First Look: 2012 Saab 9-3

An all-new Saab 9-3 is still several years away, but in the meantime, the newly independent Swedish automaker will unveil a revised 2012 9-3 line at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

What’s new? Let’s start underhood. Power continues to be provided by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4, but the General Motors-sourced engines receive variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbochargers, and E85 capability for the 2012 model year. Top-end Aero models are rated at 210 horsepower, but engines fitted to entry-level Turbo4 cars see their output dialed back to 163 horsepower. Both forms, however, can be paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and can be coupled with Saab’s Haldex-sourced XWD all-wheel-drive system. We’ve been given no word yet on fuel economy ratings, but the outgoing 2.0-liter turbo had a combined EPA city/highway rating between 20 and 24 mpg, depending on transmission and drivetrain.

Outside of the engine compartment, the modest upgrades are sprinkled about the car to visually bring the 9-3 into line with the new 9-5 and 9-4x. Up front, the 2012 9-3 receives new trapezoidal lower air intakes, a larger Saab script logo, and blue-tinted headlamps. The rear end receives a script emblem in place of the company’s traditional griffin logo, while sedan models receive a standard decklid spoiler across the board. 16-inch wheels are standard across the line, although XWD models do receive 17-inch rims. Buyers will have a choice of new optional 17- and 18-inch wheels, including some patterned after the 9-5’s turbine design.

Inside, the 9-3’s cabin receives either titanium metallic or graphite fiber dash trim, depending on Turbo4 or Aero model specification. In addition to the current two-tone black and parchment leatherette seats, Saab has added a new shark grey seat fabric for the Turbo4, and irregularly ribbed grey leather skins for Aero models.

One new addition for the 2012 9-3 lineup is the new 9-3 Convertible Independence Edition, which reportedly celebrates both the 25th anniversary of Saab convertibles, and Saab’s first year of independence. Building on the top-level Aero trim, the Independence Edition receives unique amber orange metallic paint, matching orange interior stitching and accents, carbon fiber-look finish for the instrument panel trim, and unique five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. Saab will only sell 366 of these amber orange metallic drop-tops – one for each day that the company has been separated from GM.

The 2012 9-3 will continue to be available in sedan, SportCombi wagon, convertible, and 9-3x body styles. Pricing will be announced next week at the Geneva Motor Show, but we expect it to stay near to the current $29,725 base price (including destination) for a Turbo4 sedan.

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Buying Guide
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2011 Saab 9-3

2011 Saab 9-3

MSRP $28,900 Turbo4 Sedan

EPA MPG:

19 City / 28 Hwy

Horse Power:

210 @ 5500

Torque:

221 @ 2500