It probably had more to do with the previous year’s release of the Saab 9-5, but in 1998 Saab decided that the 900 should be called the 9-3. I was pondering my first Saab purchase at the time and didn’t really know much about the current cars, hence this will seem a little sketchy.
Right or wrong, the models are thought of as being reasonably separate. The 9-3 had a smarter looking body kit, smarter wheels and probably enjoyed some mechanical and interior refinements as well. It was all basically the same, but just a bit better thought out and screwed together in a number of areas. Unfortunately a press release saying “we made XXXX changes for this new model….” is no longer available.
The 9-3 dropped the V6 engine that was available in the 900 but retained the 2.0 engine and got the 2.3 engine as well in a number of instances. I’m a little vague on my NG900 history (obviously) so I’m a little unsure if it was ever blessed with the 2.3.
Here’s what they looked like in their 1997 and 1999 five-door guises:
The reason I’m thinking about all of this is the latest vehicle update we’ve experienced from Saab. Here are the 2007 and 2008 Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans:
Fortunately for this new model, we do have a concrete number for changes made. That number (IIRC) is 2,157 and they range from body panels to insulation thickness and probably some silly things like the brand of carpets (I’m speculating there).
The point is, there’s a lot changed in this new car and I’m personally tipped towards thinking that the changes in the 2008 9-3 range well and truly outweigh the changes made between the 900 and 9-3, despite it being deemed worthy of a name change.
Just think about the real big-ticket items coming in on the 2008 Saab 9-3:
Major panel work
Twin turbo diesel engine setup
‘Sport’ model added to automatic transmission
Uprated V6 to 280hp
And the all-important XWD
Major NVH work for a much quieter ride
I could probably count BioPower as well, though there were a handful of 2007 models sold with BioPower just prior to this new car’s release.
The point is, this new Saab 9-3 isn’t a fully new model and I’m not claiming it to be, but it’s pretty much got all the attributes to almost deserve the title. Lesser vehicle-enhancements have earned the right in the past to call themselves ‘new’ or even change their name.
I know the whole name-change thing is pretty much a marketing decision etc, but these are the things I think about sometimes.