THE roll-out of the new Saab 9-3 now taking place across the UK is the first step in a range revamp which, over the next five years, will see an all-new model to replace the 9-5, and a crossover sports utility vehicle from the Swedish manufacturer.
These vehicles will go on sale in 2009 and will be followed by an entire range replacement for the 9-3 and a long-awaited compact model.
While the new models will be based on new General Motors’ platforms, Jonathan Nash, managing director of Saab GB, said that the Swedish company was heavily involved in the chassis development.
He said: ‘While we can use GM platforms, the trick is to adjust them to meet the requirement of the Saab brand. We make high performance cars and so we need a wider track and shorter overhangs, the chassis also needs to be able to cope with all-wheel-drive and high performance turbos.’
The Saab 9-4X will replace the Subaru Tribeca-based 9-6X crossover, which was cancelled following GM’s pullout from its alliance with the Japanese carmaker. The new crossover will be positioned between the Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5 models.
The new 9-3 range, now being rolled out in the UK has been simplified from seven down to four trim levels according to David Pugh, general manager, marketing, Saab GB.
These start with the Airflow, Linear SE, Vector Sport and Aero. Three bodystyles are retained; saloon, sportwagon and convertible and along with petrol and diesel comes the world’s first turbocharged E85 biofuel engine. The 2.0T actually produces 25 bhp more than the petrol version. Towards the end of the year Saab will introduce another world first with a twin turbo diesel, which produces 180 bhp and 400 Nm of torque.