The Saab 9-3 is a compact executive car produced by the automaker Saab in Trollhättan, Sweden from 1998. The convertible (cabriolet) version was manufactured in Austria by Magna Steyr until 2010, when it was moved to Trollhättan. The 9-3 shares its GM Epsilon platform with the Opel Vectra, and with the Cadillac BLS, which was made on the same assembly line up until 2009 in Sweden. The 9-3 is currently Saab's entry-level model; between 2005 and 2006 in North America, the Subaru Impreza-based Saab 9-2X was its entry-level model.
First generation (19982002)
The first generation 9-3, a substantially improved "new-generation" Saab 900 was launched in 1998 for the 1999 model year. Saab claimed that 1,100 changes were made, including a revised suspension in an attempt to tighten up the handling characteristics of its predecessor, the Saab 900 (19941998 model). It featured slightly sleeker styling with some models sporting a black rear spoiler and removed Saab's trademark centrally mounted "snow flap". It was available as a three or five-door hatchback, and as a two-door convertible. It was the last small Saab to use the company's H engine. Notable improvements over the Saab 900 were improved ride and handling and substantially improved crash-worthiness with standard side impact airbags with head protection and active headrests. The Saab 9-3 along with the Saab 9-5 and the Volvo S70 were the first cars in the world to earn the maximum score in a side impact augmented by a pole test based on Euro NCAP testing. The 9-3 continued the Saab safety tradition of performing a Moose Test.
The 9-3 was available with a new variant of the B204 engine (B204E, 154 hp (115 kW)), a low pressure turbo (LPT) engine based on the B204L used in the last generation Saab 900. For the U.S. market, all 9-3s were turbocharged petrol engines with the "full pressure turbo" (B204L, 185 hp (138 kW)) as the standard offering, and a "HOT" (B204R, 200 hp) variant in the SE models for the 1999 model year. The 2000 model year saw a revision from SAAB's Trionic 5 to Trionic 7 engine management system. The first generation 9-3 was also the first Saab available with a diesel engine, also found in the Opel Vectra, Astra G, Signum, Zafira A.
A Saab innovation is the 'Night Panel', carried over from the Saab 900, which permits dousing of the instrument panel lighting, except for essential information, for less distraction when night driving.
A total of 326,370 first generation 9-3s were built.Source: Wikpedia Article