At the GM Powertrain technology show, they offered up a new 2008 Saab 9-3 equipped with a two-stage turbocharged 1.9L Family B diesel engine. The engine is another example of modern common rail injection diesel engines. As with all diesels, the engine exhibited no shortage of torque which is the performance parameter that really matters to the vast majority of drivers.
The engine proved to be strong and flexible at both highway speeds and in simulated urban driving. There was no noticeable turbo lag and stepping on the accelerator resulted in immediate response. The engine was as smooth and quiet as a good gasoline engine with no shaking or rattling. The engine has a particulate filter in the exhaust stream but otherwise doesn't meet current US NOx emissions standards. That would require the addition of urea injection or some other treatment system. Unfortunately, GM has no current plans to offer this engine in the US market although that could change if other upcoming diesels do well in the market.
The updated 2008 9-3 is something we will be seeing in the US market this fall. The updated face draws inspiration from the Aero-X concept and has a much more aggressive look than the previous model. The clear lens tail-lights are starting to become a cliche but the overall look is clean and attractive. The driving route was too short to really properly evaluate the ride and handling but the first impression was good and we look forward to a more thorough review of the new 9-3.