Specifications prices Modifications and Image 2011 Saab 9-3X
The Swedish word for roller-coaster is "berg-och-dalbana," which is a pretty good way of describing the past two years for Saab. The brand was scheduled to be sold by parent company General Motors, but the deal fell through. GM was ready to completely pull the plug on Saab, but then Dutch supercar maker Spyker made an 11th-hour save. Spyker is now promising a bright future that involves an entirely new car lineup bolstered by an all-new Saab 9-3.
Unfortunately, that all-new car is still at least a year away, and the 2011 Saab 9-3 you can buy today is simply the eighth year for a car that was never that impressive to begin with. Among entry-level luxury cars, the 9-3 is the equivalent of an aging Epcot ride in a segment filled with really cool berg-och-dalbanas.
The 2011 Saab 9-3 has a 210-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder as its sole engine offering; most of its competitors offer more vigorous performance and/or an engine upgrade of some sort. Its interior is a significant step below its competitors, and it lacks many of the electronic features that have become de rigueur the past few years. There is no iPod interface, for instance, and Bluetooth is bundled with optional OnStar telematics. Despite standard leather upholstery and wood trim, the 9-3 simply doesn't feel like the luxury car its price implies.
If there is a bright spot, it is the SportCombi wagon with its unique styling, copious cargo space and, in 9-3X guise, elevated ground clearance. In Aero trim, the SportCombi even handles reasonably well with sharp steering and controlled body motions. There is a dearth of competition nowadays for such a vehicle, which is something the 9-3 sedan and convertible do not enjoy.
However, there aren't enough wagon buyers left in this country to help the 9-3 ease Saab up the steep, precipitous hill it's beginning to climb. Until the new 9-3 arrives, Saab loyalists and compact luxury buyers should instead consider the Audi A4 and A5, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Volvo S60 and C70. Non-luxury-branded cars like the Subaru Legacy and Outback and the Volkswagen CC and Eos are also worth a look. In other words, there is an abundance of better rides than the 2011 Saab 9-3.
Standard features include:
* Manual, fully adjustable driver’s seat
* Profiler system for individual settings
* Saab Car Computer with outdoor temperature, fuel consumption, estimated distance on remaining fuel
*Sun visors with illuminated mirrors
*Headlight levelling control on fascia (automatic levelling on cars with Bi-xenon lights)
*Automatic Climate Control (ACC) dual-zone
*Cabin air filter, electrostatic
*Cooled glove box
*Heat absorbing glass
*Comfort closing electrically operated windows incl. express-up
*Electrically operated/heated door mirrors
*Electronic key with remote for the central locking
*Leather trim sport seats with contrasting inserts (Black or Parchment)
*Heated front seats
*Carbon fibre-effect trim, centre console, doors and glove box
*Foldable rear centre armrest
*Adjustable front armrest
*Bluetooth phone integration system
*Saab Infotainment (radio/CD player)
*Premium 70 Sound System (70W amplifier, 7 speakers)
*Audio control buttons in the steering wheel
*Radio antenna in rear side windows
The 9-3X also gets Saab's ComSense and Night Panel feature, which uses a 'dynamic workload manager' to measure the driver's workload through the operation of the cabin's control systems.
If a momentary 'high driver workload' is detected, the system will switching off or dimming all non-vital instrument illumination.
Rear storage space is listed at 419 litres with the rear seats up, stretching to 1287 with the rear seats folded flat.
Saab engineers raised the chassis 1.4 inches when compared to the front-wheel-drive 9-3 SportCombi. This enables the 9-3X to handle more rugged driving terrain. It is specifically designed for those who frequently hit gravel or unpaved roads, while still offering competent handling on asphalt.
"The 9-3X is an efficient all-rounder for anyone who doesn't want or need an SUV- type vehicle," says Simon Padian, Saab Brand Design Chief. "Simply put, we are offering a trekking shoe that will do what's required in more comfort and style than a heavier mountaineering boot."
New front and rear bumpers feature a dark gray, grained finish that is also applied to the side sills and the edges of the wheel arches as a protective covering when the terrain becomes loose or muddy. This treatment is complemented by skid panels with a matt aluminum finish, curving up towards the door opening at the rear and adopting a wing form in the lip of the lower front bumper. These are matched by matte, aluminum-colored lower door decor strips. Roof rails and visible, twin round exhaust tailpipes are standard. Front fog lights ringed with a chrome finish add yet another bold accent.
The aforementioned XWD system features an electronically-controlled Torque Transfer Device (TTD), which varies power between the axles. A valve increases or reduces hydraulic pressure on wet clutch plates inside the TTD to progressively engage or disengage the rear axle. The degree of 'slip' dictates how much drive is transmitted to the rear wheels. A standard rear limited slip differential (eLSD) operates on the same principle, splitting drive across the axle to whichever wheel has more grip.
a turbo-charged 2.0 litre engine, producing 154kW and 300Nm of torque - the latter coming between 2500 and 4000rpm.
Coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission (the only option), the 0-100km/h sprint is knocked over in just over 8.0 seconds.
Running on ULP 95, the 9-3X returns combined-cycle fuel consumption figures of 10.1 l/100km and carbon emissions are rated at 242g/km.
The 9-3X's crossover status comes courtesy of Saab's XWD all-wheel-drive system, its Torque Transfer Device developed to continuously transfer torque between the front and rear axles, sending torque where it's needed most.
Electronic stability control (ESC) is also standard, while an optional electronically-controlled rear limited-slip differential (eLSD) transfers up to 50 percent of rear torque between the rear wheels, to whichever has more grip.
Suspension is managed by up front by McPherson struts, and at the rear buy a four-link layout that features ball joints as part of Saab's ReAxs system - developed to overcome the 'crabbing' effect and help the trail of the car follow the direction of the front wheels, rather than the nose of the car.
The 9-3X's brake package includes ventilated discs at the front and rear, measuring 314mm and 292mm respectively.
Interior and Features
Inside, the 9-3X again draws on features of the top-spec Aero, with trim highlights including a dark metallic finish to the door trims, glovebox and gearshift surround. The contoured sports seats and sports steering wheel are also leather trimmed.
The 2011 Saab 9-3 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints and side airbags. The sedan and SportCombi include side curtain airbags, while the convertible features taller side airbags that cover the head of each front occupant. OnStar emergency telematics is optional on the 2.0T and standard on the Aero.
The 9-3 has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) saw it receiving four out of five stars for frontal and side rear crash protection and five stars for driver side protection. The convertible was not tested. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 9-3 sedan the best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests.