All-new 9-3 family in 2012; priced from £18,000; BMW engines; sophisticated platform

Saab will declare its independence as a carmaker with the launch of an all-new 9-3 in late 2012. Rebadged as the 93, the new model will also mark the reintroduction of a hatchback version reminiscent of the classic 900.

Saab is working on a new platform — known internally as the ‘Phoenix Architecture’ — that will underpin the next-generation 9-3 family as well as the eventual replacement for the latest 9-5, which has just been launched.

See Autocar's exclusive rendering of the new Saab 9-3 hatchback

It’s expected that the first car based on the Phoenix Architecture will be the new 93 saloon, which is currently pencilled in for a 2012 launch.

Getting this new car into the showrooms is a priority for a company that badly needs to boost its sales and dramatically increase its cashflow.

A cabriolet and a three-door hatchback will follow hard on the saloon’s heels. The drop-top and hatch are closely related, being nearly identical to each other up to the doors and frameless window arrangement.

The 93 Sport Wagon will be the final model in the range, sharing the majority of its construction with the saloon.

Although the 93 hatch will be bigger than the Audi A3, it is expected to be priced at a similar level, starting at around £18,000. The new model should be Saab’s most credible driver’s car since the 900 Aero was launched in 1985.

The styling of the 93 family will build on that of today’s 9-5, but the company designers are likely to make more use of an aerospace-influenced, barrel-sided look for the 93.

Inside, the wrap-around dashboard theme will stay, but the expanse of bare fascia seen in the new 9-5 is likely to be watered down to avoid overwhelming the driver.

Saab engineers have the option of fitting the 93 with the sophisticated HiPer strut front and linked H-arm rear suspension systems that are already used on some versions of the new 9-5. The company’s highly regarded four-wheel drive set-up is also on the menu.

There’s still some mystery as to the source of the 93’s engines, but it seems highly likely that they will come from outside the General Motors family.

Sources say Saab might already have signed a contract with BMW to supply BMW-derived diesel and petrol engines that are set to make their debut in the forthcoming Mini Countryman.

The company is keen on what it calls ‘right-sized’ engines, which it can modify using its extensive experience in turbocharging and engine management technology.

If true, the BMW deal could include the new 184bhp 1.6-litre, twin-scroll turbo Cooper S engine and the 112bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine used in the Countryman.

Indeed, a senior BMW source recently told Autocar that his company had “no problem” supplying engines to other car makers.

These engines are likely to be mated to the Countryman’s new six-speed manual gearbox, which has the ability to accommodate a four-wheel drive system. Saab, however, would retain its own Haldex-based XWD system no matter who supplies the engines.

Saab is also likely to offer a dual-clutch gearbox in the 93, given that it has already developed one for GM.

Ahead of these newly sourced engines, however, Saab is expected to launch a mildly refreshed version of the current 9-3 powered by a GM-sourced 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine.

Hilton Holloway

 

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Saab 9-3 Sportwagon

Minor tweaks both simplify and improve the 9-3. Likeable, but lagging behind

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Comments
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21 June 2010

[quote Autocar]Saab will declare its independence as a carmaker with the launch of an all-new 9-3 in late 2012. Rebadged as the 93, the new model will also mark the reintroduction of a hatchback version reminiscent of the classic 900.

Saab is working on a new platform — known internally as the ‘Phoenix Architecture’ — that will underpin the next-generation 9-3 family as well as the eventual replacement for the latest 9-5, which has just been launched.

Read the full article[/quote]

As long as their 4WD system eliminates torque steer, I'd seriously consider one. Now, you'll never, ever persuade me totally out of BMW ownerships, but I really think Saab are onto something. The current 9-5 is the last of the GM-era designs, and it looks good, but is seemingly not quite up to scratch. Now they're free to design everything themselves, I think Saab have really got a bright future. I wish them all the very best. If their designs end up looking as bonkers as those of their owners, all the better.

21 June 2010

Not sure about the supposetly BMW derived engine though. As long as it's 4 cylinder ok, but what about the 6 cylinder option? BMW doesn't make V6 engines, they make I6 engines, which is fine for RWD, but Saab are the pioners of FWD. And why not use the present 2 liter engine, which is really a Saab design, installed in GMs lineup?.

21 June 2010

Isnt this the third or fouth design ive seen for the 93 in the past 6 months? The new car does look different ill give it that. I only hope that they actually make it rather than keep releasing scetches of cars that they have no intention of ever making.

2012? hmmmm, i dont think so. after all the original release for the current 95 was 2008.

Personally i think that the new owners of Saab motor company are testing reaction of these to find out if there is enough interest not in one model, but to carry on with the brand full stop.

21 June 2010

First things first, massivLY UGLY Maybe the ugliest three door ever? The panamania of hatches.

Second AC are vague here, is this another GM chassis or not? j

21 June 2010

Have to say I think that is a stunning looking vehicle, at last a smaller car that doesnt look like a golf or a focus, hope it makes it to market looking like that, 2012 is a long way off though in the current climate, they really need it sooner than that which cant be done.

21 June 2010

This car is potentially a winner and if Muller can pull it off by 2012, that would be incredible. The design is clearly an evolution of the 900’s design and therefore has a Saab heritage. I don’t think that we have to be overly concerned about what the floorpan it has or who makes the running gear or quality issues as these will have to be tuned to the new era’s needs and aspirations for Saab. The important thing for Saab is to be able to ditch the GM era’s 9-3 as rapidly as possible.

21 June 2010

If it really looks like this then they must be on to a winner. Fabulous.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

21 June 2010

Looks really exciting and true to Saab's current styling guide. Would have liked it to be somewhat larger especially in the rear and boot capacity - the A3 is woeful in this regard and a larger car for the same money would be another Saab USP.

All the same, with the new 9-5 getting such solid reviews and the 9-4x ready to launch, this is becoming a very exciting period for Saab and good luck to them.

21 June 2010

[quote saaby]Would have liked it to be somewhat larger especially in the rear and boot capacity - the A3 is woeful in this regard [/quote]

How so? The A3 has as much rear room as a Golf which is widely regarded as being spacious for the class and the boot at 370 litres while not class leading is above average for the class. I know because when looking to downsize to a 'Golf' size car space was one of the most important aspects for me and the Golf/A3 were up there with the best in class. I wouldn't have ordered one if the space wasn't good.

Looking forward to this new 9-3. I just hope they don't rush it through too quickly and end up with yet more Saabs which don't deserve the badge.

21 June 2010

If the new A3 rival is to be called 9-3, what will the current Mondeo/3-Series rivalling 9-3 be called? I'd assume 9-4?

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