If you happened to be near Trollhattan last weekend, you'd have seen the new Saab 9-3 convertible in all its newly sculpted glory. Glory may be too strong a word, but the slightly rehabbed entry Saab did get a more stylish face and what Saab's marketing as "trifuel" engine choices for Europe that include gasoline diesel, or ethanol-ready powerplants. The 2.8-liter aluminum V6, the company says, was purpose-built for the line's all-turbo application. Sadly, the convertible doesn't get Saab/Haldex's new XWD system that actively manages the front-rear torque split. Saab fans, discuss. We're going out for a cup of salmon.
Saab 9-3 Convertible
More Than a Convertible...
The 9-3 Convertible confirms Saab's leading position in the premium convertible segment and is the product of more than 20 years' experience in designing four-seater, four season soft tops that are as practical as they are stylish.
The Saab Convertible has a level of structural integrity, build quality and running refinement that places it at the very top of its class. Innovative product features further develop the Saab concept that an open-top car should be 'more than a Convertible' by offering effective all-year-round transport. In addition to its functional qualities, the Convertible also offers strong driving appeal through sharing the excellent chassis dynamics of the 9-3 range.
The extensive engine line-up incorporates a 'tri-fuel' choice of gasoline, diesel or bioethanol (E85) powered engines. It is led by an all-aluminum 2.8-liter V6 turbocharged engine rated at 255 hp (188 kW); a powerful two-stage turbo diesel packing 400 Nm of torque and a choice of two Saab BioPower (E85) flex-fuel engines.
Well-balanced proportions and a purposeful stance endow the car with a strong, sporty character that, roof up or down, echoes its fun-to-drive appeal.
• Unique 'stand alone' design. Scandinavian design flair that ensures the lines are clean and flowing, but never cold or clinical. An open top car that looks like a unique model in its own right, free from any awkward styling compromises.
• Bold frontal styling. The prominent central grille with its wing motif is inspired by the Aero X concept car, as is the U-shaped pressing in that classic Saab clamshell hood. The form of the grille and headlamp units is complemented a smooth bumper molding with a deep trapezoidal air intake. .
• Clean rear deck styling. Pop-up roll bars and retractable rear head streamlined by twin fairings, hinting at Convertible's sporty character.
• Coupé looks. The soft-top has a taut, smooth appearance through use of six cross-braces and strong tensioning.
• Unique 'Surround Trim'. U-shaped styling line extends from base of A-pillars along the top of the doors, rear side trims and tonneau cover. Color-keyed with metallic colors, it integrates the front and rear passenger areas and visually unites the only top exterior surfaces that 'come inside' when the top is up.
• Hydraulically-powered, triple layer roof. Automatic self-latching to the windshield header and deploys fully in just 20 seconds. Among fastest in its class.
• Integral rain gutter sewn into side of the soft-top fabric. Prevents water droplets dripping down on to the seats when a door is opened.
• Weight-saving design. Soft-top frame, swivelling braces and front header rail all made from magnesium.
• Unique tonneau cover operation. For quicker roof deployment, the tonneau has a unique two-stage cycle, rising horizontally and then moving rearwards parallel to the top of the trunk. More robust operation, better sealing.
• 'CargoSET' Automatic trunk expansion. Soft-top connected to flexible, 'concertina' storage well. When the roof is in position, the well retracts, releasing useful storage space in the trunk.
• Class-competitive 0.34 Cd (roof up). Soft-top resistant to high speed 'ballooning'.
Interior Design and Features
The interior shares the cockpit feel and driver-focused themes of the Sport Sedan and SportCombi. Particular emphasis was placed on styling that integrates the rear passenger area, including a 'f'ixed-head' interior ambience.
• Front and rear passenger areas integrated by consistent styling themes, contributing to 'bespoke' character.
• 'Fixed-head' interior ambience. First convertible to offer soft-top with light colored headlining. Combines with near seamless fitting to give impression of fixed-head interior.
• Front seats with integrated seat-belts unique to Convertible. Deeply bolstered for comfort and support.
• Easy entry/exit for rear passengers. Single action movement of front seats through 243 mm and elimination of 'B' pillar-mounted seat belts.
• Rear seat comfortably shaped and upholstered. Deep squabs with back-rest kept at a comfortable angle, not compromised by packaging requirements.
• 'Hydroblox' water repellent textile for seat upholstery. Unique feature.
• 'Profiler' customization. A wide range of functions can be pre-set according to personal preference including: anti-theft alarm, parking assistance, rain sensitive wipers and automatic climate control.
• Saab ComSense functionality minimizes potential for driver distraction through 'dynamic workload management', suppressing messages/phone calls, includes Night Panel instrument illumination dimming to reduce visual 'clutter'
• 'Light room' or 'dark room' interior themes. Beige or black seats, door panels, rear side panels, lower front fascia and carpet.
• 'Intelligent' dual zone air conditioning. Automatic Climate Control (ACC) switches to offer manual heat settings when soft-top is lowered.
• Infotainment systems include DVD/GPS satellite navigation with large 6.5-inch color monitor, Bluetooth™ Phone Integration system (BPIS), providing automatic connection to audio system with operation by voice control or steering wheel buttons. Auxiliary input socket standard with all infotainment systems. .
• Foldable wind deflector for easy stowage among wide range of accessories.
• Choice of Linear and Vector 'forms', plus 'Aero' sporting flagship. Each with uniquely-designed seat upholstery and 16/17-inch alloy wheels. Aero adds sports bodystyling, lowered chassis and optional 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 9-3 Convertible retains the sporty handling characteristics of the Sport Sedan. The rigid body structure provides a solid foundation for suspension systems with impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness.
• 'ReAxs' passive rear wheel steer characteristic. The kinematics of the rear suspension are tuned for a unique rear wheel steer response for optimum handling and stability.
• Four-link independent rear suspension. High lateral stiffness for stability and grip; longitudinal compliance for ride comfort.
• Front suspension by MacPherson struts with lower A-arms mounted on a hydroformed (hollow), 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.
• Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA). Automatically boosts braking pressure when driver presses hard on pedal, reducing stopping distance. Standard fitment.
• Advanced chassis electronic systems. Saab-tuned 'user friendly' ESP® (Electronic Stability Program). EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), CBC (Cornering Brake Control) and TCS (Traction Control System) all standard features.
• Minimized unsprung weight for better ride comfort. Hub carriers, brake calipers, lower control arms in the front suspension and the toe and lower links in the rear suspension made of aluminum.
Body Structure and Systems
The 9-3 Convertible was developed in tandem with Sport Sedan, ensuring all the special structural requirements for an open top car could be accommodated from the outset of design work. Structural integrity and build quality positions it at the very top of its class.
• Excellent torsional rigidity (11,500 Nm/degree), despite the absence of a fixed roof, contributes to excellent running refinement, stiff suspension mountings and a strong safety structure.
• Second 'supplementary' chassis. To compensate for absence of fixed roof, torsional stiffness raised by completely integrated, additional strengthening system, linking front, rear and side structures.
• High and ultra high strength steel widely used, accounting for about 60 per cent of the Convertible's body weight.
• Reinforced A-pillars and windshield header rail able to withstand loading 2.2 times greater than weight of the car.
• Low speed impact resistance. 'Self-repairing' bumpers and deformable crash boxes provide bodywork protection in impacts up to 15 kph, minimizing accident repair bills.
Fine chassis dynamics are complemented by outstanding driveability and refinement from the all-turbo powertrain line-up, which includes 2.8V6 and 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo gasoline engines, a powerful diesel with two-stage turbocharging two Saab BioPower variants. All notable for typically strong, mid-range torque characteristics.
• All-aluminum 2.8-liter turbo engine. The first six cylinder unit to be purpose-built for Saab's turbocharged application. Offering 255 hp (188 kW), it combines multi-cylinder refinement with outstanding turbo performance. Single twin-scroll turbocharger fed by both cylinder banks.
• All-aluminium 2.0-liter turbo engines. Saab developed and tuned for 150 (110 kW), 175 (129 kW) and 210 hp (147 kW) with high torque for swift overtaking. All internal components unique to Saab. Balancer shafts for greater running refinement.
• 1.9TTiD engine with two-stage turbocharging develops 180 hp (132 kW) and exceptional torque of 400 Nm with two turbos integrated as a single unit and common rail, direct and multiple fuel injection. A 150 hp (110 kW) version with a single VNT turbocharger also offered. . A maintenance-free particulate filter is .fitted as standard.
• Choice of two BioPower engines givemore power and torque when running on E85 fuel. Saab BioPower unique in offering flex-fuel engines with enhanced performance, as well as reduced fossil CO2 emissions.
• Wide transmission choice. Uprated five and six-speed manual gearboxes, with six-speed units standard for 2.8V6, 210 hp/155 kW and 175 hp/ 129 kW turbos and both turbo diesels.. Five-speed, adaptive automatic transmission with Saab Sentronic manual gear selection and optional steering wheel controls. Six-speed units offered with the 2.8V6 turbo and turbo diesels.
Saab products consistently show well in real-life safety surveys, and the 9-3 Convertible joins 9-3 Sport Sedan in achieving a maximum five star EuroNCAP crash safety rating test study. The 9-3 Convertible meets the same crash performance targets as the sedan.
• Crash testing based on 'real life' research. Test and simulation configurations developed from Saab database covering more than 6,100 real-life road collisions involving Saab cars on Swedish roads.
• Wide range of crash test configurations used in development of body structure and restraint systems for 9-3 range, including eight different types of rollover test for the Convertible.
• 'DynaCage' rollover protection includes pop-up rear roll bars, strengthened A-pillars, sills and automatic seat-belt pre-tensioning
• Fully integrated front seat-belts mounted entirely to frame of seat. Optimized belt geometry regardless of seat position, also more comfortable to use.
• Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR). Protection against neck injury for front seat occupants in event of rear end impact. Automatic re-setting.
• Adaptive front airbags. More occupant-friendly deployment according to impact severity, seat position and seat-belt usage status.
• Two-stage side airbags. Separate chambers for thorax and head protection. Mounted in outer edge of front seat-back for optimal deployment irrespective of seat position.
Spy Photos: 2008 Saab 9-3 Spotted Ahead of Late '07 Launch [internal]