Location:Home > TURBO GARRETT > TURBOS GARRETT › GT SERIES > 2003 Saab 9-3 Arc & Vector: More Kroner, Sven! Saab's new 9-3 Arc and Vector lead a product blitz ai

2003 Saab 9-3 Arc & Vector: More Kroner, Sven! Saab's new 9-3 Arc and Vector lead a product blitz ai

Time:2018-02-10 21:47Turbochargers information Click:

Saab s 2003 more Vector

SAAB HAS HAD A BIT OF a tough time, lately. And not just recently, lately. Like, the last 10 years lately. It has lost money in eight or nine (depend- ing whom you ask) of the last 10 years. Last year, pretty much everyone agrees, Saab lost half a billion dollars. That’s dollars, not kroner, and half a billion of them is a formidable figure even by GM’s standards.

But the Swedes aren’t just sitting around the sauna beating each other with birch leaves and herring and complaining about it.

2003 SAAB 9-3

ARC & VECTOR  


ON SALE: Now

BASE PRICE: $30,670 (Arc), $33,170 (Vector)

POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liter, 210-hp, 221-lb-ft turbocharged four; fwd, six-speed manual

CURB WEIGHT: 3175 pounds

0-60 MPH: 7.58 seconds

 


Saab has big plans. The GM subsidiary put a pile of cash into a new assembly plant in Trollhattan that will see both the 9-3 and 9-5 going down the same line—which Saab says should make for a 20 percent improvement in productivity.

Future all-wheel-drive options and a 9-3 crossover SUV are due within the next three years and will also share that assembly line. The 9-3 convertible will reach showrooms Oct. 1. GM recently said it is considering building Saabs in the United States. And there’s talk of a smaller model based on the sporty, fun and cheap Subaru WRX. So from a business perspective, Saab is doing all the right things.

But what has Saab done for you lately? The biggest first step to recovery came in October when the new 9-3 went on sale in the States. Now, about the time you read this, there will be two more models of the 9-3 available, both with more horsepower.

The 9-3 Linear is what everyone outside of a marketing department would call the base model 9-3. Saab calls them "forms." Must be the long winters. The 9-3 Linear is the form that came out in October. It has a 175-hp turbo-charged four mated to your choice of a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The Linear has all the new 9-3 improvements like a wind-slippery, lift-reducing exterior with a Cd of 0.28; a new, more responsive MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension with more accurately tuned bushings for better handling; and larger disc brakes front and rear.

The two new forms (oh hell, let’s just call them models) are called Arc and Vector. Both use a 210-horsepower version of the turbo four, but the Arc is aimed at luxury while the Vector goes for performance. (There have been Arc and Vector versions of the 9-5 sedan and wagon for about two years now.)

While the 175-hp 9-3 Linear comes with a Garrett GT20 turbo with maximum boost set at 10.15 psi, the 9-3 Arc and Vector get the bigger Mitsubishi TD04 turbo with boost up to 12.3 psi. The boost is cranked up so high on Arc and Vector that even the decklid shows it, with a capital "T" after the 2.0 instead of the Linear’s lowercase "t." Both Arc and Vector come with either a five-speed automatic or a new six-speed manual to make the most out of the powerband.

While the Linear rides on 215/55R-15s, the Arc gets 215/55R-16s and the Vector 225/45R-17s. The Vector also rides lower, on stiffer springs and shocks.

Does it all work? Well, these may be the best 99/900/9-3 Saabs ever made, and they are fun to drive, as we found out after a day in the snow and ice of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They were sure fun to pull through ice-covered turns with the throttle, swinging the rear ends into pendulum turns using the laws of physics.

Saab lists rear- and all-wheel- drive Europeans like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Volvo S60 as "price competitors." At $26,575 for the Linear, $30,670 for the Arc and $33,170 for the Vector, these Saabs are indeed price competitors to those cars, if not yet their performance equals. In any case, making its cars more fun to drive is a great way for Saab to traverse the bumpy road to recovery.

Mark Vaughn

Mark Vaughn - West Coast Editor Mark Vaughn covers all car things west of the Mississippi from his Autoweek lair high above the LA metropolis.
See more by this author»

Copyright infringement? Click Here!