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Click image above for a high-res gallery of the 2008 Saab 9-3

Tougher emissions and fuel economy regulations in Europe and the United States have forced Saab to put the brakes on development of the next-generation 9-3. The current Saab 9-3 is built on GM's Epsilon platform (shared with the Opel Vectra, Chevrolet Malibu, and Pontiac G6). The next-gen model was set to be based on the longer and wider GM Epsilon II platform (used for the 2009 Saab 9-5). However, Saab and parent company General Motors are considering radically downsizing the model to fit GM's upcoming 'Global premium compact' platform - a size rivaling the Audi A3.

GM design sources told Autocar that a smaller chassis would dictate new technologies to maximize interior room. These would include a slim modular roof assembly and slimmer doors with advanced side-impact technology. General Motors has also hinted that the new 9-3 could be manufactured in the United States. Many European automakers are feeling the impact a weak dollar is having on profits and, like BMW, are moving or increasing production in the States.


[Source: Autocar]



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  • 29 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have wanted a Saab for a while, but until they lose a little weight and cleans up its complicated interior, i still search for a replacement for my Aurora.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The interior was cleaned up for 2007 in both the 9-3 and 9-5; the switchgear is basically a slightly nicer version of standard GM fare and isn't nearly as problematic as the 2003-2006 split-SID.

        You've hit on one of my biggest beefs with GM: the unwillingness to let Saab be Saab, especially in terms of design and marketing. The interior, under GM, has gotten fussier and fussier since the GM900/9-3 was introduced. It's better, but gimmicks like the chrome instrument surrounds and metal batwing trim on the steering wheel have no place in a brand that defined itself by sensible, if unconventional, ergonomics.

        Worse, still, is how Saab doesn't yet have a hybrid, nor a commercial implementation of BioPower. Saab, more than any other brand, should have gotten a hybrid powertrain--it has the perfect demographics for it. So what does GM do? Puts it in the Escalade, a vehicle only eclipsed in anti-green appeal by the Hummer.

        GM flat out does not understand Saab's market (or marketing in general, it seems). Selling the Cadillac BLS in Europe (heck, selling Cadillac in Europe at all) and the 9-7x in America just shows how fundamentally clueless GM is at product planning . For another example, see the colossal failure that is Pontiac's portfolio.

        The cars aren't bad--some are excellent--but the management is thoroughly useless.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Unfortunately, Saab makes the lightest cars in that market segment. BMW, Merc, Audi, etc are all 100+ pounds heavier.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey, the original 99/900 was around for fifteen years, wasn't it? This is typical Saab product lifecycle.

      On that note, isn't this the 9-5's tenth year?
        • 7 Years Ago
        15? Try 26. The 99 came out in late '67 as a 68 model and then that basic body ran through to the '94 900 convertible. 1968-1994. 26 years. That's getting your money's worth.
      • 7 Years Ago
      9-4 coupe and sedan , slightly larger than current 9-3
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't believe it will much downsizing in overall length, weight will be cut aside from XWD models.9-3 hatch up against A3 make sense, wonder if plans are to change 9-5 to Cuv and give us a 9-4 sedan along A4.
      GM screw up Saab in the 90's maybe by adding a true 9-3 hatch and sedan on different platforms.Saab will once again have a fan base and there own products not just tuned (insert name).
      I would really like to see a nicely equipped 2 sports hatch from Saab 9-1
        • 7 Years Ago
        +1

        IMO, the 2002 Saab 9-3 hatch is still the best Saab yet. A few inches shorter and it would be nearly the perfect car for most driving.
      • 7 Years Ago
      a3 sized turbo 300 horse 4x4 because audi is too friggin lame to bring it here and instead sends a 3700 pound luxo cruiser with an anemic 6cylinder and low 20s mpg
      • 7 Years Ago
      Cool. I hate the fact that cars continue to grow in size with every generation.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am a little wary of GM's intentions here. The current Saab 9-3 is the only Saab that's based on a modern platform, well executed design. It's a resonably original design (it's not a rebadged subaru or Chevy) and it's actually the only Saab that sells somewhat well and gets good reviews. Now GM is saying that they're going to change all that? Ok, I do think that compact luxury (like C30 or A3) soon will be a must have for every luxury car company, but what's going to replace the 9-3 in the model lineup? The new 9-5 is supposedly going to be bigger than the current 9-3. The next 9-3 will be smaller than the current 9-3. So what's going to take the place of the current 9-3?

      • 7 Years Ago
      Hearing that GM is halting the development of any SAAB scares me, they need new models and they need 'em 5 years ago. I tested a 9-3 a couple years back and it seemed like a piece of tin in comparison to other cars i was testing. The idea of getting lighter with thinner doors, etc seems like it might not be a good idea for a premium car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      SAAB has long been dead since it adondoned the fastback hatch and uses the blant common Epsilon platform. However, it's a right direction for the 9-3 to be smaller, lighter, nimbler. Under the current CAFE law and much high gas price, the entry level preminum sporty brand like SAAB should retain its performance by using a lighter, smaller, but yet stronger chassis not to scrifice its saftey. A 2.0 turbo 4 banger or smaller turbo engine should be enough to power the car, and yet to keep weight low.
      vwdoug11
      • 7 Years Ago
      So how might this affect the 9-1 or 9-1x (whatever it might be called), the car that would supposedly be on the Global Delta (Compact) platform? Push it down to the Global Small Vehicle platform (a la Aveo, etc.)?

      Also, US mfg. possibility is another strange call, though I suppose it's not that strange with the 9-4x to be built in Mexico.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @vwdoug11
        While the idea of a turboed-till-its-eyes-bulge subcompact is a good fit for Saab, the Aveo is really a piss-poor platform for such an endeavour. That the Aveo can make the Yaris seem fun to drive is indicative of this.

        Now, a dressed up Opel Corsa with a 260hp+ turbo four, that's something else.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Awesome! I've been wanting smaller cars forever and all it took is hyper inflation and skyrocketing fuel costs. Maybe car companies will figure out how to make 250hp engine go 30mpg now instead of wasting time with 500hp ones that get 15.
        • 7 Years Ago
        How small do you want to go??? Nothing wrong with the Fit/Versa/Yaris/Aveo selection currently available.

        Well, MAYBE the Aveo.

        Can we count the SX4? Sure, why not.
      • 7 Years Ago
      How does this affect the 9-3 Aero XWD model?
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