NEW FOR 2009:

– XWD cross-wheel drive available on 2.0T models
– Aero models now use high-output V6 engine; Turbo-X discontinued
– Electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differential standard on Aero V6 XWD
– OnStar 8.0 hardware with Turn-by-Turn Navigation and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity
– Redesigned matte chrome roof rails available on Aero SportCombi
– New 17-inch wheel designs
– Exterior colours: Carbon Grey Metallic and Glass Grey Metallic added; Parchment Silver and Smoke Beige discontinued; new Grey convertible top colour

For 2009, the Saab 9-3 line-up receives a few changes, most notably the addition of "cross-wheel drive" (XWD) to the base 2.0T sedan and SportCombi models. While two versions of the 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 were available in 2008, the higher-output Turbo-X model is discontinued, and that more powerful engine is now standard in the Aero.

The 9-3 is available as a sedan, convertible or as the SportCombi wagon. Sedan and SportCombi models are available as the 2.0T, with 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, in front- or cross-wheel drive; and as the Aero, with 2.8-litre turbocharged V6 in front- or cross-wheel drive. Convertibles come as the 2.0T or Aero, but in front-wheel drive only. All base with a six-speed manual transmission; the 2.0T can be optioned to a five-speed automatic in FWD, or to a six-speed automatic with XWD. The Aero options strictly to the six-speed automatic.

Features on the 2.0T models include 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, headlamp washers, heated mirrors, rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, floor mats, cooled glove-box, vehicle information display, leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, tool kit, one-touch down power windows, heated leather seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment, CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, OnStar, and keyless entry. Sedan and SportCombi models have a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.

The 2.0T convertible adds a fully automatic power top, eight-way power passenger seat and active rollover protection, while the SportCombi adds a rear wiper and cargo cover.

The Aero models add 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, Xenon headlamps with cornering feature, metallic interior accents, leather-wrapped wheel with metallic aircraft-look trim, eight-way power passenger seat, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, XM satellite radio, and sport-tuned chassis. The convertible also adds a rear Aero wing.

With its sharp handling and comfortable interior, the 9-3 is a pleasure to drive in any of its configurations, whether a practical wagon, sporty sedan or wind-in-the-hair convertible. The addition of the company’s "cross-wheel drive" gives both models extra appeal to those who live with bad winter weather or who prefer the extra grip for more aggressive driving. It’s nice that the convertible can be had in both lines, as well, instead of being relegated only to the larger and pricier engine.

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