NEW FOR 2008:

– Redesigned exterior
– 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 engine gets horsepower enhancement to 255 hp (from 250 hp)
– New Turbo-X models
– Latest-generation Haldex XWD "Cross-Wheel Drive" system
– Black interior replaces Grey
– Complete interior (seats, door inserts, armrests and head restraints) available in premium natural leather
– Flat windshield wiper blades
– New 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels
– Available premium Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system for Sport Sedan and SportCombi (mid-2008 availability)
– Standard OnStar, tire pressure monitoring system and rain-sensing wipers on all models

Having received a restyled interior in 2007, the 2008 Saab 9-3 models receive an exterior facelift, inspired by the Aero X Concept vehicle. Changes include a larger grille, new doors (on the sedan and SportCombi), monochromatic front and rear bumpers, new fenders, fully-integrated fog lamps, and Aero body-colour rocker sills. Aero models receive unique bumpers and standard Xenon cornering headlamps. A new all-wheel drive system will be available very late in the model year on the sedan and SportCombi models.

The 9-3 is available as a sedan, convertible and SportCombi wagon; all come with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder in the base 9-3 models, or with a 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 in the Aero models. The sedan and wagon can also be ordered as the Turbo-X, which also uses the 2.8-litre turbo but which increases the power from 255 horsepower to 280, and which includes the "cross-wheel drive" system. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all engines; the 2.0-litre can be optioned to a five-speed automatic, the 2.8-litre to a six-speed automatic.

Features on the 9-3 include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, rear fog lamp, headlamp washers, heated mirrors, keyless entry, variable intermittent rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, floor mats, cooled and illuminated glovebox, leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic wheel with integrated audio controls, power windows, heated leather seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment, 60/40 split folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, CD stereo with auxiliary jack, block heater and OnStar. The SportCombi adds a cargo cover, while the convertible adds a fully automatic soft top and rollover protection system.

The Aero adds 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, Xenon headlamps with cornering feature, sunroof, metallic interior trim accents, sport leather seating, eight-way power driver and passenger adjustment, six-CD stereo and XM Satellite Radio.

The Turbo-X adds 18-inch alloy wheels, X-specific spoiler, titanium-coloured exterior trim, carbon fibre appearance interior trim, Saab 900-inspired boost gauge, auto-dimming mirror with compass and garage door opener, perforated leather-wrapped wheel, perforated leather upholstery, driver’s side memory, performance brakes, sport-tuned suspension, and unique exhaust.

The 9-3 is a pleasure to drive, with sharp handling, comfortable seats and a choice of two strong engines. The 9-3’s new styling is very attractive and the choice of body styles gives buyers considerable choice, from practical wagon to top-down fun. The convertible also offers the increasingly rare option of getting the drop-top in both base and upscale trim.

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