( Worldcarfans ) - The new Saab 9-3 range features bold, more assertive looks, reflecting a series of powertrain improvements that include the introduction of all-wheel-drive and more powerful diesel, gasoline and BioPower (E85) engines.
The distinctive frontal styling, inspired by Saab's award-winning Aero X concept car, is designed to reinforce the range's sporty appeal. It heralds the introduction of a 'tri-fuel' engine line-up that now includes, an innovative 180 hp (132 kW), twin-stage 1.9 turbo diesel, an uprated 280 hp (206 kW), 2.8V6 turbo gasoline engine and an additional 175 hp 2.0t Saab BioPower option, delivering 200 hp (147 kW) on E85 fuel.
The advanced all-wheel-drive system (Saab XWD - 'cross wheel drive') is exclusive to 9-3 Aero Sport Sedan and SportCombi models. It features innovative developments in wheel slip management and the use of an electronically-controlled rear limited-slip differential.
The new 1.9-liter two-stage turbo diesel offers class-leading efficiency and is the first diesel engine in the premium segment to use an integrated two-stage tubocharging system.
The new 9-3 range is visually distinguished by all-new bodywork forward of the A-pillar, with new bumper moldings and light assemblies front and rear, as well as new doors and handles for the SportSedan and SportCombi. Flared side sill extensions become standard across the range. All these elements combine to give the car a clearer Saab identity and a bolder, more assertive stance. For the Sport Sedan, for example, 70% of the external body panels and parts are all-new.
The styling strategy brings together contemporary and classic Saab design themes in a progressive, modern expression of the brand's distinctive character.
The deeper, more prominent evolution of the Saab grille adopts a theme first seen on the Aero X concept car. This is complemented by all-new headlamp lenses and light units that now incorporate a thin 'eyebrow' lighting zone designed as a brand specific 'signature' feature. These wraparound units culminate in an upswept rear edge, introducing a Saab design theme from the 9-5 range and classic 900 model. The grille's central wing motif, referencing Saab's aircraft heritage, is, of course, retained.
The new look sees the adoption of another Saab signature feature: a 'clamshell' hood, closing across the top of the front wings. The hood pressing incorporates a sweeping, U-shaped styling line, as first seen on the Aero X, which echoes the curvature of the windshield.
The swept-back frontal lines are complemented by a front bumper and splitter assembly with a deep, trapezoidal air intake, even more pronounced on Aero versions. This is flanked by deep black vents which are framed, like the grille, in a matte chrome finish. As with the Aero X concept, these represent a metaphor for the intakes of a jet engine.
At the rear, the Sport Sedan and Convertible now feature smoked white light clusters. The new bumper moldings are much deeper with curved, uninterrupted surfaces. The trunk lids of the Sport Sedan and Convertible are also altered to accommodate a new matte chrome life handle trim with an integrated badge, similar that on the SportCombi.
The removal of all external rubbing strips from bumpers and doors (color-keyed on the Convertible) contributes to a cleaner and more cohesive overall appearance. New door panels now adopt a simple, uncluttered form with redesigned and color-keyed handles. The sill extensions are visually integrated front and rear with the scalloped corners of the new bumper moldings.
Other external enhancements include the introduction of flat wiper blades, for reduced wind noise, and new alloy wheels, with an 18-inch design now offered as an option on all variants apart from 1.8i models. Two new colors are added to the range, including a Snow Silver metallic paint finish similar to that seen on the Aero X.