10 years Saab 9-3 III

How fast 10 years pass! With model year 2008, the Swedes fundamentally reworked the Saab 9-3 series. In Trollhättan, there was more than just a facelift, and the facts speak for it. The history of the 9-3 III is above all closely connected with a name.

Saab 9-3 Convertible, MY 2008
Saab 9-3 Convertible, MY 2008. Image: Saab Automobile AB / Archive saabblog.net

It was the years of Carl Peter Forster, the powerful GM manager who could have turned Saab's fate. Its open plan is legendary Interview with the Svenska Dagbladet 2014, where he talked about spending years in Trollhättan.

Journey into the future. The 9-3 III was just the prelude.

Saab was in bad shape at the time. Collaborations with the FIAT Group and Subaru were not fruitful. The 9-5 I was ready for replacement, but not a successor in sight. The new 9-3 disappointed qualitatively, besides Saab had burned a lot of money with own developments.

In 2005 Forster started cleaning up in the stable backa. Competencies were relocated to Rüsselsheim, Saab integrated into the group structure after 15 years with the GM. The move was long overdue, but not only met with approval. And finally, investments were made in the model range. Saab 9-5 II and 9-4x are Carl Peter Forster cars - even if they came too late to save the brand.

At the same time, the 9-3 has been completely redesigned in two steps: 2007 and 2008. Typically Saab, because even before you had larger updates like distributed over two model years. The Saab's own bus system was disposed of, as well as the unreliable navigation. In the interior, more valuable materials and improved seats were added. The ugly, gray Chevy plastic of the early years was history, better plastics now dominated the interior.

Bio ethanol and strong diesel. Saab was back!

Even more important: New, modern performance diesel and bio-ethanol engines set standards. They turned 9-3 into a "environmental car", Which was sponsored by the Swedish state. Saab was suddenly interesting again, a pioneer in environmental friendliness and performance.

In addition to many qualitative improvements, there were more powerful brakes. In addition, adaptive bi-xenon curve and highway light on request and a tire pressure control system. The most striking changes took place on the sheet metal dress. GM, otherwise preferred to sail on austerity, had donor pants on and invested in new tools. Bonnet and fenders have been redesigned. The shell, now in the form of a shell, took up the traditional design language of Saab again.

It blends harmoniously into the line of the 9-3 III as if it had always been there. New headlights, with LED signatures, rounded off the striking appearance. They gave the 9-3 III a modern look that has survived to this day.

The 9-3 III was built from model year 2008 to 2011 1/2. It could have been the prelude to the restart of Saab as a Swedish premium brand. Had the financial crisis not come in 2008, 9-4x and 9-5 II would have started earlier. Saab would have ignited a firework of novelties. And we would have also seen the Saab 9-3 Griffin and the completely new 9-3 generation that followed. Saab might have survived and GM would still be number 1 in the automotive world.

But the investments came years too late, we know the outcome of the story.

What remains is a car 10 years later that is the most relaxed way to drive a Saab day after day. The 9-3 III isn't a collector's item like a 9-5 NG, but it's a vehicle that is still well-dressed in the faceless mass of modern vehicles.

With a dash of Swedish individuality, style, inexpensive to maintain, and safe. The engines are robust, especially the 4-cylinder turbo petrol engines with Saab's own Trionic run and run - if you treat them properly. The strong diesels are not quite as long-lived, here Saab hardly differs from the competition. The optional all-wheel drive is a story in itself, a separate article will appear. The body of the small series from the Göta Älv, contrary to earlier assumptions, seems to be built to last. There are examples with impressive mileage that receive new engines and transmissions at high mileage. Because it's worth it and because the substance is worth it.

22 thoughts on "10 years Saab 9-3 III"

  • Funny. Quite funny!

    This is a satire and a hint with the fence post to all who see and know only a single star in the automobile sky - especially since the car was shown in the best light, as you write. An amazingly humorous detail for a GEZ-ZDF-Schnulze.

  • Who saw 2.9.2018 on ZDF last Sunday? The story is not worth a word, but the guy drove a beautiful Saab 9-3 II, an Aero convertible with a very nice interior.
    What do I want to say? The shape of the 93er is simply timelessly beautiful and elegant. As a convertible anyway. The front of the 93 II pleases with personally better than the 93 III.
    The car was shown 2-3 in the best light and also made an outrageous figure over 10 years after its appearance! Funny (or sad?) To see that the label was pasted over with a rather clumsy star.

  • Drive 2 SAAB 93 X 2011 / 2010 (178 PS 1,9 TTD 75 tkm / 220 PS-2,0 four-wheel 56 tkm). I do not give them both in a dream !!
    Reliable and not standing in front of every door. Luckily I have a TOP SAAB workshop nearby and I hope there are enough spare parts left for a few years. Greetings from the north!

  • “Why you (...) is a mystery to me. For the showroom!

    Unfortunately against any practice. With protection, the loading sill stays beautiful longer. Unfortunately, things are similar with the (dying out) roof rails. More and more manufacturers and models are relying on rails. How are you supposed to thread a tension belt through there? Really practical ...

  • There is no better way to express it! Because there was no successor, the 9-3 III remains probably the last Saab new car that you can drive in everyday life, without having to constantly fear for the metal like the 9-5 NG.

  • The 9-3 II “Sith” is one of the very few examples of a successful facelift in which the new car actually looks better and more coherent than its predecessor.

    And the interiors are worlds better too. One of the few “new cars” with a damn high want-to-have factor. Even after ten years.

  • Hirsch offers software upgrades and discounts for the 9-5 SC as follows:

    "Upgrades for MY'13- '14 (For newer cars: regular prices as listed below)"

    So a discount up to MY 14 and normal prices for even younger people. I think there is great tolerance within the SAAB community when it comes to time issues and dates. Very, very big ...

    The main thing is that we still have spare parts, beautiful pictures and a reading pleasure!

  • The article is late, and should have gone online before the summer break. I hope he is still within the tolerance limit.

  • Congratulations on your 11th birthday! How the time flies …

  • After overcoming my “diesel depression” about 1,5 years ago by buying a now almost 20 year old SAAB intake manifold injector (9-5 petrol limo, which really hardly produces soot particles), I still drive my 2008 with great pleasure TTID Aero Convertible. It is clearly the least problematic car that I have driven to date. However, it is almost never used in city or short-haul traffic, so the diesel advantages come to the fore.

    I still think the front design is outstanding. About the design of the rear end can be sure split opinion. All in all, a great companion on long distances, whether open or closed.

  • As we also have a 9-3II TID sedan and a 9-3III Biopower XWD Sportcombi I also see the differences. The interior I like in both good, high quality and beautiful it is by the black of course in the facelift, but I think it's not that bad in the old.
    At least the large navigation system inside has, then the whole dashboard landscape still looks contemporary. By the SID in the middle has almost a head up display, the Navipfeile in connection with Nighpanel is great, I think that's a pity that it is no longer in the 9-3III.
    Concerning the seats, I have to say that I feel and feel better on the fabric seats in the 9-3II and feel more in the seat than in the 9-3III.
    Why you sacrificed the plastic protection strip on the sill at the facelift is a mystery to me.

  • It was not meant like that. I just wanted to express that your comment, your experiences with the 9-3 II / III and their diesel engines fit together with the article in my opinion. As I said, I don't see any (!) Contradiction ...

    This also and especially includes all "statements about quality" that you or the author of the article have made. When quality is talked about here on the blog, it is actually always on the dissection table. Quasi whining at a high level. Just at Saab level. At least that's my impression ...

    You have said in a general sense and quite correctly that some would wish for the “problems” (of whatever model) that are being considered here under the magnifying glass. Quote:

    “Qualitatively, you can certainly argue about a few points. But measured against the problems of German “premium” brands, these are negligible. "

    I believe that we are in agreement on everything. So continue to have fun and good time with the two beautiful cars!

  • Tom, you're kind of a year late here, right? Because mine, one of the first, will be 11 years old tomorrow (from EZ) ...

  • Those ice taillights and the shark's mouth…. not my thing, sorry

  • I drive a 9-3-2 convertible, after Faccelift ...... find it much more coherent than 9-3-3

  • Hello Mr. Hürsch!
    Who speaks of harsh contradiction? I have only described my personal experiences. No more and no less. I can confirm some statements on quality, some luckily not. My conclusion to the 9-3 2 / 3 is: A great car with a very good price-performance ratio and unmistakable appearance.

  • I don't see any harsh / no real contradiction to the article ...

    Tom has certainly written some in which the 9-3 II got off very well. That's my problem (see above). You want them all ...

    The reference to differences and improvements that may exist between predecessors and predecessors or successors is never to be understood as absolute. Never in the sense that one is a good and the other an absolutely impossible car ...

    On the contrary, this is probably meant internally by SAAB, I think ...
    So rather in the sense of okay, maybe good or very good and in the sense of is or was even better.

    I learned here on this blog that every SAAB that has ever been built is a real SAAB. The influences of GM or the built-in engines (or engines) may vary, but as soon as SAAB is somewhere on a vehicle or aircraft, it is also a SAAB. And not a single one has been panned here as long as I'm reading ...

  • To continue the riddle of the fourth model: Perhaps the fourth model would have been an electric car. Saab had already developed a 2009-9 EV with a range of almost 3 km in 300. And that was already more then than what some e-Golfs deliver today in comparison. Perhaps this drive would not have appeared on the market in the bodywork of the 9-3 III, but perhaps in a garment modified from the Phoenix. Either way, Saab could have landed a big hit with an electric model (again) around 2010 - just like back then with the turbo when the star really rose for the first time. Maybe the phoenix named Saab could have risen from the ashes like this.

  • Hello to the blog team!
    I have a 9-3 / 2 Sportcombi and a 9-3 / 3 Convertible. The quality impression of the 9-3 / 2 I can not quite confirm. My GPS works from the first day without problems. The seat covers are definitely of poorer quality just like the plastic parts in the interior, especially the soft paint. But the bodywork, especially the underbody, are top.
    The 2008 convertible has absolutely better seats but the problem with the soft paint has remained. My two Saabs have the 1,9 TID / TTID engines. Both still have the first swirl flaps, turbochargers and injection nozzles with over 240000 km. Here, too, I can only say: very good engines with no problems, absolutely no oil consumption between servises It always depends on the treatment and maintenance. Qualitatively, one can certainly argue about a few points. But measured against the problems of German “premium” brands, these are negligible.
    All Saab drivers a nice week.

  • SAAB 93 III

    excellent written, me almost from the soul! I did not like the 93 II right from the beginning, until the upbeat combo came. Too little SAAB tradition, boring, cheap, interior, and boring, any design. My father's comment back then with 93 I on the way, I take a break and drive until I get back to what SAAB does justice to.
    When the 93 III was presented, the SAAB WORLD was more than fine for me. Shell cap and interior reminded of 900 / 93, quality visibly improved, so he had to be! Although the sedan won clearly, but the station wagon was in the absence of a flowback the 1. Choice. So I accepted the SAAB offer, my SAAB 6 Zyl. Diesel for an Aero TTID exchange. I had no regrets for a moment. Black, wide and strong. And then this Aero X. I still dream of owning one today. The latest generation of 93 has lived up to SAAB's reputation, and indeed would be the prelude to a successful SAAB rally. The products that came then were and still are a statement. We know what has become of it. But who knows, maybe I will complement my collection again in this direction. In any case, Tom whets the appetite with his beautiful articles; Thank you and greetings from

  • I really have to stop reading along here ...

    It is simply too appetizing. You can not have them all!
    In sum, the article but that's exactly what you want!

    Sometimes you want an NG, today you want a 9-3 III convertible and the day before yesterday you absolutely wanted a 9000. 48 hours earlier it was believed that personal well-being depended on whether you also owned a Viggen Coupé ...

    Have fun aside, once again written great. Maybe a bit too good?

  • Fine report! The 9-3 is still a great car, I drive it daily and it's fun!


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