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Saab simplifies 9-3 model line for 2006

November 25, 2005|by KEN CHESTER, JR./Motor News Media Corp.

Directly benefiting from the deep pockets and vast engineering resources of parent General Motors, the 9-3 model lineup was designed to reaffirm Saab as a market leader in providing vehicles loaded with an array of innovative features built from the driver outward.

For 2006, Saab has simplified the 9-3 sedan lineup, combining last year's Linear and Arc models into a single base model called the 2.0T, while still offering the upscale Aero model.

Based on GM's Epsilon global architecture, the 9-3 is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine while the sophisticated Aero models are outfitted with a new 2.8-liter V-6 turbo motor. Torque is communicated to the pavement through a five-speed or six-speed manual gearbox and a five-speed Sentronic or six-speed automatic transmission.

At speed, the Saab 9-3 sedan is very maneuverable - composed when pushed hard - with a fluid response to driver inputs that is immediate and seamless. The four-door feels like it was stamped from one piece of solid steel, inspiring driver confidence. Control hardware for the sedan features a four-wheel independent suspension with MacPherson struts and anti-roll bar up front, a multi-link rear suspension featuring the rear axle with a rubber suspended subframe, anti-roll bar, one longitudinal and two transverse links and one toe link for each wheel. Twin tube gas shock absorbers hold down the four corners.

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The 9-3 chassis also features ReAxs, a chassis geometry system that allows the interaction of the steering, front suspension and multi-link rear axle to enable the rear wheels to steer slightly when turning. The system is designed to help improve directional stability and reduce understeering tendencies. The Aero adds a lowered sport chassis for improved handling and control.

Inside the elegantly stylish cabin, unique and intelligent design execution is evident. Displays are easy to read. Controls and switches are within driver's reach. Audio controls are mounted on the steering wheel for easy operation. Switches for power windows and door locks are located on the door, as opposed to the center console. Dual zone HVAC allows driver and front passenger to be comfortable in almost any climate. Seating is what is expected in a Saab - very comfortable and supportive - front and rear. The rear seat fold down completely or splits 60/40 with a pass-through for long items.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

Wheelbase: 105.3; overall length: 182.5; width: 69; height: 56.8 - measurements in inches.

Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder high-output turbo - 210 hp at 5,500 rpm and 221 lbs-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm; 2.8-liter V-6 high-output turbo - 250 hp at 5,500 rpm and 258 lbs-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm.

Transmissions: Five-speed manual, six-speed manual, five-speed automatic with Sentronic.

EPA fuel economy: 2.0-liter - 22 city/31 hwy.; 2.8-liter - 18 city/28 hwy., (manual); 17 city/28 hwy., (automatic).

Cargo capacity: 15 cubic feet

SAFETY FEATURES

Traction control, electronic stability program, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution, mechanical brake assist, rear fog light, dual front air bags, side-curtain air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, anti-theft system, engine immobilizer and daytime running lights. Aero adds xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and front fog lights.

Optional safety features include rear park assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers and DVD-based navigation system.

WARRANTY

Basic: 4-year/50,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper.

Full maintenance: 3-year/36,000 mile, no-charge scheduled maintenance.

Corrosion: 10-year/unlimited.

Roadside assistance: 4-year/50,000 mile, 24-hour.

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2006 Saab 9-3 sedan starts from $25,900 for the 2.0T and $31,900 for the Aero. Destination charges add $720.

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