Magazines:   AutoSpeed  |  V8X  |  Silicon Chip  |  Real Estate Shopping:  Fancy Dress Costumes  |  >Kids Costumes  |  Cars  |  Buy Guitar  |  Halloween Costumes 
New Cars for SaleUsed Cars for SaleResearchNew Car ReviewsAuto NewsCar News ArchiveCar Finance

All New Saab 9-3 Convertible

16 October, 2003

Request more information or a no obligation, free quote on the Saab 9-3

By completing the form below you authorise AutoWeb to forward your enquiry to a vehicle purchasing consultant.

The consultant will assist you with the information you require and will obtain their best purchase price possible for you on this vehicle.

This is a free service and you are not under any obligation to continue with a purchase.

Email Address:
Image Gallery
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

More than a Convertible...

Highlights include

  • Fun to drive appeal with acclaimed Sport Sedan chassis dynamics
  • Distinctive Scandinavian design with unique styling features
  • Body structure three times stiffer than previous model
  • Advanced soft-top sets new performance standards in its class
  • Turbo powertrain with 129 kW / 265 Nm or 155 kW / 300 Nm
  • Easy rear passenger entry/exit
  • CargoSET automatic boot expansion linked to soft-top
  • DynaCage rollover protection with pop-up roll bars
  • Integrated front seat-belts, SAHR, head/thorax side airbags
  • New benchmark and innovative features

The all new Saab 9-3 Convertible brings a stylish, open-top dimension to the exciting 9-3 range and is the latest step in the biggest new product rollout in Saab's history. It represents the most significant advance Saab has made in 20 years of designing four-seater, four-season, open-tops and is poised to re-affirm the company's leading position in the premium convertible segment.

Saab engineers played a pro-active role in developing the all-new 9-3 architecture and from the outset were able to feed in their demanding requirements for a premium, open-top car. The result is a Convertible with a level of structural integrity, build quality and running refinement that places it at the very top of its class.

As practical as it is stylish, its innovative product features further develop the Saab concept that an open-top car should be 'more than a Convertible'. In addition to functional qualities, the new Convertible offers greatly improved driving appeal through incorporating the widely-acclaimed chassis dynamics of the Sport Sedan. The combination of such sporty and functional characteristics symbolises the core appeal of the Saab brand.

Powered by a choice of 129 or 155 kW turbocharged engines, the Convertible is a fully integrated design engineered from the ground up to be free from compromise. It effortlessly exchanges a coup? profile for roadster-like looks by deploying an automatic soft-top which is among the most advanced in the segment.

"The launch of the new 9-3 Convertible is the latest phase in the roll-out of a new generation of products, each demonstrating the sporty and multi-dynamic appeal of our brand," says Peter Augustsson, Saab Automobile's global President and CEO. "We are confident our new Convertible will comfortably exceed the high expectations of our customers."

Eight innovative features and new class benchmarks:

  • At just 20 seconds, fastest soft-top operation in its class
  • Unique self-raising, soft-top storage well (CargoSET)
  • Unique colour-keyed interior headlining for soft-top
  • Unique two-phase tonneau cover movement for quick roof deployment
  • Unique Surround Trim integrates front and rear passenger cabin
  • Unique Hydroblox water repellent textile seat upholstery
  • Unique accelerated electric seat travel for easy rear entry/exit
  • Automatic climate control adjusts to heat levels in open-top mode

The new 9-3 Convertible goes on sale in Australia / NZ from October and will be built in a dedicated new production facility at Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik, near Graz, Austria.

Market Positioning
Saab is established as a leading player in the premium convertible segment, having advanced the concept of four-season, four-seater, open-top motoring for almost 20 years. The new model's appeal as a sportier yet still surprisingly practical car goes right to the heart of the Saab brand.

Main highlights include:

  • Premium convertible sales up globally by more than 50 % since 1998. Saab has helped grow the segment, accounting for as much as 50 % of sales in some European markets and more than 50 % of the premium four-seater Convertible market in Australia.
  • 'More than a Convertible' - describes appeal of new model as a sporty yet practical car that synthesises the attributes of a sports car and sedan.
  • Target customers are affluent, progressive individualists who appreciate fine design but do not wish to be associated with conventional status symbols.
  • Research shows Saab Convertible customers more highly educated than those buying competitor products from Mercedes and BMW. In Australia the buyer's average age (39) is also lower and they are more likely to be executives or professionals.
  • Dominant customer requirement is stylish and distinctive good looks. Provided by Convertible's Scandinavian design flair and a simple timeless quality free from ostentation.
  • Fun to drive requirement satisfied by adoption of Sport Sedan's widely-acclaimed chassis dynamics, all-turbo engine line-up and lowered chassis for Aero model.

Exterior Design
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. The automatic soft-top raises the bar in terms of its innovation and speed of operation.

Main highlights include:

  • Unique stand alone design. Scandinavian design flair 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 awkward styling compromises.
  • Saab signature, wedge-shaped profile. Top-down appearance no longer interrupted by intrusive mounting towers for front seat-belts.
  • Clean rear deck styling. Pop-up roll bars and retractable rear headrests streamlined by twin fairings, hinting at Convertible's sporty character.
  • Coup? looks. The new soft-top has a tauter, smoother appearance through use of six braces, instead of five, and greater 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. 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. Automatically self-latches to the windscreen header and deploys fully in just 20 seconds. 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 boot. More robust operation, better sealing.
  • CargoSET Automatic boot expansion. Soft-top connected to flexible, 'concertina' storage well. When the roof is in position, the well retracts, releasing useful storage space in the boot.
  • Class-competitive 0.34 Cd (roof up). Soft-top resistant to high-speed ballooning inside the cabin.

Interior Design and Features
The interior retains the cockpit feel and driver-focused themes of the Sport Sedan. Particular emphasis was placed on styling that integrates the rear passenger area, including a fixed-head interior ambience.

Main highlights include:

  • 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. Electrical operation includes unique accelerated fore/aft movement for quick rear access.
  • 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 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.
  • High-positioned Saab Information Display (SID). Located in binnacle at top of fascia, near base of windscreen, close to the driver's natural field of vision.
  • 'Light room' or 'dark room' interior themes. Beige or light grey seats, door panels, rear side panels, lower front fascia, headlining and carpet.
  • Intelligent dual-zone air conditioning. Automatic Climate Control (ACC) switches to offer 11 manual heat settings when soft-top is lowered.
  • Integrated Bluetooth™* application. Bluetooth wireless technology with integrated telephone enables short-range communication between devices such as telephones, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and computers.

The new 9-3 Convertible inherits the sporty handling characteristics of the 9-3 Sport Sedan. The rigid body structure provides a solid foundation for suspension systems with impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness.

Main highlights include:

  • Larger, lower footprint. +71 mm wheelbase, +74 mm front track, +63 mm rear track.
  • '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 features 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.
  • Minimised 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 aluminium.

Body Structure and Systems
The 9-3 Convertible was developed in tandem with the 9-3 Sport Sedan, ensuring all special structural requirements for an open-top car could be accommodated. Structural integrity and build quality positions it as the leader in its class.

Main highlights include:

  • Torsional rigidity almost three times greater (11,500 Nm/degree) than that of previous model, giving a 'carved from granite' feel for excellent refinement, stiff suspension mountings and strong safety structure.
  • Second supplementary chassis. To compensate for absence of fixed roof, torsional stiffness increased by completely integrated, additional strengthening system, linking front, rear and side structures.
  • High and ultra-high strength steel widely used, accounting for about 60 % 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 km/h, minimising accident repair bills.
  • Advanced electronics. Extensive use of fibre optics for advanced infotainment and telematics. With a signal capacity 50 times greater than conventional wire circuitry, fibre optics provide a reliable high-speed communications platform, saving weight and complexity.
  • Headlamp reflector units made exclusively from magnesium for more complex shaping and better lighting performance.
  • LED used for high-mount brake light in boot lid for faster, safer warning.
  • Fail-safe rear stop lights. If outer bulb fails, stop light function automatically switches to inner bulb until broken bulb is replaced.
  • High pressure windshield washers operate at 3.5 bar, twice usual pressure, for more effective cleaning. Linked to large 5-litre reservoir.

Improved chassis dynamics are complemented by outstanding driveability and refinement from the lightweight powertrain package, first seen on the 9-3 Sport Sedan. Saab's latest Trionic 8 engine management system adds a smoother, more linear power delivery to typically strong, mid-range torque characteristics.

Main highlights include:

  • All-aluminum 2.0-litre turbo engine configured for 129 kW / 265 Nm or 155 kW / 300 Nm. Balancer shafts and dual-mass flywheel for greater running refinement. All internals unique to Saab.
  • Smooth power delivery. Saab Trionic 8 engine management system provides adaptive torque control and 'power on/power off' management to eliminate shunting or jerks under sudden throttle movements.
  • Improved transmissions. New six speed (for Aero) and up-rated five speed manual gearboxes. Five speed, adaptive automatic transmission includes Saab Sentronic sequential gear selection.
  • Unique pendulum engine mounting. Engine noise and vibration reduced through installation of small damper rods between base of engine and back of front sub-frame, controlling movement.

Saab products consistently perform well in real-life safety surveys, the new 9-3 Sport Sedan also achieving a maximum five-star rating in a recent Euro-NCAP crash test study. The new 9-3 Convertible meets the same crash performance targets as the sedan.

Main highlights include:

  • Crash testing based on real-life research. Test configurations developed from Saab database cover more than 6,000 real-life road collisions.
  • 75 crash test configurations used in development of body structure and restraint systems for new 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. Belt geometry and comfort are optimised regardless of seat position.
  • Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) offer 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.

Ownership, Security, Convenience and Accessories
The Convertible's excellent build and materials quality is reflected in a substantially reduced cost of ownership, including lower servicing, repair and insurance costs. Security systems include all measures that are proven to be effective.

Main highlights include:

  • Up to 30 % lower scheduled maintenance costs due to longer service intervals and reduced workshop times.
  • Maximum service interval extended to two years/20,000 km. Algorithm monitors engine usage and oil change requirement.
  • State of the art security developed with insurance companies. Maximum five-star rating for 'theft of vehicle' protection and four stars for 'theft from vehicle' by UK insurance industry's Thatcham research centre.
  • Immobiliser system uses electrical steering lock and electronic engine disablement. Rolling code for encrypted start message in key's transponder.
  • Anti-intrusion measures include deadbolts, lock shielding and freewheeling lock cylinders. Alarm systems include ultrasonic motion and tilt sensing. Audio system electronically married to vehicle.
  • Host of convenience features make living with the new Convertible as easy as possible, including smart door mirrors that automatically fold out.
  • Foldable wind deflector for easy stowage among wide range of accessories. These include an innovative CargoWing rear spoiler which converts into a useful ski or snowboard carrier.

*Bluetooth is a trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG Inc, used by Saab Automobile AB under license.

Exterior Design and Aerodynamics
Sporty Scandinavian Design

"This is a completely integrated design, both inside and out. The flow of the lines and the simple forms are free from unnecessary decoration. They give the Saab Convertible a strong, sporty look that has a timeless appeal."

Aamer Mahmud, Chief Designer

  • Well-proportioned, bespoke design
  • Sporty styling with Scandinavian design flair
  • Coup? looks (roof up), roadster-like looks (roof down)
  • Fully automated soft-top sets new standards for class
  • Unique Surround Trim delineates passenger cabin
  • Unique CargoSET self-expanding boot
  • Competitive 0.34 Cd with reduced lift forces
  • Wider, lower body gives purposeful road stance

THE IMPRESSIVE LOOKS of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible radiate power, sporty performance and strength; all elegantly packaged with a Scandinavian design flair that ensures the lines are clean and flowing, but never cold or clinical.

As an indication of the success of the overall design, this is an open-top car that looks like a unique model in its own right, free from any awkward styling compromises. Furthermore, the car looks just as good with the top up or down - effortlessly exchanging the looks of a sporty coup? for those more akin to a roadster.

The automatic soft-top operates entirely at the push of a single button. It incorporates three innovations and new performance standards for the class, including its speed of operation (20 seconds) and means of deployment.

Exterior Design
Saab has been a leading player in the premium convertible segment since showing its first open-top car as a design study in 1983. Saab has been a driving force behind the growth of the segment by demonstrating that a car built for the pleasures of open air driving can also accommodate four adults as a practical, year-round means of transport.

The new 9-3 Convertible breaks new ground for Saab with its development as a separate but parallel project to the 9-3 Sport Sedan. Many of Saab's design team, including chief designer Aamer Mahmud, worked on both projects in tandem.

"This process meant that we were able to avoid solutions that could have prejudiced one or the other car," says Mahmud. "We were so confident in our work that we moved straight from sketches to full-scale models. Throughout the process we could easily compare the sedan and the cab."

Testament to the essential rightness of the final design is that the Convertible and the sedan share the same frontal body styling, even retaining the same rake angle for the windshield and A-pillars.

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 also slightly shorter. Ride height is reduced also by 10 mm.

The balanced proportions and more purposeful stance endow the car with a strong, sporty character that echoes its fun-to-drive appeal. The swept-back frontal styling, with the grille and integrated headlamp/indicator units steeply angled back, is a striking evolution. The rearmost corner of each unit is 450 mm behind the centre point of the bumper. This arrowhead shape also matches the traditional wraparound proportions of the windshield.

In profile, the clean wedge line is typically Saab and, with the top down, the shape is no longer interrupted by a tower to mount the front seatbelts. The styling of the rear deck is particularly neat because the pop-up roll bars and retractable rear head restraints are beautifully streamlined by twin fairings, subtly hinting at the Convertible's sporty character. The tonneau cover is, of course, flush fitting. The innovative CargoWing accessory rear spoiler, which folds out to carry skis or a snowboard, adds surprising functionality to the rear deck.

With the top up, the car assumes the persona of a coup?, an impression reinforced by the extremely smooth, taut lines of the soft-top and its step-less integration with the windshield header rail. The whole body appears lower-slung and closer to the ground. Reduced wheel-arch clearances, with the negative-cambered wheels located well to the outer edges of the bodywork, contribute further to the more purposeful stance. In Aero guise, the styling is taken one step further with the addition of 17-inch alloy wheels and discreet side sill and bumper extensions which are flared at the wheel-arches.

The rear of the car features large light clusters, unique to the Convertible, which are set high to balance the overall proportions. They wrap around each corner, incorporating a triangular shape and horizontal clear/red lens fields - both Saab signatures. For better visibility, the heated glass rear window is 25 % larger and the boot lid opens through 120?, even with the top up, for good boot access.

A new design feature, never seen before in Convertible styling, is the introduction of a distinctive, mono-coloured 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.

This line 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 matt black paint finish but can also be specified in an exterior color choice of steel grey or lime yellow.

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-coloured interior headlining. It is undoubtedly one of the car's most impressive features.

A well-engineered roof is essential for good weatherproofing, insulation and noise refinement. It must be strong, snug-fitting, quiet when in place, quick and easy to operate, good looking and extremely reliable.

For the new Convertible, Saab has specified a completely automatic, state-of-the-art soft-top operation, requiring no manual involvement beyond pressing a button. The roof is hydraulically-powered, with automatic self-latching to the windscreen header rail. It deploys fully in just 20 seconds with the engine running, easily making it fastest in its class. It can be reliably operated in strong winds and, in an emergency, can even be raised while on the move at speeds up to 30 km/h.

The materials for the triple-skinned soft-top are also improved, with the addition of a thicker, fleece middle layer for better heat and noise insulation. The outer skin is made of an extremely tough and weatherproof canvas/butyl(rubber)/canvas woven fabric, and the inner textile skin forms the interior headlining. There is an exterior colour choice of black or blue.

To save weight, the soft-top's frame, the swiveling braces and the large padded front rail which connects to the windscreen header are all made from magnesium. To ensure strength, steel is used only for the soft-top's pivoting side brackets.

Great attention has been given to effective sealing in order to prevent draughts, water leakage or intrusive wind noise. A small gutter has been sewn into the side of the fabric to prevent any water droplets dripping down on to the seats when a door is opened. Excellent sound insulation means occupants can listen comfortably to the audio system or chat easily with the top in position at speeds up to 200 km/h.

Looks in this class of car are arguably more important than functionality and the new soft-top has a much tauter and smoother appearance, more like that of a fixed roof on a coup?. This has been achieved by the use of six, instead of five, swivelling braces (or bows) on which the fabric is mounted. As the distance between each brace is reduced, there is less sagging of the material and, once in position, the soft-top is finally tensioned by locking braces at the rear, instead of the front, helping to stretch the fabric even tighter.

Interior looks have not been overlooked, either. 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 to offer a light colour - either beige or light grey.

The operation of the tonneau cover - made in aluminium to save weight - is another Saab first. Automatic soft-top systems have previously required the tonneau cover to be hinged at the rear. For quicker roof deployment, the Convertible's tonneau now features an elegant two-stage operation, being completely raised horizontally and then moved rearwards, parallel to the top of the boot.

Whilst it is an action that is intriguing to behold, it offers real benefits. Tests have shown this to be a quicker and more efficient means of allowing clearance for deployment of the soft-top. Pulling the tonneau down flat, instead of hinging and latching it closed, is also a more robust operation that contributes to improved reliability and better seating and sealing.

The final innovation is a practical feature: raising the roof automatically raises the capacity of the boot. The CargoSET (Self-Expanding Trunk) feature directly links the soft-top's rearmost hinge mechanism to the flexible, concertina storage well in the boot. When the roof is in position, the well is therefore fully retracted, releasing useful additional storage space. It is a simple mechanical action that eliminates the need to manually hitch up the well with straps or rods. When the roof is stowed, there is still enough room in the boot to accommodate two golf bags!

The design and operation of the new Convertible's soft-top is a masterpiece of precision engineering. As an indication of the demanding requirements involved, the roof, which is more than two metres long when fully extended, locates at the windshield header to a lateral tolerance of just ? 2 mm, equivalent to a remarkable 0.001 per cent margin of error.

Real World Aerodynamics
Few designers, stylists and aerodynamicists work more closely together than those at Saab. Whilst they may sometimes have conflicting requirements, they share a common goal in developing the product characteristics that are those of a true Saab. In the field of aerodynamics, that means optimising performance for real-world conditions, in the same way as Saab has developed its Real-Life safety strategy.

The first question about the aerodynamics of a new car always relates to its co-efficient of drag. It is important, of course, but in everyday driving conditions it is seldom a major factor for long. It is a point often made by Chief Aerodynamicist, H?kan Danielson, and his team. Their mission was to produce a shape that cleaves the air as efficiently as possible, giving good high-speed stability, excellent weatherproofing, low wind noise inside the car and optimised fuel consumption. Simply quoting a Cd value hardly does their work justice.

For instance, the team spent a great deal of time testing for yaw behaviour and stability in crosswinds at different speeds and angles. They also needed to know how a car behaves when passing or being passed closely at speed by large vehicles. How much and where does any grime build up on the car? These questions are best answered by testing in real road conditions, outside the laboratory.

The team was, of course, involved in developing the aerodynamic behaviour of two cars - a coup? and roadster - although, apart from perfecting the design of the Convertible's windblocker screen, they focused most of their efforts on closed-top performance.

The Convertible's roof-up drag coefficient is a class competitive 0.34 but, probably more importantly, the team has made major strides in improving high-speed stability by keeping rear lift forces low and consistent.

Smooth airflow
The team concentrated its efforts on achieving a smooth airflow over, around, through and under the car, paying particular attention to points of flow separation at the rear in order to reduce the size of wake turbulence and improve stability. The shaping of corner radii and curvatures at the rear of the roof and the side of the car were particularly important.

The team naturally focused its attention on the behaviour 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. It is actually the same effect that causes ballooning or flapping.

At the front, the rear edge of the bonnet lid kicks up to smooth the passage of air on to and around the windscreen. Its traditionally deep curvature also reduces the acceleration of the airflow as it approaches the A-pillars, which have a flattened radius where they connect to the windscreen to minimise airflow disturbance and wind noise. The bottom edge of the door mirror casings is also extended rearwards by 5 mm to help reduce the likelihood of road grime build-up on the mirror surface.

Good airflow management even plays a safety role. The wraparound rear light clusters have an optimised corner radius that gives a distinct separation for airflow from the side of the car. Careful shaping of the angle actually helps the air turn the corner first before it separates. This creates a flow over part of the light clusters, helping to reduce the build-up of road grime which can impair the efficiency of the lights.

Airflow is also designed to keep the windows of the car as free from grime as possible. For example, the door mirror casings have a small spoiler-like profile in the bottom surface to reduce contamination of the side windows.

Underneath the car, airflow management is becoming an increasingly important area for fine-tuning and the aero team concentrated its efforts where the return was greatest. A small spoiler ahead of the front wheels has been carefully shaped in the wind tunnel to reduce drag and the forward lower link of the rear suspension has also been aerodynamically shaped to reduce wind resistance and minimise the accumulation of road grime on the wheel rims.

Airflow under the bonnet, within the engine bay and at the bottom of the front footwells was also closely scrutinised. Shielding of the exhaust air from the cabin air-conditioning reduces disturbance where it exits behind the rear wheel arch.

As evidence of the close liaison between the aero and design teams, it was possible to test up to 70 different body variations in one-fifth scale during a single eight-hour shift in the Stuttgart University wind tunnel, where most of the optimisation work was carried out. This is only possible by having a modeller on hand and a number of moulds prepared in advance. In this way, a large number of suggested changes can be investigated quickly to meet aerodynamic targets.

After this work was completed, the team moved to full-scale testing on a rolling road. Further wind tunnel work was also carried out at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) in the United Kingdom and in Detroit in the United States, for wind noise suppression.

Advanced CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) modelling now replaces a great deal of laborious work in the wind tunnel and also allows faster, more effective communication between project team members. For example, CFD played a vital role in the visualisation of airflow and speeded optimisation work in the wind tunnel.

CFD was also the main tool for managing internal airflows: in the engine bay to control heat build-up and in the passenger compartment for best possible comfort.

Interior Design and Features
More Comfort and Functionality

"The interior of this car also becomes part of the exterior so we have been careful to ensure it adds to the overall visual appearance. The front and rear passenger areas are also designed so that they work well together as a single concept."
Maria Thunberg, Chief Designer, Colour and Trim

  • Integration of front and rear passenger areas
  • 'Fixed-head' interior ambience
  • Light colored headlining brightens interior - a Saab first
  • Unique front seats with integrated seatbelts
  • Hydroblox water repellent textile upholstery - a Saab first
  • Unique accelerated electric seat travel for quick rear access
  • Profiler customisation function
  • High-positioned Saab Information Display (SID)
  • Easy entry/exit for rear passengers
  • Automatic climate control (ACC) switches to heat settings with soft-top down - unique feature
  • Extensive use of fibre optics for advanced infotainment

AS YOU WOULD expect from Saab, there is more to the design of its new Convertible than good looks alone. The new model offers major improvements in interior comfort and refinement and is, without doubt, the biggest step forward Saab has made during 20 years of engineering premium, four-season, four-seater convertibles.

The overall interior design reflects the curves and flowing lines of the exterior. In the same way, the fascia layout, the supportive seating, the shape of the door panels and trim, together with the feel of the tactile, soft-touch controls, are all very modern interpretations of classic Saab styling themes. It is a warm, harmonious interior, without undue ostentation. This car is typically Scandinavian and could only come from Saab.

The high quality materials include the introduction of Hydroblox, the first water repellent seat upholstery fitted to a convertible. A polyester membrane lines the underside of the textile seat covering in order to prevent water penetration. This is a particularly useful feature for a convertible if, for example, the driver is caught in a rain shower before being able to raise the soft-top. The membrane has billions of tiny perforations as small as one micron in size that prevent water, but not air, passing through so the fabric can still 'breathe'. Hydroblox is used where the seat squabs and seat-backs are part textile. In Australia and New Zealand, the Convertible will be sold with full leather interior.

The standard of fit and finish throughout is everything you expect - and more - from a premium manufacturer such as Saab. For example, the lines of the large door panels are beautifully extended through into the rear side panels, creating a single sweeping shape that integrates 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 seatbelts.

Attention to detail is everywhere, and most evident in the rear passenger compartment. In design terms, this relatively small part of the interior of convertibles is often neglected. As it is generally used only occasionally, and there are no carry-over panels, the standard of finishing trim and upholstery often lacks cohesion, failing to match the quality up front. However, rear seat passengers in the new Convertible do not travel second class because Saab's design team has paid close attention to this 'forgotten' area.

Both seating positions are well shaped and upholstered, with deep squabs far superior to the flat, narrow bench seats that are often used. The rear seat cushion also extends outwards at each end in a gentle concave arc, right up to the side panels. This complements the shape of the rear cabin and even the tonneau cover. The angle of back-rest is kept at a comfortable 21? from vertical and not compromised by packaging requirements.

The integration of the front and rear areas is further reinforced by the unique Surround Trim styling line, (described in the exterior Design section).

Fixed-head Ambience
An important aim of the interior design team was the achievement of 'a fixed head interior ambience', when the roof is in position, similar to that of a sedan. This has been accomplished by adopting an interior headlining that is co-ordinated for color and fits almost seamlessly.

Saab now leads the premium convertible segment by introducing a color choice for the headlining of the soft-top as part of the car's standard specification. The choice of beige (parchment) or light grey contributes to a lighter and more welcoming interior.

The feeling of being inside a fixed-top car is reinforced by the neat fitting of the fabric. Seams where the headlining is attached to the roof's swiveling braces are barely visible and the edges sit smoothly over the seals on the side windows.

Up front, the color of the soft-top's header rail matches the headlining. It is very slim and completely padded, locating invisibly on the windshield header where the small light console adds to the impression of being under a permanent roof.

As a further refinement, all components of the soft-top's frame that may be visible from inside while it is deploying are also color-coded.

Unique Front Seats
The sporty, well-shaped front seats have been specially designed for the Convertible. They make a very visible contribution to the high quality appearance of the interior and reinforce Saab's fine reputation for class-leading seating comfort.

Both the seat cushion and back are deeply bolstered, giving excellent lateral and under-thigh support without restricting room to sit comfortably. Electrically-adjustable power front seats (driver's with three-position memory) is standard on the Linear with Luxury Pack, and high-performance Aero model. The electric seats provide fore/aft, back-rest rake, seat cushion height/tilt and pneumatic lumbar support adjustments. In manual form, both seats have a fore/aft, back-rest rake and height adjustment.

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 which then folds down, allowing the entire seat to be easily pushed forward. The movement is spring-loaded and requires only light pressure, equivalent to pushing a cabinet drawer closed.

For electrically-adjustable seats, the process is completely effortless. The seat automatically moves forward once the lever is lifted and the seat-back folded down. The forward movement is exceptionally fast, twice the speed of the normal fore/aft adjustment, and the seat can move through its maximum travel in just seven seconds. This is a useful refinement unique to the segment. For safety reasons, the seat will stop moving if the lever is released at any time. A neat memory function automatically returns the seat to its previous position once the back-rest is raised.

Rear entry/exit is also greatly facilitated by the adoption of integrated seatbelts, used by Saab for the first time and eliminating the need for attachment to a B-pillar belt tower. Integrated belts are easier to use and more comfortable for the wearer. They are always optimally located, irrespective of the seat position, and less prone to flapping in open-air driving.

The seats also incorporate Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR), a proven way of helping to prevent serious neck injury in the event of a rear-end collision (see Safety section for details).

Driver focused
The improved handling dynamics of the new Convertible are reflected in its ability to offer a near-perfect driving position for the vast majority of drivers. The multi-position driver's seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and height provide for a wide range of adaptation.

The main instrument panel gently arcs around the driver, as in the Sport Sedan. In typical Saab fashion, the controls are all logically grouped; those most frequently used being 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 main dials - a large speedometer, with a compressed scale above 140 km/h, flanked by a smaller rev-counter and a combined fuel/water temperature/turbo boost gauge - are recessed. They are white on black and continue to be softly illuminated in green, a color that Saab believes is the most restful choice for night driving. In contrast, warnings are displayed in amber or red.

Also located in the main instrument panel are twin adjustable air vents and audio or infotainment system controls with display screen.

The Profiler function, fitted as standard, offers great scope to tailor a wide range of functions by selecting pre-settings according to personal preference. It is particularly easy to use, with selections highlighted via a single, rotating knob linked to on-screen prompts.

Operations that can be tailored in this way include the dual-zone automatic climate control (ACC) system including air distribution, fan settings, the heated seats and heated rear window; the clock/alarm; rain sensitive wipers, speed scale illumination and, where fitted, the anti-theft alarm and parking assistance. 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 night time driving environment.

The Saab Information Display (SID) is positioned high up, 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 can be seen without any head movement or much eye re-focusing. The SID shows, for example, local time, outside temperature, radio settings, warning signals, and information from the Profiler function and the car computer.

A small console in the center of the header rail above the windshield accommodates an interior light and two reading lamps. The rail itself is seamlessly padded and color-matched, contributing to the sedan-like quality of the interior.

The slim but thick-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel complements the Convertible's sporty character. It carries buttons for the audio system and, on the high-performance Aero, the Sentronic automatic transmission gear shifting buttons as well.

The central console below the main instrument panel is inclined slightly towards the driver and sweeps elegantly down between the front seats. It accommodates the automatic climate controls, more minor switchgear, the gear shift lever, ignition switch, handbrake and a large central storage area with a smaller, roll-top compartment and cup-holder below the arm-rest.

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 sleeve for further storage of small items such as a car park pass card. The ignition switch continues to be located alongside the handbrake. It is entirely electronic in operation, the previous reverse manual gear lock now being replaced by an automatic, electronic steering column lock.

Different Forms
Saab uses 'forms' to establish and differentiate its models. The forms are derived from the world of architecture.

The line-up starts with Linear, a line or base element in architecture, but in this case it requires starting with leather seats and an impressive list of standard equipment.

Aero is, of course, the ultimate performance expression of the new Convertible. Here the interior is premium and high-tech in its appointments; while the exterior includes aerodynamically-tested spoilers and flared sill extensions which help reduce lift forces.

Heating and Ventilation
All variants sold in Australia and New Zealand are fitted with highly efficient, Saab developed automatic climate control (ACC) air-conditioning, adapted specifically for the 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 control software to take into account the different thermal properties of the soft-top and the smaller side window area.

Saab engineers are constantly seeking to raise the efficiency of air conditioning systems, often balancing conflicting needs such as ensuring quick engine warm-up in cold conditions while also providing an adequate supply of warm air for the passenger cabin. For more consistent performance, Saab favors 'energy balanced' rather than sensor-controlled automatic systems. This means there are no sudden eruptions of the fan, for example, when a door or window is briefly opened.

The ACC system draws 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. It can also be programmed via the Profiler function. It operates on a dual-zone basis, allowing different temperatures to be selected for the left or right-hand side of the car. This can be useful when, for example, the driver wishes to stay alert by having a slightly cooler setting.

The Saab ACC system also automatically shifts to manual control when the roof is open and reverts to automatic control, including all the previous settings, when the roof is closed. It is a feature unique to the premium convertible segment.

In open-top mode, a choice of 11 (0 -10) heat levels is offered, with a maximum outlet temperature as high as 65?C. The driver and front passenger can still each select a different heat level to suit their own preferences. In this mode, airflow distribution is shared between the driver and passenger, although the system can be set so that, for example, air from the floor outlets is hotter than the output from the windshield defroster.

The heated front seats are now included within the automatic climate control system, which can start and then progressively lower the seat heating as the interior warms up. This function and other ACC settings, such as the fan and air distribution, can also be selected through the Profiler customisation menu.

A final, thoughtful feature is the air-conditioned glove box, a useful place to store a cold drink to prevent it getting warm, or a bar of chocolate to stop it melting.

Storage and Convenience
As you would expect in a car from Saab, the new Convertible offers some useful storage and convenience features.

There are two good-sized door pockets, a large, lockable glove box (air-conditioned) and pouches at the front of the cushions on the electrically-adjustable front seats.

The multi-functional central console incorporates coin slots and a main storage compartment which includes a 12-volt outlet for a battery charger and an optional analogue sound auxiliary input socket suitable for an MP3 player or laptop computer. The smaller roll-top compartment is fitted with a cup-holder.

The Smart Slot, opposite the disguised handbrake, provides convenient storage for items such as credit and car park cards.

And there is also what may be described as the world's most advanced cup-holder in the centre console. It follows in the tradition of the cup-holder in the front of the Saab 9-5, which automatically swivels out through 90 degrees from a vertical position.

For the new 9-3 range, the Saab team was also determined to create something special for the dashboard cup-holder. The result is 'The Butterfly'. There are two separate movements in different directions, one for the base and one for the retaining hoop (the 'wings' of the butterfly), both hinged from one arm.

Infotainment functions
The new 9-3 Convertible benefits from one of the most powerful electronics systems to be installed in a series production car (see Body and Systems section for full details).

Fibre optics are used to provide a high-speed platform for the car's extensive infotainment (communication, information and entertainment) functions, a development of cutting-edge technology first seen on the Sport Sedan. It is utilised by the audio systems, and (where fitted) the integrated GSM telephone which features voice control and the GPS navigation system with DVD reader.

This network is capable of handling all likely future requirements in the fast-developing field of infotainment and e-services, making it easy for owners to fit upgrades.

Well Connected
With the launch of the new 9-3 range, Saab becomes one of the first auto manufacturers to introduce Bluetooth?* wireless technology, which uses a short range, high frequency radio link to replace cable connections for mobile devices, such as laptop computers and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and peripherals.

The integrated GSM telephone is equipped with a Bluetooth™-qualified radio transmitter/receiver operating on the globally available 2.45 GHz bandwidth. An effective range of up to 10 metres allows the convenience and flexibility of wireless connections in and around the car, making it possible to use a Bluetooth headset - particularly useful when driving with the top down.

Infotainment Systems
The acoustic requirements of a convertible have been carefully examined. For example, the range of volume adjustments for the automatic, speed-sensing control has been increased, including the programming of a slightly wider base response. The microphone for a hands-free phone is also installed in the driver's side A-pillar for convenient use in open-top conditions.

The Saab Audio system includes an RDS radio, in-dash CD player and a Premium 150 sound system, which incorporates two amplifiers giving a total of 150 watts playing power through seven speakers.

The Saab Infotainment system adds a monochrome display with menu keypad functionality for easy use. This is standard on Aero and also includes in-dash six-disc CD player.

Both these Saab infotainment systems can also be upgraded with a Prestige 300 sound system, offering 300 watts of playing power through 13 speakers.

Available as an option at a later stage will be a GPS/DVD-based navigation system with a large 15 cm colour display, and the Bluetooth?-prepared features of integrated telephone with keypad, including voice recognition, SMS capability and a WAP browser.

*Bluetooth is a trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG Inc. and used by Saab Automobile AB under license

Body structure, Electrical and Lighting systems
Structured Approach

"We've engineered this Convertible from the ground up to meet our targets for torsional stiffness. The only soft feature left is the top!" Martin Johansson, Project Leader, Body and Exterior

  • Torsional rigidity three times greater than previous model
  • A-pillars withstand loading up to 2.2 times the weight of the car
  • 60 % of the car's weight utilises high or ultra-high strength steel
  • 50 % of body parts unique to Convertible
  • Firm foundation for improved refinement and chassis dynamics
  • Unique supplementary platform
  • High speed electronic connections
  • Extensive use of fibre optics
  • Unique halogen headlamps with Bi-xenon option
  • Fail-safe rear stop lights
  • Powerful windscreen washing system

SAAB ENGINEERS PLAYED a leading role in developing General Motors' Epsilon architecture, on which the new 9-3 product generation is based, 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 electrical architecture is equally advanced and includes the automotive industry's most extensive use of fibre optic technology, giving a signal capacity 50 times greater than conventional wire connections. It provides a communications platform with the capacity to handle all likely developments in the fast-moving fields of infotainment and e-services.

The power of the lighting system, which includes fail-safe rear brake lights and the option of bi-xenon headlamps, is in the fine tradition of Saab cars, as is the efficiency of the windscreen wiper and washing systems.

Convertible Challenge
The body structure of the new 9-3 Convertible is essentially an open 'uni-body' fabricated from steel beams and pressings with all external parts galvanized. Saab structural engineers have used CAD techniques and finite element data models with a resolution of up to 500,000 cells to represent the car's structure.

About 50 % of its 383 structural body parts are unique to the Convertible and 60 % of its body weight is composed of high or ultra-high strength steel. However, a more important consideration is how all the elements interact in sharing the load-bearing task. The strength of a good design is far more than simply the sum of its parts.

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 were given the same priority as those of a sedan.

In particular, they took up the challenge of engineering an open-top car that concedes little or nothing to the structural losses implicit in foregoing a fixed roof. They were determined to ensure that the Convertible shared the Sport Sedan's much improved, fun-to-drive handling; its solid, vibration-free running refinement and, of course, its impressive crashworthiness. A strong body, stiff in torsion, was an absolute pre-requisite.

The result of their work is an exceptionally stiff convertible body that is among the best in its class. Its torsional rigidity, at 11,500 Nm/degree of deflection, is approximately three times greater than that of its predecessor.

It is high torsional rigidity that helps give that reassuring 'carved from granite' feel which is communicated every time a door is closed or the car negotiates a poor road surface. And it makes a major contribution to eliminating squeaks and rattles, vibrations and resonance.

Chassis engineers also demand a stiff body because the car's handling can only be effectively honed through the control of its suspension, wheel and steering movements if the structure, on which these components exert loadings, is solid and predictable.

Finally, the car's ability to withstand a heavy impact is largely due to the strength of its passenger compartment and the ability of the structure's crumple zones to prevent energy reaching it.

'Twin' chassis architecture
To achieve their goals for the Convertible, Saab engineers have successfully installed what is, in effect, a second or parallel structure within the platform: an additional, completely linked ring of steel extending from the front to the rear of the car.

The most important element of this new structure is a large closed casing, known as the torsion box. It is located between the rear wheel housings, immediately behind the rear seat and ahead of the soft-top stowage compartment. It helps compensate for the loss of rigidity from the connected C-pillars of a fixed roof.

The bottom of the torsion box is welded to another completely new large pressing, a combined rear seat beam and floor which also forms the boot well. This is another important link in the structure and, like the torsion box, is welded at each side to the first of two rear inner side panels which, in turn, connect with the lower B-pillar and side sills.

Enlarged side sills, unique to the Convertible, are further major components of this 'second chassis'. They are 32 mm higher and 8 mm wider, with a 25 % larger cross-section than those of the sedan and are made even stronger by the addition of an internal longitudinal plate running the whole length of the box section. The three cross bracings are also good for impact resistance.

Forward of the side sills is another crucial area, connecting the sill, the base of the A-pillar, the bottom of the front bulkhead, the sub-frame mountings and the floor. This is heavily reinforced through a structure of four carefully shaped steel pressings.

The upper A-pillars, together with the windscreen header rail, provide rollover protection as well as structural strength and are made from no less than four longitudinal steel members with short, strategic cross bracings. The header rail is also reinforced, consisting of three layers of steel. The whole combined structure can withstand a loading of 2.2 times the weight of the car. This calculation is equal to approximately 3.5 tonnes.

The final pieces of the second chassis jigsaw are bracings that engage both the front and rear sub-frames, which, for extra stiffness, are now bolted directly to the body with steel collars instead of polymer bushes. At the front, one transverse and two diagonal 'X-rods' are bolted into the sub-frame at its mounting points. At the rear, two diagonal 'V-rods' are bolted in position, linking the sub-frame on each side to the mounting of the trailing arm in the rear suspension.

Saab engineers have developed a novel off-set spot-welding technique which can bridge a gap of 40 mm in order to eliminate any weak links or connections in this structural chain where more than two thicknesses of steel are welded together.

Outer Body
The front and rear bodywork is protected by self-repairing bumper assemblies, which can absorb impacts up to 8 km/h in order to minimise damage and the need for repair. The bumper skins are easy and quick to replace after a minor collision, and are very useful in minimising the nuisance and cost of supermarket car park incidents.

For higher speed impacts, Saab was first to introduce deformable crash boxes behind the front bumper (introduced on the second generation Saab 900 in 1993). These are intended to absorb and contain relatively low speed impact forces in order to prevent damage to more expensive bodywork components.

Other manufacturers have now adopted crash boxes, but for the new 9-3 program Saab has perfected the technique still further. No less than 103 computer simulations were carried out to ensure their effectiveness. The finished design is an octagon shape with a conical profile and concertina sections that will protect the structure of the car, including its front body panels, from damage in impacts up to 15 km/h. The boxes are bolted and lightly welded to the front beam to make their replacement simple.

Where there are no structural demands, Saab engineers are able to consider the further use of weight-saving materials. And for the new 9-3 series, they have adopted aluminum for the bonnet, saving 50 % or 9 kg in weight compared to steel. It is also slightly stiffer and more resistant to dents.

Electrical architecture
All major mechanical and electrical functions in the new 9-3 Convertible, including numerous driver and passenger comfort features, are precisely and reliably controlled through an advanced digital signal network.

It incorporates the auto industry's most extensive systems application of fibre optic technology. This provides a signal capacity 50 times greater than the fastest conventional wire links and offers a secure platform for the application of advances in telematics, enabling owners to conveniently install new functions.

The entire electronic and electrical network uses databus transmission - often referred to a 'multiplexing' - to connect groups of electrical subsystems and pass on signals from each of the car's sensors. In this way, a CANBUS (Controller Area Network) uses just one or two wires with microprocessors, transistors and LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to replace a complicated wiring harness and all its associated relays, switches and bulbs.

CANBUS technology offers great benefits in weight saving, reliability and data transmission capacity. It is used to connect all the main subsystems: powertrain, chassis, body, infotainment, telematics, navigation and climate and comfort.

Fast networking
A battery of sensors are the nerve endings of the new 9-3 Convertible and the data they provide is dispatched as packages of digital signals, or buses, along three information highways. Buses stop where required at 44 sub-stations, or microprocessors, for analysis and subsequent action.

A powerful control module governs each of these highways and their substations; all three highways integrated with each other to ensure there are no traffic jams or conflicting requirements. If all this functionality were achieved using a traditional, complex wiring harness, it would weigh twice as much, more than 40 kg, and be twice as long, at 1,600 metres!

A single wire highway, or low speed Bus, with a capacity of 33 kilobytes per second, connects functions within the car: the ignition switch, steering column lock, airbags, the main instrument panel, interior lighting, doors, mirrors, windows, the soft-top, the security alarm, gear shift position and, where fitted, electrically-operated seats and parking assistance.

Powertrain control, the Trionic 8 engine management system, ABS, TCS, ESP and related functions are all connected by a dual wire, high speed Bus, with a transmission capacity 15 times greater at 500 kilobytes per second.

The third highway is the largest yet fitted to a passenger car, using fibre optics instead of wire to give a massive capacity of 25 megabytes per second - 50 times greater than that of a dual wire Bus. It is utilised by all the audio system options and, where fitted, the integrated GSM telephone, which features voice control and the GPS navigation system with DVD reader.

The fast moving world of information technology is likely to place increasing demands on the in-car time of drivers and passengers and the new Saab 9-3 series is configured to accommodate all likely future developments in digital communication to and from the car.

Superior Lighting
The strong lighting performance of Saab cars is almost as widely acclaimed as their reputation for safety. Hardly surprising, as good night-time visibility is an essential element of driving safety.

The headlamps of the new 9-3 Convertible are housed within neatly integrated units made from molded clear plastic, which is lighter and less prone than glass to damage from stone chips, cracking and condensation.

The standard equipment headlamps use halogen bulbs behind projector units to give excellent illumination. In order to meet Saab's demanding requirements, the reflector surfaces are uniquely made by the supplier, Hella, from magnesium, instead of the commonly used steel, which allows more complex shaping for even better lighting performance.

New 9-3 Convertible customers can go one step further by specifying the optional and exceptionally powerful bi-xenon lights. These gas discharge bulbs give an extremely bright, much whiter light than halogen units. Saab is among the first manufacturers to offer this technology for both normal and high beam - hence the term, bi-xenon.

Where a normal halogen bulb will emit 1,500 lumens of lighting, a xenon unit will give 3,200 lumens, more than twice as much power, also giving a 60 % better spread of light.

The effective control of such a powerful beam is essential for the benefit of fellow road users, as well as the driver, and bi-xenon lights have a dynamic, self-leveling function as standard. Under acceleration or braking, sensors detect body motion at the front of the car and electric motors in the headlamp units automatically adjust the height of the beam to compensate.

The performance of the headlamps, no matter how powerful, is badly compromised if the lens becomes caked in grime. The new 9-3 Convertible has powerful spray jets, working at 3.5 bar pressure, to keep the plastic units clean. These automatically retract when not in use.

At the rear of the car, the single fog light automatically disconnects when the ignition is switched off, an added precaution to prevent it being inadvertently left on when not required.

The high-level brake light on the top edge of the boot lid is an LED unit, as tests show this illuminates more quickly than a conventional bulb, thus giving a more efficient warning signal.

And if one of the rear stop lights fails, driving safety will be not be affected because the stop light function - extra light intensity whenever the brake pedal is pushed - can be programmed into either of the two light bulbs in each rear light cluster.

The outer bulb normally performs the additional stop light function but, if this bulb fails, the function is automatically switched to the other bulb. This is possible because the usual voltage restriction (13.3 > 6.3v), which is lifted whenever the brake pedal is pushed, is applied to both bulbs. Normal service is automatically resumed when the broken bulb is replaced.

High powered cleaning
Keeping a clear windscreen is vital for driving safety and the large wipers are linked to a powerful battery of three pairs of washer jets working at 3.5 bar pressure - twice the power of other systems on the market. It is cleaning power designed to shift the most stubborn deposits.

The wipers are two-speed with an infinitely variable intermittent wipe. An automatic rain-sensing operation is standard, including driver adjustment for sensitivity.

In true Saab tradition, the 5.0 litre washer reservoir is exceptionally large, with two litres more capacity than normal. User trials show that jets working at such high pressure do not require more washer fluid because they are generally used in shorter bursts.

Chassis, Steering, Brakes
Open top dynamics for the open road

"We started from a very good base, so you could say this is more like a four-seater sports car than a convertible. It puts a smile on your face, just like the sport sedan."
Ekkehard Schwartz, Chief Chassis Engineer

  • Torsional rigidity increased 300 %
  • Larger, lower footprint: +70 mm in wheelbase, +74 mm front track, +63 mm rear track
  • Sporty handling inherited from sedan challenges class benchmark
  • Greatly improved ride refinement and NVH levels
  • Saab 'ReAxs' - unique rear wheel steer characteristic
  • Excellent steering response and feel
  • Braking system includes MBA, CBC and EBD as standard
  • Progressive, Saab-tuned ESP and TCS

THE FINE CHASSIS dynamics of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible deliver the kind of on-road performance promised by its sporty looks and purposeful stance. That is hardly surprising since it shares the core chassis and suspension components of the widely-acclaimed 9-3 Sport Sedan.

The Convertible's impressive chassis composure, handling agility and ride refinement place it among the very best on the market. In comparison with the previous model, it is a major step forward, even greater than the improvement made by the Sport Sedan compared to its three and five-door predecessors.

Like the sedan, the Convertible is the product of a rigorous development program, designed to combine the benefits of front wheel drive - predictability and excellent driver feedback - with new levels of chassis control for a more rewarding driving experience.

Key to its enhanced behaviour is a rigid body structure - approximately three times stiffer than that of its predecessor - and an all-new suspension layout. These are the solid foundations on which Saab test drivers have developed the chassis poise, refinement and impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) that distinguish a premium class, open-top car.

The Convertible's innate abilities are backed up by Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA) and 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) and a Saab-tuned ESP (Electronic Stability Program) all fitted as standard.

Superior Handling
The main objective of the chassis development program for the new 9-3 range was to achieve best-in-class handling characteristics. This was as important for the Convertible as it was for the Sport Sedan. Today's premium convertible customers are prepared to make few, if any, concessions in the absence of a fixed roof. Inherent losses in body rigidity must be largely recovered by careful design, particularly around suspension mounting points, if the chassis's handling and ride composure is to be maintained.

The work of the chassis engineers was made easier by the Convertible's separate, but parallel, development program. They benefited from strategic decisions made by the structural engineers to ensure the architecture and 'hard points' for the new 9-3 product range could be properly adapted to meet the needs of an open-top car (a full description of this work can be found in the Body Structure section).

The proportions of the new Convertible were also a good starting point. Compared to its predecessor, it has a broader footprint - a 70 mm increase in wheelbase more than offset by the relatively larger 74 mm and 63 mm increases in front and rear tracks respectively. Combined with a 10 mm reduction in ride height, these dimensions offer greater scope for improving handling and grip.

Furthermore, the weight distribution of the Convertible is slightly more favourable than the 9-3 Sport Sedan, due in part to the addition of the soft-top and its operating mechanism. The front/rear ratio of 55/45 compares well against the 60/40 split of the sedan and helps to offset a 10 % increase in kerb weight.

To deliver the high standard of ride quality expected in this class of car, Saab engineers have also sought to minimise unsprung weight. As a result, 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 aluminium.

Suspension Design
In order to maintain consistent suspension geometry - as well as helping to raise the chassis's torsional rigidity - bracing rods are bolted to both front and rear sub-frames. To further eliminate the possibility of any slight movement, metal sleeves now replace compliant polymer bushes at the sub-frame mounting points to the body; four at the front and four at the rear.

At the front, there are three 'X-rods': one bolted transversely from each mounting point across the forward portion of the sub-frame and two more running diagonally rearwards from the mid-point of the transverse rod, each locating at the sub-frame's rear mountings near the front bulkhead.

At the rear, two shorter 'V-rods' run diagonally forward from near the inboard mounting point for each lower suspension link into the attachment point for the trailing toe link, reinforcing the sub-frame's fixing to the body.

With these measures in place, the chassis team concentrated on tuning the Convertible's spring and damper rates in order to maintain the sporty handling characteristics of the sedan.

The front MacPherson struts keep their de-coupled top mountings, separating the damper and spring loadings. The aluminium lower control arms are attached, as before, to a hydroformed (hollow section) front sub-frame, including hydraulic bushes on the rearmost mounting each side for optimum damping. There is a single, 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. The trailing toe-link and lower transverse link are in aluminium and, as for the front suspension, bushings are stiff for lateral forces and relatively soft longitudinally.

Apart from offering a more compliant ride, the multi-link suspension arrangement also allows greater scope for optimising both handling and ride characteristics, in addition to reducing the amount of road noise transmitted to the interior. For tautness, the Convertible dispenses with the shear bushings in the top rear damper mountings, as fitted to the Sport Sedan.

Saab 'ReAxs' - passive rear wheel steer
Out on the open road, the new Convertible's sporty handling characteristics are more rewarding and involving for the driver. This is due to a unique, passive rear wheel steer characteristic, known as Saab ReAxs, first seen on the 9-3 Sport Sedan.

The toe-links in the rear suspension and the use of ball joints, instead of rubber inboard and outboard suspension bushings, allow 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, ie., toe-out for the outer wheel and toe-in for the inner wheel.

Depending on vehicle speed and the radius of a bend, which vary the consequent loadings at the rear axle, one degree of steering movement at the front wheels would typically produce a small but significant deflection of about one hundredth of a degree at the rear. 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, thereby 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.

Precise Steering
The power steering on Saab cars is widely acknowledged for achieving just the right balance between assistance and feel. In the straight-ahead position there is virtually no assistance so the driver has as much direct control as possible; and even at low speeds, when there is more assistance, the driver's feel for the road surface is never impaired.

The rack and pinion steering system for the new 9-3 Convertible continues this tradition. The hydraulic pump is camshaft-driven and the rack is mounted low down at the back of the front sub-frame.

The geometry and tuning of the front and rear suspensions also combine to give the steering its distinctive feel, linearity and responsiveness. At just 2.97 turns from lock to lock, it is the quickest steering yet fitted to a Saab car.

Braking System
The performance of the powerful steel disc brakes is among best in class, giving a consistent pedal feel and showing particularly good resistance to fade under repeated heavy applications.

Two systems are fitted as standard, according to engine power. For 129 kW variants, 285 mm front (ventilated) and 278 mm rear discs are fitted. For the 155 kW Aero engine, these are increased to 302 mm at the front and 292 mm at the rear, both ventilated.

High speed braking stability is particularly impressive, largely due to the Saab ReAxs control of the rear suspension geometry. This effectively preloads the rear tyres by applying some lateral force through toe-in as braking commences.

An automatic brake boost feature, Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA), introduced for the first time on the Sport Sedan, increases braking pressure from the master cylinder when the driver stamps hard on the brake pedal. This stops the vehicle quicker and also activates the car's ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) more effectively.

A four channel ABS and a Traction Control System (TCS), with additional electronic throttle control, are both standard fitment. The other standard electronic brake control functions utilise the ABS wheel speed sensors and the variable valving at each wheel.

New for Saab in the 9-3 range is the introduction of Corning Brake Control (CBC), activated when the car is cornering under heavy braking. Brake pressure is individually varied between all four wheels to keep the car stable, minimising any snap oversteer or understeer characteristics. CBC is also standard on all models.

Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) ensures an optimum braking force is always applied at both axles for maximum stability under heavy braking. EBD is fitted as standard.

All four brake discs have full size dust shields. These ensure braking performance is not impaired by large amounts of snow, mud or dust jamming the calipers.

Advanced Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
The fine chassis dynamics of the new 9-3 Convertible is supplemented by an advanced, Saab-tuned ESP system, which is designed to gently counteract over-exuberance or driver misjudgement. ESP is standard on all models.

The ESP has been honed by Saab technicians using dedicated software to match the behaviour of the 9-3 Convertible's chassis. The intelligent system is extremely progressive in use and is designed to function almost imperceptibly, avoiding harsh interventions when the chassis has already reached the limits of adhesion.

A yaw sensor in the centre of the car detects movement around the vertical axis and a sensor on the steering column measures the steering angle being applied. Inputs from these sources are then correlated with the speed of the car.

The system is extremely flexible and it is programmed to execute whatever action will most effectively prevent the onset of a loss of control. Depending upon the chassis's disposition, it is possible for braking to be applied via the ABS system to just one or all four wheels at once, in addition to control of the electronic throttle.

Seamless Turbo Power

"The driver communicates with the engine through the accelerator pedal and we have made the experience as precise and pleasant as possible."
Birger Schlaich, Manager, Powertrain Characteristics

  • New aluminium 2.0-litre turbocharged engine - 129 kW / 265 Nm, or 155 kW / 300 Nm
  • Excellent torque with greatly improved drivability and refinement
  • Sophisticated Saab Trionic 8 engine management system
  • Adaptive automatic transmission and six-speed manual gearbox

THE IMPROVED CHASSIS dynamics of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible are complemented by the outstanding drivability and refinement of an all-new powertrain package first seen on the 9-3 Sport Sedan.

Saab engineers have long been regarded as world leaders in the art of turbocharging, a distinction recognised by Saab's appointment as a Centre of Expertise within General Motors for turbocharged petrol engine development. Now with the launch of the new 9-3 product program, Saab has added a smoother, more linear power delivery to the typically strong, mid-range torque of its engines.

The all-aluminum 2.0-litre turbocharged engine has been developed by engineers based at Saab's engine plant in S?dert?lje, Sweden and is configured for two levels of power output: 129 kW / 265 Nm or 155 kW / 300 Nm. Transmissions include an improved five-speed and a new six-speed manual gearbox, as well as an adaptive, five-speed automatic transmission with Saab Sentronic manual gear selection.

Advances in electronic engine and transmission control from Saab's in-house Trionic 8 management system deliver appreciable improvements in throttle response, torque delivery and power-on/power-off behaviour. Such smooth, turbocharged performance encourages the driver to explore the full potential of the engine's wide power band, further contributing to the Convertible's sporty, fun-to-drive qualities.

Lightweight 2.0-litre Turbo
The all-aluminum, four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine is 15 kg lighter than its predecessor. It is smoother, quieter, more compact and better packaged. It also operates with lower frictional losses for improved fuel consumption and lower exhaust emissions.

The engine block is perfectly square, with a bore and stroke of 86 mm, and carries a unique Saab four-valve cylinder head, maintenance-free chain-driven camshafts, counter-rotating balancer shafts, a dual mass flywheel and integrated oil cooler. It is controlled by the latest Trionic 8 version of Saab's own in-house engine management system.

All the main internal components are unique to Saab's turbocharged application. These include a five-bearing forged steel crankshaft, strengthened con-rods, redesigned pistons and gudgeon pins, piston oil cooling jets and re-profiled camshafts. The cylinder head is an alloy casting optimised for turbocharging, with substantially revised inlet porting, modified inlet valves and sodium-cooled exhaust valves.

A major innovation for Saab is the in-board location of the turbocharger, behind the transversely-installed engine. This position allows an even quicker warm-up for the front exhaust catalyst; giving improved fuel consumption and lower cold start emissions as well as benefiting weight distribution.

A Garrett GT20 turbocharger is used for the 129 kW engine with a mild maximum boost pressure set at 0.7 bar. A larger Mitsubishi TDO4 unit, operating at 0.85 bar, is fitted to the 155 kW Aero version, which also has more aggressive camshafts. Both have integrated by-pass valves.

Engine power characteristics set new Saab standards for running refinement, throttle response and progressive torque delivery, as well as yielding slightly better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

Improved Drivability
Saab is alone among the world's premium car-makers in developing its own engine management system. The Trionic system is specifically geared to the needs of turbocharged engines and allows Saab to carry out faster, more effective development work. Ignition timing, fuel injection, turbo boost pressure, air mass measurement and the throttle setting are all key engine functions controlled by the Saab-developed Trionic software, making it the most sophisticated engine management system in commercial production for turbocharged engines.

In the new Saab 9-3 range, Trionic 8 now incorporates engine start-up and temperature control, as well as further developments for improving torque management and throttle response. It is this in-house capability that provides the key to achieving one of the powertrain development team's main objectives: better drivability.

The power delivery of the engine is generally more progressive or linear, encouraging the driver to hold intermediate gears for longer periods. Its driving characteristics are more like those of a naturally-aspirated engine, although it still delivers more torque at any given throttle opening.

Jerky movements which can be experienced when suddenly lifting off or stamping hard on the accelerator pedal are also largely eliminated. Trionic 8 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 the gear selected. The end result is a smooth, powerful and extremely pliable powertrain, devoid of shunting under sudden movements of the accelerator pedal.

Trionic can also sense, for example, if there is insufficient grip available for a given throttle setting and will modulate engine torque accordingly, ahead of any intervention from the traction control system. The adjustments are hardly noticeable but make the driving experience smoother and more enjoyable.

The noticeably rounder torque curve of the new engine shows that Saab has eliminated the sudden torque build-up that used to be characterised by a near vertical line up to 2,000 rpm. The smoother contour represents an engine that is more progressive - it delivers more torque earlier and slightly less later, during pick-up from idle to 2500 rpm where maximum torque is generated for both engines until 4000 rpm.

Trionic 8 achieves this by bringing the turbo in slightly earlier. At low engine speeds, a clever, electronic sleight of hand is used, very briefly opening the throttle slightly more than requested in order to spool up the turbo quicker. It's all possible thanks to the drive-by-wire, electronic throttle and the power of the Trionic brain.

A further refinement is the programming of the signal from the accelerator pedal. At low road speeds, there is more pedal 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 movement is required which gives a quicker throttle response, particularly useful when overtaking, for example.

Unique Engine Installation
As part of the extensive program to minimise low frequency noise and vibration, Saab engineers have adopted a completely new pendulum technique for mounting the engine.

In order to absorb the main torque forces generated at the bottom of the engine, the entire powertrain assembly is, in effect, suspended from two top mounts. Two short aluminum torque rods with rubber bushings at both ends are also fitted low down, between the back of the powertrain and the rear of the front sub-frame. One is attached to the oil sump and the other to the transmission. These act like mini shock absorbers allowing lateral movement, in or out, of up to 20 mm, equivalent to a swing of 4.5? from the vertical - just like a pendulum.

This sophisticated installation directs forces to the bottom of the car's structure and away from the passenger cabin, playing an important role in isolating the interior from unwanted engine noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

Adaptive Automatic Transmission
A new smart five-speed automatic transmission includes Saab Sentronic, a sequential manual gear shift, and steering wheel gear change buttons for Aero. The greater control offered by Saab Sentronic means that 'sport' or 'winter' mode settings are no longer required.

This transmission, produced by Asin AW, is adaptive to both the driver and road conditions and is programmed to fully exploit Saab turbo power characteristics. It can sense changes in engine performance, engine load, road gradient or altitude and will quickly find the right gear.

For closer driver involvement, the shift lever can be moved across the gate to manual Sentronic mode, giving sequential up or down changes at will with full lock-up in third, fourth and fifth gears. This process is taken a step further with steering wheel buttons on Aero, which bring gear-shifting control to the driver's fingertips.

Six speed manual gearbox and improved gear change
A new six-speed manual gearbox is standard fitment for the Aero's 155 kW engine. It is capable of handling extremely high torque levels, up to 400 Nm, and features improved syncromesh for better gear shifting quality and double output shafts for lightness and compactness.

The gear change quality of the five-speed manual gearbox is also substantially upgraded for the new Saab 9-3 with the adoption of a cable linkage, instead of rods, from the gear shift lever.

The driver benefits from faster gear changes with a much smoother and more positive feel. The dual mass flywheel also reduces noise resonance and vibration. It is another small part of the powertrain program's mission for improved on-road refinement.

World-class safety inspired by Real Life experience

"We have succeeded in meeting crash safety performance targets for the new 9-3 Convertible that are the same as those for the Sport Sedan."
Per Lenhoff, Head of Crash Safety Development

  • Crash safety based on Real-Life research
  • 75 crash test configurations, including eight different rollover crashes
  • Rigid passenger compartment 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
  • Head/thorax side airbags mounted in front seats
  • Excellent driving safety with MBA, CBC, EBD and ESP all standard

SAAB HAS A long tradition of achievement in 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 several times been ranked best in their segment. In a recent Euro-NCAP crash test study, the new 9-3 Sport Sedan achieved a maximum five-star rating.

However, in constantly seeking to improve safety, Saab engineers are not motivated simply by a desire to score well in ranking tests. The design of an all-new Convertible has given them a rare opportunity to apply the lessons learnt from studying what happens in real life, raising their safety benchmark even higher.

For Saab, car safety involves two key areas: crash safety (passive safety) and driving (or active) safety. The new 9-3 Convertible features important advances in both areas.

Crash impact resistance benefits from the introduction of a series of new structural and occupant protection measures that have enabled Saab's engineers to increase safety levels for the new 9-3 Convertible. In doing so, they have succeeded in meeting crash safety performance targets the same as those of the Sport Sedan.

Greatly improved chassis dynamics, including steering, brakes and lights, give the driver improved control and therefore less chance to be involved in - or better able to avoid - an accident. Driving safety is advanced further by the adoption of MBA (Mechanical Brake Assist) and a full arsenal of electronic aids including CBC (Cornering Brake Control), TCS (Traction Control System), EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) all as standard. (These systems are described in the Chassis section).

Crash Safety based on Real-Life research
Saab crash testing is designed to replicate 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, a record number for Saab in the development of a new model. Only 15 configurations are legally required.

For its new Convertible, Saab also helped to pioneer the world's most comprehensive rollover crash test program, involving eight different configurations that account for most instances of this relatively rare type of road accident.

Convertible laboratory prototype tests were carried out in a wide range of speeds and configurations including: full and off-set frontal crashes, car-to-car side impacts, truck-to-car side impacts, rear-end impacts, moose impacts and rollovers.

Advanced crash simulations, using finite element methods (FEM), help find the right solutions before any prototypes are built. Support by simulation is used throughout the development process for structural design, as well as for tuning occupant protection systems such as the seat-belts and airbags.

Rigid Safety Structure
At the heart of the 9-3 Convertible is an immensely strong steel structure designed to protect the passenger compartment by resisting forces that may pass through front or rear crumple zones. It is fabricated from high-strength steel with most sections completely closed for maximum strength and all joints designed to help prevent tearing under severe impacts.

Compared to the sedan, additional reinforcement elements include: the A-pillars and windscreen header rail, the front and rear seat cross-members, and the introduction of a substantial torsion box between the rear wheel housings and enlarged side sills.

The front and rear crumple zones are made of carefully shaped steel members designed to absorb, distribute and deflect as much impact energy as possible, effectively shielding the passenger compartment.

In a frontal collision, three distinct load paths on each side of the front structure help to distribute and absorb impact forces through the engine sub-frame and upper and lower longitudinal members. Residual crash forces are distributed and deflected by the A-pillars, the side sills and the combined door/rear side structure.

The three load paths are connected transversely via cross-members, the most important being the front bumper beam. This is fabricated from stronger boron alloy steel with a high yield strength of 900 Newtons per square millimetre. The beam spreads impact forces across the front structure, allowing a controlled and predictable deformation almost regardless of the point of impact. This design also produces a front structure that is less aggressive and more compatible with other vehicles on the road.

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, cross members and the rear torsion box. The bottoms of the doors interlock with the reinforced side sills so the whole side structure of the car can also contribute a load-sharing role. In side impacts with narrow objects, such as a tree or lamp post, the role of the door beams is particularly important.

At the rear, two more longitudinal members are designed to buckle and deform downwards in a two-phase action. They dissipate impact energy towards the lower body structure and at the same time force the spare wheel, mounted flat in the boot, to rotate to a more vertical position for additional rear passenger protection.

The fuel tank is mounted in front of the rear axle, as far away as possible from any point of impact. Saab has long experience in working with safety regarding fuel system integrity and has its own very tough in-house requirements.

DynaCage Rollover Protection
Although rollovers are a comparatively rare event, the consequences are often serious and Saab has installed an active protection system in the new 9-3 Convertible. The DynaCage concept combines pop-up rear roll bars, seat-belt pre-tensioning in all seating positions and substantial reinforcement of the A-pillars and side sills to provide an integrated protection system.

The two spring-loaded rollover bars recessed behind the rear head restraints are made from aluminium alloy for low mass - to aid quick deployment - and high strength. They are mounted inside the car's torsion box and released by a small pyrotechnic charge when the car's central sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) detects the onset of a rollover. The SDM is programmed to have the bars deployed and locked in position by the time the car is at 90 degrees to the ground. Just as importantly, all four seat-belt pre-tensioners are activated at the same time to firmly locate any belted 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 optimised 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 compromising seating comfort.

As the entire belt system is attached to it, the seat is mounted on a special U-shaped platform welded into the floor, designed to withstand extremely high loadings.

Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
Crash investigation findings by the Journal of Trauma and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US and by the Thatcham insurance research centre in the UK all show Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR) to be extremely effective in helping to prevent serious neck injury. The Journal of Trauma has reported a 75 % reduction in severe neck injuries when comparing Saab cars fitted with the SAHR against those without.

The SAHR, introduced with the launch of the 9-5 sedan in 1997, is designed to help provide protection for front-seat occupants during rear-end impacts, when even a relatively minor collision may result in a painful neck injury.

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 a lever which pushes the head restraint up and forwards, minimising head and neck movement during the rebound phase.

After activation, the restraint immediately springs back to its passive position in case of a possible second impact. It is not necessary to replace any service items or carry out expensive reinstatement work after deployment.

Adaptive Front Airbags
Dual stage front airbags are used to achieve occupant-friendly deployment in frontal impacts.

Two sensors in the front bumper beam detect impact severity, a sensor in the seat track communicates seating positions and a switch in the seat-belt buckles indicates whether or not the belts are being worn. All 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.

A crash with a relatively low level of impact energy would, for example, require less airbag pressure and, therefore, a slower rate of inflation than a more severe, high-energy impact. Likewise, a short driver sitting close to the steering wheel or a front passenger sitting close to the fascia would also benefit from a softer, lower pressure inflation.

Conversely, if an occupant is not wearing a seat-belt, the system also takes this into consideration. In this way, the airbags can be deployed differently for the driver and passenger, depending on their particular requirements.

Head/thorax side 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, which ensures the airbag will always be well placed irrespective of the seat position.

The airbag has two chambers - one to protect the thorax, or chest, and the other to safeguard the head. In a heavy impact, the lower section inflates first and air is then pushed into the upper section for the head. The airbag has been specially developed to meet the requirements of the Convertible.

Pre-tensioners and Load limiters
All four seat-belts have pre-tensioning and load limiting functions to remove any possible belt slack and reduce loadings on the body in severe crashes. The pre-tensioners are mounted on the belt retractor and activated by a signal from the airbag sensing system, which ignites a small pyrotechnic charge.

The load limiting function consists of a torsion bar inside the retractor that, at a pre-determined load level, will start to deform and thus reduce the belt load and ease the strain on the occupant's body.

Active seat-belt reminder
Saab has used a seat belt reminder function since 1974 and to further inform customers of the importance of belt usage, a more advanced system has now been introduced. This reminds the driver and the front passenger of non-belt usage through a combination of messages on the Saab Information Display (SID) and warning chimes through the audio system. The reminders are repeated until a belt is fastened or the driver deletes the message display.

Occupant-friendly interior
A great deal of experience has gone into ensuring that interior surfaces and materials are relatively soft and occupant-friendly in the event of a heavy impact or rollover. In particular, the front areas of the cabin near the knee and lower leg are well-bolstered and the A-pillars thickly padded to help protect the head.

In the foot area, the driver's pedals are designed to break away in a severe impact and protective padding helps to further reduce the risk of foot injury. The steering column and steering wheel are energy absorbing.

Passenger safety is the main reason that armrests and inner door handles are always recessed inside a Saab and it is one of the reasons why the new 9-3 Convertible retains a Saab tradition in having a floor-mounted ignition switch, with the key well away from sensitive knee and leg areas.

Ownership, Security, Convenience and Accessories
Building a Rewarding relationship

  • Scheduled servicing costs reduced by up to 30 %
  • Extended anti-perforation warranty
  • Low-speed accident damage protection
  • Sophisticated immobilisation, anti-theft and alarm systems
  • Many useful convenience features to make life easier
  • Unique accessories tailor-made for individuals

THE NEW CONVERTIBLE is price-positioned to compete with other premium class convertibles. Its excellent build and materials quality is reflected in a substantially reduced cost of ownership, including lower servicing, repair and insurance costs, and an extended anti-perforation warranty.

Improving the cost and convenience of ownership was a main focus for the project team throughout the development of the new Saab 9-3 range.

All security measures that are proven to be effective have been introduced, in close liaison with insurance industry representatives.

A host of convenience features enriches the experience of living with the Saab 9-3 Convertible; as does a comprehensive range of accessories.

Reduced Servicing Costs
Longer service intervals and reduced workshop times for the new 9-3 range are intended to yield scheduled maintenance savings of up to 30 %, compared to the previous model.

The excellent quality of major mechanical components, due to better machining and finer tolerances, has allowed Saab to move away from rigid time and distance restrictions for scheduled servicing. It is now more important to monitor how the vehicle is actually used in real life by its owner.

The engine management system logs key usage parameters, such as the number of cold starts, journey distances and the engine speeds used, and applies an algorithm to inform the driver when an oil change is due. The maximum service interval is now every two years, or 20,000 km. At any time, the driver can also request notification of when the next change is due.

With engine coolant filled and sealed for life, the only remaining major service items for the new 9-3 Convertible are the spark plugs, the air filter and drive belt.

10 year anti-perforation (corrosion) warranty
The warranty covering body perforation is extended from six to 10 years, a result of Saab's confidence in under-body joint and sealant treatments and electro-galvanising of all exposed body parts.

The body-in-white is prepared, sealed, galvanised, primed and painted according to Saab's high standards. All primer and paints are water-based, except for the final clear lacquer finish.

Quicker repairs, lower insurance
To further reduce ownership costs, Saab engineers have made repair and replacement work as simple as possible, working closely with representatives of leading insurance companies - including the NRMA - to introduce ways of minimising accident damage repair bills, as well as improving vehicle security and anti-theft protection. This close liaison should result in highly competitive insurance groupings and lower premiums.

A number of design elements in the outer body will make accident and other repairs easier and faster. Electrical wiring and connection points are routed and located away from areas most vulnerable to crash impacts, making repairs easier as well as improving safety. For example, there is one single connection point between the engine and main wiring harness and this is in a well-protected position.

Low-speed frontal collision protection, through self-repairing, energy absorbing bumpers (for impacts up to 8 km/h) and deformable crash boxes (for impacts up to 15 km/h), help protect the body structure from serious damage requiring expensive repair. The front wings are also bolted to the main structure to make removal and replacement easier and less time-consuming.

The new 9-3 range incorporates state-of-the-art security. The anti-theft systems include all practical technology that is currently available.

These features include: central locking with remote entry, integrated engine immobiliser, electronic steering column lock, deadbolt locks on all doors and remote anti-theft alarm.

Highly rated by Insurers
Representatives of leading insurance companies in Sweden and elsewhere, including Australia, were consulted throughout the development of security systems for the new 9-3 range. They were asked to identify the most effective measures available, as well as examining and assessing the effectiveness of the new 9-3's security.

Consequently, the British insurance industry's Thatcham research centre has already awarded both the new 9-3 Convertible and the Sport Sedan a maximum five-star rating for 'theft of the vehicle' and four stars for 'theft from the vehicle'. Saab is confident that close liaison with insurance industry experts will also contribute to highly competitive insurance groupings and reduced insurance premiums for owners.

Anti-Intrusion measures
The passenger door is fitted with a freewheeling lock cylinder, which will immediately disengage from the door unlocking mechanism if any device, other than the correct key, is inserted. Efficient shielding of the locks inside the doors and boot lid also prevents tampering by specialist tools. The use of deadbolt locks makes it virtually impossible for a would-be thief to forcibly break in.

Even if a thief were to gain entry, there would be little point in removing any of the car's infotainment systems. Apart from being uniquely designed to fit only a Saab car, they are electronically married to their original host car. They can only function in another Saab after being re-programmed at a Saab dealer.

New for Saab is the security marking of a large number of major components to enable police to trace them back to the car if they are recovered following a theft.

Anti Car Theft
To prevent the car being driven away, the immobiliser system uses both an electrical steering column lock and disablement of the engine management system.

When the ignition key is inserted in the floor-mounted switch, a transponder sends a signal to a control unit which communicates with all systems in the car through the central integrated control module. The start message from the key's transponder is encrypted in complex, rolling codes which would take an estimated eight years for a would-be thief to crack.

Further measures have also been taken to combat the so-called professional thief, who may be stealing a car to order or for resale. Barriers, or firewalls, have been put in place to protect the car's electronic systems from digital intrusion with illegal scanning devices.

As the car's original key is such a vital component in the chain of security precautions, confidential measures have been put in place at Saab dealers to ensure there is no fraudulent issue of a replacement or duplicate key.

Alarm system
As a further back-up to the car's perimeter security features, an advanced alarm system can also be specified. This engages a siren and flashing lights to discourage anyone from entering or trying to move the car.

The interior is monitored by ultrasonic motion sensors, which activate the alarm if anyone, for example, cuts through the soft-top, breaks the windows or reaches inside. This system has been tuned for a Convertible so that the alarm is not needlessly triggered, for example, by a leaf or a piece of paper being blown inside when the roof is down. The alarm is also activated by any illegal attempt to open the doors, bonnet or boot lid.

A further refinement is the use of a hidden, separate battery to power the alarm system. This prevents a thief from disabling the alarm by disconnecting the main battery.

Personal Security
For greater personal security in the vicinity of the car, the alarm can be activated within a range of six metres by pressing an optional panic button on the electronic key.

Functions such as halo or lead-me-to-the-car lighting and the follow-me-home headlamp function can also be used for assistance when approaching or leaving the car.

'Smart' door mirrors
Ever folded in the door mirrors and then forgotten to reposition them until you are back in the car? An annoying oversight that won't happen in the new 9-3 Convertible. Its electrically-operated mirrors are linked to a speed sensor and will automatically fold out once the car exceeds 50 km/h. This is a standard feature.

A typical Saab innovation is the button for tilting the mirrors down. This function normally operates automatically when reverse gear is engaged, but can be just as useful to tilt one or other mirror when going forwards, following a kerb or low wall, for example. A push of the button gives you the choice in the new 9-3. Standard feature.

Remote soft-top and window opening
In hot weather it may be useful to lower the roof and windows before entering the car. This can be done within a range of six metres by simply holding down the lock/unlock button on the remote control unit. Standard feature.

Automatic disconnect/connect fog lamps
To prevent the rear fog lamp being inadvertently left on when no longer required, it is automatically disconnected when the ignition is switched off. Both front (where fitted) and rear fog lamps do not have to be switched on again if the engine stalls because they are programmed to remain live for 30 seconds after the ignition is first switched on. Standard feature

Variable speedometer illumination
The Night Panel feature allows all main dashboard illumination - except for the speedometer - to be switched off when driving at night. The Profiler function also enables the driver to restrict illumination of the speed scale to the range 0 -90 km/h. It will automatically illuminate if these speeds are exceeded. Standard feature.

Variable heating for the front seats
The thermostat for the heated front seats can be set at one of three temperatures (42, 37 or 33?C) by pressing the relevant button once, twice or three times. The setting can also be permanently stored via the Profiler function. Standard feature.

Vertical wiper parking
If you want to cover the windshield - to prevent frosting up when parking outside or to help keep the interior cool in hot weather - the wipers can be parked in a vertical position by removing the key fob and pressing the control stalk once. Standard feature.

Automatic air recirculation
To prevent the unpleasant smell of detergent in the windshield washer system entering the interior, the ACC can be programmed (through an authorised dealer) to briefly switch to recirculation mode whenever the driver operates the washer system via the stalk control. Standard feature.

'Intelligent' windshield washing
When the windshield is washed at speeds under 20 km/h, the wipers will automatically make an additional sweep after an eight second delay to ensure the windshield is clear of any residual streaks. Standard feature.

Washer fluid saver
When there is less than one litre left in the washer fluid reservoir, the headlamp washer function will automatically de-activate in order to prioritise washing of the windshield only. Standard feature.

'Halo' lighting
When approaching the car, pressing the remote control on the electronic key will turn on the exterior and main interior lights as a lead-me-to-the-car function. With a range of up to 20 meters, this facility can help identify the car at night in a crowded car park, illuminate the immediate surroundings and discourage anyone from attempting to enter the car when it is being opened. Standard feature.

Welcome lighting
A warm welcome always awaits the driver courtesy of automatic soft foot well lighting, with theatre dimming, and puddle lights in the bottom of the doors to illuminate the ground outside. Likewise, at night the main interior light will switch on when the ignition key is removed so the driver or passengers are never left completely in the dark. Standard features.

'Follow me home' lighting
When leaving the car at night, tweaking the lights stalk will keep the headlights on for 30 seconds. A useful aid for walking up the drive to the door or when parking in unfamiliar ground. Standard feature.

Accessories tailor-made for Individuality
True to its tradition as a sporty and multi-dynamic brand, Saab offers a wide choice of accessories for the new Convertible that are intended to further enhance performance and design or practical functionality.

The innovative CargoWing rear spoiler assembly, to be available later in the model year, combines good looks and improved aerodynamic performance with a surprising load-carrying functionality. It enables owners to carry skis or snowboards without having to fit a special carrying frame that can disfigure the looks the car.

The Saab CargoWing is designed in two sections: an upper, folding part and a base plate permanently fixed to the boot lid. It conveniently transforms into a useful ski or snowboard holder when the upper section, on which the spoiler is mounted, hinges out from the forward mounting brackets of the lower base plate.

When the upper section is in position as a carrier, the inclination of the skis or snowboards is sufficient to clear the rear of the soft-top. They can be carried with the roof up or down.

Performance and Design
A wind tunnel-tested package of front spoiler, rear spoiler and sill extensions further enhances the looks and stance of the car while also improving its high-speed stability. Other items include: sports suspension, fog lights, a sports exhaust and a range of alloy wheels up to 18 inches in size.

Interior enhancements include poplar wood or alloy trim inserts for the gear shift lever and its housing, in both manual or automatic.

Practical accessories include: a cup-holder, CD holder and ice scraper for the Smart Slot feature; a newly-developed wind deflector which now folds into quarters for easy and convenient stowage; a hitch-mounted bike holder; a fixed or removable tow bar; and a rubber cargo mat.

Market Position
Premium convertible leader

"The appeal of this product as a sporty yet surprisingly practical car goes right to the heart of the Saab brand. In many ways, it is more than a Convertible."
Knut Simonsson, Global Marketing Director

  • 50 % segment growth since 1998
  • Saab established as a leading player in premium convertible segment
  • Saab offers 'more than a Convertible'
  • Distinctive Scandinavian design themes
  • Fun to drive appeal based on acclaimed dynamics of Sport Sedan
  • Surprisingly practical car, satisfying emotional wants and rational needs
  • Customers highly educated, affluent and progressive individualists

SALES OF LUXURY four-seater convertibles have increased by more than 50 % since 1998, and are expected to grow even further.

Saab is already in the front line of such growth and has been a prominent driving force behind this thriving segment since unveiling its first convertible model almost 20 years ago.

In Australia / New Zealand and some European markets such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and Holland, the current Saab 9-3 Convertible has accounted for as much as 50 % of sales in the segment; an extraordinary achievement considering Saab takes only a 6 % share of the premium car segment as whole.

Saab has achieved such a prominent position by advancing the design and popularity of convertibles as practical and comfortable all-weather cars. As a result, in most major car markets the Convertible from Saab is clearly established as the definitive 'car for all seasons'.

The new 9-3 model now sets new standards for Saab and the segment as a whole, and is poised to raise sales still higher. It is a fresh statement of the very essence of Saab's brand appeal: clean, distinctively Scandinavian design that combines sporty, fun-to-drive qualities with a practical dimension.

More than a Convertible
The Saab brand appeals to individualists and, over the years, Saab has compiled a detailed picture of the tastes and needs of such potential customers. As a result, the new 9-3 Convertible has been developed with features supporting Saab's 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 something special: clean, distinctively Scandinavian design; an open air, fun-to-drive experience with sports car-like dynamics; refinement and practicality for all year round, everyday use and the ability to accommodate four adults in comfort.

Potential customers want a vehicle that resolves any potential conflict between emotional wants and rational needs. To achieve this, the new 9-3 Convertible synthesises the attributes of a sports car and a sedan. In other words, it offers the best of both worlds.

Typical Saab Convertible customers are predominantly affluent business executives or professionals, with a liberal and progressive outlook. As individualists, they are used to making their own decisions in their business and private lives and are keen to avoid fashionable trends or anything that may be considered as 'me tooism'. Whilst they want a car that accurately reflects their tastes as free-thinking individuals who appreciate fine design and technology, they have no need to be associated with anything that is brash or commonly seen as a conventional status symbol.

More highly educated than those who drive competitor products, most Saab Convertible drivers are male, although an increasing proportion are female. They lead active lifestyles with a wide variety of interests and enjoy a range of keep-fit activities, travel and many cultural interests.

Sporty Scandinavian Appeal
The dominant customer requirement in this segment is stylish and distinctive exterior design, a feature that has always distinguished Saab's convertibles. These cars are viewed as models in their own right, appealing as co-ordinated, stand-alone products, without any design compromises.

The new Convertible's development as a parallel but separate project from the Sport Sedan has ensured that its design integrity and strong visual appeal were not compromised. Its typically clean lines are inspired by Scandinavian design themes with simple forms free from unnecessary ostentation.

The overall design language has an honest, timeless quality that does not merely reflect current trends. And in the best tradition of Scandinavian design, the Convertible shows that form can follow function in a stylish, yet rational way. All this combines with a sporty, confident stance to reinforce the impression that the Saab Convertible is a separate, bespoke model in its own right.

On the road, convertibles must be fun to drive, top up or down, with strong performance and a high level of refinement that makes little or no concession to the absence of a fixed roof. In this respect, this third generation Saab Convertible benefits from the widely-acclaimed chassis dynamics of the 9-3 Sport Sedan. Its enhanced, sporty attributes are demonstrated by a powerful, 129 kW / 265 Nm entry level powertrain and the introduction for the first time of a lowered, sports-tuned chassis for the Aero derivative.

The major improvements in seating comfort and to the quality and operation of the soft top also echo Saab's traditional appeal as a manufacturer of easy to use, all-weather products with real world practicality.

Together with competitive pricing and generous equipment levels, the Saab formula is aimed at aspiring customers seeking to move up from the volume sector of the market, as well as conquest customers from other premium brands.

Brand Carrier
Saab's Global Marketing Director, Knut Simonsson, says: "Saab customers refuse to compromise in their choice of careers, family life and the pursuit of challenging leisure activities. They want freedom and excitement, as well as practical solutions. In other words, their choice of car must satisfy both emotional wants and rational needs.

"The appeal of our new Convertible goes right to the heart of the Saab brand. It offers distinctive design, a rewarding driving experience and real functionality. In many ways it is more than a Convertible because it is a sporty, yet surprisingly practical car."

He adds: "In view of our fine convertible tradition, the launch of a new open top model is clearly the next logical step for us in the roll-out of a new generation of products.

"We are launching the Convertible from a position of strength, as we are already established as a market leader in the segment, and this new model is well placed to open up new opportunities for the brand."

How Saab has Raised the Roof

SAAB AUTOMOBILE IS a major player in the premium convertible segment of the car market, significantly growing the size of this thriving segment by advancing the popularity of open-top cars as a practical, all-year-round means of transport.

In Australia / New Zealand and some European markets such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and Holland, the Saab Convertible has accounted for as much as 50 % of sales in its segment. In many more markets around the world it is well established as the definitive 'car for all seasons'.

Where it all began
While it is 20 years since Saab unveiled its first convertible, the first open-top car from Saab was, in fact, shown in 1956 at the Stockholm Motor Show.

Back then, Saab car production was carried out by a division of the aircraft company and the chassis of the lightweight, two-seater Saab Sonett 1 sports car was made to aviation specification with riveted aluminium panels. This monocoque form of design, though common in aircraft construction, was adopted for automotive use by Saab some six years ahead of its revolutionary arrival in Grand Prix racing in the shape of Colin Chapman's Lotus 25.

The aluminium fuselage of the Sonett 1 was much stiffer and lighter than a conventional chassis made from welded steel beams and tubes. It was also load-bearing, directly carrying the weight of the engine, suspension and fuel tank, as well as the attractive bodywork moulded from GRP (glass-fibre, reinforced plastic), a new material at the time.

Powered by a three cylinder, 750cc two-stroke engine tuned for 42 kW (57.5 bhp), Sonett 1 weighed just 500 kilos and was intended for circuit racing with the possibility of road-going versions to follow. However, only six were built because a sudden change in international competition regulations put an end to the project.

The first Sonett 1 is now on display at the Saab Car Museum and just seven years ago it again briefly made headlines in Sweden when Erik Carlsson, the legendary Saab rally driver, got behind the wheel to set a new Swedish speed record of 159.4 km/h (99 mph) with this car.

Show sensation
The first Saab Convertible was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in late 1983. Saab surprised the world by displaying a two-door, Saab 900-based concept car with the roof removed and replaced by an electrically-powered soft top.

It was a well-proportioned, roomy, genuine four-seater and drew many admiring comments as it looked like a unique, bespoke design rather than a conversion of an existing, fixed-head model. The clean lines were flowing and graceful and - even more importantly - the Saab Convertible looked just as good with its roof up or down.

The enthusiastic response from press and public alike made a decision to take the car into production almost inevitable. But even then, Saab was cautious in committing resources to a car so very different from its other mainstream production models.

In 1986 a limited run of just 400 cars was eventually produced for the US market at the Valmet Automotive plant in Uusikaupunki, Finland, where there were expert coach-builders on hand. By the time the Convertible went on general sale the following year, demand exceeded production capacity and a two year waiting list built up before facilities at the Valmet plant were expanded.

Unlike many competitors, all variants of Saab Convertible were equipped with a powered roof as standard, as well as leather upholstery. And, again unlike many competitors, the soft-top was always fitted with a glass rear screen, not a plastic substitute prone to cracking and fogging. After its launch with a 129 kW, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, the appeal of the first Convertible was further broadened in 1990 with the introduction of a 94 kW naturally-aspirated version.

This was the car that positioned Saab at the forefront of real world convertible design, proving that a modern well-built convertible could be a truly practical, all-weather, all-year-round proposition, and not just a second car to be used when the sun came out. The triple layer soft-top was extremely durable, snug-fitting and totally weatherproof . And, of course, the exceptional power of the car's heater encouraged the enjoyment of open-top motoring even in cold weather.

More success
The all-new, second generation 900 range was launched in autumn 1993 and the arrival of a soft-top version the following year was eagerly awaited. Unlike the previous version, the new 900 Convertible and its later Saab 9-3 evolution in 1998 benefited from being part of the new model program from the outset and its clean, well-integrated lines did not disappoint.

The designers were now able to achieve a completely flat rear deck and the soft-top, soon to be hydraulically rather than electrically-powered, was accommodated under a flush-fitting tonneau cover which was automatically operated as part of the soft-top mechanism. The flexible soft-top storage well in the boot could now be hitched up to provide more space and the manual locking operation to the windshield header rail was also made easier still.

The second generation Convertible was an even greater success than its predecessor, more than doubling previous production and sales volumes. Global sales for 1994-2002 totalled 140,500 units, averaging more than 15,500 units a year and accounting for 24 % of all 900/9-3 production. This compares with almost 49,000 Saab 900 Convertibles sold between 1987 and 1993, an average of 7,000 units a year, or 14 % of all Saab 900 production.

In Australia and across Europe and the United States the Saab Convertible has achieved an annual share of the premium convertible segment as high as 50 %, a remarkable penetration when compared to Saab's usual 6 % share of the premium car segment as a whole.

The Saab 900/9-3 Convertible has been a prime mover in lifting the profile of the Saab brand and now the all-new model, the biggest technical step forward Saab has made in this segment, will undoubtedly raise the Saab banner even higher. Its presentation as a 'surprisingly practical car' that is 'more than a convertible' assuredly picks up the design mantle of its predecessors.

Summer, 2003

The new Saab 9-3 Convertible
Technical Specifications and Performance

4635 mm
1762 mm
1434 mm
2675 mm
Track (f)
1524 mm
Track (r)
1506 mm
1988 cc. 4-cyl. in-line. Aluminium cylinder head and block. Turbocharged, intercooled. DOHC, 16-valve. Balancer shafts. Dual-mass flywheel.
Front, transversely-mounted, hydraulically-damped. Front wheel drive.
5-speed manual gearbox (Linear)
6-speed manual gearbox (Aero)
5-speed automatic transmission includes Saab Sentronic, with steering wheel controls for Aero
Single, dry-plate, diaphragm spring.
McPherson struts and gas shock absorbers. Anti-roll bar. Mounted on hydroformed sub-frame.
Independent, four link, including toe-link. Coil springs. Gas shock absorbers. Anti-roll bar. Mounted on sub-frame.
Hydraulic, dual circuit, vacuum booster. ABS, Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD).
285 mm ventilated / 278 mm solid steel (Linear)
302 mm ventilated / 292 mm ventilated steel (Aero)
Alloy, 6.5" x 16".
Goodyear Eagle NCT5 215/55/R16 93V
Alloy, 7.0" x 17".
Pirelli PZERO Ross 225/45/R17 94W
Rack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance.
Turning circle:
10.8 m (kerb to kerb)
Lock to lock:
2.97 turns
1609 kg, Linear, manual
1638 kg, Linear, auto
1650 kg, Aero, manual
1670 kg, Aero, auto
Load weight:
390 kg
Max. trailer load:
1600 kg
55% front, 45% rear
Fuel tank:
62 litres
Soft-top up: 352 litres
Soft-top down: 235 litres
Washer Reservoir:
5.0 litres

Engines and performance of the new Saab 9-3 Convertible

2.0t 129 kW Linear
2.0T 155 kW Aero
Max. power:
129 kW at 5500 rpm
155 kW at 5300 rpm
Max. torque:
265 Nm from 2500 - 4000 rpm
300 Nm from 2500 - 4000 rpm
86 mm x 86 mm
86 mm x 86 mm
Compression Ratio:
Max. boost pressure:
0.70 bar
0.85 bar
Fuel injection:
Saab Trionic 8 engine management.
Direct ignition.
Multi-point fuel injection.
Saab Trionic 8 engine
Direct ignition.
Multi-point fuel injection.
Performance (seconds)
2.0t 129 kW Linear
2.0T 155 kW Aero
0-100 km/h
M5 9.0
A5 10.5
M6 8.0
A5 9.5
60-100 km/h 4th gear
M5 9.2
A5 -
M6 8.4
A5 -
80-120 km/h 5th gear
M5 14.0
A5 -
M6 11.5
A5 -
80-120 km/h 6th gear
M5 -
A5 -
M6 15.5
A5 -
Top speed km/h
M5 220
A5 215
M6 230
A5 225
Gear ratios manual
M5: 1st 3.3846, 2nd 1.7600, 3rd 1.1795, 4th 0.8936, 5th 0.6604
Reverse: 3.1662
Final: 4.0476
M6: 1st 3.7692, 2nd 2.0400, 3rd 1.3208, 4th 0.9538, 5th 0.7547,
6th 0.6230. Reverse: 3.5385
Final: 3.9091
Gear ratios Sentronic auto
A5: 1st 4.5750, 2nd 2.9791, 3rd 1.9470, 4th 1.3177, 5th 1.000
Reverse: 5.0242
Final: 2.4400
A5: 1st 4.5750, 2nd 2.9791, 3rd 1.9470, 4th 1.3177, 5th 1.000
Reverse: 5.0242
Final: 2.4400
* Fuel consumption
2.0t 129 kW Linear
2.0T 155 kW Aero
Combined (L/100 km)
M5 8.9
A5 9.7
M6 9.1
A5 9.9
M5 = five-speed manual gearbox
M6 = six-speed manual gearbox
A5 = five-speed automatic gearbox
* Fuel consumption to ADR81/01

MY04 Saab 9-3 Convertible Specification & Equipment list
Linear 2.0t
Aero 2.0T
Recommended Retail Price (inclusive of GST and LCT)
2.0 litre turbo 129 kW / 265 Nm
2.0 litre High Output Turbo 155 kW / 300 Nm
Manual 5-speed full synchromesh gearbox
Manual 6-speed gearbox
5 speed automatic transmission with Sentronic (steering wheel Sentronic buttons on Aero)
16" alloy 10-spoke ALU 43
17" alloy 6-spoke ALU 46
17" alloy 5-spoke Twin ALU 50
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
Mechanical Brake Assist (MBA)
Cornering Brake Control (CBC)
Traction Control System (TCS) with brake and throttle intervention
Electronic Stability Programme (ESP)
Fully automatic top including auto latching
Fully galvanised major body panels (except bonnet)
Light weight aluminium bonnet
Hydraulic, power assisted steering, with belt-driven pump
ReAxs system - passive rear steer
Sport Chassis Package, including 10 mm reduction in ride height
Active roll-over protection
Front seats with integrated seatbelts
Adaptive dual stage front airbags - driver & passenger
3-point seat belts (all 4 seats)
Front seat mounted head/throax side airbags
Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHRs), front
Adjustable (up/down) head restraints, rear
Automatic seatbelt pre-tensioners - front and rear
Protection against "submarining" front and rear seats
Remote entry and central locking including boot lid
Engine immobilsation via engine management system
Electronic steering column lock, engaged when ignition key is removed
Dead locks on all doors, automatically activated
Pre-wiring for anti-theft alarm
Remote anti theft alarm
Interior room colours, Parchment or Slate Grey
Luxury leather upholstered seats
Sport luxury leather (two-tone) upholstered seats
Poplar wood console trim (must be combined with Wood Leather Steering Wheel)
Matt chrome, high-tech trim
Manually adjustable front seats
Dual electric front seats, driver's with 3 position memory
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Leather steering wheel and gear lever
Wood Leather steering wheel and leather gear lever (linked to Poplar wood console trim)
Sport leather steering wheel and gear lever inc. Sentronic buttons
Adjustable driver's armrest
Heated Front Seats
Saab Information Display (SID): warning messages, clock, date, temp, fuel consumption, DTE, audio.
Driving Package (Cruise Control, Saab Car Comp: speed warning, distance, ETA, average speed)
Night panel function
Front & Rear plush textile floor mats
Auto dimming inside rear view mirror
Lockable Glovebox
Centre console with open storage front of gear lever & covered mid-compartment
Automatically expanding boot compartment (when top folds up)
Front cup holder
Sunvisors with illuminated, covered vanity mirrors
2 x 12 volt power outlets
Driver footrest
Steering wheel adjustable for reach and height
Storage compartment in doors and front seat backs
Remote comfort opening for soft-top and express down windows
Electrically operated front side windows with express down
Electrically heated and operated colour-coded door mirrors
Electrically heated glass rear window
Body coloured sill covers, fr/rr bumper apron
Sport design body-coloured sill covers, fr/rr bumper apron & visible sports exhaust
Body-coloured rear spoiler
Metallic paint (with colour-match surround trim for Lime Yellow and Steel Grey only)
Rain activated windscreen wipers
Saab Parking Assistance
Saab Audio with AM/FM radio & 7 speaker Premium 150 sound system (ES1-7)
Saab Infotainment AM/FM, tele keypad, monochrome display, 7 speaker Premium 150 Sound (ES2-7)
Saab Infotainment AM/FM, tele keypad, monochrome display, 13 speaker Prestige 300 Sound (ES2-13)
Single CD Player
6 disc in-dash CD changer module (fits behind cover in centre stack)
Steering wheel audio/telephone controls, including volume mute (TEL1)
Hands-free telephone preparation
Aerial for mobile telephone
Integrated telep. with SIMcard reader & Bluetooth telephone connectivity (TEL2) (availability TBC)
Manual levelling for asymmetric halogen headlamps
Bi-xenon headlamps with auto levelling
Headlamp washers (linked to Bi-xenon lights)
Front fog lights in lower bumper
Single rear foglight
Follow me home headlight function
High mounted centre rear brake light
Courtesy lights with front dome lamp and theatre dimming
Dual front reading spotlights with separate switches
Auxillary "entry-exit" lighting for front door footwells
Switch controls illuminated (excludes stalks, vent directions)
Illuminated luggage compartment and glovebox
Steering wheel manually adjustable for reach & height
4 individually adjustable instrument panel vents + windscreen defogger
Closable rear ventilation outlets on floor console
Heating ducts under front seats for rear passengers
Green tinted heat absorbing glass on all windows
Full-size spare wheel
Linear available with Luxury Pack option: In-dash 6-disc CD player (CDC6), Power front seats, driver's with 3 x memory (EAS2-1M), Anti-theft Alarm (ATA), Saab Parking Assistance (SPA)
Luxury Pack
Saab Sentronic 5-sp automatic
Bi-xenon head lamps
Metallic Paint (with Surround Trim)
Metallic Paint
Saab Parking Assistance
S Standard equipment O Optional equipment X Dealer accessory

Saab 9-3 New Car Reviews

Saab 9.3 Aero

08 July, 2006
With a turbocharged 2.8 litre V6!

Saab 9.3 Aero

08 July, 2006
With a turbocharged 2.8 litre V6!

Saab 9-3 Convertible Road Trip

10 December, 2005
Tackling rural Australia in a soft-top Saab

New Car Test - Saab 9-3 Linear Convertible

10 April, 2004
An open-top cruiser that you won't want to get out of.

Saab 9-3 Aero

23 August, 2003
An extremely capable and attractive sports prestige vehicle...

Saab 9-3 Automotive News

12 April, 2011

Saab 9-3X. Taking Free-Spirited Thinking Furt...

08 April, 2011

The All New Saab 9-5. Highlights.

12 February, 2009

New Saab 9-3X: The Smart All-Rounder for Outd...

30 October, 2008

New Saab Convertible Celebrates Spring with a...

02 November, 2007

New Saab 9-3 Range Renewable, Economical, Res...

12 September, 2007

Saab Turbo X :: Saab unleashes 21st century B...

16 August, 2007

Saab Black Turbo Reborn

18 June, 2007

New Saab 9-3: Leading AWD Technology, Advance...

14 May, 2007

New Saab 9-3 Range: Sharper Looks Showcase En...

04 April, 2007

Green Swede Returns to Perth

08 March, 2007

Performance and Responsibility: Saab Adds Bio...

26 October, 2006

Saab Goes Green with Even Better Performance ...

Copyright © 1996-2008 Web Publications Pty Limited. All Rights ReservedRSS|Privacy policy|Advertise|Contact Us
Consulting Services: Magento Website Development|Technologies : Magento Extensions|ReadytoShip