June 2007 – Press Information (Global)
More Than a Convertible
The 9-3 Convertible confirms Saab’s leading position in the premium convertible segment and is the product of more than 20 years’ experience in designing four-seater, four season soft tops that are as practical as they are stylish.
The Saab Convertible has a level of structural integrity, build quality and running refinement that places it at the very top of its class. Innovative product features further develop the Saab concept that an open-top car should be ‘more than a Convertible’ by offering effective all-year-round transport. In addition to its functional qualities, the Convertible also offers strong driving appeal through sharing the excellent chassis dynamics of the 9-3 range.
The extensive engine line-up incorporates a ‘tri-fuel’ choice of gasoline, diesel or bioethanol (E85) powered engines. It is led by an all-aluminum 2.8-liter V6 turbocharged engine rated at 255 hp (188 kW); a powerful two-stage turbo diesel packing 400 Nm of torque and a choice of two Saab BioPower (E85) flex-fuel engines.
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.
• Unique ‘stand alone’ design. Scandinavian design flair that 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 any awkward styling compromises.
• Bold frontal styling. The prominent central grille with its wing motif is inspired by the Aero X concept car, as is the U-shaped pressing in that classic Saab clamshell hood. The form of the grille and headlamp units is complemented a smooth bumper molding with a deep trapezoidal air intake. .
• Clean rear deck styling. Pop-up roll bars and retractable rear head streamlined by twin fairings, hinting at Convertible’s sporty character.
• Coupé looks. The soft-top has a taut, smooth appearance through use of six cross-braces and strong 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. Color-keyed with metallic colors, it 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. Automatic self-latching to the windshield header and deploys fully in just 20 seconds. Among 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 trunk. More robust operation, better sealing.
• ‘CargoSET’ Automatic trunk expansion. Soft-top connected to flexible, ‘concertina’ storage well. When the roof is in position, the well retracts, releasing useful storage space in the trunk.
• Class-competitive 0.34 Cd (roof up). Soft-top resistant to high speed ‘ballooning’.
Interior Design and Features
The interior shares the cockpit feel and driver-focused themes of the Sport Sedan and SportCombi. Particular emphasis was placed on styling that integrates the rear passenger area, including a ‘f’ixed-head’ interior ambience.
• 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.
• 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 kept 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.
• Saab ComSense functionality minimizes potential for driver distraction through ‘dynamic workload management’, suppressing messages/phone calls, includes Night Panel instrument illumination dimming to reduce visual ‘clutter’
• ‘Light room’ or ‘dark room’ interior themes. Beige or black seats, door panels, rear side panels, lower front fascia and carpet.
• ‘Intelligent’ dual zone air conditioning. Automatic Climate Control (ACC) switches to offer manual heat settings when soft-top is lowered.
• Infotainment systems include DVD/GPS satellite navigation with large 6.5-inch color monitor, Bluetooth™ Phone Integration system (BPIS), providing automatic connection to audio system with operation by voice control or steering wheel buttons. Auxiliary input socket standard with all infotainment systems. .
• Foldable wind deflector for easy stowage among wide range of accessories.
• Choice of Linear and Vector ‘forms’, plus ‘Aero’ sporting flagship. Each with uniquely-designed seat upholstery and 16/17-inch alloy wheels. Aero adds sports bodystyling, lowered chassis and optional 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 9-3 Convertible retains the sporty handling characteristics of the Sport Sedan. The rigid body structure provides a solid foundation for suspension systems with impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness.
• ‘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 by 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.
• Minimized 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 aluminum.
Body Structure and Systems
The 9-3 Convertible was developed in tandem with Sport Sedan, ensuring all the special structural requirements for an open top car could be accommodated from the outset of design work. Structural integrity and build quality positions it at the very top of its class.
• Excellent torsional rigidity (11,500 Nm/degree), despite the absence of a fixed roof, contributes to excellent running refinement, stiff suspension mountings and a strong safety structure.
• Second ‘supplementary’ chassis. To compensate for absence of fixed roof, torsional stiffness raised by completely integrated, additional strengthening system, linking front, rear and side structures.
• High and ultra high strength steel widely used, accounting for about 60 per cent 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 kph, minimizing accident repair bills.
Fine chassis dynamics are complemented by outstanding driveability and refinement from the all-turbo powertrain line-up, which includes 2.8V6 and 2.0-liter four cylinder turbo gasoline engines, a powerful diesel with two-stage turbocharging two Saab BioPower variants. All notable for typically strong, mid-range torque characteristics.
• All-aluminum 2.8-liter turbo engine. The first six cylinder unit to be purpose-built for Saab’s turbocharged application. Offering 255 hp (188 kW), it combines multi-cylinder refinement with outstanding turbo performance. Single twin-scroll turbocharger fed by both cylinder banks.
• All-aluminium 2.0-liter turbo engines. Saab developed and tuned for 150 (110 kW), 175 (129 kW) and 210 hp (147 kW) with high torque for swift overtaking. All internal components unique to Saab. Balancer shafts for greater running refinement.
• 1.9TTiD engine with two-stage turbocharging develops 180 hp (132 kW) and exceptional torque of 400 Nm with two turbos integrated as a single unit and common rail, direct and multiple fuel injection. A 150 hp (110 kW) version with a single VNT turbocharger also offered. . A maintenance-free particulate filter is .fitted as standard.
• Choice of two BioPower engines givemore power and torque when running on E85 fuel. Saab BioPower unique in offering flex-fuel engines with enhanced performance, as well as reduced fossil CO2 emissions.
• Wide transmission choice. Uprated five and six-speed manual gearboxes, with six-speed units standard for 2.8V6, 210 hp/155 kW and 175 hp/ 129 kW turbos and both turbo diesels.. Five-speed, adaptive automatic transmission with Saab Sentronic manual gear selection and optional steering wheel controls. Six-speed units offered with the 2.8V6 turbo and turbo diesels.
Saab products consistently show well in real-life safety surveys, and the 9-3 Convertible joins 9-3 Sport Sedan in achieving a maximum five star EuroNCAP crash safety rating test study. The 9-3 Convertible meets the same crash performance targets as the sedan.
• Crash testing based on ‘real life’ research. Test and simulation configurations developed from Saab database covering more than 6,100 real-life road collisions involving Saab cars on Swedish roads.
• Wide range of crash test configurations used in development of body structure and restraint systems for 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. Optimized belt geometry regardless of seat position, also more comfortable to use.
• Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR). 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.
Exterior Design and Aerodynamics
Sporty Scandinavian Design
• Well-proportioned, ‘bespoke’ design
• Sporty styling with Scandinavian design flair
• Coupé 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 trunk feature
• Competitive 0.34 Cd with reduced lift forces
The impressive looks of the Saab 9-3 Convertible radiate power, sporty performance and great 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, top up or top down – effortlessly exchanging the looks of a sporty coupé 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 and means of deployment.
Saab has been a leading player in the premium convertible segment since exhibiting its first open top car as a design study in 1983. It 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, all year round means of transport.
The current model; breaks new ground for Saab in being developed as a separate but parallel project to the Sport Sedan, with many of its design team working on both projects in tandem.
Testimony to the essential ‘rightness’ of the final design is that the Convertible and the Sport Sedan share the same frontal bodystyling, even retaining the same rake angle for the windshield and A-pillars.
The deep, prominent evolution of the Saab grille adopts a theme first seen on the Aero X concept car. This is complemented by sweeping headlamp units that incorporate a thin ‘eyebrow’ lighting zone designed as a brand specific ‘signature’ feature. These units culminate in an upswept rear edge, introducing a Saab design theme from the 9-5 range and classic 900 model. The grille’s central wing motif is retained as a reference to Saab’s aircraft heritage..
The frontal styling sees the adoption of another Saab signature feature: a ‘clamshell’ hood, closing across the top of the front wings. The hood pressing incorporates a sweeping, U-shaped styling line, as first seen on the Aero X, which echoes the curvature of the windshield.
The swept-back frontal lines are complemented by a front bumper and splitter assembly with a deep, trapezoidal air intake, even more pronounced on Aero versions. This is flanked by deep black vents which are framed, like the grille, in a matte chrome finish. As with the Aero X concept, these represent a metaphor for the intakes of a jet engine.
In profile, the clean wedge line is typically Saab and, top down, the shape is no longer interrupted by a tower to mount the front seat-belts. 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, giving a subtle hint of the Convertible’s sporty character. The color-keyed tonneau cover is, of course, flush fitting.
Top up, the car assumes the persona of a coupé, an impression reinforced by the extremely smooth, taut lines of the soft-top and its step-less integration with the windshield header rail.
The rear of the car features large light clusters whwith frosted, white lenses, a design theme similar to that used on the Sport Sedan and SportCombi.The glass rear window is heated and the trunk lid opens through 120°, even with the top up, for good trunk access.
A new design feature, never seen before in Convertible styling, is the introduction of a distinctive Surround Trim, marking 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, visually uniting the only top exterior surfaces that ‘come inside’ when the top is up. The Surround Trim is always matched with the external color choice..
The Convertible’s soft-top and tonneau mechanism features three innovations: CargoSET automatic storage well retraction, a two-step tonneau action for quicker deployment and a light-colored 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 up, quick and easy to operate, good looking and extremely reliable.
For its latest Convertible, Saab 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 windshield header rail, and deploys fully in just 20 seconds with the engine running, making it among the 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 kph (20 mph).
The materials for the triple-skinned soft-top are also improved, with the addition of a thicker, fleece middle layer for good heat and noise insulation. The outer skin is made of an extremely tough, canvas/butyl(rubber)/canvas, weatherproof, woven fabric and the inner textile skin forms the interior headlining. There is an exterior color choice of black, blue or beige.
To save weight, the soft-top’s frame, the swivelling braces and the large padded front rail which connects to the windshield header, are all made from magnesium. To ensure robustness, steel is used only for the soft-top’s pivoting side brackets.
Great attention has been given to effective sealing in order to prevent drafts, 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 that occupants can listen comfortably to the audio system or chat easily with the top in position at speeds up to 200 kph (125 mph).
Looks in this class of car are even more important than functionality and the soft-top has a taut and smooth appearance, more like that of a fixed roof on a coupé. 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 whole soft-top is finally tensioned by locking braces at the rear, instead of the front, which helps 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 9-3 Convertible is first on the market to offer a light colored headlining for all interiors.
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 extremely elegant, two-stage operation, being completely raised horizontally and then moved rearwards, parallel to the top of the trunk.
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 towards improved reliability and better seating and sealing.
The final innovation is a practical feature: raising the roof automatically raises the capacity of the trunk. The CargoSET (Self-Expanding Trunk) feature directly links the soft-top’s rearmost hinge mechanism to the flexible, ‘concertina’ storage well in the trunk. 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 trunk to accommodate two golf bags.
The design and operation of the 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 meters 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
In the field of aerodynamics, the performance of Saab products is optimized 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 coefficient of drag. Important, of course, but in everyday driving conditions it is seldom a major factor for long enough. A shape that cleaves the air as efficiently as possible is, of course, important but good high speed stability, excellent weatherproofing, low wind noise inside the car and optimised fuel consumption are also areas where the aero team has an input. Simply quoting a Cd value hardly does their work justice.
For instance, a great deal of time was spent testing for yaw behavior and stability in cross-winds at different speeds and angles. It is also important to know how a car behaves when passing or being passed closely at speed by large vehicles, as well as how much and where any grime builds up on the car. Questions that are best answered by testing in real road conditions, outside the laboratory.
The Convertible’s roof-up drag coefficient is a class competitive 0.34 but, probably more important, major strides have been made in improving high speed stability by keeping rear lift forces low and consistent.
A smooth airflow over, around, through and under the car is important, with particular attention paid to points of flow separation at the rear in order to reduce the size of wake turbulence and improve stability. Here the focus was on the shaping of corner radii and the curvatures at the rear of the roof and the sides of the car..
The behavior of the Convertible’s roof, particularly its effectiveness in resisting ‘ballooning’ at speed and in its seating on the side windows was closely studied. As there is no monoside upper door closure for a Convertible, the effect of the windows being ‘sucked’ outwards, by the difference in outside and inside air pressure, with undesirable consequences for wind noise, had to be addressed. It is actually the same effect that causes ‘ballooning’ or flapping.
At the front, the rear edge of the hood lid ‘kicks up’ to smooth the passage of air on to and around the windshield. 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 windshield 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 optimized 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 visibility 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 their efforts where the return is 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 minimize the accumulation of road grime on the wheel rims.
Airflow under the hood, 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 during development, 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 optimization 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 visualization of airflow and speeded up optimization 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 and Features
Flair and Functionality
• Integration of front and rear passenger areas
• ‘Fixed-head’ interior ambience
• Light colored headlining brightens interior – Saab ‘first’
• Unique front seats with integrated seat-belts
• Hydroblox water repellent textile upholstery – Saab ‘first’
• Profiler customization function
• Saab ComSense driver safety function to minimize distraction
• Two interior ‘forms’ – Linear and Vector
• Easy entry/exit for rear passengers
• ACC switches to heat settings with soft-top down – unique feature
As you would expect from Saab, there is more to the design of its Convertible than good looks alone. The current model offers a level of interior comfort and refinement and is, without doubt, the biggest step forward Saab has made in more than 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, that is typically Scandinavian and could only come from Saab.
The high quality materials include the use of Hydroblox, the first water repellent seat upholstery to be 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 the driver is caught in a shower of rain, for example, before being able to raise the soft-top.
The membrane has billions of tiny perforations as small as one micron in size which prevent water, but not air, passing through so that the fabric can still ‘breathe’. Hydroblox is fitted as standard for the Linear specification interior. It is, of course, not necessary for leather upholstery.
The standard of fit and finish throughout is everything you would expect – and more – from a premium-class 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.
Attention to detail, so typical of Saab, is everywhere to be seen, no more so than in the rear passenger compartment. In design terms, this relatively small part of the interior of convertibles has become somewhat 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 this 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 seen. 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 is not compromised by packaging requirements.
The integration of the front and rear areas is, of course, further reinforced by the unique Surround Trim styling line, described in the exterior design.
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 a light, parchment colored interior headlining that is fitted almost seamlessly inside the soft-top.
Saab has led the premium convertible segment in introducing a light coloredheadlining for the soft-top as part of the car’s standard specification. It contributes to an interior that is lighter and more welcoming than that of other convertibles, where the headlining may often be black
The feeling of being inside a fixed-head 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 parchment colored header rail matches the headlining. It is slim and completely padded, locating invisibly on the windshield header where the small light console reinforces the impression of being under a permanent roof.
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 demonstrate Saab’s excellent reputation for class-leading seating comfort.Both the seat cushion and back rest are deeply bolstered, giving good lateral and under thigh support without restricting seating comfort.
Both seats are manually adjustable for fore/aft movement, back-rest rake and height. Optional electrically-powered seats also have a driver’s memory setting and a pneumatic lumbar support adjustment.
The seats have also been designed to provide easy entry/exit for rear seat passengers, allowing up to 243 mm of forward movement on their runners. On manual seats, this is done by simply lifting a 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 a light pressure of seven kilos, equivalent to the modest effort required to push a drawer closed at home.
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. For safety reasons, the seat will stop moving if the lever is released at any time.
Rear entry/exit is also greatly facilitated by the adoption of integrated seat-belts, used by Saab for the first time on a convertible, 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 any 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).
The Convertible offers 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 a wide range of adaptation.
The main instrument panel gently arcs round the driver, as in the Sport Sedan. In typical Saab fashion, the controls are all logically grouped, those most frequently used bring 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 kph, flanked by a smaller rev-counter and a combined fuel/water temperature/turbo boost gauge – are recessed in traditional Saab fashion. 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, according to specification, a 6.5 inch, high resolution monitor screen displaying particularly clear graphics.
The Profiler facility, offering driver pre-sets for a wide range of functions is operated via steering wheel buttons with on-screen prompts and selections shown in the main instrument display. Automatic climate control modes, the clock/alarm, speed scale illumination and, where fitted, the anti-theft alarm, parking assistance, rain sensitive wipers and heated seats can all be tailored in this way.
Saab has been seeking to minimize potential driver distraction for many years and the 9-3 Convertible has Saab’s ComSense safety function, which includes the use of a ‘dynamic workload manager’ introduced with the first generation Saab 9-5 sedan in 1997. This enables the brief suppression of dashboard warning messages, or the interception of an incoming call on the integrated telephone, when a moment of high driver workload is detected by the operation of the indicators or heavy braking.
In the same way, the Night Panel feature allows the driver to minimize distraction by switching off, or dimming, all the main instrumentation illumination at night (except for the speedometer). The development of steering wheel controls for the audio system and telephone, as well as voice activation programs, are seen as further means of keeping the driver’s attention on the road.
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 and accommodates optional controls for the audio system and the Sentronic automatic transmission.
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 and handbrake..
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. In true Saab tradition, 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.
The interior can specified in a choice of two ‘Forms’, or design themes, both Scandinavian-inspired for a distinctive, modern feel. The names of the forms – Linear and Vector – are derived from the world of architecture, each creating its own atmosphere inside the car. The style and design of the seat upholstery is unique to the Convertible.
Each form can be specified in a ‘light room’ (parchment) or ‘dark room’ (black) color scheme, including seats, door panels, rear side panels, the lower front fascia and other main trim items. The carpet remains black in both cases.
The line-up starts with ‘Linear’, a line or base element in architecture, although the trim is hardly basic as the seats are part upholstered in the innovative, water repellent Hydroblox textile.
‘Vector’ is more progressive and performance-focused, the mood changing to ‘industrial high tech’. The leather seats have optional contrasting black panels in the cushion and back-rest. The door and glove box trim inserts and the gear shift molding and steering wheel are now finished in matt chrome.
Aero’ is, of course, the ultimate performance expression of the Saab 9-3 Convertible and this interior adds a sports steering wheel with distinctive matt chrome inserts in the leather rim, a design inspired by the control column of an aircraft – hinting at Saab’s aviation heritage. A rear spoiler is also fitted as standard.
A superb premium leather interior is offered as an option on all variants, including seats, door trims and armrests. The soft, luxurious feel of this leather is a result of its semi-aniline finish. The seats are bolstered further and available in parchment, black or a black/shark combination.
Heating and Ventilation
All variants are fitted with a highly efficient, automatic climate control (ACC) system. which have been adapted for the specific 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, taking into account the different thermal properties of the soft-top and the smaller side window area.
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 functions 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 the driver, for example, may wish to keep alert by having a slightly cooler setting.
It also switches automatically 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, the driver and front passenger can 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 optional front seats are included within automatic climate control, which will start and 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 customization 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, its 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 electrically-adjustable seats.
The main storage compartment in the central console between the seats can be specified to incorporate coin slots and a 12-volt outlet for a battery charger, as well as a smaller roll-top compartment with a cup-holder.
A near accessory item can probably be described as the ‘world’s most advanced cup-holder’. 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 9-3 range, Saab was also determined to create something special as a 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.
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).
Fiber 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 utilized by all three audio system options and, where fitted, the Bluetooth Phone Integration System (BPIS), which features voice control, the GPS navigation system with DVD reader and the OnStar telematics service (US market only).
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.
A choice of three ‘infotainment’ systems is offered, each of which includes a CD player compatible with MP3 music discs. Also fitted as standard is an auxiliary audio input. 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 BPIS microphone is also installed in the driver’s side A-pillar for convenient use in open top conditions.
The standard ‘Saab Infotainment’ system includes an RDS radio and single-slot CD player, ‘Saab Infotainment CD Changer’ adds an in-dash 6-disc facility and ‘Saab Infotainment Plus’ includes a satellite navigation with a large, 6.5 inch color touch-screen and voice control. In addition to a ‘bird’s eye view’ map selection, direction arrows are now shown on the touch-screen.
All three ‘infotainment’ systems can be combined with a hands-free mobile phone facility, the Bluetooth Phone Integration System (BPIS). After an initial ‘pairing’ set-up procedure, a Bluetooth-enabled phone will automatically connect wirelessly to the audio system whenever the user enters the car. The phone is then operated by voice control or steering wheel buttons, with call information shown in the main instrument display. For recharging and connection to the car’s external antenna, a phone dock in the center console is available as an accessory.
Chassis, Steering, Brakes
Open top dynamics for the open road
• 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®
The fine chassis dynamics of the Saab 9-3 Convertible deliver the kind of on-the- road performance that is promised by its sporty looks and purposeful stance. Of course, that is hardly surprising since it shares the core chassis and suspension components of the widely-acclaimed 9-3 Sport Sedan and SportCombi.
The Convertible’s impressive chassis composure, handling agility and ride refinement place it among the very best on the market.
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.
A rigid body structure and optimized suspension are the foundations on which the Convertible’s chassis poise, refinement and impressively low levels of noise, vibration and harshness have been developed..
These 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), all fitted as standard. A Saab-tuned ESP® (Electronic Stability Program) is standard for Aero and optional .on other variants..
Today’s premium convertible customers are prepared to make few, if any, concessions to the absence of a fixed roof. Inherent losses in body rigidity must, therefore, be largely recovered by careful design, particularly around suspension mounting points, to prevent the chassis’s handling and ride composure being compromised.
The work of the chassis engineers was made easier by the Convertible’s separate, but parallel, development program alongside the Sport Sedan.. They benefited from the strategic decisions made by structural engineers to ensure that the architecture and ‘hard points’ for the 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).
Compared to the 9-3 Sport Sedan, the weight distribution of the Convertible is slightly more favourable, in part due 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 per cent increase in kerb weight.
To deliver the high standard of ride quality expected in this class of car, engineers have also sought to minimize 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.
In order to maintain a consistent suspension geometry – as well as helping to raise the chassis’s torsional rigidity – bracing rods are bolted to the rear sub-frame. These ‘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.
And to further eliminate the possibility of any slight movement, four metal sleeves, instead of polymer bushes, are used at both the front and rear sub-frame mounting points.
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, and 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, like 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 optimizing 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 Convertible’s sporty handling characteristics are rewarding and ‘involving’ for the driver due to a unique, passive rear wheel steer characteristic, known as Saab ReAxs, first seen on the 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 will 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, 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 its 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.
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, in order the give the driver 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 9-3 Convertible continues this tradition. The hydraulic pump is camshaft-driven with gasoline engines and the rack is mounted low down at the back of the front sub-frame. With diesel engines, an electro-hydraulic system is fitted, which uses a pump driven by a computer-controlled electric motor as a further contribution to improved fuel consumption.
The geometry and tuning of the front and rear suspensions also combine to give the steering its distinctive feel, linearity and responsiveness. At 2.97 turns from lock to lock, it is the quickest steering yet fitted to a Saab car.
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.
In EU specification, three brake sizes are fitted according to engine power. For all four cylinder engines, except the 210hp and 200 hp BioPower versions, 285 mm front (ventilated) and 278 mm solid rear discs are fitted. For the 210 hp and 200 hp BioPower engines, they are 302/292 mm (both ventilated) and for the Aero 2.8V6 turbo and TTiD engines these are increased to 314/292 mm.
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) 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 more effectively.
A four channel ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) 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), which is activated when the car is cornering under heavy braking. Brake pressure is individually varied between all four wheels so as to keep the car stable, minimising any snap oversteer or understeer characteristics.
Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) ensures an optimum braking force is always applied at both axles for maximum stability under heavy braking.
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 9-3 Convertible can be supplemented by the option of an advanced, Saab-tuned ESP® system, which is designed to gently counteract over-exuberance or misjudgements from the driver.
It has been honed by technicians using dedicated software to match the behavior 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.ESP® is fitted as standard with the Aero 2.8V6 turbo engine and is specially tuned for sporty driving, intervening progressively when the limits of adhesion are being reached.
A yaw sensor in the center 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 actions 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.
All Turbo Engine Line-up
• ‘Tri-fuel’ choice includes gasoline, diesel and BioPower (E85)
• Range-topping all-aluminum, 255 hp/188 kW, 2.8V6 Turbo
• New 180 hp/132 kW two-stage turbo diesel: class-leading performance/economy
• Aluminum 2.0 turbo offering 150 hp/110 kW, 175 hp/129 kW or 210 hp/155 kW
• 150 hp/110 kW, 1.9TiD engine for strong performance with frugal fuel consumption
• Choice of two Saab BioPower (E85) flex-fuel engines
The fine chassis dynamics of the Saab 9-3 Convertible are complemented by the outstanding drivability and refinement of an all turbo powertrain line-up that includes engines fuelled by gasoline, diesel and bioethanol (E85). Saab becomes the first manufacturer to offer a premium-class convertible able to run on eco-friendly, E85 fuel.
All aluminum 2.8-liter V6 Turbo
This sophisticated 255 hp (188 kW) engine is exclusive to the top-of-the-line Aero model. Maximum torque of 350 Nm is generated from just 1,800 rpm all the way to 5,000 rpm, with 90 per cent of this value available from an exceptionally low 1,500 rpm.
With a 60º vee-angle between its cylinder banks for perfect balance, the engine combines excellent multi-valve refinement with outstanding performance. The all aluminum construction provides a light and compact architecture, well suited to its transverse, front-wheel-drive installation in the Saab 9-3.
The cylinder heads, each with double chain-driven overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder, are of high specification aluminum and unique to this turbocharged application. The design ensures enhanced heat resistance under 85 bar cylinder pressures, as well as minimum maintenance costs.
Also unique are pistons with hard anodized ring grooves for durability and under-skirt oil jet cooling, together with steel con-rods that are strengthened by sinter-forging, a process that involves molding metal in a powered form. The exhaust valves are filled with sodium to further enhance cooling. The cylinders have cast iron liners and a bore/stoke of 89.00 / 74.8 mm.
For improved engine breathing, variable cam phasing on the inlet side is electronically controlled and hydraulically actuated, allowing continuously variable adjustment through 50º of crankshaft rotation. On the road, this translates to a more flexible power delivery and better fuel economy under different engine loads.
A die-cast aluminum oil sump is designed to increase structural stiffness and the strong, four-bearing crankshaft is made from micro-alloy forged steel, a specification more commonly seen in competition performance or diesel engines. Together with a dual-mass flywheel, these elements further reduce unwanted noise and vibration, ensuring smooth and refined performance.
The twin-scroll, water-cooled Mitsubishi TDO4-15TK turbocharger, operates at 0.6 bar maximum boost with intercooling and an integral by-pass valve. It is mounted centrally above the transmission and fed by both banks of cylinders. The use of two separate inlet tracts, one for each cylinder bank, separates the exhaust gas pulses, improving gas flow, reducing energy losses and raising turbocharger efficiency. The turbine wheel is made from a special high-grade steel alloy, commonly used in the turbocharged engines of world championship rally cars, which is resistant to erosion, cracking and creeping under high temperatures and centrifugal forces.
Also unique are double-skin exhaust manifolds, which are hydroformed with stainless steel liners to improve cold start emissions by minimizing heat absorption to the manifold. Air injection into each manifold for up to 30 seconds after a cold start also helps the central pre-catalyst, positioned upstream of the main catalytic converter, achieve ‘light off’, its effective working temperature, as early as possible.
The 32-bit engine management system, with software calibrated specifically for the Saab 9-3 application, utilizes a torque-based engine control strategy and direct coil-over-plug ignition with a robust engine-mounted control unit. Ignition timing, fuel injection, turbo boost pressure, air mass measurement and the throttle setting are all key engine functions controlled by the software.
The sophisticated control strategy is 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 can also limit torque in low-traction conditions, helping provide confident, sure-footed driving. Variable fuel pressure further contributes to smooth idle and driving characteristics.
For driving comfort, control of the electronic throttle through the movement of the accelerator pedal is programmed to be sensitive to different driving conditions, with greater pedal movement introduced at lower vehicle speeds, such as when maneuvering or parking. At low engine speeds, the engine control system also brings the turbo in quickly by momentarily opening the throttle slightly more than requested by the driver.
Impressive on-the-road performance is typified by a superb low-speed engine response, attributable to the careful programming of the engine management software and the increased engine capacity. Under a full throttle load at take-off or low engine speeds, 90 per cent of maximum acceleration is delivered within one second.
The fast, but controlled, torque build-up immediately above the 720 rpm idle speed is delivered with a turbine-like smoothness. For the top-of-the-line 9-3 Aero Convertible, the result is zero to 100 kph acceleration in a rapid 7.2 seconds and 80-120 kph in fifth gear in just 8.6 seconds. Careful tuning of the Aero’s twin sports exhausts downstream of the main catalyst adds a distinctive, exhilarating engine note.
Overall, the engine’s high level of performance and six cylinder refinement perfectly complements the Convertible’s superb chassis dynamics, giving a truly rewarding, fun-to-drive experience.
Choice of Two Diesel Engines
The new 9-3 range features the introduction of a powerful new four cylinder diesel engine with a unique two-stage turbocharging system, a world ‘first’ in the premium segment, giving class-leading levels of efficiency.
The 1.9-liter, 16-valve engine, badged TTiD, produces 180 hp/ 132 kW and 400 Nm of maximum torque, specific power outputs that are unmatched among competitor products on the market. In-gear performance is on a par with the 2.8V6 turbo gasoline engine
The two-stage turbocharger housing is integrated with the exhaust manifold and contains two turbochargers of different sizes. The pair of turbine/compressor wheels are sequentially mounted and each is able to by-pass the input and output feeds of the other, while also being able to operate in tandem
This arrangement provides a driver with ‘the best of both worlds’: good, instant torque at low engine speeds – via the low-inertia small turbo when the exhaust pressure is light – and strong ‘top end’ power at higher revolutions, when the bigger turbo is engaged.
Saab’s two-stage turbocharging uses a system of by-pass valves that directs the exhaust gas stream between the two turbine wheels and also separates the air intake charge from the compressors. From tick-over to 1,500 rpm the exhaust feeds only the small turbo. Between 1,500 and 3,000 rpm the flow is split between both turbines, giving stronger boost and ensuring a smooth transition phase to full power operation, above 3,000 rpm, when only the larger turbo is engaged.
The compact design provides more efficient packaging than systems using two separate turbochargers linked together externally in series. It ensures that the complex control and regulation of gas flows on both the exhaust turbine and intake compressor sides is achieved with a minimal number of seals and connections.
The TTiD engine is a substantial development of the current 16-valve 1.9TiD unit, using common rail, direct and multiple fuel injection. It operates with a maximum boost pressure of 1.8 bar (1.4 bar for the current engine) together with a slightly lower compression ratio of 16.5: 1 (17.5:1). The cast-iron block, alloy cylinder head and all internal components are strengthened as necessary to withstand the higher thermal pressures.
The exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) system is characterized by extremely efficient cooling and now includes an electronically controlled by-pass for improved emissions. This feature, together with the fitment of a maintenance-free exhaust particulate filter, is expected to ensure compliance with more stringent future Euro 5 emissions.
Other technical enhancements include the adoption of a larger air-to-air intercooler, for better cooling of the intake charge; the introduction of more efficient pre-heating elements inside the cylinder head for faster starting in cold conditions; and the use of a weight saving plastic intake manifold.
The Saab TTiD engine meets a growing demand from drivers unwilling to sacrifice performance in the interests of fuel economy. With power characteristics typical of a much larger engine, it is an example of Saab’s commitment to ‘right-sizing’, the achievement of ‘big’ engine performance without the usual drawbacks, such as extra weight, bulk and higher fuel consumption.
In recognition of its outstanding performance, the Saab TTiD engine is available in Aero specification, as well as Linear and Vector. It comes with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions,
This new engine is offered in addition to the current single turbo, 150 hp/110 kW version. This gives strong torque of 320 Nm between 2,000 and 2,750 rpm, with at least 90% generated between 1,750 and 3,250 rpm.
A variable geometry (VNT) turbocharger is used for good low-end response, together with a dual-mass flywheel for greater running refinement. The weight-saving intake manifold is in pressure cast aluminum and electronically-controlled exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) is used for quick warm-up and low emissions. A maintenance-free exhaust particulate filter is also available.
In-gear acceleration, the most important feature for everyday driving, is on a par with the 210 hp (155 kW) gasoline engine and the zero to 100 kph dash is accomplished in a brisk 10.4 seconds. With combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.3 liter/100km (7.0 for automatic) showing a 25 per cent gain over the 150 hp, 1.8t gasoline engine, this turbo diesel offers an appealing combination of performance, refinement and economy.
An electro/hydraulic power steering system is fitted with the both diesel engines. This helps to further optimize fuel consumption by utilizing electric power during low-speed maneuvering, when more steering assistance is required, as well as minimizing mechanical losses.
Lightweight 2.0-liter Turbo, choice of three power ratings
The compact, all-aluminum, four cylinder 2.0-liter gasoline engine has a block perfectly ‘square’ in configuration, 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, for improved refinement, and an integrated oil cooler. It is controlled by the latest Trionic 8 version of Saab’s own, in-house engine management system, among the most sophisticated of its kind in commercial production.
All 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 reprofiled camshafts. The cylinder head is a unique alloy casting optimized for turbocharging, with substantially revised inlet porting, modified inlet valves and sodium-filled 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 Mitsubishi TD04 turbocharger, with an integrated by-pass valve, is used together with intercooling in all applications. It operates at 0.5, 0.7 and 0.85 bar maximum boost pressures, respectively, for the 150 hp (110 kW), 175 hp (129 kW) and 210 hp (155 kW) engines. The latter also has altered valve timing.
The power characteristics of all variants help set new Saab standards for four cylinder engine refinement, throttle response and progressive torque delivery, as well as yielding competitive fuel consumption and low CO2 emissions.
In common with all Saab gasoline engines, outstanding levels of torque are generated at low engine speeds, with at least 90 per cent of peak values available from just below 2,000 rpm.
Maximum power and torque figures are as follows:
150 hp (110kW) at 5,500 rpm, 240 Nm at 2,000 – 3,500 rpm. (Badged 1.8t)
175 hp (129 kW) at 5,500 rpm, 265 Nm at 2,500 – 3,500 rpm. (Badged 2.0t).
210 hp (155 kW) at 5,300 rpm, 300 Nm at 2,500 – 4,000 rpm. (Badged 2.0T).
The 32-bit Saab Trionic 8 engine management system, incorporating direct ignition, is torque-based and specifically developed to meet to the needs of turbocharged engines. In common with the 2.8V6 turbo engine management system, it controls ignition timing, fuel injection, turbo boost pressure, air mass measurement and the throttle setting.
The torque delivery of the engine is noticeably ‘linear’, encouraging the driver to hold intermediate gears for longer periods. Under acceleration, Trionic will control engine torque if there is insufficient grip available at a requested throttle opening and it will also cushion the transitory effects of large accelerator pedal movements in order to maintain a smooth power delivery. As with the 2.8V6 turbo engine, the degree of required pedal movement is related to the driving situation and the control of the electronic throttle is optimized for a quick turbo response.
Saab Trionic 8 is unique in using the spark plugs as sensors to monitor ionization rates during ignition. It is able to individually control the combustion process for each cylinder, detecting any combustion malfunction before it may become critical.
Unique Saab BioPower Choice
Saab leads the premium segment in offering ‘flex-fuel’ BioPower engines, which can run on gasoline and/or bioethanol (E85), a renewable fuel with a reduced CO2 impact. As well as being kinder to the environment, Saab BioPower is also the only flex-fuel technology that uses turbocharging to deliver increased power and performance.
In combining the benefits of ‘going green’ with the enjoyment of even sportier performance, the development of BioPower reflects Saab’s brand values. It also offers a very practical solution to the environmental needs of customers because a BioPower engine can run on gasoline, without adjustment from the driver, in any proportion if E85 fuel (85% bioethanol/15% gasoline) is not available. With BioPower there is no loss of luggage space or additional weight because the same standard tank is used for both fuels.
The Saab 9-3 Convertible now features the introduction of a 2.0t BioPower engine, in addition to the current version. Running on E85, the 2.0t BioPower engine delivers 14% more maximum power (200 hp/ 147 kW.v 175 hp/ 129 kW) and 13% more torque (300 v 265 Nm). This gives projected zero to 100 kph acceleration in 8.2 sec and 80 to 120 kph in fifth gear in 11.2 sec, compared to 9.0 sec and 12.5 sec, respectively, on gasoline.
On E85, the current BioPower engine delivers 17% more maximum power (175 hp/129 kW v 150 hp/111 kW) and 10% more torque (265 v 240 Nm) than on gasoline. In the 9-3 Convertible, that translates to projected zero to 100 kph acceleration in 8.9sec and 80 to 120 kph in fifth gear in 15.9 sec, compared to 10.5 sec and 17.5 sec, respectively, on gasoline.
E85 has a higher octane rating (104 RON) than gasoline (95 RON), and turbocharging with Saab BioPower allows the use of a higher boost pressure and more advanced ignition timing than is possible with gasoline. This gives more engine power, without risk of harmful ‘knocking’ or pre-detonation.
Saab’s 32-bit Trionic 8 engine management system controls the throttle setting, ignition timing, fuel injection, air mass and turbo boost pressure. It is a powerful platform that has facilitated software re-programming to accommodate the different ignition timing and fuel/air mixture requirements of E85. The only hardware modifications necessary to the all-aluminum engine are the fitment of more durable valves and valve seats. Bioethanol-compatible materials are also used in the fuel system, including the tank, pump, lines and connectors.
Trionic monitors fuel quality after every visit to the filling station and automatically makes any adjustments necessary for running on E85 and/or gasoline in any combination.
Bioethanol is produced from a wide range of agricultural crops and biomass. Unlike gasoline, its consumption does not raise atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main ‘greenhouse’ gas that contributes to climate change. This is because emissions during driving are balanced by the amount of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere when crops for conversion are grown. Bioethanol is sold in Sweden, and a growing number of other European markets, as E85 fuel.
A six-speed automatic transmission is offered for the 2.8V6 Turbo and both diesel engines. A five-speed version is available on all other engines, with an additional ‘5+2’ transmission exclusive to the 210 hp (155 kW) unit, introducing two intermediate gears, ‘2.5’ and ‘3.5’, for greater access to acceleration on kick-down.
All transmissions include ‘Saab Sentronic’, a sequential manual gearshift giving closer driver involvement. When the shift lever is moved across the gate to ‘manual’ Sentronic mode, ‘up’ and ‘down’ changes can be made with full lock-up in 3/4/5 or 6th gears. This process can be taken a step further by the option of steering wheel buttons, which bring gear-shifting right to the fingertips of the driver.
A ‘Sport Mode’ can also be activated via an instrument panel button which aligns automatic gear selection more closely with the intentions of the driver. If the driver momentarily lifts of the throttle, the current gear will be held for more effective engine braking and a quicker acceleration when required. Downshifts are also more closely matched to the rate of vehicle deceleration under braking.
In automatic mode, these ‘smart’ transmissions from Asin AW are adaptive to driver usage patterns and prevailing road conditions, fully exploiting Saab turbo power characteristics. The transmission can sense changes in engine performance, engine load, road gradient or altitude and will quickly find the ‘right’ gear without any irritating ‘hunting’.
The close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox, standard for all engines except the 150 hp turbo, has dual output shafts for compact design and to lower transmission vibrations.
On all manual gearboxes, gear change quality is enhanced by the adoption of a cable linkage, instead of rods, from the gear lever. The driver enjoys a faster change with a much smoother and more positive feel. Noise resonance and vibration are also reduced.
Body, Electrical and Lighting
• Excellent torsional rigidity
• Unique supplementary platform
• Firm foundation for improved refinement and chassis dynamics
• Second-generation ‘crash boxes’ help prevent body damage
• Multiplex digital signal network for fast control of all major functions
• Powerful screen washing system
The body structure of the 9-3 Convertible is essentially an open ‘uni-body’ fabricated from steel beams and pressings with all external parts galvanized. Structural engineers 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 per cent of its 383 structural body parts are unique to the Convertible, and 60 per cent 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 latest Saab 9-3 product range, designers and engineers were for the first time able to ensure that the needs of a Convertible variant 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. The result is a convertible that shares 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 9-3 Convertible’s body structure is exceptionally stiff and among the strongest in its class, with a torsional rigidity of 11,500 Nm/degree of deflection. It is high torsional rigidity that helps give that reassuring ‘hewn for solid’ 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 resonances.
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, engineers have successfully installed what is, in effect, a second or ‘parallel’ structure within the car’s 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’, 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 as the ‘C’-pillars are no longer connected by the beams 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 per cent larger cross-section, than those of the sedan. They 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 windshield 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, about 3.5 tonnes.
As the final pieces of the ‘second chassis’ jigsaw, both the front and rear sub-frames are now bolted directly to the body with steel collars, for extra stiffness, instead of polymer bushes. At the rear, two diagonal ‘V-rods’ are also bolted in position as bracings, linking the sub-frame on each side to the mounting of the trailing arm in the rear suspension.
A novel ‘off-set’ spot-welding technique has been developed which can bridge a gap of 40 mm, eliminating any potential weak links or connections where more than two thicknesses of steel are welded together.
The front and rear bodywork is protected by ‘self-repairing’ bumper assemblies, which can absorb impacts up to 8 kph in order to minimize damage and the need for repair. The bumper ‘skins’ are easy and quick to replace after a minor collision. A very practical benefit in minimizing the nuisance and cost of those little ‘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, preventing 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 impact s up to 15 kph. The boxes are bolted and lightly welded to the front beam to make their replacement simple.
For the 9-3 series, an aluminum hood has been adopted, saving 50 per cent, or 9 kilos, in weight compared to steel. It is also slightly stiffer and more resistant to dents.
All major mechanical and electrical functions in the 9-3 Convertible, including numerous driver and passenger comfort features, are precisely and reliably controlled through an advanced digital signal network.
The entire electronic and electrical network uses databus transmission – often referred to a ‘multiplexing’ – to connect groups of electrical sub-systems and to pass on signals from all 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.
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’, stopping 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 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 kilos, and be twice as long, at 1,600 meters!
A single wire highway, or ‘low speed’ Bus, with a capacity of 33 kbits 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, engine management systems, 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 kbits per second.
The third highway is utilized by all three audio system options, the GPS navigation system with DVD reader and the advanced voice recognition (AVR) function. These systems are described further in the ‘Interior Design and Features’ section.
The fast moving world of information technology is likely to place increasing demands on the ‘in-car’ time of drivers and passengers and the latest Saab 9-3 series is configured to accommodate all likely future developments in digital communication to and from the car.
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, of course, an essential element of driving safety.
The headlights of the 9-3 Convertible are housed within neatly integrated units made from molded clear plastic, which is lighter and less prone to damage from stone chips, cracking and condensation than glass.
The standard equipment headlights use halogen bulbs behind projector units to give excellent illumination, while customers can also go one step further by specifying exceptionally powerful bi-xenon lights..
These gas discharge bulbs give an extremely bright, much whiter light than halogen units and Saab was among the first to offer this technology for both dipped and main 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, giving a spread of light 60 per cent better.
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 for any changes in attitude of the body. As a further refinement, steering linked bi-xenon lights can also be specified to give an improved field of vision when cornering.
The performance of the headlamps, no matter how powerful, is badly compromised if the lens becomes caked in grime. Powerful spray jets, working at 3.5 bar pressure, keep the plastic units clean.
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 no longer necessary.
The high level brake light on the top edge of the trunk lid is an LED unit, which illuminates more quickly than a conventional bulb, thus giving a more efficient warning signal.
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, all working under high pressure with twice the power of other systems on the market. It is cleaning power designed to shift the most stubborn of deposits.
The wipers are two speed with an infinitely variable intermittent wipe. An automatic rain-sensing function is available as an option, including driver adjustment for sensitivity.
In true Saab tradition, the 5.0 liter washer reservoir is exceptionally large, with two liters more capacity than normal. User trials show that jets working at such high pressure do not, in fact, require more washer fluid because they are generally used in shorter bursts.
World class Safety inspired by Real Life Experience
• Crash safety based on ‘real life’ research
• 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
• Maximum 5-star EuroNCAP crash safety rating
• Excellent driving safety with MBA,CBC, EBD and optional ESP®
Saab has a long tradition of successful work with 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 consistently shown well, several times being ranked best in their segment. The 9-3 Convertible is also the first soft-top model to achieve EuroNCAP’s maximum crash test rating, joining the Sport Sedan with 5 stars.
For Saab, car safety involves two key areas: crash safety (often called passive safety) and driving (or active) safety. The 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 engineers to increase safety levels for the 9-3 Convertible. In doing so, they have succeeded in meeting crash safety performance targets which are the same as those of the Sport Sedan.
Greatly improved chassis dynamics, including steering, brakes and lights, keep the driver even more in control and, therefore, less likely 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) and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) as standard and an optional ESP® (Electronic Stability Program). These systems are described in the Chassis section.
The Saab Comsense function (described in the Interior Features section) also plays a role in improving driving safety by minimizing the potential for driver distraction through the operation of ‘dynamic workload management’.
Crash Safety based on ‘Real Life’ research
Computer simulations and crash testing at Saab are designed to replicate what happens in real collisions on real roads, based on the findings of a database covering more than 6,100 real-life accidents, including the Saab 9-3 and Saab 9-5, on Swedish roads.
During the Saab 9-3 product development program, the structural design of the car and the deployment of its occupant protection systems were evaluated not only in consumer and legally required crash tests, but also in a large number of additional in-house configurations, taking occupants of different sizes into consideration. Prototype tests were carried out in the laboratory and outdoors in a wide range of speeds and configurations.
However, advanced crash simulations, using finite element methods (FEM) and drawing on Saab’s extensive experience, help to find solutions before any prototypes are built. Support by simulation is used throughout the development process in structural design, as well as for the tuning of occupant protection systems, such as seat-belts and airbags. As a result, crash tests are increasingly used as a physical means of verifying what is already known.
For the 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.
Rigid Safety Structure
At the heart of the 9-3 Convertible is a steel safety structure fabricated mainly from high strength steel that is designed to protect the passenger compartment. Most beam sections are completely closed for additional strength and all joints are 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, 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 help absorb, distribute and deflect impact energy away from the passenger compartment.
Three distinct load paths on each side of the front structure are designed to help to channel impact forces through the front sub-frame, along the longitudinal members and through the upper rail into the A-pillar. The longitudinal members have large sections that extend right through the floor of the car as far as the rear seat. This design is a development of the concept first seen on the Saab 9-5.
The three load paths are connected transversely via cross-members, the most important of which is the front bumper beam. This helps distribute impact forces across and through the front structure, to help provide a controlled and predictable deformation in a wide range of frontal collisions. The beam is made from boron alloy steel, up to six times stronger than plain steel with a very high yield strength of 900 Newtons per square millimeter.
To help provide side impact protection, engineers have developed the lower B-pillars, the side sills and door beams to behave as a single, integrated structure, increasing the likelihood of deformation in a controlled and predictable manner. 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 in a progressive manner to help protect the passenger compartment in a rear-end collision. They also assist in dissipating crash energy towards the lower body structure. The fuel tank is also mounted low down in front of the rear axle, away from any likely point of impact.
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 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 help provide an integrated protection system.
The two spring-loaded rollover bars are recessed behind the rear head restraints and are made from aluminum 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 important, 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 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 optimized 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 prejudicing 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, which is designed to withstand extremely high loadings.
Saab Active Head Restraints (SAHR)
Saab Active head restraints (SAHR) are fitted as standard to the front seats. Crash investigation findings published by the Journal of Trauma, and comparative tests by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Thatcham insurance center in the UK, have shown the SAHR to be extremely effective in helping to prevent serious neck injury to front seat occupants in the event of a rear-end collision.
The Journal of Trauma published a Saab study that found a remarkable 75 per cent reduction in severe neck injuries when comparing Saab cars fitted with the SAHR against older Saab models not having the system.The system is entirely mechanical and is activated as soon as the occupant’s lower back is pressed into the seatback by the effect of inertia during a collision from the rear. A pad in the seat-back is linked to lever which is designed to push the head restraint up and forwards towards the occupant’s head, helping to minimize head movement relative to the torso.
After activation, the head restraint immediately springs back to its passive position ready for further use.in case there is a possible second impact.
Adaptive Front Airbags
Dual stage, front airbags are designed to help provide an ‘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. 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 stage 1 or stage 2 inflation of the airbags.
A collision with a relatively low level of impact energy would, for example, likely require less airbag pressure and, therefore, a slower rate of inflation than a more severe, high energy impact. A short driver sitting close to the steering wheel also benefits from a softer, lower pressure inflation.
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.
Seat-belts and Reminder System
All four seat-belts have pre-tensioning and load limiting functions to help remove 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 to retract the belt.
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 help reduce the belt load and ease the strain on the occupant’s body.
Saab has used a seat-belt reminder function since 1974 and, to further emphasize the importance of belt usage, the system in the 9-3 range independently informs and reminds the driver and the front passenger of non belt usage.
A great deal of experience has gone into making the interior surfaces and materials more ‘occupant-friendly’. In particular, the front areas of the cabin near the knee and lower leg are well bolstered to help prevent occupant injury. The driver’s pedals are also designed to break away in a severe impact and the steering column is collapsible.
Passenger safety is the main reason why interior armrests and inner door handles are recessed. It is also one of the reasons why the 9-3 Convertible, in common with most other Saab cars, has a floor-mounted ignition switch, well away from sensitive knee and leg areas.
Building a Rewarding Relationship
• Flexible service intervals
• 10 year anti-perforation warranty
• Excellent serviceability for reduced workshop times
• Low speed accident damage protection
• Sophisticated immobilization, anti-theft and alarm systems
• Many useful ‘convenience’ features to make life easier
• Unique accessories, tailor-made for individuals
The 9-3 Convertible is price-positioned to compete with other premium class convertibles. World class build standards and the use of premium quality components and materials, backed by a 10 year anti-perforation warranty, contribute to competitive ownership costs, including servicing and insurance.
Good serviceability, reducing the cost and improving the convenience of ownership, was an important priority for the project team throughout the development of the Saab 9-3 range.
As regards security, all 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.
Lower Servicing Costs
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.
In all variants, 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 on most markets is now every two years, or 30,000 kms, for both gasoline and diesel engines. 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 9-3 Convertible are the spark plugs, the air filter and the engine drive belt.
Quicker repairs, lower insurance
Engineers have worked closely with representatives of leading insurance companies to introduce ways of minimising accident damage repair bills, as well as improving vehicle security and anti-theft protection. This close liaison is intended to achieve 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. For example, electrical wiring and connection points are located away from areas more vulnerable to crash impacts and there is just one single connection point between the engine and main wiring harness, in a well-protected position.
Low speed frontal collision protection, through ‘self-repairing’, energy absorbing bumpers (for impacts up to 8 kph) and deformable ‘crash boxes’ (for impacts up to 15 kph), help protect the body structure from serious damage requiring expensive reinstatement. The front wings are also bolted to the main structure to make removal and replacement easier and less time-consuming.
The warranty period covering body perforation is 10 years, a result of Saab’s confidence in under-body joint and sealant treatments and electro-galvanizing procedures.
The body-in-white is prepared, sealed, galvanized, primed and painted at one of the most modern paint shops in Europe, where quality standards are considered to be class-leading. All primer and paints are water-based, except for the final clear lacquer finish.
The 9-3 range incorporates ‘state of the art’ security. The anti-theft systems include all practical technology that is currently available. Security is focused on preventing the car being stolen or having items taken from it.
Representatives of leading insurance companies in Sweden and elsewhere were consulted throughout the development of security systems for the 9-3 range. They were asked to identify the most effective measures available, as well as examining and assessing the effectiveness of the car’s security.
As evidence of the success of this work, the British insurance industry’s Thatcham research center has awarded both the 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.
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 trunk lid also prevents tampering with 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.
A large number of major components are also security marked, enabling the 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 immobilizer 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 then 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.
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 etc. being blown inside when the roof is down. The alarm is, of course, also activated by any illegal attempt to open the doors, hood or trunk lid.
An optional ‘tilt’ sensor can be specified, which will sound the alarm if the car is lifted in any direction, such as during an attempt to tow it away or steal its wheels
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.
For greater personal security in the vicinity of the car, its alarm can also be activated within a range six meters 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.
There are a range of features which enrich the experience of using and ‘living with’ the 9-3 Convertible. They can make a significant contribution to developing a rewarding, interactive relationship between the car and its owner.
‘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 can’t happen in the 9-3 Convertible. Its electrically-operated mirrors are linked to a speed sensor and will automatically fold out once the car exceeds 30 mph. 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 it 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 9-3. Standard feature.
Remote Soft-top and window opening
In hot weather it may be useful to lower the roof and front windows before entering the car. This can now be done within a range of 6 meters by simply holding down the lock/unlock button on the remote control unit. Optional 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. However, 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 speedscale to the range, 0 –90 kph. It will, of course, 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 simply 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 air conditioning can be programmed (through an authorized 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 kph, 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 liter left in the washer fluid reservoir, the headlamp washer function will automatically de-activate in order to prioritize washing of the windshield only. Standard feature.
When approaching the car, a simple blip of 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.
A warm welcome always awaits the driver courtesy of automatic soft footwell 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. These features are standard for all variants, expect Linear, which has ‘puddle lights’ only.
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 Convertible that are intended to further enhance performance and design or practical functionality.
Wind tunnel-tested front and rear spoilers 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, manual or automatic.
Practical accessories include: a cup-holder, CD holder and ice scraper for the Smart Slot feature; a wind deflector which folds into quarters for easy and convenient stowage; a hitch-mounted bike holder; a fixed or removable tow bar; and a rubber cargo mat.
A wide range of audio upgrades and telephone accessories is available. Also a pedal extension kit, an extensive range of engine heaters, Saab Parking Assistance and a Saab Anti-theft Alarm upgrade.
Specifications and Performance
2792cc. V6. Gasoline. Aluminum cylinder heads and block. Twin-scroll turbocharger, intercooled. DOHC, 24-valve. Variable valve timing (inlet). Dual-mass flywheel.
1998 cc. 4 cylinders in-line. Gasoline
Aluminum cylinder head and block. Turbocharger, intercooled. DOHC, 16-valve. Trionic 8 engine management
All engines front, transversely-mounted, Hydraulically-damped. Front wheel drive.
1910 cc. 4 cylinders in-line. Aluminum cylinder head, cast iron block. DOHC 16v.
Common rail, direct and multiple injection.
Turbocharged VNT/ 2-stage turbo, intercooled, intercooled. Dual-mass flywheel.
Maintenance-free particulate filter.
1998 cc. 4 cylinders in-line. Aluminum cylinder head and block. Turbocharger, intercooled. DOHC, 16-valve. Balancer shafts. Saab Trionic 8 engine management. Fuelled by bioethanol (E85)/gasoline in any proportions
5/6 speed manual gearboxes.
5/6/5+2 speed automatic transmissions
with Saab Sentronic manual selection,
steering wheel buttons optional
Single, dry-plate, diaphragm spring.
Front: MacPherson struts and gas shock absorbers.
Anti-roll bar. Hydroformed sub-frame.
Rear: Indep, four link, incl. toe-link. Coil springs.
Gas shock absorbers. Anti-roll bar. Sub-frame.
Rack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance.
Turning circle (curb to curb): 10.8 m (V6, 11.4 m)
Lock to lock: 2.75 turns (4-cyl turbo, 2.97 turns)
16 x 6.5˜, 215/55. 17 x 7.0˜, 225/45
17 x 7.5˜, 235/45. 18 x 7.5″ , 225/45
Hydraulic, dual circuit, vacuum booster. ABS,TCS, MBA, EBD, CBC.
Discs: All 4 cylinder engines (except 2.0 Turbo):
285 mm (f) vent. / 278 mm (r) solid.
2.0 Turbo: 302/292 mm, both ventilated
2.8V6 Turbo: 314/292 mm, both ventilated
2.0 Turbo US model: 302 mm vent. / 278 mm solid
Kerb: 1585 -1690 kg
Distribution: 55%(F) / 45% (R)
Max. towing weight:
1600 kg (braked), 750 kg (unbraked)
Trunk: Soft-top up: 352 litres
Soft-top down: 235 litres
Fuel tank: 59 liters
Washer reservoir: 5.2 liters