The 2008 Saab 9-3


New info came in overnight, which I’ve added to this post and noted in bold font. Remember, this is the US market version of the 9-3. OnStar and XM radio are US-specific, but I’d imagine the rest of the gear mentioned below should make it to other markets as well.

I could tell you the name of the horse’s mouth from which this came, but then I’d have to kill you (and said horse would probably kill me).


I thought it might be timely to tie in all the info we know so far about the 2008 Saab 9-3 in one posting. Here it is….


The 2008 Saab 9-3 range will make its public debut on June 10, 2007, at the Saab Festival in Trollhattan, Sweden, and will have it’s official US debut on August 1, 2007. The unveiling in Sweden will be followed up with 3 weeks of press testing. It’s important to remember at this point that this is not an entirely new car. There’s substantial changes coming, but this is at most, a pretty comprehensive mid-cycle enhancement. An all-new 9-3 is expected in a few years time.


As per the photos that we’ve seen so far, the exterior of the car features numerous changes that incorporate the styling of the Saab Aero-X concept car. The hood features an Aero-X bulge whilst incorporating the clamshell look of Saabs dating back to the 1960s.

Every panel except for the quarter panels and the roof has been changed for this new model.

The front end looks all together more aggressive, especially in the Aero version that will feature a bit more of the matt chrome trim in areas such as the fog lamp surrounds etc.

The sides of the car no longer have the grey bump strip and the doors feature a new handle. Bump strips and oringal 9-3 door handles will remain on the convertible, however, but the bump strips will be body-colored.

The rear of the car features a new tail-lamp unit, which will have a clear ice-block look in some markets, though not likely in the North American market. There’s also a matt-chrome strip on the rear above the licence plate area.


The US market will retain the 2.0T and Aero specifications. The 2.0T retains the 210hp output from the 07 model and the Aero will have a mild bump up to 255hp from the 2.8l V6.

Other markets will also have diesel and BioPower variants as per local market demand. There is talk of a new, more powerful twin-turbo diesel being made available in the European market, however confirmation and timing is unsure at this point.

Specs known for the US market at this point were mentioned in a recent posting here. Their status for other markets is unknown, but most non-US specific items (e.g. OnStar) are likely:

Xm Standard
Onstar Standard
Rain Sensing Wipers Standard
Two new colors: Snow Silver Metallic and Pepper Green Metallic
Snow Silver Metallic will be available for all three body styles
Pepper Green Metallic will be available for Sedan and SportCombi only
There will also be a new color for the convertible in the spring. The name has not been released yet, but Monte Carlo Saffron Yellow, perhaps?
Chili Red and Lime Yellow will be dropped from the color palette
Grey Leather dropped, replaced by Black
Semi-aniline leather available but only on Sports seats – available in parchment or black
Parchment headliner standard
Aero V6 upped to 255 hp
New 16″ wheel for 2.0T, pictured below:


Optional 17″ 5-spoke wheels on 2.0T, which is the Aero wheel from the previous MY, below:


The Aero will feature the 17″ deep split Anniversary wheels as standard (see silver car at top)
Xenon Cornering Headlamps standard on Aero and part of Premium package for 2.0T
Express up windows standard on all Aero’s and convertibles. On sedans it comes when you get the car with a sunroof
All convertibles have remote opening top standard
Daytime running lamps Standard
Tire pressure monitor Standard
New premium Bose audio coming later – option on 2.0T and standard on Aero – SS and SC only – called Centrepoint Surround and worked on between Saab and Bose. Available after October
Improved cupholder with aluminium core for better feel and operation.

As was previously guessed, the photos we’ve seen are the Aero model, and only the Aero model will have the “matt chrome” inserts in the front spoiler.

There will be “color-matched Aero rocker panels” that will be available on all models.

There’s nothing I can see in the material I’ve received about Bluetooth being available for the US market. It looks like in the presence of OnStar, the aftermarket Bluetooth solution must continue. The European market will have Bluetooth as an option.

There’s also nothing about adaptive cruise control. Those little things that looked initially like sensors near the fog lamps are most likely adjusting points for the lamps. I tend to agree with Paul Humpage, who said in comments “If you’re driving in traffic heavy enough that your cruise control needs to adapt then you shouldn’t be using it in the first place.” This is, IMHO, technology for technology’s sake and won’t be missed.

There’s no definite mention of LEDs, however there is some news via comments that the “Signature” lighting mentioned in the press material is made up of LEDs at the front (above the headlamps – the daytime runners) and that at least the Aero will have LED’s in the rear.

Whilst the seats will have options of a higher quality leather, there doesn’t appear to be any material changes to the dash area. The audio unit is the same as MY07, though as noted above, a higher spec Bose unit will become available later in the model year.

There’s a “Fun and Sun” package mentioned, but no details available.



For those who skimmed the above, I’ll repeat it here:

According to my knowledge, the interior of the 2008 Saab 9-3 is going to be fundamentally the same as the outgoing 2007 model. Whilst there are numerous changes, the main visible ones are the upgrade option to the semi-aniline leather sports seats and the parchment roof liner.

The rest of the changes address insulation and rattle and squeak issues.

The corporate GM audio system remains, but as mentioned above, a new Bose system will be available from October 2007 called Centrepoint Surround. It gives 5-channel surround sound using Bose’s chip technology to create the surround effect from your standard digital music source (CD, MP3 etc).



Whilst Saab have licenced the name “XWD” it’s unclear as to what they’ll call it at this point.

The XWD system is a new Haldex unit. Whilst it was said initially that the Epsilon platform couldn’t take AWD, this new unit must get around whatever restrictions there were.

IMPORTANT: As stated several times, XWD is not likely to appear on the initial release of the 2008 Saab 9-3. My mail has it appearing as a MY08.5 addition to the range.

There is talk that there will be a slighly raised version of the 9-3 SportCombi that will also feature the XWD system to take on the Subaru set.

With the introduction of the XWD syste, there’ll also be a new “proactive” stability program introduced, which will boost power to the wheels needed to restore stability to the car.


Black Turbo:

Not much has leaked out about this one. This is reputed to be the big momma. The one that will fully take advantage of the XWD system and put some serious power on the ground.

Hints are tha the Black Turbo release may coincide with the XWD system coming out and if so, it would be the showpiece for that new system.

My latest mail on this (received just this morning!) is that the output will be 320hp and the rumoured 0-100 is in the mid-five second range.

19 inch wheels have been mentioned at a couple of sources, as have twin rectangular shaped rear exhaust outlets.

I’ve also heard mention mate of exclusive trim options for this car, which you’d probably expect anyway at this performance and price point.


Anything I’ve missed, let me know……

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  1. Steven,

    I was under the impression from the information that I have been reading on your site that the MY2008 9-3 was going to have all-wheel drive (ie. XWD).

    I have also not seen the V2V (SIDI) technology described either.

    Do you know anything about either the XWD and the V2V at this point with regards to the MY2008?

    Perhaps this information will be forthcoming in future press information (ie. the first public release on June 10th)?

  2. “the exterior of the car features numerous changes that incorporate the styling of the Saab Aero-X concept car”

    How do you figure? I just don’t see it. While I welcome the return of the clamshell-look (the front hinge would have been even better!), it’s not an Aero-X design element.

    What are “Xenon cornering headlamps”? This is not to mean that the parking lights are Xenon, right? Does this mean that the Xenon headlights will pivot depending on which way the car is steering, like competitors’ offerings?

    Something I keep forgetting to mention on another subject I was reminded of above (additional soundproofing to address squeaks and rattles): I have read of so many SAAB owners complaining that after the first 10K miles or so the interiors start squeaking and rattling, but I must say in my wife’s ’01 OG9-3 with over 91K miles there is nary a squeak or rattle. I couldn’t be more pleased. Was it subsequent models that first experienced this problem?

  3. Ryan, you made the same comment yesterday and I answered it yesterday, and in the post above.

    Mike, the deeper grille and hood bulge are the main Aero-X styling elements. But remember, this is a MCE, not a new car. Is there more Aero-X they could have done? Possibly, but they have to keep the car familiar to the people that like it, as well as incorporating some of the new styling language. It’s a transition.

    And as far as I know, the Xenons do pivot horizontally in line with the steering as you’ve alluded to.

  4. So we’re dispensing with screen names here? πŸ˜›

    It’s interesting that the semi-circular hood bulge on the Aero-X appears to be concave

    Whereas on the 9-3 MCE it appears to be convex

    Also fwiw, I wasn’t alluding to the belief that the Xenons pivot, I was asking if that’s what “Xenon cornering headlamps” means, and if not, what?

  5. Gripen, with the design, for someone like myself, with a designer background it is easy it see the correlations but I can see how someone without this training can have this difficulty. What is need to be remembered hear and I think Steven has mentioned this before, the key hear is that the new front end is “inspired” by the Aero x meaning design ques have been adopted from the Aero X and not simply “cut and pasted” Agreed that they could have taken it further but I thnk they have made a good combination of the current design of the 9-3 and the Aero X.

    An example of being inspired would be the original Audi TT, It was inspired by the Bauhous design principles that they applied to building and furniture, yet the car does not look like a house or lounge driving around with wheels attached.

  6. My theory is the 9-3X All-Road crossover (SportCombi-based) will be launched at the same time as the XWD configuration, sort of like when the SC was launched with the 2.8T V6. There’ll likely be a sedan version, but most likely not convertible version.

    This plus the upcoming global 9-4X, a more “pure” CUV if you can call it that, will complete the crossover range for Saab.

    Time will tell.

  7. I guess you’re right, Twat (is that your REAL name?). I just don’t see it. It seems to me that you can make any car look SLIGHTLY like the Aero-X FRONT END. It is solely the FRONT END we’re talking about, right? Just like they made the front end of the 9-2X slightly SAAB-like as well as the 9-7X?

    Maybe I’m really jaded, but I expect a little bit more than a semicircular depression in the hood and a grill that extends down into the bumper to see the similarity between the Aero-X and the 9-3 MCE. I can visually see the two next to each other in my head and don’t see too much similarity. Look at two photos next to each-other. I can see more 9-5 in the new 9-3 than Aero-X.

    Is a design background necessary to appreciate the similarities between the Aero-X and 9-3 refresh? If so, I think they’re going to have a hard time moving product. That’s a very small percentage of the potential SAAB customer base.

    I’m not saying I don’t like it. I like the new look, particularly on a light-colored car in non-Aero guise (sans chrome fog light surrounds). I just don’t see too much Aero-X in it (not that I really mind that too much either). And I don’t see as much Aero-X in the 9-3 MCE as I see Bauhaus in the AUDI TT.

  8. I must say that I’m intrigued by the “adjusting points for the fog lamps”.

    I never seen nothing like that to adjust fog lamps… are you sure it’s not some sort of technical equipment, like lane departure detection? (I’m not sure an adaptative cruise-control “radar” looks like that.)

    In my head, it sounds more plausible than “adjusting points for the lamps”… πŸ™‚ Even designwise it would be too lame. :p

  9. Tiago, I was deferring to the knowledge of commenters on what they actually are.

    I can tell you that from what I’ve seen they’re NOT adaptive cruise sensors though, as there was no adaptive cruise mentioned in the spec information.

  10. Gripen,

    No it is not my real name, it came about buy shortening my name for a work email address, which caused a few fellow employes calling me that (they thought it was funny because it is similar to twit). My real name is Trent.

  11. Gripen,

    No it is not my real name, it came about by the shortening my name for a work email address, which caused a few fellow employes calling me that. My real name is Trent.

  12. Imagine hitting the comments button twice…..what a twit πŸ˜‰

    FYI you non-Aussies, a twit is a mild colloquialism for an idiot. It’s generally used by people that know the person in question, though not always, and isn’t regarded as strongly as downright stupidity etc

    Of course, “twat” has other implications in other parts of the world.

    Now, back to the cars….

  13. Thanks Swade,

    I probably do not need to remind you that Swade is also only one letter away from other slang with worse connotations.

  14. As a fairly newcomer to Saab, I must say that I like the car. It offers eye catching styling and power in a price range that other cars don’t. A big problem in the US is that everyone is switching to automatic transmissions. Saab, Volvo and Audi are the only three automakers that make wagons available with manuals that are also mated with a high output engine. So in a nutshell, for me the newly designed 9-3 Sportcombi Aero available with 255hp just makes sense, not to mention that it’s got the best looking rear end I’ve seen on a wagon in a while (in the US). All I can say now is, when can I order mine!!!

  15. Yeah, that’s why I kept saying “nice name, there” when responding to his comments a while ago, I gave up when I realized that he didn’t mean THAT kind of twat.

    Also, twit is a common word here, too. Also also, yay Roald Dahl.

  16. We have the word “twit” with the same meaning in the States and the word “twat”, a derrogatory remark for female genatalia. In fact, it’s pretty obscene here! It’s funny how things don’t mean the same thing in different places. Thanks for the background. I like the name “Trent” and considered it for one of my sons, but I didn’t want to be accused of naming him after Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (my favorite band).

    Back to the cars, I really am thinking that thing in the fog light assembly is an adjustment screw as I think I can see a Torx head screw in one of the shots. Really strange place to put the adjustment screw, I would think (really disturbs the aesthetics) but someone else mentioned this is the exact same location of the fog light adjustment screw on another SAAB model.

    I haven’t heard any news of SAAB developing or near production on any adaptive cruise control or lane departure warning systems, but that doesn’t mean they’re not working on it.

    If I had to guess I’m going with adjustment screw.

  17. “Interior:The rest of the changes address insulation and rattle and squeak issues.”
    Is this confirmed or just what we all hope for? πŸ˜‰

  18. Acutally, the Black Turbo wins in the drag race, by .03 secs…. πŸ™‚ coupled with the fact it isn’t driven by a wanker means it’s an overall win for Saab.

  19. And wanker is a word used for someone who plays with themselves alot , usualy because their car is a bagfull of CU&*S

  20. Richo,

    Asuming both numbers are from THE CRANK, and asuming that AWD eats up more in drivetrain loss than RWD, we can assume that the pos, i mean, beemer, is getting more to the wheels… right?

  21. Spotted and then follow a MY08
    93ss I saw the center console and it looked exactly the same as my MY07 93

  22. Gripen:

    For me, this is how I see this facelift in terms of being “Aero-X inspired” …

    We know there will be an all-new car out in a few years, right? And we have been told by various sourced that the all-new car will take the design cues even further, right? So, if you can, imagine a “morph” from the current 9-3 to the Aero-X (or a more heavily influenced future 9-3) … the facelift is just a snapshot part way through the morph. This, in effect, sets up the promised future styling on the next gen without making come across as a huge/drastic/shocking change all at once.

    Does that make sense at all? Seriously, if you can, look at the current 9-3, the facelift, and the Aero-X all side by side by side … can you picture the morph?

  23. Any information on the insulation changes would be very welcome. The main complaint we have with our 2001 and 2003 SAABs (aside from OnStar going away) is that they are way too noisy on the highway. It’s very hard to listen to the radio or audio without cranking the volume to unsafe levels. If SAAB has made any improvements here this would be terrific news.

  24. Has anybody looked at the Opel or Vaxhal sites lately? i did today…the cornering headlights already in this GM brand, simple adaption/refinement. Also snazzy SUV that would make a nice 9-4x rolling chassis and mechanicals.

  25. 1985 Gripen (see, politely using full screen-name), can you imagine how much of a disaster a true Aero-X concave bonnet would be? My old ute had a prominent bulge pressed into the hood and the concavities either side of it were massive dirt catchers. And nobody likes dirt around their bulge, right?

    I’d like to say for the record that I hate the new design, makes my base 06 Sportcombi look ancient, not to mention my newly acquired 98 9000 Anniversary (which is now so uncool it’s cool, cream interior, walnut dash, and retro aeroplanes embossed in the seat-backs, oh and the mahogany steering wheel. Oh yeah, and it’s not a real Saab as I keep trying to start it using the lock for the oddments storage in the centre console).

  26. the my’08, 9-3 fasica is more 9-7x than aero-x. the only aero-x pieces i see are the u-shaped hood crease (allbeit, the aero-x’s is concave) and the “dedicated” side air dams. the somewhat-deeper grille (compared to the current model year) and the wraparound headlights are 9-7x, and overshawdow the aero-x’s contributions; but only until the next generation, hopefully.

  27. saab9s: My 96 900S has wraparound headlights, I think they look cool. I don’t really like the AeroX lights anyway, I don’t like how the grille extends into them, it makes it look less three portish and more one portish. Plus they look tiny. I like the new lights.

    turbin: Saabs have only had that center key thing since the 99, so, really, only 5 models out of like 15 have had it. As much as I like the ignition in the floor, it’s probably more Saab-y to just have it not on the steering column. Though it should stay on the floor :p

  28. Let me remind you that there was an actual safety related issue related to having the ignition in the traditional spot…

  29. Seriously, (RHD car) I open the door with my right hand, key in my left, sit down and reach to the centre and almost try to shove the key in the storage lock.

    The centre key is just so convenient, have even sat in the back passenger side seat on a hot day with my baby boy and reached through and turned on the ignition to fire up the AC. At least the 9000 ignition isn’t totally hidden behind the wheel like on most other cars.

  30. “At least the 9000 ignition isn’t totally hidden behind the wheel like on most other cars.”

    So true, Turbin. The Mrs had a bomb-a-dore last week for work and I had to crane my neck around the side of the steering wheel to find the key slot.

    Very easy on the 9000. Am eyeing a Carlsson on Ebay at the moment, too. Looks alriiiiight. I wish…

  31. Mmmm, Carlsson 2-tone wheels are possibly the coolest Saab wheels ever ( at least for the 9000 anyway ). If you get it and upsize the rims I’m in first for the old ones!!!

  32. The new yellow color is called “Saffron Yellow”.

    The automatic versions will include a new “Sport-button” for improved response.

    The new leather interior is called “Premium leather”. Looks great!

  33. New as in improved, or new as in it wasn’t there before? I haven’t sat in a Saab that wasn’t at least 7 years old, did they ditch the Sport button at some point? That kinda sucks if they did, that thing was great. If it was just improved, then that’s awesome.

  34. ok — this is a rather random question. i am looking at an 07 9-3 and have a pretty good deal on the table but i think i may at least hold off until the offical unveiling of the 08 to compare. my question is, traditionally, how much time passes between the introduction of the new model and the beginning of some sort of deal incentives (ex. 1500 cashback)?

    any help is appreciated — i am new to saab, but i must say that i am liking what i am seeing!

  35. Man, all this cussing… Makes me feel right at home on the HMAS Trollhattan !!

    Aye, ye’ fellow sailors have quite the musical tongues about ye’

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