More 2008 9-3 Stuff

I’d say Gripen’s either between Washington and LA or he’s being grilled by SaabUSA to find out TrollhattanSaab’s secrets, but whilst we’re waiting for him to check in, there is some interesting stuff going around about the 2008 Saab 9-3 in other channels.

Car and Driver have posted their first drive impression. I’m not sure if this hails from Washington or Sweden, but I’ll go out on a limb and say C&D are playing fast and loose with the facts here by timing it to coincide with US drives whilst the writeup is based on a Swedish experience.

They’re also playing fast and loose with the specs:

Most of the 9-3’s competitors, for example, offer all-wheel drive, so after sufficient harping from Saab’s U.S. arm, 9-3 sedans and wagons will be granted that option on January 1, 2008. That $2000 goody will be available with the 210-hp turbo four-cylinder as well as the turbo V-6.

Everything I’ve heard so far indicates that the XWD system will be a V6 only job initially and that it will trickle down to other variants as time goes by. C&D seem to be indicating here that XWD will be available for the 2.0T in the US from the get-go, which is not my understanding at all. Perhaps we’ll hear more about that once Gripen checks in, but I’ll be (pleasantly, but very) surprised if that’s the case.

C&D’s conclusion seems to be a lot different from mine. My gearbox didn’t feel like it was connected with ropes. My car’s steering didn’t feel too light. Yes the seats felt superb (as always) but no, there wasn’t any excessive road noise. It’s another pointer to the fact that this article was probably based on a Swedish drive, where they were using pre-production vehicles that may not have been finished like vehicles for sale would be.


For those of you who were curious about what they all had for dinner at the House of Sweden the other night, AutoSpies was there and have a pretty good gallery of the night’s proceedings. There’s some people in the pics, though I couldn’t pick Gripen out. There’s one guy in a T-shirt though…..

Here’s dinner. Click through for the rest of the gallery.

Saab dinner

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  1. I’m mildly disappointed — I’ve always thought C&D to be a little better than the rest. Is Csaba Csere still the editor? He’s a keeper.

    (There’s that whole Hungarian thing coming up again, what’s up with that?)

  2. I just got my C&D last week and I always flip through to see if they have anything on the MY08 9-3. I was happy to see the article but overall they did not seem to be impressed with the car. It sounds like whoever wrote the article has something against Saabs.

  3. Sorry about my silence. I’ve taken the opportunity to fly home from the media event in Washington a few days late and I flew my wife and 10-year-old son out here to join me for a mini-vacation. We have been touring all the sites and fly home tonight. You’ll see more updates from me on the SAAB stuff in the next few days. Sorry for the delay.

    BTW, the International Spy Museum was awesome! I went twice: once by myself before my family flew in and again with my son. He loved it too!

    P.S.S. SG: if you’re reading this, you never gave back my SAAB pen you borrowed the other day! 🙂

  4. Just read the article in the current (Australian) edition of MOTOR about Johansson, XWD and his engineering philosophy.

    I’m sure most of you may have already read it elsewhere. Found it impressive. With guys like him in SAAB org there’ll always be the opportunity for SAAB to regain some of former independance.

  5. That Car and Driver review was not that bad and they seemed to like the car to some extent which is a surprise from them. I think they have spent a bit too much time behind the wheel of the G6 and other Epsilon variants and have walked away unimpressed overall. Having driven a G6 with ‘electric’ steering and odd plastic interior bits here and there, one would be hard pressed to believe the 9-3 shares anything with that car.

    The 9-3 should demonstrate one thing to GM, and that is to equip vehicles with world-class powertrains from the start and you will attract buyers that want something special from a vehicle. Pushrod V6’s chained to GM’s lackluster 4-speed automatics are bit out of date, and although most buyers don’t give it a second thought – it shows when driven against competitors vehicles.

    The 2.8L turbo/six speed auto is a great combination, and although you cannot turbo-charge everything (well, you could) there is plenty of potential that V6 in other forms.

  6. The reason you don’t see me in those shots (no, I didn’t show up in a t-shirt. I had a sport coat and button-up shirt on despite the claim that the dinner was to be “casual” dress. The “casual” on my part meant “no tie”) is because these pictures are from “wave two”. I was part of “wave one” two days prior. The dinner had a different menu when I went as well. It was a delicious filet mignon during my and SG’s wave.

  7. Man, I have like a week and a half’s worth of TS to catch up on. I just saw my name invoked in this post.

    The word I learned at the U.S. MY2008 9-3 launch this week is that XWD will only be available in the Aero option (the V6) and of course the Turbo-X this model year. It will be available on the 2.0T next year (MY2009). This info comes directly from Andreas Andersson of SAAB Sweden this past Tuesday morning.

    Also, it appears Car & Driver has it wrong about the availability date of XWD. It is not “January 1st” as they say. It’s “Spring 2008”. This info comes in the press materials given to us at the media event earlier this week as well.

    I don’t know if C&D were invited to the second wave of the event, but they definitely didn’t have a representative present in wave one.

  8. I’m trying to catch-up on what I missed while I was away at SAAB-related events the past couple of weeks so I finally got around to reading the C&D article just now.

    As you can see from my post above I do make mention to the aspects of it mentioned here at TS.

    What I think happened is that the author of this must’ve been part of the “long lead” group (I understand this is the lingo in the media industry for print outlets who need a long period of time between writing a story and when it actually hits newsstands) who went over to Sweden after the SAAB Festival was over (a couple of weeks after, I believe). They were allowed to drive the pre-production versions of the XWD at that time.

    Either the author got some things wrong or some of the facts have changed between now and then.

    The author is also mistaken in stating the current 9³ came out in 2004. It was of course 2003, but I’m nitpicking.

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