Archive for March, 2003

Saab Debuts All-New 2004 9-3 Convertible

Posted on 03. Mar, 2003 by .

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Photo Credits: Saab Automobile

2003-03-04

Saab Debuts All-New 2004 9-3 Convertible

Note to editors: The specification information below is of global nature. Distinct U.S. specs will be announced later this year.

The 2004 Saab 9-3 Convertible, unveiled March 4 at the Geneva Motor Show, brings a stylish, open-top dimension to the exciting new Saab 9-3 range and is the latest step in the biggest product offensive in Saab’s history.

Norcross, GA – Originally inspired by the U.S. market and launched in 1986, the popular Saab Convertible has proven to be a cornerstone in Saab’s vehicle portfolio. The all-new 2004 Saab 9-3 Convertible is poised to reaffirm Saab as a market leader in the art of building open cars with rugged four-season, four-seater practicality. Accounting for almost one in three of all convertibles sold in Europe’s premium segment last year, and one in five Saabs sold in the U.S., the Saab Convertible has become a modern classic.

Revealing the new car at the Geneva Motor Show, Peter Augustsson, Saab Automobile’s President and CEO said, “In many ways, our Convertible’s appeal goes right to the heart of the Saab brand. It expresses our brand pillars – design, performance, control, safety and versatility – in a focused package. It is a sporty, yet surprisingly practical car.”

The new 9-3 Convertible is, without doubt, the biggest advance Saab has made in nearly 20 years of designing four-seater, four-season soft tops and is poised to re-affirm Saab’s leading role in the premium convertible segment.

The all-new Saab 9-3 Convertible’s innovative features develop the Saab concept that an open-top car should be “more than a convertible.” In addition to its functional qualities, the new Swedish soft-top offers a greatly improved driving experience through incorporating the widely-acclaimed chassis dynamics of the new Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan. By combining its sporty and practical characteristics, it symbolizes the core appeal of the Saab brand.

Saab engineers developed the architecture for 9-3 Convertible and Sport Sedan in parallel and were able to incorporate their demanding requirements for an open-top car from the very start. The result is a premium convertible with a level of structural integrity, build quality and running refinement that positions it at the top of its class.

Key to its enhanced abilities is a rigid body structure – almost three times stiffer than that of its predecessor – and an all-new suspension layout. These are the solid foundations on which Saab test engineers have developed the chassis poise, refinement and impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness that distinguish a premium-class, open-top car.

The new Convertible includes a supplementary “ring of steel” reinforcement linking the front, rear and side structures, helping to compensate for the loss of structural rigidity due to the absence of a roof and also improving ride refinement, handling and crash-impact resistance.

Compared to its predecessor, the new car gains 2.0 inches (51 mm) in overall width and 2.8 inches (71 mm) in wheelbase. Despite reduced front and rear overhangs, the overall length of 182.5 inches remains the same as the previous model.

The all-aluminum, four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine, configured for 175- or 210-hp, is 33 pounds lighter than its predecessor and is smoother, quieter and more compact. It has a four-valve cylinder head, maintenance-free chain-driven camshafts, counter-rotating balancer shafts, a dual-mass flywheel and an integrated oil cooler.

Two manual transmissions are available, depending on the engine. A five-speed manual is standard with the 175-hp 2.0t engine. A new, compact 6-speed manual gearbox, capable of handling exceptionally high torque loadings, is standard equipment on the 210-hp 2.0T variants. A new “smart” five-speed automatic transmission is optional, including Saab Sentronic, a sequential manual gear shift, adaptive to both the driver and road conditions and programmed to fully exploit Saab turbo power characteristics.

Crash impact resistance benefits from a series of new structural and occupant protection measures. Safety features for front seats include new seatbelts integrated into the seat frames, adaptive dual front airbags, two-stage side-impact airbags designed to offer protection for both the torso and the head, and Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR), proven to be effective in helping to prevent neck injury during rear-end collisions.

Although rollovers are comparatively rare events, the consequences are quite serious and Saab has installed an active protection system in the new 9-3 Convertible. Its DynaCage concept combines pop-up rear roll bars, front seatbelt pre-tensioning and substantial reinforcement of the A-pillars to help provide an integrated protection system.

The “one-touch” soft-top operation, requires no manual involvement beyond pressing a button. The roof is hydraulically-powered, with automatic self-latching to the header rail, and deploys fully in just 20 seconds while the engine is running. This is partly achieved by the Convertible’s tonneau, which has a unique two-step cycle, being completely raised horizontally and then moved rearwards, parallel to the top of the trunk.

Another innovation is a more practical feature: raising the roof automatically raises the capacity of the trunk. The CargoSET (Self-Expanding Trunk) directly links the soft-top’s rearmost hinge mechanism to the flexible, “accordion” storage well in the trunk. When the roof is in position, the well is fully retracted, releasing useful storage space.

The new Saab 9-3 Convertible will be built in a dedicated new production facility at Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik, near Graz, Austria, and will reach the US market in the fall of 2003 as a 2004 model.

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All-new Saab 9-3 Convertible Technical Details

Posted on 03. Mar, 2003 by .

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1111875 All new Saab 9 3 Convertible Technical Details

Image Credit: Saab Automobile

2003-03-04

All-new Saab 9-3 Convertible Technical Details

Note to editors: The specification information below is of global nature. Distinct U.S. specs will be announced later this year.

Technical Details:

THE ALL-NEW 2004 SAAB 9-3 CONVERTIBLE

ï‚· Fun-to-drive dynamics from acclaimed Sport Sedan chassis
ï‚· Distinctive, Scandinavian design with unique styling features
ï‚· Body structure three times stiffer than previous model
ï‚· Advanced soft-top sets new performance standards for class
ï‚· Powertrain choice of 175- or 210-hp lightweight turbo engines
ï‚· Easy rear passenger entry/exit
ï‚· CargoSET automatic trunk expansion linked to soft-top
ï‚· DynaCage rollover protection with pop-up roll bars
ï‚· Integrated front seatbelts, SAHR, head/thorax side airbags
 CargoWing – unique rear spoiler and ski/snowboard carrier

Norcross, GA – The new 2004 Saab 9-3 Convertible, unveiled March 4 at the Geneva Motor Show, represents the latest step in the biggest new product offensive in Saab’s history. Engineered in conjunction with the 9-3 Sport Sedan, this newest Saab brings a stylish, open-top dimension to the award-winning 9-3 range.

The new Saab 9-3 Convertible’s innovative features further develop the Saab concept that an open-top car should be “more than a convertible.” In addition to its functional qualities, the new Swedish soft-top offers a greatly improved driving experience through incorporating the widely acclaimed chassis dynamics of the 9-3 Sport Sedan. By combining sporty and practical characteristics, it symbolizes the core appeal of the Saab brand.

Revealing the new car at the Geneva Motor Show, Peter Augustsson, Saab Automobile’s President and CEO said, “Saab is launching this Convertible from a position of strength, as we are already established as a market leader in the segment. This new model is well placed to open up new opportunities for us.

“It will appeal to customers who refuse to make compromises in their choice of careers, family life or challenging leisure activities. These people want some freedom and excitement, as well as practical solutions. In other words, their choice of car must satisfy both emotional wants and rational needs.

“In many ways, our Convertible’s appeal goes right to the heart of the Saab brand. It expresses our brand pillars – design, performance, control, safety and versatility – in a focused package. It is a sporty, yet surprisingly practical car.”

The new 9-3 Convertible is, without doubt, the biggest advance Saab has made in 20 years of designing four-seater, four-season soft tops and is poised to re-affirm Saab’s leading role in the premium convertible segment.

Saab engineers developed the architecture for 9-3 Convertible and Sport Sedan in parallel and were able to feed in their demanding requirements for an open-top car from the very start. The result is a premium convertible with a level of structural integrity, build quality and running refinement that positions it at the top of its class.

The new 9-3 Convertible will be built in a dedicated new production facility at Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik, near Graz, Austria, and will reach the US market in the fall of 2003 as a 2004 model.

PREMIUM CONVERTIBLE PLAYER
ï‚· 50% growth in segment since 1998
ï‚· Saab is a leading player in premium convertible segment
ï‚· Saab offers “More than a Convertible”
ï‚· Fun-to-drive appeal based on acclaimed dynamics of Sport Sedan
ï‚· A car for individualists who do not need status symbols

Sales of premium convertibles in Europe and the United States have increased by more than 50 percent since 1998 and are expected to expand still further. Saab is already in the front line of such growth and has been a prominent driving force behind this growing segment since unveiling its first convertible model almost 20 years ago.

Saab is widely acknowledged as a leader in advancing the design and popularity of convertibles as practical and comfortable all-weather cars. In most major car markets, Saab’s Convertible is clearly established as the definitive “car for all seasons.”

Saab has compiled a detailed picture of what potential buyers want and who they are. As a result, the new Saab 9-3 Convertible’s innovative features further develop the Saab concept that an open-top car should be “more than a convertible.” It is designed to appeal to buyers from all age groups who seek a special car: a clean, distinctively Scandinavian design offering sporty, fun-to-drive qualities in combination with a versatile dimension achieved through its all-weather, four-seater practicality.

Typical Saab Convertible owners lead active lifestyles with a wide variety of interests. They enjoy keep-fit activities like walking, hiking and skiing, as well as travel, going to the theater and other cultural interests. They are predominantly individualists, used to making their own decisions in their business and private lives, and have no need to be associated with anything that is brash or commonly seen as a conventional status symbol.

EXTERIOR DESIGN
ï‚· Well-proportioned, “bespoke” design
ï‚· Sporty styling with Scandinavian design flair
 Coupé looks (roof up), roadster-like looks (roof down)
ï‚· Automated soft-top sets new standards for class
ï‚· Unique “Surround Trim” delineates passenger cabin
ï‚· Unique “CargoSET” self-expanding trunk feature
ï‚· Competitive 0.34 Cd with reduced lift forces

The impressive looks of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible are elegantly packaged with a Scandinavian design flair that ensures the lines are clean and flowing. It is an open-top car that stands as its own unique model, free from any awkward styling compromises.

As it was developed in parallel with the 9-3 Sport Sedan, the Convertible’s design team was able to evolve a frontal styling treatment that could be shared by both models, although from the A-pillars rearwards, every external panel on the Convertible is different.

Compared to its predecessor, the new car gains 2.0 inches (51 mm) in overall width and 2.8 inches (71 mm) in wheelbase. Despite reduced front and rear overhangs, the overall length at 182.5 inches, remains the same as the previous model.

The well-balanced proportions and more purposeful stance endow the car with a strong, sporty character that echoes its fun-to-drive appeal. In profile, the clean wedge line is typically Saab and, top down, the shape is no longer interrupted by a tower to mount the front seatbelts.

The styling of the rear deck is particularly neat. The pop-up roll bars and retractable rear head restraints are beautifully streamlined with twin fairings, giving a subtle hint of the Convertible’s sporty character. The innovative CargoWing accessory rear spoiler, which folds out to carry skis or a snowboard, is also designed to add surprising functionality to the rear deck.

A new feature, never seen before in convertible styling, is the introduction of a distinctive, mono-colored Surround Trim, highlighting the transition zone between the car’s exterior and interior. It is a U-shaped line that extends rearwards from the base of each A-pillar, incorporating slim panels along the top of the doors and rear side trim and most of the tonneau cover. It integrates the front and rear passenger areas, protecting and visually uniting the only top exterior surfaces that “come inside” when the top is up. The Surround Trim is a textured matte-black paint finish, or can be specified in an exterior color, glacier blue or lime yellow.

Class-leading Soft Top

The new Convertible’s soft top and tonneau mechanism features three innovations: CargoSET automatic storage well retraction, a two-step tonneau action for quicker soft-top deployment and a light-colored interior headlining. It is undoubtedly one of the car’s most impressive features.

The “one touch” soft-top operation, requires no manual involvement beyond pressing a button. The roof is hydraulically-powered, with automatic self-latching to the header rail, and deploys fully in just 20 seconds while the engine is running, making it comfortably the fastest in its class.

The materials for the triple-layered soft top are also improved, with the addition of thicker, fleece middle layer for good heat and noise insulation. A small gutter has been sewn into the side of the fabric to prevent water on the roof dripping down on to the seats when a door is opened. There is a color choice of black or blue.

To save weight, the soft top’s frame, the swiveling braces and the large, padded front rail that connects to the windshield header, are all made from magnesium.

The new soft top has a much tauter and smoother appearance, more like that of a fixed roof on a coupé. This has been achieved by the use of six, instead of five, swiveling braces (or bows) on which the fabric is mounted. The whole soft top is tensioned by locking braces at the rear, instead of the front, which helps stretch the fabric even tighter.

The operation of the tonneau cover – made of aluminum to save weight – is a Saab first. Automatic soft-top systems have previously required the tonneau to be hinged at the rear. For quicker roof deployment, the Convertible’s tonneau has a unique two-step cycle, being completely raised horizontally and then moved rearwards, parallel to the top of the trunk. Pulling the tonneau down flat, instead of hinging and clicking it closed, also contributes toward improved reliability and better seating and sealing.

Another innovation is a more practical feature: raising the roof automatically raises the capacity of the trunk. The CargoSET (Self-Expanding Trunk) directly links the soft-top’s rearmost hinge mechanism to the flexible, “accordion” storage well in the trunk. When the roof is in position, the well is fully retracted, releasing useful storage space.

Real World Aerodynamics

Aerodynamicists at Saab focus on optimizing performance for real-world conditions, in the same way as Saab has developed its “Real Life” safety strategy.

The Convertible’s roof-up drag coefficient is a class competitive 0.34, but probably more important, the team made major strides in improving high-speed stability by keeping rear lift forces low and minimizing fluctuations.

The team naturally focused their attention on the behavior of the Convertible’s roof, particularly its effectiveness in resisting ballooning at speed and in its seating on the side windows. As there is no monoside upper door closure for the Convertible, the team had to minimize the effect of the windows being pulled outward by the difference in outside and inside air pressure, with undesirable consequences for wind noise.

INTERIOR DESIGN

ï‚· Integration of front and rear passenger areas
ï‚· “Fixed-head” interior ambience
ï‚· “Hydroblox” water-repellent textile upholstery – Saab “first”
ï‚· Light-colored headlining brightens interior – Saab “first”
ï‚· Unique front seats with integrated seatbelts
ï‚· Unique accelerated electric seat travel for quick rear access
ï‚· “Profiler” customization function
ï‚· High-positioned Saab Information Display
ï‚· Easy entry/exit for rear passengers
 ACC switches to heat settings with soft-top down – unique feature
ï‚· Most extensive use of fiber optics for advanced “infotainment”

The finely sculptured interior incorporates high-quality materials and a standard of fit and finish that is everything you would expect – and more – from a premium-class manufacturer such as Saab.

The lines of the large door panels are beautifully extended through to the rear side panels, creating a single sweeping shape to integrate the front and rear passenger areas.

Front shoulder width is increased and rear passenger access greatly improved by the adoption of sliding front seats and the elimination of B-pillar mounted seatbelts.

Both rear seating positions are well shaped and upholstered for comfort, with deep, contoured lower seats far superior to the flat, narrow bench seats that are often seen. Saab has ensured the angle of the back-rest is kept at a comfortable 21° from vertical and not compromised by packaging requirements.

Hydroblox, a unique, water-repellent textile, has been specially developed for convertible seat upholstery. Interiors themes and available upholstery options are all Scandinavian-inspired with a distinctive, modern feel. Whether upholstered in the innovative Hydroblox textile or a newly-developed, embossed leather upholstery, either can be specified in a “light room” (parchment) or “dark room” (gray) color scheme.

Fixed-Roof Ambience

With the roof up, convertibles are often criticized for being rather gloomy or claustrophobic inside because of the usually black headlining. Saab has now addressed the issue and the new 9-3 Convertible is first soft-top on the market offering a light color inside. The headlining, header rail and side frame components are either beige or light gray, depending on the interior color choice.

An important goal of the interior design team was the achievement of a hardtop-like ambience inside with the roof in position. This has been accomplished by adopting a headlining that fits almost seamlessly, giving occupants the impression they are sitting under a fixed roof.

Unique Front Seats

The front seats, specially designed with integrated seatbelts for the Convertible, are comfortable yet sporty looking. Both the seat cushion and back are deeply bolstered, giving excellent lateral and under-thigh support without reducing the space to sit comfortably.

The seats have also been designed to provide easy entry/exit for rear-seat passengers, moving forward on their runners up to 9.5 inches. On manual seats, this is done by simply lifting the solid aluminum lever on the outboard corner of the backrest and pushing the seat forward. For electrically-adjustable seats, the seat automatically moves when the lever is lifted and the seatback folded forward.

A feature unique to the segment is the exceptionally fast forward movement to allow quick rear access. It is twice the speed of the normal fore/aft adjustment for the driver or front passenger. A memory function automatically returns the seat to its previous position.

Ease of rear entry/exit is also greatly enhanced by the adoption of integrated seatbelts, which are also easier to use, more comfortable for the wearer and are not prone to flapping during open-air driving.

Driver Focused

The main instrument panel gently arcs around the driver, as in the Sport Sedan. In typical Saab fashion, the controls are all logically grouped; those most frequently used positioned nearest to hand and closest to the driver’s natural field of vision. The short gear shift lever is just a hand span away.

The Profiler function, a standard feature, offers great scope to tailor a wide range of interior functions by selecting various settings according to personal preference. The single button for operating the Convertible’s roof is also located in the Profiler control panel.

Saab’s unique Night Panel feature, which allows the driver to switch off all main instrument illumination at night (except for the speedometer) is, of course, standard. This removes visual “clutter” and potential distraction, providing a more restful driving environment.

A high-positioned Saab Information Display is located at the top of the dash panel, near the base of the windscreen. For safety reasons, this is as close as possible to the driver’s natural field of vision so that information can be seen without any head movement or much eye re-focusing.

A particularly neat innovation is the disguised handbrake, which is beautifully integrated in the edging trim of the console. It is a Z-shaped lever, self-adjusting and with a positive, easy-to-use action. On the other side of the console, mirroring the integrated handbrake, is a Smart Slot detachable storage sleeve for small items, which also accommodates accessory cup, CD and ice scraper holders.

In true Saab tradition, the ignition switch continues to be located between the front seats, alongside the handbrake. It is now entirely electronic in operation, the reverse manual gear lock being replaced by an automatic, electronic steering column lock.

Heating and Ventilation

All 9-3 Convertibles are fitted with highly efficient, Saab-developed air conditioning systems, either manually (AC) or automatically controlled (ACC), which have been adapted for the specific needs of a convertible. This includes, for example, re-tuning of the software control to ensure a smooth engagement of the ACC system when the roof is closed under hot conditions, taking into account the different thermal properties of the soft top and the smaller side window area.

Both AC and ACC systems draw air into the interior through an extremely efficient, electrostatically-charged filter which can extract dust, pollen and particles as small as 3 microns in size. The ACC can be programmed via the Profiler and operates on a dual-zone basis, allowing different temperatures to be selected for the left or right side of the interior.

The Saab ACC system automatically shifts to manual control when the roof is open, offering 10 heat settings, and reverts to automatic mode when it is closed, a feature unique to the premium convertible segment.

“Infotainment” Systems

The electrical architecture includes the automotive industry’s most extensive use of fiber optic technology, which provides a signal capacity 50 times greater than conventional wire connections. It forms a communications platform with the capacity to handle all likely developments in the fast-moving fields of “infotainment” and e-services.

The particular acoustic requirements of a convertible have also been carefully examined. For example, a microphone has been installed in the driver’s side A-pillar to make it easier to use OnStar’s hands-free phone feature, particularly with the top down.

The standard Saab audio system includes a Premium 150-watt sound system, which incorporates two amplifiers, seven speakers and a radio/CD player.

The optional Saab Infotainment system includes a monochrome display, a telephone keypad, and incorporates menu functionality for easy use. A Prestige system with 300 watts playing power and 13 speakers is an available option.

CHASSIS

ï‚· Three-fold increase in torsional rigidity
ï‚· Sporty handling inherited from sedan
ï‚· Greatly improved ride refinement and NVH levels
 Saab ReAxs – unique rear-wheel-steer characteristic
ï‚· Braking system includes MBA, CBC and EBD as standard

The fine chassis dynamics of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible deliver the kind on the road performance that is promised by its sporty looks and purposeful stance. Hardly surprising, since it shares the core chassis and suspension components with the widely-acclaimed 9-3 Sport Sedan.

Key to its enhanced abilities is a rigid body structure – at 11,500 Nm/degree of deflection, it is almost three times stiffer than that of its predecessor – and an all-new suspension layout. These are the solid foundations on which Saab test engineers have developed the chassis poise, refinement and impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness that distinguish a premium-class, open-top car.

When work began on the all-new Saab 9-3 series, Saab designers and engineers were able to ensure that the needs of a convertible variant were given the same priority as those of a sedan. The result was the installation of “second” supplementary chassis, an additional “ring of steel” linking and reinforcing the front, rear and side structures. This helps to compensate for the loss of structural rigidity due to the absence of a roof and also benefits handling, ride refinement and, of course, crash-impact resistance.

The proportions of the new Convertible were also a good starting point. Compared to its predecessor, it has a broader footprint, a 2.8-inch increase in wheelbase more than offset by the relatively larger 2.9 in. and 2.5 in. increases in front and rear track. The ride height is also 0.4 in. (10 mm) lower.

Suspension Layout

In order to maintain a consistent suspension geometry – as well helping to raise the chassis’s torsional rigidity – bracing rods are bolted to both front and rear sub-frames. And to further eliminate the possibility of any noticeable flexibility, hard metal sleeves replace the sedan’s compliant polymer bushes at the sub-frame mounting points to the body, four at the front and four at the rear.

The front MacPherson struts keep their de-coupled top mountings, separating the gas shock absorber and spring loadings, and the lower control arms are attached to a hydroformed (hollow section) front sub-frame. There is a direct-acting anti-roll bar and, for good directional stability and ride comfort, the suspension layout is designed to be largely impervious to lateral forces and compliant longitudinally.

The multi-link, independent rear suspension incorporates three transverse and one longitudinal link, gas dampers, coil springs and an anti-roll bar. Compared to the rigid, torsion beam used for the previous Convertible, the new layout has far more longitudinal compliance. Like the front suspension, bushings are stiff for lateral forces and relatively soft longitudinally.

For better ride quality, unsprung weight is minimized. All four wheel carriers (hubs) and brake calipers, the lower control arms in the front suspension and the toe and lower links in the rear suspension are made of aluminum.

Saab ReAxs – Passive Rear-Wheel Steering

Out on the open road, the new Convertible’s sporty handling is rewarding and involving for the driver due to a unique, passive rear-wheel-steer characteristic, known as Saab ReAxs, first used on the 9-3 Sport Sedan.

Toe links in the rear suspension and the use of ball joints, instead of rubber inboard and outboard suspension bushings, allows a much closer control of wheel movement. As a result, under cornering loads, the elasto-kinematics at the rear axle induce a very slight deflection of both rear wheels in the opposite direction to the steering input, i.e. toe-out for the outer wheel and toe-in for the inner wheel.

This is sufficient to prevent excessive understeer, where the driver is forced to apply progressively more steering lock to turn the front end of the car, increasing the scrub angles of the front tires. The Saab ReAxs characteristic overcomes this “crabbing” effect, helping the tail of the car follow the direction of the front wheels, instead of its nose. For the driver, this makes the car better balanced and more fun to drive, helping it turn in and respond more closely to steering inputs.

Braking System

In addition to standard four-wheel disc brakes, several electronic enhancements are included on the Saab 9-3. An automatic brake boost feature, Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA), was introduced for the first time on the new 9-3 range. The Convertible’s innate abilities are also backed up with a full array of electronic driver aids, including a Saab-tuned ESP (Electronic Stability Program) as well as ABS (Antilock Braking System), TCS (Traction Control System), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), all standard equipment.

POWERTRAIN

 Aluminum 2.0-liter turbo engine – 175-hp or 210-hp
ï‚· Excellent torque with greatly improved driveability and refinement
ï‚· Sophisticated Saab Trionic 8 engine management system
ï‚· Adaptive automatic transmission and 6-speed manual gearbox

The improved chassis dynamics of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible are complemented by the outstanding driveability and refinement of an all-new powertrain package, as first seen on the 9-3 Sport Sedan. Saab has added a smoother, more linear power delivery to the typically strong, mid-range torque of its engines.

Lightweight Powertrain

The all-aluminum, four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine, configured for 175- or 210-hp, is 33 pounds lighter than its predecessor and is smoother, quieter, more compact and better packaged. It has a four-valve cylinder head, maintenance-free chain-driven camshafts, counter-rotating balancer shafts, a dual-mass flywheel and an integrated oil cooler. It is controlled by the latest Trionic 8 version of Saab’s own, in-house engine management system, the most powerful for turbocharged engines in commercial production.
All main internal components are unique to Saab’s turbocharged application.

Improved Driveability

Saab is alone among the world’s premium carmakers in developing its own engine management system. Ignition timing, fuel injection, turbo boost pressure, air mass measurement and the throttle setting are all key engine functions controlled by the Saab-written Trionic software.

Trionic 8 now also incorporates more sophisticated engine start-up and temperature control and further developments for improving torque management and throttle response to give better driveability.

The power delivery of the engine is generally more progressive or linear, encouraging the driver to hold intermediate gears for longer periods. In effect, its driving characteristics are more like those of a naturally-aspirated engine although, of course, it still delivers more torque at any given throttle opening.

Uncomfortable jerks, which can be experienced when suddenly lifting off or stamping hard on the accelerator pedal, are also largely eliminated. Trionic is able to read and anticipate every driving situation, cushioning the transitory effects of large throttle movements by comparing parameters such as road speed, engine speed, engine loading and gear selected. The end result is a smooth, powerful and extremely pliable powertrain.

A further refinement is the programming of the signal from accelerator pedal. At low road speeds, there is more movement for a given amount of power in order to make the car easier to control, such as when parking and reversing. At higher speeds, less pedal movement is required, which gives a quicker throttle response, particularly useful when passing, for example.

Adaptive Automatic Transmission and 5- or 6-speed Gearbox
A new “smart” five-speed automatic transmission is optional, including Saab Sentronic, a sequential manual gear shift, with the option of steering wheel gear change buttons. This transmission is adaptive to both the driver and road conditions and is programmed to fully exploit Saab turbo power characteristics. For closer driver involvement, the shift lever can be moved across the gate to “manual” Sentronic mode, giving sequential up or down changes with full lock-up in 3/4/5th gears. The greater control offered by Saab Sentronic means that “sport” or “winter” settings are no longer required.

Two manual transmissions are offered, depending on the engine. A five-speed manual is standard with the 175-hp 2.0t engine. A completely new 6-speed manual gearbox, capable of handling exceptionally high torque loadings, is standard equipment on the 210-hp 2.0T variants.

SAFETY

ï‚· Crash safety based on “real life” research
ï‚· Rigid passenger cell surrounded by deformable structures
ï‚· “DynaCage” rollover protection with pop-up roll bars
ï‚· Front seats with fully integrated seat-belts
ï‚· Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
ï‚· Adaptive front airbags and head/thorax side airbags

Saab has a long tradition of advancing automobile safety. In surveys of real-life accidents carried out by the US Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Swedish insurance company, Folksam, Saab cars have consistently shown well, several times being ranked best in their segment. And in a recent Euro-NCAP crash test study, the new 9-3 Sport Sedan achieved a maximum five-star rating.

More “Real-Life” Crash Configurations

Saab crash testing is designed to replicate what happens in real accidents on real roads and is designed to build upon the findings of an internal database covering more than 6,000 real-life collisions involving Saab cars.

In the new 9-3 program, Saab evaluated the results of 75 different crash configurations, which is a record number for Saab in the development a new model. Only 15 of these configurations are legally required.

For the Convertible, Saab has also helped to pioneer one of the world’s most comprehensive rollover crash test programs, involving no less than eight configurations that account for most instances of this relatively rare type of road accident.

Safety Structure

At the heart of the 9-3 Convertible is immensely strong steel structure that is designed to protect the passenger compartment by resisting forces that may pass through the front and rear crumple zones. Its reinforced elements are: the A-pillars and windscreen header rail, the front and rear seat cross-members, a substantial torsion box between the rear-wheel housings and enlarged side sills.

The front and rear crumple zones are made up of carefully shaped steel members designed to absorb, distribute and deflect as much impact energy as possible, to help shield the passenger compartment.

For structural side impact protection, Saab engineers have developed the lower B-pillar, the side sills and door beams to function as a single unit, transmitting energy down and away from occupants into the floor, its cross-members and the rear torsion box.

DynaCage Rollover Protection

Although rollovers are comparatively rare events, the consequences are often serious and Saab has installed an active protection system in the new 9-3 Convertible. Its DynaCage concept combines pop-up rear roll bars, seatbelt pre-tensioning in the front seats and substantial reinforcement of the A-pillars to provide an integrated protection system.

The two spring-loaded rollover hoops recessed behind the rear head restraints are made from aluminum alloy for low mass, to aid quick deployment, and high strength. They are mounted inside the car’s torsion box and a released by a small pyrotechnic charge when the car’s central sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) detects the onset of a rollover.

Integrated Front Seatbelts

Despite the use of airbags, seatbelts are still the single most important restraint system in any car and the front occupants of the new 9-3 Convertible benefit from the first integrated belt system to be fitted by Saab.

The seatbelt is mounted entirely to the frame of the front seats. As there are no B-pillar or floor mounting points, the belt’s geometry is optimized regardless of the seat position. The belts are also easier to reach and the top mounting in the seatback ensures a closer fit over the shoulder without compromising seating comfort.

Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)

Crash investigation findings by the Journal of Trauma and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US and the Thatcham insurance research center in the UK have all shown Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) to be extremely effective in helping to prevent neck injury during rear-end collisions.

SAHR is designed to help provide protection for front-seat occupants during rear-end impacts. The system is entirely mechanical and is activated when an occupant is pressed back into the seat by the force of inertia during a collision from the rear. A pad in the seatback is linked to a lever that pushes the head restraint up and forward, minimizing head and neck movement during the “rebound” phase.

Adaptive Front Airbags and Two-stage Side Airbags

Adaptive airbags are used for a more occupant-friendly deployment in frontal impacts. Sensors detect impact severity, seating positions and whether or not the belts are being worn. This data is sent to the centrally located SDM which, within milliseconds, chooses between activation of the belt pre-tensioners alone, or in combination with a single (low pressure) or two-stage (high pressure) inflation of the airbags.

Front-seat occupants are provided with additional side-impact protection by the installation of airbags in the outer edge of each front seatback. The airbag has two chambers, one to help protect the chest and the other to help safeguard the head.

Ownership, Accessories and Security

ï‚· Scheduled servicing costs reduced by up to 30 percent
ï‚· Low-speed accident damage protection
ï‚· “CargoWing” – unique rear spoiler/ski-holder in wide accessory range
ï‚· Sophisticated immobilization, anti-theft and alarm systems

The Convertible is price-positioned to compete with other premium convertibles in its segment. Owners will benefit from longer service intervals and reduced repair/maintenance times, which, compared to the previous model, are intended to yield scheduled maintenance savings of up to 30 percent.

Saab has moved away from rigid time and distance restrictions, as it is now more important to monitor how the vehicle is actually used in real life by its owner. The maximum service interval is now every two years, or 15,000 miles. With engine coolant filled and sealed for life, the only major service items for the new 9-3 Convertible are the engine oil, spark plugs, air filter and drive belt.

Saab engineers have also tried to make repair and replacement work as simple as possible, minimizing repair bills and insurance costs. Low-speed frontal collision protection, through “self-repairing,” energy-absorbing bumpers (for impacts up to 5 mph) and deformable crash boxes (for impacts up to 9 mph), now bolted in position for quick replacement, help protect the body structure from serious damage requiring expensive restoration.

The innovative CargoWing rear spoiler converts to a useful ski or snowboard holder, further enhancing the Convertible’s versatile qualities, and is among a wide range of accessories. Other items include wind tunnel-tested styling enhancements and a wide choice of alloy wheels. A folding wind deflector, a bike holder and a cup, CD or ice scraper holder for the car’s Smart Slot are among more practical features available in the Saab Accessories Catalog.

The new 9-3 range incorporates state-of-the-art security, developed jointly with representatives of leading insurance companies. The British Thatcham insurance research center has already awarded the new 9-3 Convertible a maximum five-star rating for “theft of the vehicle” and four stars for “theft from the vehicle.”

Freewheeling lock cylinders and efficient shielding of the locks inside the doors and trunk lid prevent tampering. The immobilizer system uses both an electrical steering column lock and disablement of the engine management system.

The “start” message from the key’s transponder is encrypted in complex, rolling codes. An advanced alarm system, using ultrasonic motion sensors, can also be specified, together with an optional tilt sensor.

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