by André Braß, Unna
1998 entered the big Saab stage on 9-3. With changes from over 1.100 parts one could not speak of a small model maintenance of the unhappy 900 of the second generation, but rather of a new car. Externally, the Saab designers took care of Einar Johan Hareide, especially the front and rear end.
The front end received the new grille of the previously presented Saab 9-5 with, compared to the previous version, slightly wider lines and a central bar with indicated aircraft shape, which again and again found in some form over the decades since the company was founded.
This emphasis on the commonality between the models followed a Saab tradition. Even the early 9000 shared the front view with the first 900 (first with the straight, later with the oblique snout), and later the 900 of the second generation with the later 9000. Compared to the second-generation 900, whose design was developed by Björn Envall (the designer of the 99 Combi Coupe, the 900 or the first EV-1 concept car, for example), the front bumper design has also changed.
Furthermore, they followed the Saab innovation that after bumping up to 8 km / h, they returned to their original form, as they once debuted in the 99. In the back, the license plate space moved between the lights, which were given a new color scheme (based on 9000 and 9-5).
The 9-3 was in the body forms Hatchback sedan, coupe and convertible. The convertible was one of the few four-seaters on the market. While the sedan and the coupe, especially in Trollhättan ran off the line, the convertible was manufactured in Uusikaupunki, Finland.
Inside, the 9-3 took over the tachograph with the asymmetrically structured speed scale up to 140 km / h from the 9-5. The idea behind this wide tachometer scale was that the readability in this speed range was improved. In addition, the driver should be tempted to be a bit slower on the way (with the position of the tachometer needle at 140 km / h would be faster at a "normal" scale faster).
Furthermore, there was the "Night Panel", with the operation of all unneeded displays except the tachometer are hidden so as not to distract the driver's view at night unnecessarily off the road. The constant safety thinking was again shown in detail here. The tacho lighting then only goes back to the described 140 km / h mark. Only when the driver accelerates the car above this mark, the rest of the scale shows.
In addition to airbags in the steering wheel and in the passenger area, airbags are also found in the side seats of the front seats, which inflate up to the head. In addition, the 9-3 also received front seats with active head restraint (SAHR, Saab Active Head Restraints), which in the event of an impact to catch the back-hurling head early and thus prevent serious injury. Side impact protection in the doors and a shape of the seats, which prevents slipping under the belt in case of accident (anti-submarining), were already mandatory at Saab and also found their way into the 9-3. In addition, there were on all seats (5 in coupe and sedan, 4 in convertible) three-point seat belts.
In the engines Saab again put on its proven two-liter petrol engine with 130 PS or turbo with 185 PS. In the first year, the 2.3 naturally aspirated engine with 150 PS could also be ordered. Thereafter, this engine was replaced by an 2.0 liter turbo with 154 PS. After changing the engine management from Trionic 5 to Trionic 7 this variant came on 150 PS.
Premiere celebrated the first diesel engine in a Saab. The 2.2 liter diesel with initially 115 and later 125 PS was a rough fellow, but at the same time a reliable endurance runner, but nowadays increasingly eradicated by environmental zones (unless the owner has invested early in a particulate filter retrofit solution that is no longer available today is).
The entry-level model was 1998 the 9-3 Coupe with the two-liter basic gasoline engine. It cost in the smallest equipment new 37.950 DM (= 19.404 Euro). The most expensive closed variant was 1998 the five-door with the 185 PS turbo engine. The higher equipment line SE included 59.950 DM (= 30.652 Euro) in the list. The most expensive way to drive a 1998-9 3 was as a convertible with the 185 PS turbo engine and the SE equipment. Then at least 72.250 DM (= 36.941 Euro) were due and the 80.000 DM brand was to break through with a few extras in addition to the rich features.
But with this engine and equipment offer it did not remain. In addition to a brief guest appearance of an 200 PS turbomort in model year 1999, Saab 1999 moved to model year 2000 the Aero, which got a two-liter turbo engine with 205 PS. There were also other front, side and rear aprons. Inside sports seats were installed.
1999 also saw the arrival of a car that seamlessly joined the great Saab tradition of 99 Turbo and 900 Turbo S rioting vehicles, the Viggen. He celebrated his world premiere in March 1999 in New York and his European premiere in April 1999 in Leipzig. The Viggen received the well-known 2.3 liter turbo engine (from 9000 and 9-5) with 225 PS (later 230 PS). Externally, the Viggen got other bumpers front and rear, as well as other side skirts. This package gave the car a very chic and timeless exterior that still looks fresh today. Incidentally, it also lowered the drag coefficient of the car. For model year 2001 also the Aero got the optics of the Viggen (with the exception of the rear wing), as well as later the Last Edition of the convertible. Inside, there were new sports seats for the Viggen, which continued Saab's strength from superb seats. They also later found their way into the Aero.
Over the years, there were several special models. These included the Force, Sport Edition, Anniversairy, Design Edition or Last Edition models.
The 9-3 was again a success for Saab. After about 5 years ended at the 08.05.2002 the production of the 9-3 as a sedan and coupe in Trollhättan. The convertible was also built in Finland 2003 (as well as a few closed models for Scandinavia). Altogether 433.445 vehicles were produced in the short time. With the 9-3 of the first generation, the Saab tradition of the Combi-Coupe called practical hatchback, which was presented in 1973 with the 99 in August, formally continued and further developed over the 900 of the first and the second generation, as well as the 9000 has been. The successor was only available as a conventional sedan or station wagon (and of course convertible).
The 9-3 took the same path as the 9000, which was often overlooked as a mere everyday car. Good and well maintained specimens are always harder to find. Specially well-maintained Aero or Viggen models have become scarce and are being sought. A critical eye and special care should owners or interested parties of an 9-3 in the growing age, for example, the struts dedicate, the too early to bum. Overall, however, the 9-3 are reliable vehicles that - good care provided - in the best Saab meaning accompany miles and miles and prepare pleasure.
Pictures: Saab Automobile, saabblog.net