The New 9-3 Convertible (2004 – 2007)

Posted on 13. Apr, 2007 by in 2000-2009, 9-3 SS, Sweden, Trollhättan, Sweden


Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

“The new Saab 9-3 Convertible nurtures its renowned heritage. It’s driving excitement, versatility and timeless Scandinavian design”.

– The Convertible Book – Saab Automobile AB 2003

Photo Credit: Saab Automobile

Geneva, March 4, 2003

World Première:

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

Highlights include:

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

More than a Convertible
The new Saab 9-3 Convertible’s innovative product 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 Convertible offers a greatly improved driving appeal through incorporating the widelyacclaimed
chassis dynamics of the Sport Sedan. By combining such sporty and functional
characteristics, it symbolises the core appeal of the Saab brand.

Revealing the new car at the Geneva Motor Show, Peter Augustsson, Saab Automobile’s
President and CEO says: “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
from the very outset were able to feed in their demanding requirements for an open-top car. The
result is a premium Convertible with a level of structural integrity, build quality and running
refinement that positions it at the very 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 is expected to go on sale from August this year.

Premium Convertible Player
• 50% growth in segment since 1998
• Saab is a leading player in premium convertible segment
• Saab offers ‘More than a Convertible’
• Fun to drive appeal based on acclaimed dynamics of Sport Sedan
• 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
per cent 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.

It 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 the Convertible from Saab
is clearly established as the definitive ‘car for all seasons’.

Saab has built up a detailed picture of what potential buyers want and who they are. As a result,
the new Saab 9-3 Convertible’s innovative product 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’, with a clean, distinctively Scandinavian design offering
sporty, fun to drive qualities in combination with a versatile dimension 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 theatre 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

• Well-proportioned, ‘bespoke’ design
• Sporty styling with Scandinavian design flair
• Coupé looks (roof up), roadster-like looks (roof down)
• Automated soft-top sets new standards for class
• Unique ‘Surround Trim’ delineates passenger cabin
• Unique ‘CargoSET’ self-expanding trunk feature
• 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, but never cold or clinical.
It is an open top car that looks like a unique model in its own right, free from any awkward
styling compromises.

As it was developed in parallel with the 9-3 Sport Sedan, the Convertible’s design team were
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 51 mm in overall width and 70 mm in wheelbase.
Reduced front and rear overhangs mean the overall length, at 4635 mm, is slightly shorter.
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 seat-belts.

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 trims 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 picked out by a
‘crackle’, matt black paint finish but can also be specified in an exterior color, steel gray or lime

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-skinned 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 droplets 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 swivelling braces and the large, padded front rail which,
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, swivelling 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 in 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 towards
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, ‘concertina’ 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 minimise the effect
of the windows being ‘sucked’ outwards by the difference in outside and inside air pressure, with
undesirable consequences for wind noise.

Interior Design and Features
• Integration of front and rear passenger areas
• ‘Fixed-head’ interior ambience
• Light-colored headlining brightens interior – Saab ‘first’
• Unique front seats with integrated seat-belts
• ‘Hydroblox’ water repellent textile upholstery – Saab ‘first’
• Unique accelerated electric seat travel for quick rear access
• ‘Profiler’ customization function
• High-positioned Saab Information Display
• Easy entry/exit for rear passengers
• Three interior ‘forms’ – Linear, Arc, Vector
• ACC switches to heat settings with soft-top down – unique feature
• Most extensive use of fiber optics for advanced ‘infotainment’

The finely sculptured interior incorporates high quality materials and a standard of fit and finish 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 into 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 seat-belts.

Both rear seating positions are well shaped and upholstered, with deep squabs 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. Fixed-head Ambience

With the roof up, convertibles are often criticised 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 on the market with a soft-top offering a light color inside. The headlining, header rail and side frame components are either beige or light grey, depending on the interior ‘room’ color that is chosen.

An important aim of the interior design team was the achievement of a sedan-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, with integrated seat-belts, are comfortable yet sporty looking and have been specially designed for the Convertible. 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 243 mm. On manual seats. this is done by simply lifting the solid aluminum lever on the outboard corner of the back-rest and pushing the seat forward. For electrically-adjustable seats, the seat automatically moves while the lever is lifted and the seatback
folded down.

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 neat memory function automatically returns the seat to its previous position when the operating lever is raised.

Rear entry/exit is also greatly facilitated by the adoption of integrated seat-belts, which are also
easier to use, more comfortable for the wearer and are not prone to any flapping in open air
Driver focused
The main instrument panel gently arcs round the driver, as in the Sport Sedan. In typical Saab fashion, the controls are all logically grouped, those most frequently used bring 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, fitted a standard, offers great scope to tailor a wide range of interior functions by selecting pre-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 fitment. This removes
visual ‘clutter’ and potential distraction, providing a more restful driving environment.

A high-positioned Saab Information Display is located in a binnacle at the top of the fascia, 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, including navigation directions, 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 alongside the handbrake. It is now entirely electronic in operation, the reverse manual gear lock being replaced by an
automatic, electronic steering column lock.

Interior Themes
Hydroblox, a unique, water repellent textile has been specially developed for convertible seat upholstery. Interiors can be specified in a choice of three ‘Forms’, or interior design themes, all
Scandinavian-inspired for with a distinctive, modern feel. Each form can be specified in a ‘light room’ (parchment) or ‘dark room’ (gray) color scheme.

The line-up starts with ‘Linear’, a line or base element in architecture, although the trim is hardly basic as the seats are upholstered in the innovative Hydroblox textile. ‘Arc’ adopts a newlydeveloped,
embossed leather upholstery and ‘Vector’ is more progressive and performancefocused, the mood changing to ‘industrial high tech’ with the leather seats having contrasting
black panels.

‘Aero’ is, of course, the ultimate performance expression of the new Convertible. Here the interior is similar to Vector and the exterior specification includes aerodynamically-tested
spoilers and flared sill extensions which help reduce lift forces.

Heating and Ventilation
All variants 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, ensuring a smooth engagement of the ACC system when the roof is closed under hot conditions and re-tuning of the software control, 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 hand side of the car.

The Saab ACC system automatically shifts to manual control, offering 10 heat settings, when the roof is open 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 a
hands-free phone, particularly with the top down.

Saab is one of the first auto manufacturers to introduce Bluetoothâ„¢* wireless technology with the launch of the Sport Sedan and the Convertible benefits from the same technology. A short
range, high frequency radio link to replace cable connections. The integrated GSM telephone is equipped with a Bluetooth-certified radio transmitter/receiver operating on the globally available 2.45 GHz bandwidth. An effective range of up to 10 meters allows the convenience and flexibility of wireless connections in and around the car with, for example, a laptop, palm pilot or
a work organizer.

There is a choice of three modular ‘infotainment’ systems, each of which can be changed or upgraded easily. The Saab Audio system, fitted a standard for all specifications, includes an RDS radio and a Premium 70 sound system, which incorporates a 70 watt amplifier, four speakers and a single antenna integrated in the windshield. It can be upgraded to Premium 150 level, including a CD player and two amplifiers for 150 watts playing power through 7 speakers. The optional Saab Infotainment system includes a monochrome display, a telephone keypad, an SMS capability and is prepared for Bluetooth™ communication. It incorporates menu
functionality for easy use and the Premium 150 sound system. Saab Infotainment Plus adds a color display. Both systems can be upgraded with an integrated telephone, including voice recognition, a GPS/DVD-based navigation system and a WAP browser. A Prestige 300 system with 300 watts playing power and 13 speakers can also be added.

• Three-fold increase in torsional rigidity
• Sporty handling inherited from sedan
• Greatly improved ride refinement and NVH levels
• Saab ‘ReAxs’ – unique rear wheel steer characteristic
• 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 for the first time 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 71 mm increase in wheelbase more than offset by the relatively larger 74 mm and 63 mm increases in front and rear track. The ride height is also 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 slight movement, hard metal sleeves replace the compliant polymer bushes fitted to the sedan 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 damper 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 steer 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 seen 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 tyres. 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

Two systems are fitted as standard, according to engine power. For 175 bhp variants, 285 mm front (ventilated) and 278 mm rear discs are fitted. For the 210 bhp engine, these are increased to
302 mm at the front (312 mm on some markets) and 292 mm at the rear, both ventilated. An automatic brake boost feature, Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA), is 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 ABS (Antilock Braking System), TCS (Traction Control System), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), all fitted as standard. A Saab-tuned ESP (Electronic Stability Program) is optional and standard for
the Aero model.

• Aluminum 2.0-liter turbo engine – 175 bhp or 210 bhp
• Excellent torque with greatly improved driveability and refinement
• Sophisticated Saab Trionic 8 engine management system
• 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, midrange
torque of its engines.

Lightweight Powertrain
The all-aluminum, four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine, configured for 175 or 210 bhp, is 15 kilos lighter than its predecessor and is smoother, quieter, more compact and better packaged. It has 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 car-makers 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

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 an 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, devoid of ‘shunting’.

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 overtaking, for example.

Adaptive automatic transmission and 6-speed gearbox A new ‘smart’ five-speed automatic transmission includes Saab Sentronic, a sequential manual gear shift, and the option of steering wheel gear change buttons. The greater control offered by Saab Sentronic means that ‘sport’ or ‘winter’ mode settings are no longer required.

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.

A completely new, compact 6-speed manual gearbox, capable of handling exceptionally high torque loadings, is fitted as standard to the 210 bhp engine.
• Crash safety based on ‘real life’ research
• Rigid passenger cell surrounded by deformable structures
• ‘DynaCage’ rollover protection with pop-up roll bars
• Front seats with fully integrated seat-belts
• Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
• Adaptive front airbags and head/thorax side airbags

Saab has a long tradition of successful work with car 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.

Crash impact resistance benefits from the introduction of a series of new structural and occupant protection measures that have enabled Saab’s engineers to adopt the same crash safety performance targets as those of the Sport Sedan.

More ‘Real-Life’ Crash Configurations
Saab crash testing is designed to replicate what happens in real accidents on real roads and is based on the findings of a 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 any high 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, effectively shielding 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, seat-belt pre-tensioning in all seating positions 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. Just as important, all four seat-belt pre-tensioners are activated at the same time to firmly locate any occupants in their seats.

Integrated front seat-belts

Despite the use of airbags, seat-belts 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 seat-belt is mounted entirely on the frame of the front seats. As there are no B-pillar or floor fixings, the belt’s geometry is optimized irrespective of the seat position. The belts are also easier to reach and the top mounting in the seat back ensures a closer fit over the shoulder without prejudicing 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.

SAHR help to provide protection for front seat occupants during rear end impacts. The system is entirely mechanical and is activated as soon as an occupant is pressed back into the seat by the
force of inertia during a collision from the rear. A pad in the seat-back is linked to lever which pushes the head restraint up and forwards, 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 seat-back. The airbag has two chambers, one to protect the chest and the other to safeguard the head.

Ownership, Accessories and Security

• Scheduled servicing costs reduced by up to 30 per cent
• Low speed accident damage protection
• ‘CargoWing’ – unique rear spoiler/ski-holder in wide accessory range
• 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 workshop times which, compared to the previous model, are intended to yield scheduled maintenance savings of up to 30 per cent. 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 30,000 kms. 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, minimising repair bills and and insurance costs. Low speed frontal collision protection, through ‘self-repairing’, energy absorbing bumpers (for impacts up to 8 kph) and deformable ‘crash boxes’ (for impacts up to 15 kph), now bolted in position for quick replacement, help protect the body structure from serious damage requiring expensive reinstatement. 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. 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. Deadbolts make it virtually impossible for a would-be thief to forcibly break in.

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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3 Responses to “The New 9-3 Convertible (2004 – 2007)”

  1. john

    13. Apr, 2007

    Despite hyping it up in the press releases and showing it in the ‘California Dreaming’ cinema advert (UK, 2004), Saab has never actually released the CargoWing as an accessory!

    Reply to this comment
  2. ryanoe9000

    13. Apr, 2007


    That is interesting. I wonder why that was not rolled out?

    Reply to this comment
  3. henry peters

    10. Nov, 2010

    what year saab 9-3 convertibles had front seat intergrated seat belts?

    Reply to this comment

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