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.
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 the 9-3 into a "environmental car“That was sponsored by the Swedish state. Suddenly Saab was 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.