The Swedes just gave their mid-size 9-3 range yet another mild facelift which mainly concentrates on the car’s interior. The front fascia, instrument displays and controls are given a cleaner and sharper look, while also promising to improve driver interaction and communication.
The sporty performance of the mid-range 175 and 210 bhp turbo engines is also brought into sharper focus by the standard fitment of a close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission.
Design Focus: The main instrument panel, including new infotainment systems, is now framed by a matte chrome line, with the same finish given to all key controls, which are now rotary in function. In overall visual effect, the new cockpit is a modern interpretation of the look of the classic, first generation Saab 900 main fascia, while the move to rotary controls also reflects a design theme found in the Saab 9-5.
As part of the strategy to improve driver interaction, the interior design team has also focused on rationalizing the number of separate information displays and single-use buttons. As a result, all key driver information is now presented in the main instrument cluster, eliminating the need for the previous high level supplementary display on top of the main fascia. This centralizes driver information and warning messages to a single zone, in the lower portion of the speedometer, improving communication as well as the aesthetics of the cockpit design.
For the same reason, the ‘Profiler’ facility, offering driver pre-sets for a wide range of functions is now operated via steering wheel buttons, instead of a push/select fascia knob, 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.
The main instrument dials and Saab-signature air vent controls are now also finished in matte chrome trim. The instrument graphics are given a sharper, clearer look, while another Saab-typical feature, green instrument illumination, is retained
The rest of the interior is unchanged across the range, except for the addition of a matching trim insert on the glove box lid. For Linear Convertibles, the fabric seat panels, which are treated with a hydroblox water repellent membrane, are now black for both parchment and gray interiors.
Infotainment improvements: 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 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 GPS satellite navigation system with a larger, 6.5 inch color touch-screen and voice control. In addition to a ‘bird’s eye view’ map selection, direction arrows from the high position display are now shown on the touch-screen.
All three ‘infotainment’ systems can be combined with a new hands-free mobile phone facility, the Bluetooth Phone Integration System (BPIS), which replaces the previous in-car integrated phone option. 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. BPIS also eliminates the need for a fascia key pad. For recharging and connection to the car’s external antenna, a phone dock in the center console is available as an accessory.
The enhanced audio range includes a new tailor-made Bose sound system, offered exclusively in the Sport Sedan. With two rear woofers and twin amplifiers, its performance is optimized for the acoustics of the sedan cabin, giving an impressive, expanded ‘concert hall’ sound reproduction. This system is identified by Bose branding embossed on the outer front speaker grilles.
Externally: The Model Year 2007 Sport Sedan and SportCombi range is distinguished by the introduction of a new dark gray ‘Titan’ metallic paint finish. A stunning pure ‘Arctic White’ solid color and a ‘Smoke Beige’ metallic finish are added to the Convertible palette. ‘Electric Blue’ is now available throughout the Convertible range.