will take one look in the mirrors and know, flat know, what is about to happen to them” -AutoWeek. It was originally said about the 900 SPG/Aero/ 16s.

    I think it could also be said of the 9000 Aero:
    and perhaps the 9-5 Aero (2000-05):
    and Viggen:
    what with their deep bumper skirts/airdams.

    I think the treatment to the current 9-5 looks timid compared to this 9-3, which has enough angularity to be strong.

    Now, GM, let’s see a 40-50 mpg diesel (with 200-250 lb-ft on tap) for every market, including the US, along with a new Viggen version… +/-300 HP, and AWD. Of course, keep the 4-cyl FWD drivetrain too for the linear/arc/vector/whatever models too.

    I hope the interior is on-par with competition. (I haven’t sat in a 9-3 since the HUD was removed…)


  27. My current lease is up in 2008 and I’m looking at a XWD sport Combi to replace my current 9-3 sedan. I like the way it looks.

  28. The fog lights have generated a lot of comments. I would add, I hope they are not as useless as the ones on our 01 9-5. Not only do they not help in fog, specially that it’s impossible to kill the driving lights when they are on, but the «not born from jets» brackets holding them, keep breaking.

  29. And, one more thing. I really do like the return to wrap-around turn indicator lights. When the first 9-3SS was released, I didn’t like the headlight/fender truncation. How long had Saab been including a turn signal lens that wrapped into the fender? I thought the absence was striking. (That said, I do think that the current 9-3SS/SC is a great looking car.)

    (I’d like to see a steel grey/edwardian grey version of this car with black chrome in the grill and fog light surrounds… Are you listening aftermarket? GM? That option would make the whole thing more subtle… which is a good thing, in my book.)


  30. It’s almost as beautiful…*cries

    I like the hood on the CGI’s better than the one on this picture, I liked how it went down into the grille. But it’s not that big a deal.

    I like the chrome a lot, it really reminds me of an F-22 Raptor.

  31. PGAero, I agree with you. I’m a recent diesel convert (in theory) now that there are technologies out there that can decrease NOx emissions. I would seriously consider a diesel for my next car if they sold them in California (and I’d run it on B100 whenever possible). I just read ( that the ’08 VW Jetta wagon will be the first diesel I can buy. But… DAMN that thing is FUGLY!!! I like Eurowagons and all, but I don’t know if they could have styled the Jetta uglier if they tried.

    I’d really like GM (SAAB) to bring diesels over here.

    As for your comment above, I think you meant “SID” (SAAB Information Display) rather than “HUD” (Head-Up Display) as SAAB has never had a HUD. And you meant “moved”, rather than “removed”. The SID now resides in the instrument cluster like in every other car…

    Lastly, regarding your last comment: YES! When you say “black chrome” I assume you’re referring to that gunmetal-colored “Black Pearl” ( SAAB used to sell accessory grilles and licence plate frames/hatch pulls ( in (which I can’t find anywhere despite trying really hard). I’m not big on the chrome surrounds, but I think if they were body color, black, or even better gunmetal this car would look much better. Throw a true hatchback onto it and I’m sold! ;-P Maybe Hirsch can work something up? Then they can start selling in the U.S.!?!?

  32. @CTM: Used is not the same as when you buy new. I’ve recevied numberous mailings (not couting the 2 “customer satisfcation campagin” letters [aka Recalls], a nice Saab blanket with embroidered SAAB logo and matching bag, direct phone calls from SAAB US Marketing asking me what I liked and did not like, and every few months a magazine and catalog of Saab accessoires. That is just in 2 years of ownership.

    And if the bad boy in the pics has AWD and more power with gasoline (aka E0) than my current 250 HP V-6 Aero, that’s my next Combi!!!!! I don’t care if it deos look like an Acura.

  33. You are absolutely right 1985 Gripen (Mike, right?). I did mean the dash-top SID. I just messed up my acronyms. (Now, a genuine HUD would be cool… Get the Caddi version with infrared for night vision, and add other critical info.)

    Anyway, I too am a CA resident, albeit quite a ways north of you (just west of Tahoe, northeast of Sacramento). I’d love to see diesel here on the left coast. I saw the Autoblog article about the Jetta.

    Drop a line if you’re ever up this way!


  34. Gripen: I know, I mean the shape of the chrome inserts reminded me of those diamond intakes on an F-22, and I wouldn’t have noticed it had it not been for the chrome outlining it.

    I also would really really love a black chrome/gunmetal/whatever option, though I like both.

  35. PGAero: my dad is from Grass Valley and my grandmother and cousins still live there! My father-in-law lives in Penn Valley.

    Though I’m not in the area very often. It’s been a couple of years.

    Sorry to everyone else who was subjected to reading this! I don’t have PGAero’s e-mail address to take this offline. 🙁

  36. with the fog lights on and those chrome inserts in the front air dams…hmm…just wondering what that might look like at night in the other guy’s rear view mirror….I’m thinking it might light things up pretty well. Like “MOVE OVER!!!”

  37. 1985 Gripen, I live in Nevada City. When to high school in Grass Valley.

    email me. gammelgard – at – hotmail-dot-com.

    It’s my junk email, so I’ll respond with my real one.


  38. Nevada City? i gotta be up there in june for a wedding, we ought to talk saab stuff after i watch a bunch of women cry and eat alot of cake.

  39. I reckon this is the new face of Saab and expect the new 9-5 to look pretty much the same. The front is very Saab and I must congratulate the designers on a superb job.

    I hope the quality has been improved.

  40. SilverAero: When will you be around? Drop me a line.

    “after I watch a bunch of women cry and eat a lot of cake.” Good stuff, that. (Weddings are good though…)


  41. Does body cladding actually do anything, or is it just there? I would assume its to prevent low-speed impact damage…

  42. I don’t know if that body cladding is functional. Some people say that it prevents dings in your car door from people opening their car door in parking lots, but I kind of doubt this as most car doors would hit your door above the cladding.

    While not functional, it did make the car doors look far less slab-sided and tall. It broke up the visual height of the door and kept the waistline of the car from looking too tall. But it seems like the trend nowadays (why is SAAB following trends instead of setting them) is slab-sided high waistlines like on the Chrysler 300 and Cadillac CTS and STS. Personally I liked the strips on the doors. I also liked the unique door handles SAAB USED to have. Now they’ve got door handles that look like everyone else’s (like on my mom’s new Acura TL or on my neighbor’s Chrysler Sebring). I guess it’s cheaper that way, but just add that to the list of unique SAABisms lost. What’s left?

  43. 50 comments!! WOOO!!! That’s a lot for two pictures.

    1973 Gripen,
    What makes the outside door handles so special? The ones on my c900 have a metal piece that you push into the door handle. The 9000 and the 9-5 have different door handles too, I don’t get what is so SAAB about the handles?

  44. Saablad:

    The thing that was special about SAAB’s door handles was that they were different than just about any other cars’ handles. They also until recently along with the side mirrors contrasted with the body color, which made them a bit unique.

    You asked. 😉

  45. Well, it appears SAAB is finally starting to appeal to the mainstream. I just hope they’re rewarded for selling their soul with more sales.

    It’d be ridiculous if they did something like eliminate the characteristic hatchback or two-door body styles to sell more cars and didn’t see greater sales as payback. 😮

  46. IMHO, the rims go a long way in adding much needed umph to this car. On MY07 the 17″ rims pictured (here) were only available on the US 60th Anniversary Edition. Recently Saab replaced this rim on the 60th AE with the one previously available in the premium 17 package. At the time the change did not make much sense as the orginal was quite popular. Now the majority of spy pics posted here of MY08 show the return of Saab’s best rim design in many years. Nice!

  47. Does anyone else notice that it has the SAAB emblem in the grille, whereas the 9-7x, 9-2x, and new 9-5 do not?

    Also, I don’t believe Saab sold their soul because of this car. It’s only a refresh…let’s see what happens. What is selling their soul anyway? Being attractive?

  48. I like the new design. But about the door handles. For my experience I can say, that the door protections are incredibly functional, not only to avoid hits from other cars, and also to hit with a wall when you open the door.

    About the door handles, I love the design, easy to use, functionality you can open fitting the hand over or under the handle. Then the incredibly solid feel, there is no movement, the plastic is hard and good feel. Instead of many cars, with cheap feeling, you take the handle and has many movement like it hasn’t a good adjustment of the parts. This happens in BMW’s, audi’s, and for example in my father ML350.

    Finally the safety reason, the Saab door handles are designed to be able to support all the force needed to open the door if you are trapped after an accident and the emergency assistance need to open the door blocked, hooking it throught the door handles.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *