Saab 9-3 First generation
|Assembly||Trollhättan, Sweden (hatchback)
Uusikaupunki, Finland (Valmet Automotive) (1999–2003 convertible and Viggen)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-/5-door hatchback
|Layout||Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive|
|Engine||2.0 L B204 I4
2.0 L B205 I4
2.0 L B205R I4
2.3 L B235R I4
2.2 L Turbodiesel I4
|Wheelbase||2,605 mm (102.6 in)|
|Length||1999–2000 Viggen & 2001–02: 4,630 mm (182.3 in)
1999–2000: 4,628 mm (182.2 in)
2001-02 Viggen: 4,640 mm (182.7 in)
|Width||1,712 mm (67.4 in)|
|Height||Hatchback: 1,427 mm (56.2 in)
Convertible: 1,422 mm (56.0 in)
2001-02 Viggen Hatchback: 1,415 mm (55.7 in)
2001–02 Viggen Convertible: 1,410 mm (55.5 in)
The first generation 9-3, a substantially improved "new-generation" Saab 900 was launched in 1998 for the 1999 model year. Saab claimed that 1,100 changes were made, including a revised suspension in an attempt to tighten up the handling characteristics of its predecessor, the Saab 900 (1994–1998 model).It featured slightly sleeker styling with some models sporting a black rear spoiler and removed Saab's trademark centrally mounted "snow flap".
It was available as a three door hatchback.
And two-door convertible.
It was the last small Saab to use the company's H engine. Notable improvements over the Saab 900 were improved ride and handling and substantially improved crash-worthiness with standard side impact airbags with head protection and active headrests. The Saab 9-3 along with the Saab 9-5 and the Volvo S70 were the first cars in the world to earn the maximum score in a side impact augmented by a pole testbased on Euro NCAP testing. The 9-3 continued the Saab safety tradition of performing a Moose Test.
The 9-3 was available with a new variant of the B204 engine (B204E, 154 hp (115 kW)), a low pressure turbo (LPT) engine based on the B204L used in the last generation Saab 900. For the U.S. market, all 9-3s were turbocharged petrol engines with the "full pressure turbo" (B204L, 185 hp (138 kW)) as the standard offering, and a "HOT" (B204R, 200 hp) variant in the SE models for the 1999 model year. The 2000 model year saw a revision from SAAB's Trionic 5 to Trionic 7 engine management system. The first generation 9-3 was also the first Saab available with a diesel engine, also found in the Opel Vectra, Astra G, Signum, Zafira A.
A Saab innovation is the 'Night Panel', carried over from the Saab 900, which permits dousing of the instrument panel lighting, except for essential information, for less distraction when night driving.
A total of 326,370 first generation 9-3s were built.
It came with a turbocharged 2.3 L engine, (B235R) giving 225 bhp (168 kW; 228 PS) later 230 bhp (172 kW; 233 PS) on 1.4 bar (20 psi) of boost from its Mitsubishi TD04-HL15-5 turbocharger. Acceleration from 0–100 km/h could be reached in 6.4 seconds and the top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (160 mph). To provide and handle the high power and performance, the following elements were changed/modified:
- Higher capacity intercooler
- Higher performance tuned ECU
- Larger flow-through exhaust system
- Heavy duty clutch and pressure plate
- Stiffened and lowered springs
- Firmer dampers
- Stronger CV joints and driveshafts
To enable the front wheels to cope with the amount of torque available, the maximum torque was electronically limited.
- 1st gear was limited to 250 N·m (180 lb·ft)
- 2nd gear was limited to 330 N·m (240 lb·ft)
- 3rd gear and on had the full 350 N·m (260 lb·ft).
Forty-six hundred Viggens were manufactured, of which only 500 units were produced for the UK market.
- Model Year 1998: 14 cars
- Model Year 1999: 1099 cars
- Model Year 2000: 1621 cars
- Model Year 2001: 1251 cars
- Model Year 2002: 615 cars (Production ended 06/2002)
Total: 4600 cars
Complements of SAAB USA:
These numbers represent the total number of each body style Viggen imported into the USA:
- 1999: 3-door > 426| 420 Blue| 2 Silver |2 Monte Carlo Yellow |2 Black
- 2000: Convertible > 245, 3-door > 138, 5-door > 421
- 2001: Convertible > 738, 3-door > 129, 5-door > 285
- 2002: Convertible > 322, 3-door > 71, 5-door > 157
- 1999 = 426
- 2000 = 804
- 2001 = 1,152
- 2002 = 550
- Totals: 3-door = 764, 5-door = 863, conv. = 1,305
In 1999, the Viggen was the first 9-3 to use Saab's Trionic 7 engine management system, which processes 2 million calculations every second analysing combustion temperature, boost control, variable torque curves and many other critical engine processes. In addition, the 2001 model year introduced a Traction Control System (TCS) to the Viggen.
In addition to extra power and torque, it also featured a special rear wing (increasing the downforce by 50%) requiring relocation of the radio antenna, aerodynamically designed bumpers and side skirts reducing the drag coefficient by 8%, specially bolstered and colored leather seats (available in four colors: black with black inserts (charcoal), black with blue inserts (deep blue), black with orange inserts (flame ochre), and tan with tan inserts), sportier suspension, bigger wheels, upgraded brakes, and other upgraded parts.
The Viggen was only available with a five-speed manual transmission, CD player, power moonroof, and (what were initially) Viggen-specific motorised and heated leather seats with the Viggen delta logo embossed in the backrest; these were later also available in the Aero model (U.S. market 'SE' model) without the embossed Viggen logo. Some colors featured carbon-fibre interior trim from its introduction to the middle of the 2001 model year, when Saab substituted a less expensive printed gray pattern for the dash and standard trim for everything else.
New Viggen buyers in the USA were treated to two days of advanced driving instruction at Road Atlanta and dined with Saab USA executives from nearby Norcross, Georgia. This programme, operated by Saab and Panoz, was called Viggen Flight Academy and later transformed into the current SAAB Aero Academy.
Some motoring journalists were critical of untamed torque steer in low gears. Although the torque steer can be nearly eliminated through the use of a steering rack brace,also called a "Viggen Rescue Kit" available through a few aftermarket vendors.