Saab’s 9-3 line-up continues into 2005 with minimal changes. An in-dash navigation system is available, and three new exterior colours are on tap: Parchment Silver, Smoke Beige and Chili Red.

With the 2005 introduction of the new entry-level 9-2X, the 9-3 becomes Saab’s mid-line, positioned under the 9-5. There are three sedan models: the Linear, Arc and Aero. The Arc and Aero are also available as a two-door convertible. The Linear uses a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine, while the Arc and Aero use the same engine with a high-output turbo. The Linear comes with a six-speed manual transmission that’s only available in Canada, while the Arc and Aero use a five-speed manual. All can be optioned to a five-speed automatic.

All models come in a single trim line. The Linear includes 16-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, manual climate control, heated mirrors, power windows, variable intermittent wipers, heated leather seats, CD player with seven speakers, and power locks with keyless entry.

The Arc adds fog lights, 16-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels, automatic climate control, cooled glove compartment, power sunroof, 13 speakers and electrically-adjustable front seats. The Arc convertible adds a bright-finish tailpipe, colour-matched headliner, active rollover protection, and a fully automatic, electrically-operated top.

The Aero adds a ground effects package, sport chassis, 17-inch twin five-spoke wheels, leather-wrapped wheel, and sport seats. The Aero convertible adds 17-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels.

The beautifully-styled 9-3 is a pleasure to drive, with a richly-appointed interior and very comfortable seats. Based on GM’s Epsilon platform, also used on the Opel Vectra and Chevrolet Malibu, the 9-3 is engineered for safety, with numerous active and passive features. It isn’t as fast as some of the competition, and its front-wheel-drive configuration means it isn’t up to the level of sports sedans from automakers like BMW and Audi, but the price-tag is attractive to those who want European flair with domestic prices. In power, price and appointments, the front-wheel-drive Volvo S60 runs almost neck-and-neck.

The 9-3 sedan is built in Trollhättan, Sweden.

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