New Saab 9-3 SportCombi:Satisfying Wants and Meeting Needs

Posted on 01. Mar, 2005 by in 2000-2009

Photo Credits: Saab Automobile



New Saab 9-3 SportCombi:Satisfying Wants and Meeting Needs

The new Saab 9-3 SportCombi takes Saab into the premium, mid-size wagon segment for the first time by combining distinctive design with sporty driving dynamics as an alternative to the qualities of a conventional wagon.

The strong, compact proportions of the 9-3 SportCombi are a bold reaffirmation of Saab’s tradition for designing cars that are sporty in character and versatile in use. With cohesive five-door styling and a muscular, ‘hewn from solid’ stance, it has a clear, stand-out identity within the 9-3 Sport Sedan and Convertible range

The range-topping Aero model is unique to the segment in offering turbocharged, six cylinder performance and leads a comprehensive model line-up focused on synthesizing sporty appeal and performance with wagon functionality.

The 9-3 SportCombi features all-new bodywork from the B-pillar rearwards, including doors, the rear seat and a well-proportioned cargo deck, while retaining the frontal and interior styling of the Sport Sedan, together with its wheelbase and outstanding chassis dynamics.

Due to go on sale from September, the 9-3 SportCombi and will appeal to customers who require the versatility of a wagon without compromising their desire for driving pleasure. The model line-up includes six gasoline and two Euro 4 compliant diesel engine options. Highlights include:

· Fresh five-door styling offering distinct alternative to conventional wagon design

· Top-of-the-line Aero with new aluminum 250 bhp/184 kW 2.8V6 Turbo engine

· Surprisingly spacious cargo deck with useful load-carrying features

· Sporty, fun-to-drive chassis with unique ReAxs real wheel steer characteristic

Last year, Europe’s growing premium mid-size wagon segment reached a quarter of a million units, with diesel engines accounting for 70 per cent of sales. Building on Saab’s reputation for sporty, versatile design and offering strong diesel powertrain options, the new 9-3 SportCombi is poised to open up major new sales opportunities for Saab among conquest and existing customers.

Although retail prices are not yet finalized, each variant is expected to cost slightly more than the equivalent model in the Sport Sedan range, the price differential being similar to that between the 9-5 Wagon and Sedan ranges.

“The 9-3 SportCombi includes the first turbocharged application of GM’s new global V6 engine architecture,” says Carl-Peter Forster, President GM Europe. “It will spearhead Saab’s entry into Europe’s premium, mid-size wagon segment, where we expect the SportCombi range as a whole to establish a strong presence.”

Peter Augustsson, Saab Automobile President and CEO, says: “Although the SportCombi is a natural extension of the 9-3 range, it has a fresh character all of its own. In the tradition of the Saab brand, it is not simply a ‘me too’ type of product.

“Its progressive design and dynamic talents are intended to resolve any conflict between the rationality of need and the passion of desire. Customers will see it as a car that meets the demands of their lifestyle while still satisfying their desire for a sporty, fun-to-drive experience.”

Exterior Design

With a striking, wedge-like profile and Saab ‘signature’ styling cues, the close-coupled proportions of the 9-3 SportCombi are a cohesive statement of its dynamic performance and driver-orientated appeal.

· Sporty, dynamic five-door bodystyle. Inheriting the ‘combi-coupe’ genes of the first Saab 99 Turbo, the Saab 9-3 SportCombi has a clear identity of its own. The purposeful styling establishes a fresh look, much more than simply a wagon derivative of the sedan.

· Distinctive alternative to conventional wagon design. The SportCombi’s compact proportions, its raked rear screen and the short rear overhang, with a small glass area behind the C-pillar, distinguish it from traditional wagon formats.

· Saab ‘signature’ styling cues. The wedge-like profile with its rising belt-line; the ‘hockey stick’ shape in the D-pillar; the single side window graphic with disguised B and C-pillars and the oval-shaped door handles.

· Dramatic rear quarter styling. Large, frosted rear light lenses (colored for US market) mounted high on forward angled D-pillars emphasize ‘fastback’ rear styling.

· Integrated rear spoiler at the top of the steeply raked tailgate, extends and visually lowers the profile of the roofline to the top of the rear light units.

· Sweeping frontal styling. The gentle curvature of the front of the car, including the Saab grille and the neat headlamp/indicator units, perfectly matches the traditional wraparound shape of the windshield.

· ‘Hewn from solid’ appearance reinforced by color-keyed side sills and front and rear bumper moldings for Arc and Vector variants. Side sill flares and bumper extensions for Aero. Choice of 16, 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels.


The aerodynamics of the 9-3 SportCombi are optimized for ‘real world’ road conditions, just as Saab has developed its ‘real-life‘ safety philosophy. High speed stability in varying wind and weather conditions, low wind noise and the effective sealing of doors and windows are as important as seeking a low co-efficient of drag.

· Zero lift forces, front and rear. First Saab to achieve zero lift levels at both axles, assisted by the aerodynamic performance of the integrated rear roof spoiler.

· Class-competitive 0.33 Cd. The ‘combi-coupe’ shapes cleaves the air efficiently for good touring fuel consumption

· Excellent high-speed stability, including pitch sensitivity under braking and yaw responses to cross-winds at different speeds and angles, a main development priority.

· Efficient airflow management over, around, through and under the car. Rear airflow separation reduces turbulence and wake size; rear edge of the hood lid ‘kicks up’ to smooth the passage of air on to and around windscreen and A-pillars; aerodynamically-shaped lower rear suspension link reduces wind resistance and minimizes accumulation of road grime on the wheel rims.

The outstanding chassis dynamics of the 9-3 SportCombi are matched by an impressive powertrain line-up: six gasoline engine options, including the launch of a new 2.8V6 Turbo; two diesel engines and five or six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes. All turbo engines deliver Saab ‘signature’ strong low and mid-range torque.

· New aluminum 2.8V6 Turbo producing 250 bhp/184 kW, exclusive to top-of-the-line Aero, or 230 bhp/169 kW in Arc and Vector variants (EU only). 24-valves, DOHC, variable valve timing, twin-scroll turbocharger feeding both cylinder banks. Hydroformed stainless steel exhaust manifolds with air injection for quick cold start warm-up.

· Aluminum 2.0 four cylinder turbos offering 150 bhp/110 kW, 175 bhp/129 kW or 210 bhp/155 kW. Balancer shafts and dual-mass flywheel for greater running refinement.

· 1.9TiD engines with 120 bhp/88 kW (8-valve) and 150 bhp/ 110 kW (16-valve). Common rail, direct, multiple injection, VNT turbocharger and maintenance-free particulate filter. Euro 4 compliant.

· Naturally-aspirated 1.8i engine with 122 bhp/90 kW and variable length intake manifold. Available in all specifications, except Aero, for wide customer choice.

· Automatic transmissions with Saab Sentronic sequential manual shift and optional steering wheel controls. Six-speed units available for both 2.8V6 Turbo engines and 150 bhp/110 kW 1.9TiD. ‘5+2’ variant, with two intermediate gears on kickdown, for 210 bhp/155 kW engine.

· Six-speed manual transmissions standard for both 2.8V6 Turbo and 1.9TiD engines, optional for 210 bhp/155 kW gasoline engine. Cable linkage for improved gearchange quality.

Interior Design and Features

Like its exterior, the interior design of the 9-3 SportCombi reflects styling themes from previous Saab models. The driver-focused elements first seen on the Sport Sedan are supported by versatility features, such as a surprisingly large cargo deck to facilitate the active sports and leisure pursuits of owners. An eye-catching, chrome handle in the floor is aircraft-shaped, denoting Saab’s aviation heritage.

· Adaptable cargo handling with wide-opening tailgate; low floor; quick-fold and 60/40 split rear seat-back with ski-hatch; optional folding front passenger seat-back; load dividers and cargo nets.

· Surprisingly spacious and well proportioned load area. Compact rear suspension design allows useful space free from intrusions. Rear seat up/down volume 419/1273 liters (VDA).

· Innovative TwinFloor stowage facility. Middle section of floor hinges upwards transversely and slots in place after pulling aircraft-shaped handle. Provides support for convenient location for shopping bags etc. in a recessed sub-floor, easily secured by a cargo net.

· Two-position retractable rear cargo net can be easily secured behind rear seat-back or front seat-backs for adaptable protection against shifting loads.

· ‘Profiler’ customization. A wide range of functions can be pre-set according to personal preference including: automatic climate control, clock/alarm, speed scale illumination, parking assistance, rain sensitive wipers and anti-theft alarm. Easy to use, with selections highlighted by single, rotating/push button and on-screen prompts.

· ComSense functionality minimizes potential for driver distraction through ‘dynamic workload management’, briefly suppressing in-car warning messages/phone calls when a moment of high driver workload is detected by the operation of the indicators or heavy braking. Includes Night Panel instrument illumination dimming to reduce visual ‘clutter’.

· Dual-zone Automatic Air Conditioning allows different temperature settings for left or right hand side of interior. Includes an automatic airflow balance function to compensate for temperature changes if one side of the car is in direct sunlight.

· Infotainment systems include DVD/GPS satellite navigation with large 5.8-inch color monitor, Bluetooth™-prepared integrated GPRS telephone, wireless connection to a Bluetooth-qualified headset, WAP browser, Advanced Voice Recognition (AVR), MP3 player input socket.

· Choice of three modular audio systems with 150 to 300 watts playing power and up to 12 speakers, including unique installation of 10-inch sub-woofer in spare wheel storage well.

· Choice of three interior ‘forms’ or specifications: Linear, Arc and Vector, plus ‘Aero’ sporting flagship. Each with ‘light room’ (parchment) or ‘dark room’ (gray) color theme.

Chassis, Steering and Brakes

The 9-3 SportCombi inherits the outstanding ‘fun-to-drive’ chassis dynamics of the Sport Sedan. It delivers a high level of driver involvement that challenges the class benchmark and concedes nothing to its functionality as a practical, five-door car. Electronic driver aids include a new ESP Plus with Hill Start Assist, standard with 2.8V6 Turbo.

· Saab ReAxs, a unique rear wheel steer characteristic. The kinematics of the rear suspension are tuned for a unique rear wheel steer response giving optimum handling and stability.

· Four-link independent rear suspension. High lateral stiffness for stability and grip with longitudinal compliance for ride comfort. Its compact design allows a spacious load area free from intrusion.

· Front suspension by MacPherson struts with lower A-arms mounted on a hydroformed sub-frame. High lateral bushing stiffness for good steering response and precision; high longitudinal compliance for ride comfort.

· Low mounted steering rack gives excellent feel and precision with progressive power assistance and fast responses. Electro-hydraulic system with 1.8i and 1.9TiD engines.

· Three disc brake sizes according to engine power. Excellent high speed braking stability with automatic rear wheel ‘toe-in’ through ReAxs geometry.

· Braking and stability aids fitted as standard: four channel ABS, TCS, MBA (Mechanical Brake Assist), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution).

· New generation Saab-tuned ESP and ESP Plus. Optional, very progressive ESP functions almost imperceptibly. ESP Plus fitted as standard with 2.8V6 Turbo engines and includes HSA (Hill Start Assist) for manual transmission, automatically preventing roll back.

Body structure and Electrical systems

The 9-3 SportCombi benefits from the stiffest five-door body structure yet produced by Saab, providing the solid foundation on which its sporty handling, quiet ride, refinement and outstanding safety qualities are built. A multiplex digital signal network, including the use of fiber optics, ensures the fast and efficient control of major functions.

· High torsional rigidity – 21,000 Nm/degree of deflection. Despite large tailgate opening, only 6.6 per cent less than Sport Sedan. Use of FEM design techniques and tailored blanks in construction reduces unnecessary weight and concentrates strength where needed.

· Structural ‘rings’ around C and D-pillars include transverse beams in floor and roof to compensate for loss of sedan cross bracing. ‘Rings’ linked longitudinally by six beams in rear bodywork and base of C-pillars further reinforced.

· 60 per cent of bodyweight in high strength or ultra high strength steel, mainly in central passenger safety cage where all main beams have closed sections for additional strength.

· Single ‘monoside’ body pressings accommodate inset-mounted doors for better sealing and finer gap tolerances.

· Deformable crash boxes behind front bumper minimize body damage in low speed impacts up to 15 kph.

· Multiplexing for entire electrical and electronic network with databus transmission for control of powertrain, chassis, body, ‘infotainment’, telematics, navigation and climate and comfort systems.

· Fiber optics for all ‘infotainment’ and navigation. Large 25 Mbytes per second capacity 50 times greater than dual wire bus. DVD-based navigation, GPRS integrated phone and Bluetooth connectivity.

· LEDs for rear lighting give greater reliability, lower energy consumption and faster illumination for brake lights. Default ‘off’ setting for rear fog light.

· Powerful windshield washing system operates through six jets at 3.5 bar pressure, twice normal power. Driver adjustment for sensitivity of rain-sensing function.


Saab has a long tradition of successful work with car safety and Saab cars consistently show well in real-life accident surveys, often being ranked best in their segment. In EuroNCAP crash tests, the 9-3 Sport Sedan and 9-3 Convertible have already achieved a maximum five-star rating.

· Database covering more than 6,100 real-life accidents involving Saab cars used in computer simulations and crash testing to replicate what happens in real accidents on real roads.

· Strong steel safety cage helps protect passenger compartment. Fabricated mainly from high strength steel, with beam sections completely closed for additional strength. Protected by deformable front structure with three load paths and wide bumper beam to spread impact forces.

· Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) for front seats help to prevent serious neck injury in rear-end collisions. Effectiveness demonstrated by crash investigation findings and independent tests.

· Side impact protection with ‘pendulum’ movement of lower B-pillar, designed to engage side sills and door beams as an integrated structure.

· Roof-rail airbags to help provide occupant head protection throughout an entire crash sequence, including potential roll-over Front seat-mounted side airbags help provide thorax protection.

· Sophisticated sensing for airbag/seat-belt deployment, including two-stage adaptive front airbags, pre-tensioning of seatbelts in side impacts and wearer reminder system.

Ownership, Security and Accessories

The excellent build and materials quality of the 9-3 SportCombi is reflected in its competitively low cost of ownership, including servicing, repairs and insurance. Security systems include all measures that are proven to be effective. Thoughtful operational features and accessories make everyday use of the SportCombi easy, convenient and rewarding.

· Flexible service intervals related to car usage patterns. Maximum interval up to every two years, or 30,000 kms, for all gasoline and diesel variants. Also 10 year anti-perforation warranty.

· Reduced accident repair bills and insurance costs with frontal bodywork collision protection up to 8 kph through ‘self-repairing’ bumpers and up to 15 kph with deformable ‘crash boxes’. Front wings bolted for efficient removal and replacement, main wiring connections protected.

· ‘State of the art’ security co-developed with insurance companies. 9-3 Sport Sedan already has maximum five star rating for ‘theft of vehicle’ protection and four stars for ‘theft from vehicle’ by UK Thatcham insurance research center.

· Anti intrusion measures include: ‘freewheeling’ and shielded door locks, deadbolts, electronically ‘married’ audio equipment and security marking of components.

· Anti car theft measures include: immobilizer with electrical steering column lock and ECM disablement, encrypted rolling ‘start’ code and firewalls to prevent access with scanning devices.

· Sophisticated alarm system for doors, hood and tailgate with ’tilt’ and ultrasonic interior motion sensing, plus glass break sensors for all rear windows and separate, hidden power battery.

· Many ‘convenience’ features make living with the new 9-3 SportCombi as easy as possible, eg. extensive Profiler personalization menu, ‘smart’ door mirrors that automatically fold out, automatic windshield washer fluid saver.

· Range of design and lifestyle-orientated accessories including sporty bodystyling additions, roof rails, roof racks, roof boxes, TwinFloor and SmartSlot accessories.

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