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

These were the years of Carl Peter Forster, the mighty GM manager who could have turned Saab's fate. Legendary is his open 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.

2005 Forster started the cleanup work in the stablebacka. Competences were relocated to Rüsselsheim, Saab integrated into the group structure after 15 years GM affiliation. The move was overdue, but not just met with approval. And finally, we invested 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 bioethanol engines set standards. They made the 9-3 a "environmental car", Which was funded by the Swedish state. Saab was suddenly interesting again, 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. He could have been the prelude to the reboot of Saab as a Swedish premium brand. If 2008 had not come through the financial crisis, then 9-4x and 9-5 II would have been launched earlier. Saab would have ignited a firework of novelties. And we also saw the Saab 9-3 Griffin and the all-new 9-3 generation that followed. Maybe Saab would have survived, and GM would still be the number 1 of the automotive world.

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

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

With a pinch of Swedish individuality, style, inexpensive to maintain, and safe. The engines are sturdy, especially the 4-powered turbocharged gasoline engines run and run with the Saab's own Trionic - if you treat them properly. The strong diesels are not quite as durable, here Saab hardly differs from the competitor. The optional four-wheel drive is a story in itself, this is a separate article. The body of the small series of Göta Älv seems, contrary to previous assumption, built for eternity. There are specimens with stately mileages 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 sill remains nice for longer. Unfortunately, it is similar with the (extinct) roof rails. More and more manufacturers and models rely on rails. How should you just thread through a tension belt? 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 new car actually looks better and more consistent than its predecessor.

    And the interiors are also worlds better. One of the few "new cars" with a damn high willingness 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 to MY 14 and normal prices for even younger. I think the tolerance within the SAAB community in terms of timing and data is huge. 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 to the 11. Birthday! How the time flies …

  • After overcoming my "diesel depression" about 1,5 years ago by buying an almost 20 year old SAAB intake manifold fuel injector (9-5 Benziner Limo, which produces hardly any soot particles), I still enjoy driving my 2008er TTID Aero Convertible. It is clearly the worst car I have ever driven. However, it is almost never used in city or short-haul traffic, so that the diesel benefits come fully to the days.

    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 I think your comment, your experience with 9-3 II / III and their diesel drives fit together with the article under one roof. As I said, I see no (!) Contradiction ...

    This includes and all "quality statements" that you or the author of the article have made. If there's talk about quality on the blog then it's always on the dissecting table. Almost whining at a high level. At Saab level. At least that's my impression ...

    You have said, and quite correctly, that some would like the "problems" (of whatever model), which are considered here under the burning glass. Quote:

    "Qualitatively one 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 a year too late here, right? Because mine, one of the first, tomorrow 11 years old (from EZ) ...

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

  • I drive 9-3-2 convertible, after Faccelift ...... find him 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 see no harsh / no real contradiction to the article ...

    Certainly Tom has already written those 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, which may exist between precursors and predecessors or successors, is probably 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, that is probably more SAAB internally, 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 ever built is a true SAAB. The influences of GM or the engines (or engines) installed may vary, but as soon as SAAB stands somewhere on a road or airplane, it is also a SAAB. And not a single one has been panned here as long as I'm reading ...

  • To continue the mystery of the fourth model: Perhaps the fourth model would have become an electric car. Already Saab had 2009 developed a 9-3 EV with nearly 300 Km range. And that was already more than what many e-Golfs deliver in comparison today. Perhaps this drive would not have appeared in the bodywork of the 9-3 III on the market, but perhaps presented in a modified by the Phoenix garment. Either way, Saab could have (again) landed a big hit with an electric model around 2010 - much like the turbo did when the star first hit the road. Maybe the Phoenix name Saab could have been resurrected from the ashes.

  • 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 convertible Bj. 2008 has absolutely better seats but the problem with the soft paint has remained. My two Saabs have the 1,9 TID / TTID engines. Both have over 240000km still the first swirl flaps, turbochargers and injectors. Again, I can only say: Very good engines without problems. Absolutely no oil consumption between the servises It always depends on the treatment and the maintenance. Qualitatively one can certainly argue over some 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 urgently need to stop reading this ...

    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 a NG, today a 9-3 III convertible and the day before yesterday you really wanted to have an 9000. 48 hours ago, it was believed that personal well-being was dependent on whether you also had a Viggen coupe ...

    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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