Three distinct varieties, given architectural names, of Saab 9-3 are currently offered. The well-equipped Linear starts the line, powered by a 175-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled engine. It is expected to be the high-volume model. The Arc (now AERO) satisfies a need for more luxury and performance, with more convenience features and a higher-boost version of the 2.0-liter engine with 210 horsepower. The Vector is the performance model, with the 210-horse engine, a sport-tuned suspensions, and interior and exterior sport styling cues.
One look at the 9-3 and there will be no doubt as to the manufacturer. The aerodynamically-rounded front, with its three-port grille flanked by covered headlights, is classic Saab but leaner and sleeker than the previous 9-3 or the 9-5. It states the car's sports mission well, particularly in the Vector, which has a lower
ride height and deeper air dam than other models, and more pronounced side sills. The bulge in the hood and slope of the windshield reinforce the 9-3's performance mission, aided by its rounded-wedge profile and high, well-defined shoulder line. The alloy wheels, shod with ultra-low profile 45-series performance tires,
fill the wheel arches. The 9-3 Vector, is a mature sports sedan, so there is no lurid wing at the back, only a discreet ducktail spoiler.COMFORT: As outside, the interior of the new 9-3 is similar to that
of its predecessor but leaner and more contemporary. It's also a touch larger. The Saab faithful will feel right at home, while newcomers will quickly appreciate the logic behind the design. And, yes, the ``key'' (now an electronic device) still goes into the center console, so as not to cause knee damage in the event of an accident.
In the Saab manner, the instrument panel has a large face that wraps around the driver, cockpit-style, to present gauges and controls in clear, logical groupings. Adjustability of the front seats, a tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel, and the close position of the gearshift lever allow nearly any driver to easily find the perfect
driving position. Although the three trim levels have slightly different interior appointments, all have leather seating. Befitting its sports mission, the Vector features more-bolstered sport seats, chrome-beveled instruments, and matte-chrome trim on the doors and console.
Saabs are designed for real-world safety, and have been since long before any government requirements. The 9-3 has the strongest safety cage of any Saab, ever, surrounding the passenger cabin, with front and rear crumple zones, side protection, active head restraints, and more passive safety features. Good handling and brakes help active safety, while several advanced antitheft systems discourage thieves.
The new 9-3 is slightly longer, wider, and lower than the car it replaces, which helps stability at speed. But increased chassis rigidity is the main benefit of the new platform, and Saab's engineers have taken advantage of this with a new suspension that features modified MacPherson struts in front and the multilink rear suspension that is designed to give a small amount of passive rear-wheel steering to reduce the front-wheel drive car's tendency to under steer. The result is top-notch front-wheel drive sports sedan handling, especially with the firmer springs and shocks in the Vector.
Saab has been a leader in turbocharging technology since the first Turbo model in the late 1970s. The 9-3's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine puts those years of expertise to good use. Although the aluminum alloy engine block is (more or less) the standard GM L850, just about everything else - the cylinder head, cams, pistons, rods, and crankshaft - is strictly Saab. Saab's Trionic series of engine management systems have always been at the forefront of electronic technology, and the Trionic 8 is no exception. It helps both versions of the engine make smooth, efficient power, with good drivability characteristics. The 2.0 in the Linear has 10.2 psi of boost, for 175 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque from 2500 to 4000 rpm. It matches well with the five-speed automatic transmission. The Arc/Aero get 12.3 psi of boost, for 210 hp at 5500 rpm, with 221 lb-ft of torque from 2300 to 4000 rpm. The excellent six-speed manual gearbox shines here, with smooth, precise linkage. Power is good at any engine speed above 2500 rpm, with an immediate turbo rush above 3500. A high 9.5:1 compression ratio makes the transition to and from turbo boost smooth and civilized.
General Motors expands the family of advanced global V-6 engines with the sophisticated 2.8L V-6 Turbo - a transverse-mounted compact and lightweight powerhouse that delivers the performance of a larger-displacement engine
The 2.8L V-6 Turbo debuts in the all-new Saab 9-3 Sport-Combi, Sedan and Convertible, continuing the brand's heritage of turbo power established in 1977. It is the most sophisticated turbocharged engine ever offered in a Saab vehicle, delivering excellent responsiveness through low-speed torque and high-rpm power as well as exceptional refinement.
Technology such as a dual-scroll turbocharger and variable intake valve timing helps the 2.8L V-6 Turbo achieve 250 horsepower (184 kw) and 258 lb.-ft. of torque (350 Nm) in the 9-3.
"The 2.8L V-6 Turbo has a strong, linear feel that gives the impression of a larger-displacement engine," said Tim Cyrus, global V-6 chief engineer. "The feeling of power is tremendous, but so is the smoothness and refinement built into the engine."
Developed in conjunction with other engines in the global V-6 family, turbo charging was designed into the architecture's structural parameters. The power train engineers' experience with turbo charging at Saab was integral in refining the engines' performance, with the 2.8L V-6 Turbo delivering maximum torque by 2,000 rpm and maintaining it through 4,500 rpm. Ninety percent of peak torque is available from just 1,500 rpm. This broad performance spectrum results in an engine that effectively offers two torque curves: a linear curve that delivers exceptional low- and mid-range torque, and higher-rpm power that benefits from the pressure of the turbocharger.
"It's almost like having two engines on tap," said Cyrus. "At low speeds, the inherent torque of the V-6 pulls strongly, but it has the power of a larger-displacement engine when the full power of the turbo system is called up."
Inside the engine
All engines in the global V-6 family share traits that include a lightweight aluminum cylinder block with iron cylinder sleeves, an aluminum structural oil pan and aluminum cylinder heads with four valves per cylinder. The 2.8L V-6 Turbo builds on those strengths with components and technology developed specifically for the turbo system, including:
Twin-scroll turbocharger delivering approximately 9 pounds of boost (0.6 bar)
Integrated charge cooling
Unique cylinder heads made from 356T-6 aluminum and featuring sodium-filled exhaust valves
Forged steel crankshaft and sinter-forged connecting rods strengthened for turbocharged loads
Pistons with anodized ring lands designed for turbocharger boost pressure
9.5:1 compression ratio
Piston oil cooling jets
Unique camshaft profiles designed for turbocharger performance
Hydro formed "dual skin" exhaust manifolds with stainless steel inner liners
Engine-mounted oil cooler
The turbo system features a unique, twin-scroll turbocharger. It has an integral bypass valve and is fed by two exhaust ducts - one from each cylinder bank. Separating the exhaust gas pulses with two compressor zones improves gas flow and reduces energy loss. The turbo system's charge cooler promotes performance by reducing the temperature of inlet air.
Additionally, the 2.8L V-6 Turbo employs a conventional, single-stage intake manifold and variable valve timing on the intake camshaft - the variable valve timing helps optimize performance and emissions control. Also, a variable fuel pressure system helps ensure smooth idle and driving characteristics. Valve timing and fuel pressure are managed by the engine's powerful controller, a 32-bit micro-hybrid system which is calibrated specifically for the turbocharged application.
The sophisticated controller operates under a torque-based engine management strategy designed to deliver smooth performance in all driving conditions. The system works with the vehicle's transmission to modulate torque, providing stirring performance and excellent engine response. The system also can limit torque in low-traction conditions, helping provide confident, sure-footed driving.